Author: Mark Crichton

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Tuesday, May 12th, 2009 at 1:05 am
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Homes

Cherry Trees, Saline

My mother, father and I bought Cherry Trees in August of 2006. It wasn’t the house that we first fell in love with; it was the surrounding area and incredible views that completely bowled us over. The first time we visited – on a clear day in the summer – all three of us stood stock-still at the top of the garden gazing along the valley towards where William Wallace proudly guards the horizon at Stirling.

 

view-to-hillsThe vistas, on all four sides of the secluded house, are breathtaking, and command your immediate attention. The Trossachs and Ochils rise up on the north west, and the valley between these rugged stone ridges leads, eventually, to the often snow capped Ben Lomond.

 

We agreed to jointly buy Cherry Trees that day, and soon started planning how we could transform the house to better match such an amazing setting.

 

Cherry Trees was originally a game keeper’s cottage, and had already benefitted from one small extension project in the past. Despite this, the accommodation was still very modest, and seemed swamped by the seven acres that surround it. Our goal was to create a spacious house which would be suitable for modern life, but which still retained the building’s history and charm. They say a man’s home is his castle, and we wanted the house to illustrate that almost literally, with a really solid, rustic look and feel.

 

The original house and outbuildings were reputed to have been made using stone from an ancient abbey that once stood nearby, and indeed, during the project we uncovered stones with dates and symbols carved into them. Etched onto an exposed stone lintel within the house is the year 1769 along with an upturned heart shape, and the name ‘Weir’. Whilst salvaging stone from the crumbling outbuildings we discovered part of an old pillar, and a stone bearing the initials JD.

We constructed the garage and stone-faced walls of the new extension using the material we saved, and gave JD’s stone pride of place above the garage archway. I love these subtle features.

the-towerIn addition, we also used the stone to craft the turret which now houses the staircase, and gives the entrance that castle-like stature we had initially dreamt of. From handling these weighty stones myself I can well believe that they are steeped in local history – the rough shapes and sheer size hint that they once formed part of unyielding, thick walls that sheltered Scots in years gone by.

 

Layout
The layout of the house was incredibly important to get right. Simply putting windows behind the best views wasn’t enough – we wanted those functional rooms that become the very heart of daily life to be those where glimpses of natural beauty were available on tap. The conservatory, living room and master bedroom all face towards the valley, with familiar old William on the horizon, and the kitchen has the added benefit of a veranda where the garden and views can be sampled from the other side of the glass.

 

Deciding the layout was probably one of the toughest parts of the planning process. It wasn’t only challenging because we didn’t want to ‘waste’ beautiful views on less frequently used rooms, but because we were, essentially, buckling two houses together: the original (and already slightly extended) cottage, and the new extension. It was relatively easy to retain consistency on the outside; we worked with the same aged stone that the original house was made from, ensured that style and colours matched, and created new dormer windows on the first floor in line with those in the new extension.

 

Inside, we needed to start from scratch. Keeping designated rooms in their original place would have meant the extension would have always felt as if it had been ‘bolted on’, and there would have been a very real danger that the new space might never have reached its full potential. Revolutionising the entire layout has meant more work (including a rather momentous day when we cut through the substantial stone from the old building to the new), but has resulted in a far better house.

The new layout makes sense, with the kitchen near to all the rooms you might use for eating and entertaining: the veranda, family room, dining room and living room. The bedrooms are much more spacious than the gamekeeper’s tiny quarters, and the bathrooms more luxurious. From the front door and hallway onwards the rooms flow easily from one to another, and the house is now the deserving jewel at the centre of its horticultural crown.

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One Response to “Cherry Trees, Saline”

  1. Angela Wallace Says:

    Hi Mark I am the person you bought the house from, yes when we came to see the house we bought it that same day and again it was not the house but the location, unfortunately we did not have the money to do what you have done – it looks fantastic. I have heard that you no longer life at Cherry Trees and wondered where your Mum and Dad are now. I have really settled in their old house and did a few conversions myself, I put an upstairs on and made an additional lounge and dining room to take in the amazing view of the Ochils and extended onto the side so I could have a very large utility room. I hope you are doing well and I believe you are in London. Looking forward to hearing an update from you.

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