Many are drawn to the Ayrshire coast for its spectacular views and property investor Lynne McArthur was no different – masterminding a bright and bold transformation to a villa which takes full advantage of its location.

As a director of Invest in Scottish Properties Ltd, a multi-million-pound family-run property company, Lynne McArthur buys, sells and manages property regeneration projects with precision born out of experience. But having bought a 19th Century blond sandstone villa on the north Ayrshire coast just after the first Covid lockdown, her vision to extend it further, reconfigure much of the internal space and completely transform the interior, meant it was imperative to find an architect who was on the same wavelength.

“More Georgian than traditionally Victorian in style, what attracted me to the property in the first instance was the location, because more than anything else I wanted to live close to the beach,” says Lynne, who at the time was looking to move out of Glasgow. 
“By the sea but also very accessible, this location was ideal, and I also loved the building’s cleaned and extended sandstone façade. However, internally it lacked flow and was poorly lit. I wanted to transform it into an elegant, contemporary space with minimalist clean lines, natural materials, and enhanced light. In addition, I was keen to increase the size of the existing extension and add another storey to create a new master suite with balcony and sea views.”

Lynne spoke with numerous architects but the one who stood out was Fiona Robinson, one of the founding directors of Thomas Robinson Architects. Fiona’s first degree was in commercial interior design and after practising in London, she returned to Scotland to study further and graduated with a master’s in architecture.

She works on all Thomas Robinson projects. Her strength and expertise are at the front end of architecture and design projects: developing briefs, analysing how each space will be used, developing and defining design concepts and strategies, and organising space and architectural style. “I liked their projects and pursued Fiona because I needed someone who could tune into my vision, which she did. I felt confident, and we had a great working relationship right from the start,” says Lynne, who shares her new home with Hattie, a cat she rescued from Cyprus, and Bailey, a cocker spaniel.


A priority was to improve the flow to ensure the kitchen, living and dining areas became integrated, yet remained defined as separate spaces within the whole. Also, as the journey from both front and back doors to the new extension and to the stairway felt dark and gloomy, it was imperative to open the hall up and bring in natural light. 

Fiona Robinson achieved this with several architectural moves, a key one being replacing the internal Victorian doors, lintels and door frames with high-end Crittall-style glass doors and screens. This brought in light, while the glass doors provided a clearly defined route through the house. As a result, the hall is now a tall and elegant space with oversized bespoke doors complete with stylish Buster and Punch door furniture.

The ceilings were another important consideration and the decision to have a dropped ceiling with subtle perimeter lighting throughout most of the ground floor, blended the spaces in the extension and the villa, further enhancing the flow to the entire area. “Soft perimeter lighting leads you from space to space and means the wall surfaces are lit well, creating a feeling of connection and wellbeing,” says Lynne. 

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“Fiona Robinson excels at designing buildings and interiors that not only look good, they also make the people who use them feel good, often without knowing the reason. This is down to her thorough attention to how the home will be used, thinking about flow, detail, feel, design and light in combination. It’s part of the detailed process Fiona applies during the early stages of all projects, which surprisingly, is not mainstream practice in all architectural practices, especially in the residential market.”


Lynne’s desire for natural materials and colours resulted in wall surfaces ranging from environmentally friendly Venetian plaster to contemporary oak panelling – the latter maintaining an element of the Victorian within the design – while micro cement features strongly in the bathrooms and bespoke fitted kitchen, both of which were made and fitted by Fairlie Furniture (micro-cement work by

A natural palette of colours and materials adds to the harmony of the design and includes bespoke wood furnishings inspired by coastal themes (by Fairlie Furniture and Graham and Green), together with light-coloured ceramic floor tiles and elegant Lusso Stone sanitaryware. 


Against these natural sandy tones key features command the limelight, none more dramatically than a suspended wood burner in the open-plan kitchen/living space. Hand-made by Fire Maker in Dumfries, this visually arresting stove can rotate 360-degrees. Other eye-catching features include a horizontal hole-in-the-wall gas ribbon fire in the dining area; and bespoke wine store positioned against a full-length glass panel to allow light to flow between the spaces, while the large windows in the extension are clearly defined with a steel-grey frame to delineate them against the sand-inspired backdrop. 

Lighting is a standout element in the beautiful new interior, with indented backlit shelving dotted throughout, both as a feature and storage space. In addition to the perimeter and feature lighting, and new bedroom reading lights, extensive use of highlighting creates an warm atmosphere.



The design also incorporated a new covered outdoor terrace, which brings the outside in and creates a great outdoor room for entertaining. “I converted the garage into a bar, just to finish it off,” Lynne says.

Work began in July 2021 and was completed in around eight months. “We had no planning issues, and the project ran smoothly throughout, which is entirely down to having such a great team,” adds Lynne. “Fiona’s exceptional interior redesign pulls together the old and new parts of this house to create a flowing, well-lit, harmonious contemporary space that brings in natural light and is imbued with a wonderfully calming atmosphere. It is everything I hoped for and more.”