Text description provided by the architects. Loader Monteith has completed a comprehensive refurbishment and extension to a former crofter’s cottage in the remote Scottish Highlands. The clients gave their architects one powerful line of aspiration for the project; the house needed to be a warm, comfortable, light-filled family space that allows the outdoors to be in harmony with the indoors. The existing cottage was very small and disconnected from its surroundings by thick stone walls and small windows. The clients wanted more and usable space to accommodate their family and guests, but local planning laws meant new building interventions could be no more than the size of the original footprint. To meet this challenge, Loader Monteith designed the house that has two wings.
First, the architects extended the stone cottage, adding a black timber-clad living area with full-height glazed doors that frame the panoramic mountain views. An island kitchen is located at the centre of the home, bookmarked by the semi-open plan living room and small snug. Atop the old cottage, Loader Monteith designed a dormer extension with large views to the landscape, leading to two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a mezzanine office. A new retreat wing shadows the existing cottage, set behind and slightly offset from the main house to create long views out to the Cairngorms from the main bedroom.
Also clad in black timber, the new wing is connected to the cottage by a glazed spine, and includes an entrance hall, utility room, store, bedroom, office, and bathroom. Loader Monteith’s commitment to sustainability is evident in the material and energy considerations of the home. All the structural materials - the stone, slate, and timber - were sourced locally from Strone. The practice chose materials that could either be melted down and re-used, like the gutters, or would naturally biodegrade at the end of their life. The timber cladding comes from Russwood timber suppliers, who are based less than a mile from the house, and Loader Monteith worked closely with them to get the detailing right for the exposed location. Underfloor heating warms the ground floor, compatible with an air source heat pump for future energy efficiency. Outside, a patio and concrete tiled paths border the house, giving the clients space to enjoy the outdoors in warmer months.
Matt Loader, Director, Loader Monteith says: “Strone of Glenbanchor is a special house and location that speaks to the magic of the Scottish landscape. We worked hard to ensure the house would sit in harmony with its surroundings, both blending in with and enhancing them. Ultimately, this project was about making the most of the views, so we positioned windows and doors carefully to open the house to the mountains.” “To bed the house into its setting, we looked for local material suppliers who worked with natural fabrics in a sustainable way. Slate, timber, and stone anchor the house, while inside lighter, softer materials and colours allow the views to take centre stage.” Ian and Patricia, clients say: “When we first saw Strone of Glenbanchor we joked that if it came up for sale we would be keen to buy it. When it did, we jumped at the chance. We originally undertook the project to be a holiday home, but loved the finished house so much we moved in permanently.”
“Loader Monteith was recommended to us by our builder, and from the outset, it was clear they placed our vision and our brief at the forefront of the project. We liked Matt and Iain’s reaction to the house and its potential.” “The quality of the architectural design and building work is our favourite thing about Strone; this house is very much admired and we are very proud to call it home. For us, we love to sit in the garden and admire the house, as it is so beautiful and in keeping with the setting. We also love the drive up Strone Road where the house is the first thing you see.” “Our favourite place inside is probably the kitchen/dining room area, and this leads on to an open sitting room. The double-sided wood-fired stove makes it very cosy in winter. Pulling up a chair and gazing out the window, no matter what time of year, is magical.”