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An oak frame family home and bespoke Gloucester garage in Ayr

Patience with the planning process and a series of renovation projects provided the perfect foundations for Iain and Karen Hendry to build their stylish forever home.

Project Details

  • Ayrshire
  • 2019
  • Country contemporary
  • 380m²
  • £1,178,000
  • Self-build
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Finding the perfect plot

The purchase of a derelict chauffeur’s cottage on the Gadgirth Estate near Ayr as a young couple in 1987 was the starting point of Iain and Karen’s interesting journey of building projects.

Over the years, as properties on the estate came up for sale, Iain and Karen took the opportunity to buy, restore and sell them as well as buying land to build holiday accommodation on. Their attachment to Gadgirth, now in its third decade, has culminated in the design and build of this stunning oak frame home.

The planning application process

Iain and Karen mapped out a design and floorplan for their future home with Thomson Hunter Associates – our Regional Architectural Designers in Scotland.

“The location we had in mind for our new house was a superb, sheltered walled garden surrounded by mature woodland in the estate grounds,” says Iain. “We knew getting planning permission for a new home in the open countryside would take a lot of negotiation with the local Council – it wasn’t about the design which was exemplary, but more about tying the house build in with our holiday let business. We had to work really hard and had to meet with the head of the planning department to gain planning permission. Once approved we had to comply with the many conditions that the Council had insisted upon.”

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Choosing to build with oak

Iain has been our Project Manager in Scotland since 2014, and during this time he’s supported numerous clients with their oak frame home designs and builds.

So, when it came to determining the overall look and feel of their new home, you can imagine there was one building material which was non-negotiable!

“An oak frame home has a certain ambience, warmth and inherent history,” explains Iain. “We had a traditional post and beam frame in mind, and I love sling braces. We chose to incorporate both into our architectural design.

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Key design features

Nature and woodland warmly welcome you to Iain and Karen’s home. And as you drive through an opening into their secluded, walled garden, you catch a first glimpse of how its exterior design was influenced by their scenic surroundings.

Horizontal, oak cladding encases their L-shaped home and settles it into its backdrop, while varying pitches created by the slate roofs, a dormer window and gable end on the riverside elevation mirror the assorted treetop heights behind.

So, how did Iain and Karen ensure the beauty of the grounds of the country estate was not forgotten once inside?

The use of face glazing and deliberate orientation of their home means they benefit from natural sunlight throughout the day, and the sliding doors leading out from their living room in particular provide a clear view of their garden and tranquil pond.

“The design of Iain and Karen’s home, Riverside House, was heavily influenced by some projects we were building at the time, as we could physically see the spaces that were being created,” explains Craig Thomson from Thomson Hunter Architects.

“Of course, the nature of the site in a beautiful historic walled garden also had a huge influence on the design and location of their home.”

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Step through Iain and Karen's front door

Stepping through Iain and Karen’s solid oak double front door, you enter their light and open, vaulted hallway.

“We tried to create internal spaces with a range of ceiling heights to show off the beauty of the oak frame, as well as create interest as you move through the house,” continues Craig.

Setting the tone for the rest of their home, their bespoke oak frame comprises an array of handcrafted sling braces, adding layers, intrigue and character to this entrance. And the curvature of these braces echoes in the design of the sweeping oak staircase positioned here. Crafted by local Joiner, Jack Cowan, the complementary, curved balustrade (which is as smooth as a knife gliding through warm butter), follows and accentuates the unique shape of the landing above.

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To the left of the hallway there are multiple living areas, including a cinema room and snug. To the right, the floorplan of Iain and Karen’s oak framed home flows effortlessly into their open-plan Seimatic kitchen, dining room and lounge. The post and beam frame with sling braces naturally borders, and the removal of interior walls here allows country and contemporary styles to fuse.

Oak purlins then draw your eyes into Iain and Karen’s vaulted lounge, where a Charnwood stove, installed by Gibson & Goold of Ayr is surrounded by Thirkleby-blend red bricks – the closest they could find to the old local Annbank brickworks which closed many years ago. The brick chimney breast is flanked on either side with face glazing overlooking the garden.

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Upstairs there are four bedrooms which all benefit from en-suites. The master bedroom is positioned on the face glazed gable end so Iain and Karen can enjoy expansive views over their River Ayr.

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Space for friends

To the right of Iain and Karen’s home is their three-bay oak frame garage with its open-plan guest suite above. It’s clear here that Iain’s love for sling braces has extended into its design.

Clad in silvering, oak weatherboarding, its structure is based on The Gloucester from our room above garage range, featuring ample storage on the ground floor with two, open car ports, an oak doored machine shed and a log store. Looking upwards, Iain and Karen incorporated a clock tower in the centre of their garage’s slate roof to create an outdoor focal point.

A forever oak frame home built with the future in mind

Renewable energy was at the heart of Iain and Karen’s home design. Both floors’ heating is generated by a Mitsubishi air source heat pump that provides warmth for their underfloor heating and works in conjunction with their highly energy-efficient and airtight WrightWall and WrightRoof Natural encapsulation system.

In addition, large format integrated solar panels set alongside the roof tiles create a streamlined roof. The recessed PV provides solar electricity and charge a battery to back up during power cuts and to power night-time electricity.

If you’ve browsed the gallery of photographs below, it’ll come as no surprise that Iain and Karen are over the moon with their oak frame home and garage.

“It’s exactly what we pictured, and it’s the first house I’ve sat back in and thought there’s absolutely nothing I’d like to change about it.

“My advice for future self-builders is to spend time on your design, have the right team around you and most importantly, enjoy your build!” Concludes Iain.

An oak frame home has a certain ambience, warmth and inherent history


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