Yester House - By Jeffereys Interiors
Yester House, in Gifford, East Lothian, is an A-Listed Stately Home designed by architects James Smith and Alexander McGill in the early 1700s, with renovations later conducted by William Adams and son. The grounds of the house are included in the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland. The estate was owned by the Hay family (Marquess of Tweedale) until the 1960s when it was purchased by composer Gian-Carlo Menotti who was taken by the acoustics of the ballroom (seen top right). Following his death, and a significant period of time without investment, Yester House and the wider estate was listed in Scotland’s Buildings at Risk register. In 2014, in a state of neglect, the House was purchased by Nicola and Garreth Wood; they wanted to bring Yester back to life and its original purpose as a family home.
The Client, Nicola and Garreth are philanthropists who have founded the charity Kids Operating Room (KidsOR) with the mission of providing equal access to safe surgery for children throughout the world. In early 2018, Garreth sold his restaurant business to focus on philanthropic endeavours full time. Nicola is a former Miss World contestant, model, and TV presenter – she now travels extensively supporting and promoting KidsOR with a specific focus in South America. Yester House is their main family home where they live with their two young daughters. They enjoy rural pursuits in the estate, mainly attending to their beloved animals, including horse-riding, long dog walks, and hosting social events for family and friends. Both are available for interview and photography.
Jeffreys Interiors were enlisted to work alongside Nicola on the interior refurbishment and decoration of the property. Whilst the inherent grandeur and beauty of the building was evident, it was tired, outdated and required immediate intervention to prevent further damage and bring it back to its former glory. Together, the design team worked to design a home that is complementary to the stature and history of the building, while also serving as a comfortable and functional home to a young, modern family. Great care was taken to restore and reuse as much as possible; while a change of purpose to the rooms on the ground floor, including moving the kitchen to the centre of the living area, meant that the day to day life in the home became much more accessible and reflective of contemporary living.
The re-opening of the sealed enfilade along the southern expanse of the first floor has created a stunning Master Bedroom suite comprising a treatment room, dressing room for Nicola, master bedroom, Garreth’s dressing room, and finishing with the en-suite bathroom. This sits adjacent to the girls’ bedrooms which are linked to a Jack and Jill bathroom via a fairy-tale forest corridor. The Basement was curated to be the family’s playground. A cinema, gym and pool room were installed, while the original range has been left in place in the old kitchen which is yet to be converted.
The Design Process
Alison Vance, Design Director, led the project with assistance from designer Jo Aynsley. From a young design assistant at the start of this project, Jo (now 28) has been able to work closely with Alison and develop her skills, empowering her to take on her current position as Head of Design. Both are available for interview and photography. Nicola worked diligently to oversee each detail of the project and was heavily involved with the Interior Design process. She took a personal interest and participated in weekly studio sessions of up to 8 hours. Over the course of the 4 years, the relationship developed into a friendship. It was the strength of the working relationship between designer and client that allowed for such a personal, special interior outcome in this formal stately home.