Williamstone Farm Steadings
The Byre Williamstone Farm Steadings North Berwick East Lothian
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When Steph and Ryan Lothian asked if we’d like to spend a weekend staying at Williamstone Farm Steadings on the outskirts of North Berwick, of course I said yes! I wrote about this steading conversion when it was completed two years ago, but it’s one thing writing about a project and quite another getting to experience it first hand.
There are three properties to choose from when staying at Williamstone: The Barn, The Bothy, and The Byre. We stayed in The Byre, which is dog friendly, with three bedrooms, a big (and I mean big!) open plan living space, and an enclosed garden.
This open plan space is even larger than it looks in photos. I loved the sense of volume with the exposed roof beams. This conversion combines the character of the stone steading alongside clean-lined and contemporary interiors, from the sleek Poggenpohl kitchen to the Scandinavian RAIS woodburner with its stainless steel flue shooting up into the roof space. Every design detail has been considered here, from those sculptural pendants with their vintage-style bulbs to the custom made dining table and bench seating by craftsman James Boam.
We arrived at The Byre late on Saturday afternoon and made ourselves right at home. The lads explored, sniffing around the interior and the garden. New places are always exciting, right? And especially when there are four openings into the garden, with giant sliding doors in both the living space and in the hallway that links the three bedrooms, another sliding door in the main bedroom, and the glazed back door. There’s a really nice indoor-outdoor flow, and we made the most of it on this warm weekend.
Steph and Ryan bought Williamstone in September 2015, at which point the buildings were in a fairly derelict state. As Steph says, “They were watertight but only just.” The idea of developing the steadings as holiday cottages developed over time. The couple worked with two Edinburgh-based design studios for this project: the architectural practice Studio LBA, who transformed the original steadings into today’s three properties; and interior design studio DecorAir, who helped select the furniture and lighting.
“We wanted to be true to the buildings. We laboured over which walls we could have as exposed stone, and we kept as much of the original detailing as we could as it tells a story of the history of these buildings. We didn’t want to cram in bedrooms; we wanted the spaces to flow and to be proportionate. Also, because the buildings are quite industrial, we wanted a cool and edgy interior style.”
On Saturday evening, we headed for a walk along the beach and arrived just as the sun was setting.
We wanted to spend Sunday morning enjoying the Byre before heading out for a walk. Richard had a run along the beach at Yellowcraig and then settled at the dining table while I practiced yoga in the hallway that connects the bedrooms, which was one of my favourite spots. The walls are painted in Dead Salmon by Farrow & Ball - a colour I’d never have considered using before seeing it here as this pinkish hue created a wonderful mood as it shifted in the light. With the sliding door open into the garden and sunshine streaming in, this was the perfect space for yoga while Harris and Bracken enjoyed the sun spots.
There are lots of features to admire and enjoy in these steadings, but the use of Corten steel is one of my favourite details. Corten steel was used for the new openings in the buildings, and the material complements the old stonework while also acknowledging the contemporary life of these steadings now. As well as making the dining table and bench seating, and the bar stools for the kitchen island, James Boam also did all the metalwork here.
On Sunday afternoon, we headed to Ravensheugh beach, near Tyninghame. Rather than taking our usual route through the woods, we walked around the headland, gaining a different perspective of the beach, with this view to Bass Rock in the distance. Indeed, that’s one of the best things about staying at Williamstone: as well as the beach at North Berwick, there are so many amazing coastal walks within a short drive, including Yellowcraig, Gullane and Seacliff, and our favourite woodland and beach walk at John Muir Country Park.
We drove back to The Byre via Drift and a different view of Bass Rock and over Canty Bay. While Drift isn’t dog-friendly inside, if the weather is good - and not too windy, which it can be here given the location - we’ll sit outside at one of the benches. Just a great spot.
After our walk, we were ready for a quiet Sunday night curled up on the sofa with the stove lit. The next morning, we woke up to rain and leaden skies, but it was time to head home. This may have been a short break, but we still packed plenty of walking into the weekend.
While we stayed here in September, The Byre would also be a great winter escape, with the underfloor heating warming human and canine paws. If the weather’s lousy, you could just enjoy the space and curl up with Netflix or a book. But if the weather’s good, there’s so much to explore, from coastal walks to the local independent shops and cafés, including our favourite, Steampunk, which is dog friendly on the ground floor (and does wickedly good vegan cake!). There’s also a great new pet store on the high street called Barker & Bone - handy if you need to restock on treats.
with thanks to Steph + Ryan
If you’d like to know more about The Byre, or the other properties available at Williamstone Farm Steadings, tap here.
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