Named Westside Woodshed, this cool cottage—which is now available for holiday rentals—was designed by Edinburgh–based Roxburgh McEwan Architects. The firm worked closely with owners Jenny Cowan and Michael Rummey to create a stylish, cozy retreat on the couple's farmland in the Pentland Hills—a range of scenic hills to the southwest of Edinburgh.
The home lies at the west end of the couple’s main house, and it takes the form of a traditional gabled roof cottage. However closer inspection reveals an almost imperceptible widening of the building at one end, resulting in more internal space.
"We wanted to move away from the solidity and introversion of traditional stone-built farm buildings to something with a lighter touch, but still as sturdy. This meant views out to the hills, and an awareness of the outside when within. It also meant one main double-height space rather than the more traditional approach of compartmentalizing into smaller spaces," says Cowan.
It was important to the couple that the cottage fit into its rugged, hilly environment, so the architects preserved the existing trees on the site. Kebony wood was used for exterior cladding, which quickly weathered to a natural silver to match the surrounding trees.
Though cross-laminated timber (CLT) construction is becoming more widely used throughout Scotland and the UK, Cowan says it is still a material that many local architects and contractors aren’t very familiar with.
"Despite a lack of previous experience with CLT, everyone involved with the project was keen to explore its potential and create something exiting and unique in the process. Of course, this also came with practical challenges. With few wall cavities to work within, wiring and other services within the building had to be cleverly routed. Acoustics with a CLT building should also be carefully considered and some oversights were made. We would also urge caution when considering a concrete floor," says Rummey.
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Cowan and Rummy took care to ensure that the CLT did not become too domineering. "As it is exposed to sunlight, CLT can become yellow over time, and we felt that this effect could work against the principles of the light and airy spaces we had created. To overcome these concerns, we treated the CLT surfaces with a white oil. The effect is to retain the timber aesthetic, but with a white-washed appearance," says Cowan.
The ground level has polished concrete floors, while the stairs and loft-level floor are made of engineered oak lightly glossed with whitening oil. The subtle silver and white tones of the timber work beautifully with the oak and concrete.
Birch plywood window and door jambs, and built-in furniture add warmth to the snug and compact space.
Although its finishes are modern, the home respects the traditional cottage vernacular found throughout the region. By combining a gabled roof with a carefully chosen palette of materials, the architects gave a nod to the cottage's inspiration—the traditional agricultural woodshed.
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"The Westside Woodshed is a sanctuary in the hills that’s uplifting, light, and spacious, yet at the same time snug and protective," says Cowan.
The Westside Woodshed is available available for rent through Eastside Cottages.
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