Sum of its Parts



When your home encompasses different styles or even different historical periods, it can be difficult to unify it, particularly if you’re extending it. However one Dunbar family have pulled it off with aplomb.

Most of us have dreamed of putting an extension on our home at one point or another, but what if you already have one? Or even two? If you want to extend an already extended home, you face the problem of unifying multiple elements.

That was the challenge which East Lothian architects Low Carbon Studio took on with a project to extend a beautiful family home on a large plot near Dunbar. The property was originally part of an old mill, probably built around the early 19th century. The working mill buildings have been removed and the mill race covered over some time ago. Old maps are the only record of how it once looked.

The house had been extended previously, and a timber frame entrance porch and PVC conservatory had also been added. Low Carbon Studio were tasked with making new additions to the house using glazed oak frames by Alba Green Oak Frames. These frames would visually link the extensions and enhance the character of the house.

The existing house is built from red sandstone – a local material commonly used in Dunbar – with a red clay tile roof. Newer additions included rendered windows and replacement concrete skews to the gables. The alterations also included new dressed stone elements.

The property was already a good-sized family home, but the team at Low Carbon Studio were asked to improve it, enhancing the front elevation and restoring this beautiful period property using traditional materials as well as modern, glazed oak frames on the new extensions so that the additions were all linked together.

The existing front entrance had an oak frame open porch but needed some upgrading, so the owners decided to replace it with an enclosed porch with stone walls to match the property, and an oak glazed frame to give some protection from the weather. The new porch is more attractive, more sympathetic to the period property and is flooded with natural light.

Internally the kitchen was replaced with a new family kitchen and a new access to the utility room. The kitchen linked to an outside patio area with glazed double doors and the owners planned to use this as their entrance. To provide some protection for the weather and a place to put on coats and boots, the proposals included a new oak frame kitchen extension. The large areas of glazing and a roof light on the porch meant that the kitchen would still get a lot of natural light. From inside, the family still have good views over the garden and the hills beyond.

“The shape, style and materials of the existing PVC conservatory made it look dated and it was linked to the family living room which had limited natural light,” explains Colin Campbell of Low Carbon Studio. “The conservatory was too cold to use during the winter and the owners wanted to have a space that they could use all year round, and which had good natural light. To really brighten up the living room and turn up the cosy factor, they added a log-burning stove.”

The new garden room also uses an oak frame and the hexagonal shape of it meant that the detailing of the frame needed a bit of thought to avoid any awkward joints. To increase light in to the living room, four roof lights were added which could be remotely controlled to give ventilation. They even have sensors to close when it rains.

To add the finishing touches, new glazed oak doors were installed. The existing stairs were over-clad and painted and an upstairs bedroom was increased in size with the addition of a new dormer window, and the owners aren’t done just yet. They have approval for, and intend to build, a new Douglas fir framed garage in the near future. They are also planning to build a new sun room in their garden which will have views across the Forth. And they’re still putting the finishing touches to their latest conversion; laying slabs around the house, making some tweaks to the under-floor heating and decorating the place. Their beautiful family house may have started as an old mill, but by making some changes and some additions, and linking the disparate elements using oak frames, they’ve created a home that’s truly greater. TC
Published: January 2018