After a meticulous restoration this standout house is now the finest of period family homes, finds Ann Wallace
WHAT: Four bedroomed detached sandstone villa
PRICE: Offers over £865,000
CONTACT: Donald Ross Residential 01292 288222.
FROM its distinctive exterior to its "famous" wallpaper, this week’s Hot Property is a fascinating period home packed with charm and character.
The detached sandstone villa at 2 Wheatfield Road in Ayr is one of the town’s most recognisable and admired homes, thanks to its quirky corner tower.
Inside, its period features such as stained glass windows, cornicing and wood panelling have been lovingly maintained by owner Mary Murdoch, whose own life story is equally interesting.
"I feel very privileged to have owned some of Ayrshire’s finest B-listed homes, and restoring them has been something of a passion," explains the 70-year-old.
"But we restored them to live in them, not just to admire them and they have all been lovely family homes."
Mary and her late husband John were born in the same tenement in Mauchline, Ayrshire – a few years apart.
"We first met when I was just a wee lassie, maybe six or seven years old," she smiles. "He was a builder, who went to London to find work and struck it lucky.
"It was the early 60s, at the height of the building boom, so we were very fortunate to be able to live in a lovely house down south and our children attended school in Ascot with Sarah Ferguson, now the Duchess of York."
While Mary and John loved the beautiful house he had built, they dreamt of living in an older property "with history" and their search brought them back to Scotland.
"I have loved all the houses we have lived in since we moved back, but 2 Wheatfield Road is a little special," says Mary. "It’s what I call a nice wraparound house, with everything flowing together and some fabulous old features – and it’s in a fantastic location, close to the Low Green, the town centre and the seafront."
The property has five reception rooms, including a beautiful drawing room with oriel bay window and a formal dining room which, with its detailed cornicing, fireplace and wood panelling, is a wonderful reminder of days gone by.
"I love the dining room," smiles Mary. "I spent a long time trying to decide which wallpaper would work best, although John wasn’t a fan of the one I chose.
"One day my daughter called to tell me she had just seen it on the television in a castle that was being renovated, and I believe it’s also in number 11 Downing Street – so if it’s okay for castles and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I think it’s okay for me..."
The ground floor also includes a family room/study and a luxury kitchen leading into a dining area and living room.
Towards the rear of the house is the utility room, a WC with access into a gymnasium and a garage. A wonderful hand carved timber staircase leads to the upper floor where there are four double bedrooms and a luxury family bathroom.
The house dates back to 1888 and Mary loves the craftsmanship and attention to detail which is evident throughout.
"I loved the stained glass windows from the moment I saw them," she explains. "I wanted to make a feature of them, at night, particularly, so we installed exterior lights to really make the most of the wonderful shapes and colours. I kept the coal fire in the dining room too – I love the crackle of a real fire on cold, winter nights.
"Even little things like the tiling in the downstairs loo, which is also original, matters to me when it comes to preserving the history of the house."
The gardens at 2 Wheatfield Road are beautifully manicured, tucked away behind their own walls and boasting pretty features such as shrub borders, a pond and a lovely timber summer house which has light and power. "John used to laugh at me for spending so much time in the summer house," recalls Mary, with a smile.
"It gets the evening sun, which is really beautiful and so peaceful.
"He’d be searching for me and finally find me reading or relaxing there and say, ‘good God, Mary, we move into this big house and you spend all of your time in a hut at the bottom of the garden."
Mary, who has two grown-up daughters and five grandchildren, is sure the new owners will love 2 Wheatfield Road as much as she and John have.
"I think when you have a passion for something, it rubs off on others. Hopefully people will see what a passion we had for restoring and living in this lovely home," she says.
"For us, it was always about creating a comfortable home to live in, but equally about recognising this house’s connection to the history of Ayr and bringing back a sense of that wonderful bygone era."