July 29, 2015

Kingdom of Light: A Modern Beach House in Scotland

It’s a long way, geographically, chronologically, and stylistically, from London in the 1870’s to the Scottish coast today. Connecting them is David Weir, director of Edinburgh’s Dovecot Studios, an offshoot of the tapestry-weaving concern established by William Morris. However, you won’t find any arts and crafts touches in the house where David and Tibi Weir and their two teenage children spend weekends and holidays.

Replacing a clunky 1970’s bungalow in Elie—a harbor town in a part of Scotland traditionally known as the Kingdom of Fife—the house’s straightforward form was designed to pay tribute to “the big, pale, southern sky,” WT Architecture principal William Tunnell says. “Against the sky, the zinc roof that wraps down provides a nice, sympathetic tonal effect.” Zinc is also a reference to the 19th-century metal boat sheds that pepper the environs.

The 3,000-square-foot house has two wings, plus a glass connector where the entry is. In the main wing, the downstairs centers on an open living-dining area and kitchen. The other wing contains a game room and a sleeping loft. Both offer window walls that frame views of the Firth of Forth, a lighthouse, and Edinburgh on the opposite coast. “As the tide flows in and out, colors reflect off the golden beach and the water,” Tunnell says.

To capture those reflections, he rendered everything inside “as clean and simple as possible,” he says. “Materials needed to be durable, so the family and their friends can run in with sandy feet.” Flooring on the ground level is screed concrete. In the kitchen, counters in black solid-surfacing top cabinetry in Douglas fir plywood. “We were keen that masonry details weren’t too fussy,” he adds. “For example, you can see the aggregate and air holes in the concrete of the living area’s hearth.” And raw OSB clads the game room and loft.

Tibi Weir, whose company, Temper & Zest, sells design-led gifts, was responsible for the furnishings and the artwork. A favorite is an original 1960’s James Bond poster for the French version of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. 

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