Back to Life

Retiring from busy careers in the police, Steph and Ryan Lothian were looking for a project and found one in the shape of a crumbling farm steading in a pretty seaside town.

The Lothian family had been living in Edinburgh and had no desire for a change of scene particularly. ‘We had completed a large property in the city centre and a buyer approached us unexpectedly quickly, so we sold up and were looking to start again, hoping to find a new project nearby. Ryan had retired and I had also left the police force, where we met, so we were looking for something that would keep us busy’ Steph explains.

‘We found ourselves living in a rented flat, in the centre of town, for a while and nothing was coming up locally, so an estate agent sent us the details for Williamstone Farm, which included a tumble down collection of farm buildings in the pretty seaside town of North Berwick, just half an hour away. We went to have a look and we were immediately besotted’ Steph continues.

‘The town is such a friendly place and very conveniently located with a station, we knew we could be happy living here and we snapped it up straight away and moved in early September 2015. One of the farm buildings was just about habitable, so we camped there while we tackled the other three properties, one by one. We got started, drawing up plans and getting all the permissions in place and work commenced in November 2016. We moved into the farmhouse as our ultimate home in December 2017. We are still working on it, but the adjoining buildings, the Barn, the Bothy and the Byre have all been converted into holiday lets for visitors to the area’ she adds.

‘We employed Edinburgh based architect Lynsay Bell to help us with the design and planning before we even bought the property. Lynsay stood out for us as a young female, in a male dominated profession, heading up a dynamic team. There were a number of planning issues that needed to be overseen by Historic Scotland throughout the project, so it was quite challenging from that point of view. The barns had very few openings in their original state; we wanted to let a lot more light in and David Hill, the member of Lynsay’s staff that we worked most closely with on our project, came up with the solution of lining all the new openings in the barn with corten steel to define them and hint at their industrial heritage. We were delighted with this clever key to a tricky problem’ Steph explains ‘and it became the starting point for the rustic styling that we have used throughout the interior.’

The corten steel window framing, as well as a number of other items around their home, was made by a blacksmith in Dumfriesshire, James Boam.

‘Our search for flooring led us to Edinburgh based interior designer Rachel Richmond, we were looking for an engineered oak, suitable for laying over underfloor heating, with just the right amount of distressing. The service that Rachel provides through her company Hen & Crask is extremely individual and very personal; she helped me source all the fabrics, lighting and furniture. Rachel worked fast, which was a must for us, because our camping conditions were not comfortable, plus, equally importantly, she stuck to the budget we agreed on’ Steph points out.

Ryan handled all the technical issues of the build, as that is his area of interest, while Steph was responsible for the flow of their home and the interior finishes. ‘I used the services of an interior colour consultant, Patricia Hunter, early on, which I found very helpful. I love the subtle palette of colours that she proposed, I feel she has helped create a cosy atmosphere in our newly renovated home, very promptly. Renovating a building from it’s raw state is a lot of work and you can feel a bit lost so I was very grateful for any input’ Steph recalls. ‘I look at magazines and Pinterest for inspiration as well, of course. I feel my style has evolved considerably with this property though, I had a light-filled, Scandi vision for our home initially, but actually a rustic, industrial, edge has crept in and the results are much darker and more dramatic than I expected’ she reveals.

In the end, Steph was inspired by her surroundings and the rustic nature of the buildings, ‘we could have gone more coastal for the décor, as we are five minutes from the coast, but we are not actually on the beach or overlooking the sea, so that did not feel right.’ The farm is in an idyllic spot actually, utterly tranquil and surrounded by fields. ‘Country life seems to suit us, we are really looking forward to tackling the garden and enjoying beach life, walks, golf and getting involved in the local community surprisingly quickly, we are open for business and we honestly feel we are here for good!’ TC
Published: January 2018