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A chocolate-box cottage in Minto raises the bar for picturesque homes
Minto is one of the most picturesque villages in the Borders, which makes it an apt setting for what is also one of the region’s prettiest houses. Perfectly at one with its surroundings, Tophouse forms part of a traditional row of cottages designed by eminent 19th Century architect William Playfair, designer of many of Edinburgh’s neo-classical New Town landmarks. Playfair also designed other buildings in Minto - a planned village protected by Conservation Area status – including the Gothic revival church.
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Built in 1851 originally as a semi-detached joiner’s cottage, Tophouse was later converted into one property and extended at the rear on more than one occasion. Present owner Susie Smith, succumbed to its endearing charm and character when she and her late husband bought the cottage 14 years ago. “I loved the quaintness of it and with three children at the time it had the space we wanted,” she says. “It’s a unique home in every respect – and so pretty people often stop and look – and sometimes take photographs. In the winter when it snows it is absolutely stunning,” Susie adds.
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The Smiths considerably boosted the appeal of the property with a long list of improvements and renovations, which have included installing oil-fired central heating and new like-for-like windows, double glazed this time around – and installing a wall of windows and double doors in the rear-facing sunroom.
Within the last year the upstairs bathroom and ground floor en suite have been completely refitted and a wood-burner has been added in the living room – and very recently, the main roof was thoroughly checked and the flat roof at the rear has now been completely refurbished and insulated. As a result, this cottage looks good well beyond its chocolate-box facade.
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“It’s a unique home in every respect – and so pretty people often stop and look – and sometimes take photographs. In the winter when it snows it is absolutely stunning”
Decorated throughout in a neutral palette that lets the architectural features – including replacement astragalled windows - stand out, the accommodation is over two levels and configured in such a way that it could be relatively easy to create a self-contained wing if required.
On the upper floor, accessed by a staircase in the rear hall/study, are two further bedrooms positioned on either side of a charming family bathroom. Both bedrooms have in-built storage, while the bathroom has wet-walling and a roil -top bath with pressure shower over.
The main entrance opens into a hall with access to a particularly spacious living room with seating around the bay window and a wood-burning stove – and on the other side of the hall a formal dining room with archway into a well equipped fitted kitchen with wood units, integrated appliances, granite worktops. The latter has access to a rear hall, off which is a cloakroom, 16ft sunroom (also connected to the living room), and a further large hall/study area with steps down to a lower level utility – both areas have been completely re-modelled within the last year.
Set well back from the road, the cottage is complemented by beautiful gardens, a labour of love painstakingly developed by Susie that includes a large front lawn bounded by hedging that includes mature shrub and planted beds as well as rhododendrons, ubiquitous climbing roses and a view over the fairways of Minto golf course, while the rear garden’s lawn, planted beds and patio is completely private. The cottage also has a garage.
As with most two-into-one conversions, the cottage’s layout is unpredictable, therefore the ground floor living room has a sizeable adjoining master bedroom with bay window, extensive built-in storage and en suite shower room.
Tophouse is just that, a unique house in an idyllic village setting, which makes viewing an absolute must. However, given its visual appeal, in this instance must-see could quickly translate to must-have.