There is a certain chameleon-like quality to Lusset House - the green exterior turns red every autumn, courtesy of the Virginia creeper covering the front

elevation and most of the nearside gable.

Built around 1875 for a shipbuilder in Old Kilpatrick, West Dunbartonshire, the detached blonde sandstone villa is strikingly symmetrical, with a two-storey bay window in the front and decorative columns on either side.

So far, so engagingly charming, but while the bodice-ripping facade is the stuff of Victorian novels, the inside is on the hot side of cool - and what a lot of interior

you get for your money. Anchored by a 40ft-high sweeping staircase crowned by

a necklace of Moorish windows, the

accommodation takes in four reception rooms, a breakfasting kitchen and a guest suite, augmented by a network of ancillary rooms. On the next level are four double bedrooms and a study.

Along with the obvious period property pluses, it was the sheer sense of space that lured Barry McLeod and his partner Eleanor Meek away from the Glasgow comfort zone that is Jordanhill.

With three children - Jack, 11, Sean, nine and Trudy, two - size matters, and this is not the first time Lusset House has

provided the domestic backdrop for such a family, as Barry explains.

''The previous owners told us that a local nursing home asked them if they could bring one of their 90-year-old

residents to view her former home.

''She gave them a photograph of Victorian parents and their children - two boys and a girl - pictured in front of the house. One of them bears a startling resemblance to Sean.''

Maintaining the balance between past and present demands delicate restraint, and while the couple have spent five years waking the house from a very deep

slumber, they have retained the essence of its era.

''There is a real sense of history about the place,'' says Eleanor. ''When you walk into the pantry or the outhouse and you see the Belfast sink, carpet beaters and wash-boards, it's as if time has stood still.''

''When we moved in, the area that is now the en suite guest bedroom was the maid's room and bathroom,'' says Barry.

While the interior design veers towards the contemporary, Barry and Eleanor have gently allowed the house to breathe,

dispensing with woodchip paper and a dreary colour palette but retaining open fireplaces and wooden floorboards.

There is no denying that the real

sophistication of the interior design is infused with professional flair. This might be because Barry - now a self-employed consultant and researcher for local

government - once studied interior design.

Between this and embarking on another degree came a stint as a singer-songwriter with 1980s band the Incredible Blondes - one of their singles is currently enjoying cult status in Japan. Eleanor, a drama teacher, is also enjoying her own musical interlude, as her evenings are taken up with a school production of West Side Story.

Both enjoyed revamping the house. They admit to going overboard with home and interiors magazines during the height of the refurbishment, with only the

occasional dispute between them, usually over colour.

Their next project will involve a series of much weightier decisions, as they caught the self-build bug after a visit to a recent exhibition at the SECC. They are now on the lookout for a suitable plot where they can build their very own American or Swedish-style home.

In the meantime, the family will rent until they find their ideal location. They are currently considering whether to leave a family portrait behind alongside their

Victorian mirror image. n

in Brief

What: Substantial B-listed blonde sandstone Victorian villa.

Where: On Station Road in Old Kilpatrick at the end of a private road in the town's conservation area.

Price: Offers over (pounds) 350,000.

Contact: Slater Hogg & Howison

on 0141 943 1144.