STYLE COUNCIL
Homes & Interiors Scotland|May - June 2021
This dilapidated semi has shed its breezeblock shell and ropey DIY past to emerge as a spacious, thoughtful, well-crafted family home
Catherine Coyle

What has the past year taught us? For many, it’s the realisation that the world is smaller than we thought. Zoom meetings, virtual classes and WhatsApp calls have tested our online capabilities to the limit, but they have also opened up possibilities and offered a window into new territories. Loader Monteith is no exception.

The Glasgow-based architecture practice had previously stuck largely to projects in Scotland, but when an old friend living down south was looking to renovate his property, London suddenly didn’t seem so far away. “We actually like working around the country – we think it makes us better architects, being exposed to a diversity of styles and different site analysis,” explains director Matt Loader. “In this case, we were initially unsure how we’d make it work, given the distance between us and the client, but we investigated it and concluded that in many respects it was easier to get to than several of our ongoing projects in the north of Scotland.”

Loader and the client, Pete Cawston, had known each other from their university rowing team days in Edinburgh. Cawston moved to London, where he met his partner Daisy Llewellyn, and in 2016 the couple got their hands on a rather idiosyncratic property, which they bought knowing it would need an extensive overhaul.

The semi-detached house, a cement breeze block structure, had been built in the 1970s, and its previous owners had added to it piecemeal over the years. “It was not a looker!” recalls Loader.

It was also in a fairly dilapidated condition, which meant the couple managed to get a good deal. “We wanted a large but affordable family house,” says Llewellyn. “And because this one was so odd and needed so much work, we got it ‘cheap’, considering London prices and its square footage.”

The house might have been big, but its unusual layout and modifications meant it wasn’t fit for purpose. It had many unfinished areas, as well as unusual features, such as a bathroom with a glass wall facing a staircase. There were also several warren-like internal corridors, limiting light and making terrible use of the existing space. The only way to tackle it was to call in the builders and have them gut the interior.

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