Shona and Jerry Ponder weren’t daunted by the idea of creating a large family home from scratch. After all, they had plenty of experience under their belts. As owners of bespoke kitchen company Countryside Kitchens in the Scottish Borders, interior designer Shona and project manager Jerry have overseen numerous small projects for clients. “But doing it for ourselves was different,” admits Shona. And the build would be more taxing than even they anticipated.
It wasn’t just their insight into the process that prompted the couple to embark on their own self build. With six children, aged nine to 28, plus a boisterous collection of cats and dogs, their previous home was bulging at the seams.
The couple’s business also lead them to their plot. “A customer in our shop mentioned a plot that was for sale,” says Shona. Familiar with the rural location (which was part of a working farm and home to a shed), the couple suspected the views alone would be worthy of a look. “We didn’t realise just how good they would be,” says Jerry, bowled over by open perspectives across fields to the Cheviot Hills. They were hooked, and made an offer on the plot – which had outline planning permission – without delay.
With a business to run, the couple were seduced by the idea of hiring a project manager, but the job quickly proved too much for the appointed individual. Consequently Jerry fell back on his own expertise.
For an architect the couple turned to Borders-based Hamish Hunter with whom Shona struck up an effective working relationship; “I created boxes for each room and squirreled away ideas,” she says. “I visualised the space and worked out what was needed where.” The jaw-dropping, south-facing views were a prime consideration for the house design.
Although there were no problems with the planners, the build of this spacious home was not all plain sailing. Despite some problems, the Ponders struck gold with both their local builder, George Anderson, and their timber kit supplier, Perthshire-based Rob Roy Homes. Shona and Jerry had worked with George previously, and he and his team tackled complex aspects of the build with great professionalism.
Rob Roy Homes had been suggested to the Ponders by a client and when their brochure arrived on their doormat, the couple knew the house on the front was just what they were looking for — trademark features such as timber-clad dormer windows were quickly earmarked for their own home. Around three months after work began on site, the kit started going up. Outside, a low-maintenance render (K-rend) was applied to the blockwork, while Chinese slate was the preferred option for the roof.
Despite the hiccups faced, the couple maintain that their project was mostly good fun. “We would do it again in a flash, but we’d be hard pushed to find a better plot,” says Shona. “We wake up in winter to see the sun rising over the edge of the fields and feel very lucky to have found this place.”