Few homes hit you with the wow factor quite like 6 The Granary does.
A fairly standard corridor and stairs (covid protocols mean the lift isn’t currently in use) lull me into a false feeling that this might not be anything special.
Opening the front door, I see a plaque advertising the 2003 Saltire Award the former industrial building won when it was first converted into apartments.
At the top of the stairs I step into the vast living space and am transfixed.
A double height vaulted ceiling leaps overhead. Exposed steel beams support a mezzanine level with chic glass balustrades. An exposed stone wall makes a stunning feature out of the gable end. And out of every window are views out to sea or across Elie’s glorious beach.
There’s so much good stuff I don’t know what to look at first and spend a couple of minutes gazing around and taking it all in.
The setting is as special as the view. Sitting at the end of Elie Harbour, the Granary is surrounded by water on three sides, with views over Elie beach and across Ruby Bay.
It’s a handsome building in its own right; once used by East Neuk fisherman to store grain and materials, and converted into apartments in the early 2000s.
Dawn and Martin Robertson bought the apartment in 2017. “We lived in Hong Kong for a long time,” Dawn says. “Our kids were born out there. “After living in the heart of Hong Kong we moved over to Clearwater Bay in Kowloon, where we were a two minute walk to the beach.
“When we moved back to Scotland we settled in Edinburgh, at the foot of the Pentland Hills, but we missed being so close to the sea. Some friends had a holiday home in Elie and we loved it there. Almost immediately we started looking for a holiday home in Elie and we fell for the Granary as soon as we first saw it.
“We wanted somewhere that had sea views and a real connection with the beach. Initially we thought we wanted a house but the Granary is right on the water’s edge and the beach is our garden.”
They employed Edinburgh-based architects Lorn Macneal to redo the apartment’s layout.
“When we bought it there were only two bedrooms so we changed the layout to make three bedrooms,” Dawn continues.
“We have four children and three dogs so we needed more room. We also wanted it to be a space we could share with extended family, so now there’s room for granny and grandad to join us there.
“The kitchen wasn’t where it is now, it was tucked away in a corner. The huge vaulted space was empty, with just a ping pong table in it – it was such a waste. We also added a shower room on the mezzanine level.”
Now the entrance landing opens up into a hugely impressive kitchen. The entire gable end of the building is exposed stone, with three windows in it. The ceiling leaps upward to full roof height, and skylights let more light flood in. A mezzanine level looks down on the kitchen, and is set up as a children’s play area. It’s easy to picture how pleasant this must be after a long day out at the beach, with adults bustling around below enjoying a glass of wine, while the kids occupy themselves upstairs.
An open-plan stretch contains a pool table and leads through to a large sitting area with staircase up to the mezzanine level.
There’s a sitting area at one end with a sofabed that allows up to eight people at a time to occupy the apartment.
Glazed doors with safey ballustrades line one wall, while there are further Velux windows and beautiful sash-and-case windows with working shutters in the far gable end.
On a warm summer’s day opening all the windows and doors must create a cooling breeze and really bring the outside in.
The bedrooms are separated from the main living space by a landing and corridor, letting tired souls enjoy a good night’s sleep even if others are staying up into the wee small hours.
The first bedroom is a double, while the second has a pair of single beds – though it has space for a double bed.
There’s a large family bathroom, with bath and separate shower enclosure. The bath has been neatly positioned next to the window so you can enjoy incredible sea views while you soak in the tub.
The master bedroom, meanwhile, has its own en suite shower room. All the bedrooms have working shutters, which insulate and shut out light much better than curtains, and also must be a pleasure to close when a storm is raging outside.
Work on the apartment was complete by the summer of 2019. Since then the Granary has been used as a holiday rental as well as a weekend bolthole for the Robertsons.
“I grew up in a time when kids could disappear all day and just come home for dinner time,” Dawn says. “The great thing about Elie is our kids can enjoy that kind of childhood here too.
“They can go down to the beach and sit round a fire or get on their bikes and head to the golf course or the castle. It’s a safe place that’s great for children.
“There’s a real community feel to Elie and it’s in an ideal location. There are lots of good walks and it’s easy to get into St Andrews for the day.
“We also just love being on the coast. A few of our guests ask where we got the pillows on the beds from, as they’ve never slept so well. I tell them I don’t think it’s the pillows, it’s the sea air and being outside all day that makes you sleep better.”
With the eldest of their four children close to turning 16, Dawn and Martin, both 46, are reluctantly putting the Granary on the market.
“It’s only an hour and 10 minutes drive from our home in Edinburgh to Elie,” Dawn explains. “But even so with four kids all getting older weekends are taken up with activities – there’s always a rugby or a hockey match someone needs ferried to.
“Our daughter will be looking at university soon and after much soul searching we’ve decided our money could be better used getting a place for her to live while she’s at university.
“We’ve had plenty of fantastic times in Elie though and have a lot of very fond memories of it.”