As architectural designers, the Gordon and Janice Affleck’s ambitious plans for a modern extension should have gone smoothly, but the added complication of reuniting the main building’s floors – as well as contractors going bust – made the creation of their stunning ‘forever home’ hard work indeed.

WHEN the house next door to architectural designers Gordon and Janice Affleck became available it seemed a perfect opportunity for the couple and their 15-year-old son to acquire more space and a big garden in the Lenzie Conservation area they loved.


However, as the detached Victorian villa had been divided in the 1950s to form two separate conversions – both of which serendipitously became available to buy around the same time in 2017 – completing the purchase involved negotiating with two sellers before they could even think about the next challenge: to turn two homes back into one and extend it to include a pottery studio for Janice, an architect-turned-ceramicist. “The first hurdle was to find an architect for the project,” says Gordon, one of the founding partners of an international firm of architects and designers.

“Having lived and worked in Asia for 15 years, we wanted an architect who specialised in domestic architecture – a firm we could work comfortably with given that we are also architectural designers who would be more proactive at key stages than the usual client/architect relationship.


“We researched local architectural practices that had completed similar projects and decided to work with highly recommended Loader Monteith because of their knowledge, enthusiasm, and obvious talent. When we met with directors Matt Loader and Iain Monteith, we knew we would be able to work closely with them to create a home that would perfectly suit our lifestyles.”

Thankfully, the Afflecks’ budget included a contingency fund in case of unexpected expense, although they didn’t expect to have to use it so soon.

“Turning the house back into one was made more difficult as once work got underway, we realised it needed substantial repair in many areas which meant more work than we anticipated,” says Gordon.


“We were also trying to retain the character and remaining original features. We found a cornice maker in Kirkintilloch and managed to rescue and replace much of the plasterwork, but many features had been stripped out in the 50s and 60s. Suffice to say the budget for the renovation works doubled.”

Loader Monteith was charged with the task of creating an architecturally distinct home that future-proofs the Afflecks wellbeing and security. The architects designed a floorplan to allow for potential re-subdivision of the property to support independent living on the ground floor in later life if need be.

The modern extension was designed to harmoniously contrast with the old house; the tone of the cast stone facade was carefully matched to the stone of the original building, while the new offset pitched roofscape takes cues from the roof form of the existing house.


Striking black timber – Shou Sugi Ban cladding, a traditional Japanese technique of burning the timber to create a black outer shell and finish which is maintenance free throughout its lifespan – wraps around the rest of the extension, creating a private minimal courtyard flanked by a pottery studio and garage at the rear of the house.

An open dining area acts as the ‘bridge’ between the new and existing structures and leads into Janice’s new purpose-built ceramics studio tucked behind the kitchen.

Three further bedrooms and two bathrooms are located on the first floor, while the attic space makes up the second storey and is currently serving as a gym/games room.


Four months into the project Gordon and Janice were staggered to receive a phone call to say the contractor had gone bust.  “That came right out of the blue and was a huge shock,” recalls Gordon. “We knew we could not afford to start again with a new contractor and what saved us from financial disaster was site agent Ian Gilmour and the guys on site, with whom we had forged a strong relationship.

“Ian, who owns the Ayrshire-based fabrication business First Class Installations, agreed to take on the role of project manager, and the rest of the team agreed to stay with us to the end, so it became even more of a team effort after that. They were all fantastic and saved the project.”

The new wing is the heart of this home and where the family spend the most time. A large rectangular skylight animates the generous open living/kitchen space and offers a glimpse of the canopy of greenery above, while triple glazed sliding doors on one side open onto the patio and expansive garden. And Janice has her long-awaited studio.


“It opens onto the back garden where I have my greenhouse and it gets afternoon sun,” she says. 

Born in Glasgow, Janice studied architecture and then moved to Asia where she completed a PhD at the University of Hong Kong and took up ceramics while on maternity leave.

Finishes throughout the house are indicative of Gordon and Janice’s keen design eyes. The couple colluded with Archispek in North Berwick on the design of the dark smoked-oak kitchen which is balanced by a polished concrete floor, while muted blue panelling adds texture and warmth to the living area.

Oak parquet flooring and clean white walls create continuity throughout the period wing, where a complex timber staircase connects the levels.

 To combat the high energy usage of the Victorian villa, Loader Monteith specified two new air source heat pumps, triple glazing, and new insulation to efficiently warm the home.


The Afflecks had sold their previous home next door but because all the various delays – including Covid – had extended the timescale, the family ran out of time and moved into a rental – and then because of lockdown, had to move into the house before it was finished. “It started in October 2018 and took two years to complete,” says Gordon.

“But thanks to the efforts of everyone involved, we now have our forever home.”