It’s a pleasant, if unexpected, surprise to find a little touch of the Mediterranean on the outskirts of a windy, sea-lashed town on Scotland’s north-east coast. But Heinz and Ruth Voigt have built a family home – for themselves, daughters Katie and Annie, sons David and John, and their dogs, Hamish and Rougie. With its walled courtyard and red-pantiled hacienda-style roof –which caused more than a few issues at the local planning authority – the Voigts’ home is certainly more reminiscent of Andalucia than Arbroath.
“The concept behind the house design was to create a Mediterranean effect,” explains Heinz, who is founder and director of Arbroath-based building design firm The Voigt Partnership and who also acted as project manager on the build. “I’m really influenced by Spanish, French and Italian domestic architecture, so I’ve contained our home within a walled enclosure. I’ve also kept every aspect of the house very simple.”
“My friend Gordon and I bought these old farm buildings from the local farmer” explains Heinz. “We received planning consent to build six dwellings, but this would have meant knocking everything down and creating a new development. In the end we decided to retain much of the fabric of the old farm buildings, and construct four houses on the site.”
Denfield Steadings, the resulting home which Heinz both designed and built, now includes five bedrooms over two floors, and epitomises rustic charm — with new materials sitting side by side with those that have been reclaimed or recycled.
“On the whole the house is open plan, but we’ve also created lots of little nooks and crannies to give it character,” says Heinz. This open plan procession starts with the kitchen/dining area, taking in a more formal space for dining, along the way to the sunken family sitting area. It finally culminates in the only enclosed space — the lounge. “Although we spend a lot of time in the open plan areas, we love the lounge ‘retreat’ at the north end of the house,” Heinz admits. “It’s the only living space with closable doors, so you can lock yourself away.”
The addition of attic trusses has allowed the Voigts to construct a first floor — which is now home to the children’s bedrooms and two bathrooms. The trusses were imported but, like much of the work, installed by local joiners.
The new home is kept warm with the aid of modern technology — with underfloor heating on the ground floor and radiators upstairs. There’s also a woodburning stove in the open plan lounge and an open hearth in the retreat – which is gas, but could be converted to solid fuel – for additional warmth in the winter. “Energy wise it’s really economical for such a large house,” reflects Heinz. “There’s not an awful lot of solar gain, with most of the glazing being east facing — we were restricted by the original openings of the house. But there is a high standard of insulation — it’s a very warm house.”