Its first impression also conceals a startlingly contemporary interior which is largely open-plan, double-height and finished with huge bold artworks, industrial fittings and a predominantly black palette.
Spottes Mill was completed in 2016 and was swiftly named best new-build in Dumfries and Galloway. In 2021, it attracted attention as a finalist on the BBC’s Scotland’s Home of the Year, where the judges praised its urban cool and quality of build.
But the home’s inception was far from straightforward, as owner Mark Paterson recalls: “We bought the plot in 2009 and originally had planning permission to convert the old mill that was on the site.”
At the time, Mark was working in corporate finance in Edinburgh, but he grew up five minutes from Haugh of Urr and was looking around for a local project. These days he runs his family’s quad bike business in nearby Dalbeattie.
Mark’s plans for a conversion became unworkable, however, soon after the project began. He explains: “Not only was the building lacking proper foundations because of its age, but the ground was so soft that much of the building was crumbling away. It was a nightmare.”
The dream turned sour necessitated a complete change of plan – to build from scratch, but on the old footprint and incorporating much of the original stone. Working with local architect Peter Sassoon from Kirkcudbright, a new design for Spottes Mill was created.
Mark says: “It allowed us to make the quality of the stonework, foundations and structure of the building much better and easily meet the requirements for efficiency and insulation.”
After meeting planning constraints concerning the building’s exterior, Mark’s team could look to designing the interior, and relished the opportunity to be more creative.
The result is a strong look, with poured concrete floors, dark walls, neon hues and industrial detailing, including a cantilevered staircase and steel tension cables descending from exposed ceiling trusses. Eye-catching murals by Paisley-based graffiti artist Mark Gorrie make the most of the incredible space.
Mark says: “The layout initially was less open-plan, but standing looking at it with the architect one day, I just asked if there was a necessity for some of the walls, and when he said no, we took them out.”
“You could easily make it more enclosed, with more rooms if the next owner wanted to, as it was originally designed to be like that.
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The three motorbikes displayed in the living area of the house split the opinion of BBC Scotland viewers in 2021, but Mark has an answer ready: “You spend a lot of money on nice bikes, and they are beautiful machines – keeping them in a dusty garage would do them an injustice. We don’t have kids running around, so why not keep the bikes where we can see them?”
Mark adds that Spottes Mill is a great party house: “We’ve made it very indoor/outdoor with the kitchen leading to a dining terrace and the fire pit area, overlooking the burn, which is a lovely spot for finishing the evening with friends.
As Mark’s first project he admits that Spottes Mill at times was a baptism of fire, but he is now ready to tackle another.
As most of the build was completed before he got together with his partner, Carol-Ann Brown, their next home will be more of a joint venture too.
He says: “We are looking forward to doing something with input from both of us. We’re both brimming with ideas on what to do next.”
Spottes Mill, Haugh of Urr, Castle Douglas, is priced at offers over £750,000.
For more information, contact Galbraith on 01556 505 346.