Impressive Scots baronial house
The Gart is a handsome stone built Scots baronial country house which dates from 1835. An original, smaller house was designed on the site by William Burn. It was substantially rebuilt and enlarged after a fire in 1901.
Stuart McAlpine Miller, the contemporary artist, and his designer wife Nikki bought the house in 2016. Since that time they have upgraded, redecorated and furnished the house.
Today's house has an impressive entrance façade with a tower on the south corner featuring a pepper pot turret, and there's a second tower with a spired roof in the northeast corner. The house looks very pretty with its turrets, says Nikki, and looking out of the windows and seeing the mountains is very humbling.
When they bought the house the interior was very traditional. We knew we were never going to find something exactly as we wanted it, she says, but here the work was more to do with the interior than anything structural. We've taken on a lot of exhibition spaces in London so we're not afraid of large spaces.
Work started on the house, as soon as the couple had purchased it. They moved in when the top floor was completed and continued working through the remaining spaces, infusing each room with their distinctive style and design eye, not to mention their evident flair for colour. The house is filled with period detail, and has beautifully proportioned rooms, so the couple were starting with good bones here.
I love original features, and I like the mix of contemporary and traditional, says Nikki. We were definitely looking for a place with large open spaces. We wanted to create an art gallery within the house, so we wanted to have a lot of wall space and be considerate throughout with colour. It was a blank canvas at the time, but the view from every window was like a painting.
The Gart was a joint project for the couple, and Nikki says their approach to the interior was very organic. We knew we wanted to use grey and blue. I created a lot of mood boards on Pinterest. Once we had a room completed, we realised what artworks would work well. We wanted to showcase Stuart's art as we have clients who come to the house.
Stuart and Nikki already had some of the furniture featured throughout, and other pieces were made to order by Kingsgate Furniture. Nikki worked with David Thompson Designs when creating the stunning kitchen, which opens into the equally dramatic dining room. We had to take down part of the wall in this space to make it flow into the dining room, says Nikki. She also specified the corner fireplace a wonderful focal point that helps connect the two areas. The kitchen island is a sculptural pod shape that further enhances the flow, while the rich grey-painted cabinetry and wall colour ensure that the artworks pop within this space.
It's clear in talking to Nikki that she embraces inspiration wherever she finds it, from Pinterest to magazines to chance discoveries. I love finding pieces, she says. There's a little Art Deco sofa that's reupholstered in one of Stuart's artworks, and I found the original sofa in a store in Hackney. I like reimagining things.
The house can sleep up to 26. It is ideal for entertaining with a 100ft long reception room with its roaring fire for winter evenings; a well-stocked library with an open fire and comfy sofas and the morning room with its digital baby grand piano; a cinema room within one of the turrets; and a gin and whisky bar with bespoke seating and a pool table, not to mention the stunning kitchen and dining room.
There is also the basement level, which includes a gym, laundry, offices and store rooms and 4 bedrooms.
The Gart is a remarkable property in a truly spectacular location. The McAlpine Millers have created a home for themselves, and an incredible space for guests, that feels both personal and very unique.
Gardens and Grounds
To the east of the house is a large area of lawn interspersed with magnificent mature specimen trees. The lawns continue around to the south of the house. Along the south of the garden is an esker (natural glacial ridge) with a belt of trees along the top and a mass of rhododendrons below. This not only provides great amenity but also shields the property from the farm beyond. In the corner is an open fronted summer house with stone pillars and a tiled roof.
A wooden fence divides the garden off from the paddock running along the riverside. This links to a second paddock to the north of the property which is divided off from the caravan park by a high, thick hedge. There is a small area of mature trees between the paddock and the house with rhododendrons beneath, and an enclosed vegetable garden with a greenhouse. There is a wooden garden store.
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The Gart been given a whole new dimension by the style and workmanship and luxurious edge of the contemporary elements so boldly conceived and executed by Stuart and Nikki.Jamie Macnab