Another contender for the Aberdeenshire Design Awards is the stunning Mill of Eslie development in Marr.
Architects Michael Rasmussen Associates and main contractor Sequoia Joinery Ltd have now completed work on a 12-month project that saw the transformation of the mill into a beautiful family home, along with the creation of a double garage and a private textile design studio on the site.
Michael Rasmussen, Managing Director of Michael Rasmussen Associates, commented:
“We were working within a former flax mill that had been converted into a house in the 1970s. Unfortunately the conversion was completed rather badly, and the design was somewhat insensitive. Our clients wanted the mill to be completely refurbished as a family home and as a result, we had to come up with an imaginative and innovative design.
“We did have some initial difficulties, as Aberdeenshire Council planning policy didn’t allow former agricultural buildings to be extended or altered. However, we submitted a proposal based on historic research that proved that there was already an extension – a saw mill that runs along the side of the mill – and used this as a precedent to extend the building.”
Works included the complete strip-out of the two-storey mill, along with partial structural alterations. The ground floor was stripped of the floor partitions, whilst an oak frame was installed to support the joists of the first floor.
One of the most interesting aspects of the project is the restoration of the mill wheel. This phase involved the cleaning out of the wheel pit and the installation of a wheel with a diameter of 2.5 metres. Following this, the main stairs were built above and around the mill wheel so that it could be seen from inside the building.
The home itself now boasts a spacious open-plan ground floor that incorporates a family sitting room with an inglenook fireplace, a kitchen and dining area, and a formal drawing room with a cathedral ceiling. Further facilities include a TV room, a cloakroom and a utilities room.
On the first floor, there is an en suite master bedroom and two en suite guest bedrooms. The master bedroom also boasts a balcony, which may be used as a private sitting room or as a study.
The development has incorporated a range of tasteful materials, including Siberian larch, green oak, black Indian slate, local granite and glass. The interior features off-white walls, which perfectly complement the black slate and natural tan of the oak, as Michael Rasmussen explained:
“It was quite an interesting project because the clients were from Aboyne but were living from Perth, Australia, during the project and other than a couple of very brief meetings with the client, all of the discussion over drawings and details were done by email.
“As a result, we had relatively free reign over the design. This worked out very well for us, as Claire Ross is a qualified interior designer and has impeccable taste. Although she wasn’t actively involved in the design of the building, her hand in the finishes and interior design has really helped to make the building what it is – and she deserves absolute credit for that.”
As the site is already situated within 2 acres of woodland, landscaping was kept to a minimum. A charming mixture of wild flowers and wild grasses has been planted, creating an attractive garden space that can be easily maintained.
Future potential plans include the acquisition of the mill wheel pond, which could in turn be connected to a generator to use micro hydro to produce enough energy to power the house. Although the house currently uses solar heating for domestic water, the use of water would be more effective, as the power could be generated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Speaking of the success of the project, Michael Rasmussen commented:
“Although overall it was a relatively smooth project, the design of the stair over the mill wheel was very complex, and involved a real collaboration between us and the specialist oak framing contractor. With something as complicated as the stairs, we could only ever design and draw 90% of it, and the remaining 10% had to be adjusted onsite or by working with the framing contractor to make sure it was fitted the way we wanted it.
“We were lucky enough to enjoy an excellent collaboration between ourselves, the contractor and the client. It’s one of the best projects we’ve worked on for a long time, and to be nominated for an Aberdeenshire Design Award is nothing short of fantastic.”