A Victorian beauty in a conservation village is a tempting proposition, finds Kirsty McLuckie.
Put it down to serendipity, but sometimes exactly the right house comes along out of nowhere.
Joanne Cruickshank and her husband Fraser Leslie had just finished viewing a property in the village of Fala Dam near Pathhead in Midlothian a couple of years ago when the owner of a neighbouring cottage, not on the market, popped out to ask the estate agent about a valuation.
Having decided that the first house was a bit big, and after waiting politely until the agent left, Joanne and Fraser knocked on the neighbour’s door at Laggan Cottage and were invited in to have a look round.
Joanne says: “It was very pretty from the outside and the size was much more what we were looking for, as it is just the two of us.”
The couple were moving out of Great Stuart Street in the West End of Edinburgh and with their family grown up, they were looking for “peace and quiet and somewhere better for the dogs”.
Although both are solicitors, Joanne has another passion, which also led her to fall in love with Laggan Cottage.
She says: “Our friends laugh at how often we move, but I really like a project every couple of years.
“The kids place bets on how long we’ll stay in each place, but I just like taking on something that needs a bit of work and doing it up.”
Previous homes have appeared in interiors magazines as well as gracing the pages of The Scotsman.
In the case of Laggan Cottage, the house was very well kept, but the previous owners had lived there for many years and so there was room for updating and improving.
Joanne says: “After we viewed, the owners took their time to decide to sell, but after so many years of living in a much-loved house you could understand that.
“The lady who lived here was a very keen gardener but after 40 years here it was becoming a little too much for her.
“That was one concern I had. I’m not a gardener and had not really had to look after such a big outside space before.”
The house, which is C listed and carries the date stone 1851, was originally two estate cottages.
Joanne says that old photos show that there was also another cottage, where the gates now stand, which much have been just one room wide.
Despite its cosy exterior, Laggan is spacious inside. The main living areas are all linked. A sitting room is open plan to the dining room and a second lounge adjoins the kitchen.
The whole of the back of the house has access to the conservatory and from there sliding doors lead out to the splendid south-facing cottage garden.
Upstairs are three very pretty bedrooms and a family bathroom. Joanne and Fraser have done a considerable amount of work in a short time.
While upstairs the floors were already stripped, downstairs was carpeted, so these were lifted and the floorboards replaced with solid oak throughout.
The kitchen, according to Joanne, was a lovely layout, but just a bit dated, so they replaced it with new units in the same cottage style and added integrated appliances.
She says: “The top cabinets are original, so we just restored those.” They also retained a splendid rolltop bath upstairs, but added new sanitaryware including a walk-in shower.
Joanne says she knows a little of the history of the cottage. Before the previous owners it was owned by the local vet, and it was he who made many of the charming features.
“There is a beautiful cabinet in the dining room, the kitchen has a stable door and the doors upstairs have latches, all we believe hand made by the vet.”
As for the garden, Joanne has found it very low maintenance. “Flowers start in spring and just keep going all year without much attention from us.
“It is a riot of roses, peonies, poppies and geraniums.”
Joanne is itching for another project, but extols the virtues of the location as well as the character of Laggan Cottage.
“It feels like real country living in a lovely spot, but it is within commuting distance – only 15 miles – of Edinburgh and we also have superfast broadband for anyone who wanted to work from home.
“It certainly feels like the best of both worlds.”
Laggan Cottage is on the market for offers over £395,000 with Hunters Residential.