Garlanded for the festive season, a Borders village home extends its warmest welcome
Clare Edgar throws open the front door and gives an endearing welcome. The inviting aroma of home baking, cloves and mulberry spice draw me in to this captivating home.
Walking in to the immense sitting and dining room, where a fire glows over the granite hearth, it is evident that the family has had a lot of fun decorating for Christmas. Garlands adorned with red berries are strung over fireplaces while red lilies offer a festive touch throughout the house. With such warmth emanating from these walls, it is hard to believe that when Clare and her husband David viewed this property six years ago it was a shell of a building with no running water or electricity.
Today, the C-listed Mill House is an eyecatching home in the Borders village of Kirk Yetholm. Its exquisitely finished interior and carefully manicured exterior bear witness to the hard work that this couple put into creating a home and business. The mill was built in 1753, though the granary pre-dates it at 1601 – the chaff room, where the grain was dried, was added in 1804.
The house is decorated with the Christmas tree and garlands over the fireplace. Top: The family are all involved in baking for Christmas.
The mill wheel was removed in the 1960s when the granite building was turned into a piggery. With this in mind, the scene the Edgars found on first inspection would send the majority of people running in the opposite direction. But not the Edgars. ‘When we first came into the granary there was wheat stapled into the roof for insulation and it had a demolition order,’ recalls Clare. ‘One wall was at an angle and I was scared that it would come down so our local smiddy made a brace to pin it.
The building had no services and we had to have it all tanked. It is essentially a complete new build within the old building.’ The extent of work required was so great that David took a year out from his job within the farming industry to project manage the renovation. Add to this the fact that the couple had an 18-month-old daughter, Hannah, now 7, and Clare was pregnant with their son Logan, now 5, and it is clear that the couple took on a big challenge.
Having previously run her own catering business, Clare wanted to open part of the house for bed and breakfast. They also created a selfcatering apartment within the old Wheel House of the original mill. There are three bedrooms for let and another three for the family in the private wing. From the opulent finish throughout the house, Clare evidently enjoyed the decorating and furnishing process.
‘One wall was at an angle and I was scared that it would come down’
Luxurious materials such as oak, iroko and granite have been used in the vast 10-metre-long kitchen, while Sanderson wallcoverings adorn the drawing room, which boasts a sandstone fireplace. Farrow & Ball tones have been used in every bathroom and Clare has carefully chosen exquisite Laura Ashley cushions and throws to finish the bedrooms. ‘For both of us it has been a lifelong dream to have a B&B,’ admits Clare. ‘The building was David’s dream – he knew where the windows needed to go and could visualise everything from the start.’ Being converted from the old mill buildings, the house is set over three levels, with an indulgent hot tub nestled within a chalet off the middle level.
The central hallway has an enchanting air of an old farmhouse thanks to Clare’s choice of wallcovering, tweed covered chair and family paintings.
An eye for decor
‘I have a fantastic friend, Margaret Rennie, who has made all of my curtains and blinds – I chose all the fabrics from Cotton & Chintz in Edinburgh and Margaret made them up,’ says Clare. ‘I came across this tweed in Jenners and knew it would be perfect for the hall. I bought a plain cream calico covered chair from Ikea and presented the chair and fabric to Margaret, and that’s what she came back with. It is beautiful.
Logan’s teddy sits on it.’ Meanwhile, the formal drawing room, despite being almost 12 metres long, has a cosy feel thanks to the rich tones used on the walls and furnishings. At the far end of the room a door leads out to a balcony which overlooks the Cheviots. ‘When refurbishing a building you have to do the walls and roof and things like that, but I did insist on us having this balcony,’ smiles Clare. ‘If you don’t find space in your budget for things like this then you just don’t get them.’
Laura Ashley curtains and throws finish this bedroom.
In the dining room the blithe air of family gettogethers is demonstrated thanks to the vast table around which many Christmas lunches have now been enjoyed. When decorating for the festive season Clare took inspiration from a trip to Canada when she first encountered the ‘upside-down’ Christmas tree. ‘David and I had a fantastic holiday in Canada in 2000 and these upside-down trees were everywhere,’ she recalls.
‘David loves Christmas and he said he wanted these trees for the dining room. They sit so well against the wood panelled walls. We bought all the beaded plums and little decorations in Canada too, though the children made pasta, red, gold and glittery embellishments for the big Christmas tree in the drawing room.’
However, undoubtedly Clare’s forte lies in the kitchen where she cooks for the family and guests but also conjures up magnificent Christmas cakes, mince pies and shortbread. ‘This year I have just made three Christmas cakes but in the past I have made up to 18 for different people,’ she laughs. ‘I have always loved oak, cream and cockerels so that was my theme for the kitchen. I also chose an Alpha range cooker – it was the only fuel cooker of that size that would power 30 radiators. It does the hot water, heating and cooking and I love it to bits.’
‘I have a fantastic friend Margaret Rennie who has made all of my curtains and blinds – I chose all the fabrics from Cotton and Chintz in Edinburgh’
The couple took a big gamble when they bought the Mill House, but they are to be applauded for the home and business they have created. ‘We opened for B&B when Logan was five months old. I lost two grannies, had a baby, moved into a new house and started a business all within a short space of time – I realise now that we took on a lot,’ admits Clare. ‘But we do love it here.’
For further details about B&B or the self-catering apartment, contact Clare Edgar at The Mill House, Main Street, Kirk Yetholm, by Kelso, TD5 8PE.
Tel: 01573 420604.
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