A passage to India.

How life in India inspired Rachel Richards with renovating her Helensburgh home.

The spacious kitchen dining room.

Rachel and her husband James moved from Garleochead 6 years ago to Coonoor, Tamil Nadu in India, a relocation with James job. Realising their dream was to return to the west coast in Scotland, they set about house hunting in the area. Not a small undertaking from so far away!

Incredibly they bought their house based on a video a friend of theirs had taken of the house. Rachel said,

We were in India at the time, we had moved out there with my husbands job and we wanted to come back to this part of the west coast. Obviously it would have been a bit complicated to organise viewings from where we were. We trusted our friend and knew she had great taste when it came to houses . From watching the video we also loved the fact that the house, although a lower conversion had these lovely big reception and family rooms and even a small upstairs bedroom which we knew our daughter would love.”

Silver dishes from the markets of India add light to the house

Everyone likes to put their stamp on their new house and the Richards have certainly done that. Moving the kitchen from the rear of the house to a large room at the front was the biggest job they undertook.

“When we moved into the house, the kitchen was situated to the back of the house and although a good sized room it didn’t benefit from any of the lovely natural light which we get at the front of the house”

What Rachel doesn’t mention is that that the front of the house also boasts possibly one of the largest rooms in Helensburgh!

We’re not sure when it was done but this room was extended and it added an extra third on to the size. The room was huge anyway so we’re not sure why it was done, but we love it now. Its almost four rooms in one, we’ve put in a log burner fire in one corner and with the sofa it’s like a little snug; we have a dining room with our lovely long oak table and our amazing joiner Brian Cowan and friend built us window seats in the bay window with views of the garden. Finally there’s our kitchen area with our renovated kitchen units and surfaces, all this in one room! Its great for when you have friends around, everyone can stay in one room, even with the children.

Lovingly restored furniture adds character to the room.

Rachel and James are very much hands on when it comes to renovating houses, this will be the third house they have worked on.

We don’t like chucking things out, we like to up-cycle houses. For example when moving the kitchen from the rear of the house we realised that the existing fitted kitchen was made of solid oak and it would have been a crime to have chucked it into a skip. We designed a new kitchen layout utilising these cupboards and and drew out designs for our joiner. This meant taking it all apart, painting new wooden tops and creating an island unit in the room using the existing cupboards.

We also had original wooden panelling in the hall which we loved but weren’t so keen on the dark wooden finish. I stripped these back to the natural wood and stained them with a white/grey wash which was more in keeping with the rest of the house”.

As well as living for 2 years in India, Rachel has also family links with the continent as her grandfather is half Indian.

I’ve always had a connection with that part of the world and so it was a dream come true when a job came up for James. I loved visiting all the markets and shops for things for the house, I could have brought back so much more, it was difficult to restrain myself! I have these things now dotted round the house. Hopefully one day we’ll go back for a visit and I’ll know to take a very large empty suitcase, or maybe two!”

Helensburgh Living would like to thank James and Rachel for their time and patience with this article! Hope you like the first of our HL House blogs.