Opening Up


Alison Gibb
Douglas Gibb

Buying an old farmhouse with a traditional layout made Steph and Ryan Lothian want to connect their home to their large country garden.

Steph realised that she wanted to turn the formal front room of her farmhouse that dates back to 1750, into a contemporary kitchen. The room projects out into the garden, and it seemed obvious to Steph that this was where she would want to send most of her time. She and Ryan decided to replace the bay window at the front, a Victorian addition, with a wall of glass, and to jettison the fireplace and two small windows in favour of a wall of glass along the length of that wall as well. 

Opening Up

Walls are painted in ‘Ammonite’ and ‘Mole’s Breath’ by Farrow & Ball. The charcoal metal pendant lights above the island unit are from Industville.

This left only one wall for a floor to ceiling bank of cabinetry, but plenty of space in the middle for a sociable but functional island unit. ‘We opened up the ceiling of this single-storey front room, right up to the rafters, and removed the wall between what is now the kitchen and dining area, so we built the wall of cabinetry as high as we could: partly to ensure we had plenty of storage, but also to match the now-generous proportions of the room with its stunning vaulted ceiling,’ Ryan explains.

The minimal style we have chosen means that the finishes have to be perfect, any faults are clearly visible when there is no clutter.

The quantity surveyor overseeing the project recommended the kitchen designer and despite its ambition, the process was as smooth and trouble-free as they could hope for. They chose simple, handle-less cabinetry, in a subtle off-white, with the hope that it would almost disappear from the room. Appliances are, as far as possible, integrated. Steph wanted the kitchen to serve as a living space as much as a kitchen. 

‘I spend all my time in here during the day, I love observing the changing seasons in the garden and we are spoilt for wildlife: deer come in regularly and I see buzzards, pheasants and squirrels all the time. We have a large pond where herons have made their home.’ The living room is now at the back of the house, and the family retreats there to enjoy the fireplace and watch movies at the end of the day.

I was originally planning a Shaker style kitchen, but my ideas evolved into a much more minimal solution as we progressed with the project.

Opening Up

The upstairs master bedroom is beautifully sculpted and styled, and with no need for any further bedrooms upstairs, they have utilized all the space for a luxurious suite comprising a dressing area, bedroom and bathroom. Using an Edinburgh based bathroom supplier called Victor Paris that they had worked with before, Ryan and Steph chose them, knowing that their fitters would be able to solve any problems that might arise during what was quite a radical renovation in the end.

The original design was by architects LBA Studios, but Steph and Ryan project managed, whilst juggling day jobs. ‘It was hard going, but we needed to save costs,’ Steph recalls. They also had the benefit of input from interior designer, Rachel Richmond, with the furnishings, and a Farrow & Ball colour consultant, Patricia Hunter. ‘We all pulled together and played to our strengths, a great team makes a successful project,’ Steph and Ryan both agree.

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