I wrote this piece on lovely Lisa’s Davis’ home for Scotland on Sunday’s At Home magazine.
When Lisa and Stevie Davis decided to extend their ground floor portion of a converted old forge in Renfrewshire, they didn’t just think outside the box, they thought inside too. By knocking through to the upstairs property and adding a staircase, the couple acquired two extra levels and oceans of space.
The fusion of the two flats was mainly down to happenstance, as just when the couple was on the point of extending their flat, the opportunity to buy the two-story upper flat came up unexpectedly.
“We bought the ground flat in 2000, but when our daughter Hannah, who is now six arrived, we needed more space,” explains Lisa who is general manager of BoConcept’s Glasgow store. We were considering extending the back of the house, when the doctor living above us had to relocate and we were able to buy the upstairs flat.
“Now we have half the original house over three levels and as many bedrooms, including an attic bedroom on top. Although we had to deconstruct to construct our much loved home, we now have a space that works for all three of us which will last a lifetime.”
The Old Forge in the village of Lochwinnoch, was converted into two houses at the turn of the 19th century when it was home to two sisters. When Lisa came across the grand-daughter of one of the sisters taking photographs of the house, she learned more about the property’s history.
“It was fascinating to see old pictures of the house dating back to Edwardian times. Apparently the sisters used to lower a basket from the first floor window for shopping. When the sisters died, the house went to rack and ruin and was really just a shell until the early 1980s when it was renovated and divided into four flats.”
While excited about the prospect of uniting upstairs and downstairs, Lisa says that after several years of living in the little flat, ripping out the heart and soul of their home was difficult in emotional terms, and their cat Fonzie temporarily lost his fur!
Choosing to do all the work themselves was initially daunting, in spite of the fact that Stevie is a painter and decorator. Lisa recalls the work starting on a grim winter’s morning when they knocked through the outside wall of their bedroom to create an on-street entrance.
“We were lying in bed with just some hardboard between us and the elements. With hindsight it would have been easier to build from scratch as every room in the house was moved, but we worked on steadily tackling a room at a time.
“When the staircase was going in and everything was being stripped back, Hannah and I moved out for a few weeks. Stevie was working from 7am until 4pm, then coming home and working on this place, but all his friends were fantastic, supplying tools and helping out.
“Stephen McNab of McNab Home Improvements installed the staircase and oversaw all the structural changes, as well as fitting the custom made kitchen. It was fascinating to see the original construction; it’s such a solid building. We uncovered the old kitchen wall with the utensil recesses and took it back to bare stone.”
A walk-in shelved larder with feature lintel adds a coolly industrial edge to the rustic kitchen, and the addition of a sliding door reinforces the flow of space between kitchen and dining room. The metal door runner was crafted by Mark Forrester, the son of the last person to shoe horses in the area.
Both the kitchen and dining area are sociable spaces and the couple enjoying having their close friends round for a glass of wine on Friday evenings. The oval Anari dining table is from BoConcept and comes in stained black oak, while the 60’s style bucket seat chairs are in sleek but child friendly black leather.
The original kitchen on the ground floor is now a shower room while a third bedroom on the same level doubles as an office and dressing room. The couple worked to a strict budget, allocating a set amount of money to each room, while setting aside contingency budget for emergencies.
“We’ve had many highs and lows as you would expect with any build,” says Lisa, “but one of the most satisfying moments was the day the staircase went it and could see the entire space opening up.”
In terms of interior design, Lisa says that they didn’t have any pre-conceived ideas, allowing the house to evolve over time. Unlike her parents, Hannah was particularly prescriptive as she wanted a bedroom that was ‘pink beyond pink’. Lisa took a deep breath, put all her in interior design expertise to one side, and let her daughter take over; at least in one room.
With a Diploma in Product Design and a BSc in Interior Design, Lisa oversees the design team at BoConcept, as well as being involved in trade, marketing, designing, planning, sales and installing new shop fits.
“Everyone can be a designer in their own right,” she points out, “and we like to give people what they want, not what they think they should have. With my own home I’ve mixed BoConcept pieces with existing furniture and accessories.
“I love the simple uncomplicated approach the Danish have to design as it’s all so well-thought out, cleverly engineered and functional. I visit the company in Denmark every year to get ideas about the next collections. Danes are not dissimilar to Scots as they are relaxed and fun loving; it is almost like coming home.”
In keeping with Scandinavian simplicity, the interior of the Old Forge is mainly painted in a swansdown shade of off-white on grey which is warmed by the abundance of light flooding in through the windows; Lisa has opted for wooden blinds rather than curtains.
The Como sofa which sits next to the log burning stove in the living room, is covered in charcoal grey fabric but with the colourful coda of a standout section in petrol blue felt. The steel-framed sofa can be reconfigured to change the mood of the room.
Lisa’s favourite room is the bedroom which crowns the house, as it is here she has her ‘bed of dreams’ with a seven-star mattress. “So many people invest in sofas or tables, but the thing that everyone uses and appreciates most is a good bed. This one is perfect in every way, like sleeping on a cloud.
With all the fundamentals bedded in, Lisa and Stevie are enjoying to inserting their personalities back into what is almost a new home, but are pacing themselves as they want to make the most of every minute of the process.
Concludes Lisa: “We wouldn’t have been here without such trusting and wonderful friends and family. It’s still a work in progress but this is not a show home or for selling on. Everything we’ve done to this house works for us a family, as watching Hannah grow up is the most important part of being here.”
257 Sauchiehall Street Glasgow 0141 341 4920