Reres House is thought to be Broughty Ferry’s first jute mansion.
Built in 1849 by merchant James Scott, it would originally have been surrounded by fields.
Over the decades since its construction other jute mansions sprang up and in recent times modern homes have been built in these mansions’ palatial grounds, creating one of Broughty Ferry’s most exclusive districts.
In 1988 the BBC used Reres House to film Christabel and the enormous house was split into four generous apartments in the early 1990s.
Andrew Grieveson and his husband Gareth Hill bought 5C Reres Road in 2018.
Andrew, 39, from Birmingham, and Yorkshireman Gareth, 38, moved from Edinburgh when Gareth got a job heading up the radiology department at Ninewells.
“We looked at lots of properties online but this was the only one we viewed in person,” Andrew explains. “The living room is what sold us on the house. As soon as we set foot in here we knew this was where we wanted to live.”
It is a magnificent room. The ceiling leaps to at least 12 feet in height and is adorned with ornate cornicing. A bank of west-facing windows stretch to double head height and let in plenty of natural light. There is an open fire with a solid marble surround.
“We absolutely love this room,” Andrew continues. “It gets the sun from around noon until the end of the day.
“You’ve got to embrace every season and when the nights draw in we think of it as fire season. Lighting the fire and having a wee whisky when it’s dark and stormy outside makes winter a lot easier to bear.”
When Andrew and Gareth bought the apartment it was in need of renovation. “The previous owners had rented it out and then it had sat empty for around a year,” Andrew says.
“Structurally it was fine but it was pretty tired inside. Most floors were covered by what I can only describe as pub carpet – it’s exactly the same as is in the Royal Arch in Broughty Ferry.
“They even drilled little holes in the stone spiral staircase so they could put their pub carpet down there, which was a real shame.”
Exploring Reres House
Number 5C has its entrance at the rear of the building. The door opens into a vestibule which leads straight into the dining kitchen.
This was one of the first rooms the couple tackled. “The hallway extended most of the length of the kitchen so we removed part of the wall to create a bigger room,” Andrew explains. “The old kitchen had a breakfast bar sticking out which we kept bumping into.
“We put down a flagstone floor. The guy who fitted them had his work cut out. He thought we were just going to go with tiles but the weight of the stone meant he had to spend a day reinforcing the floor. They look great though and we’re really pleased with them.”
Beyond the kitchen is a spacious landing that could be a dining room but is currently used as a cosy reading area with a comfortable sofa and a large bookcase.
An original stone spiral staircase winds its way up to first floor level.
Here there’s another landing with two staircases leading in different directions. After removing some ugly wallpaper, the decorator discovered and restored some beautiful Victorian mouldings.
One stair goes up to the fantastic master bedroom, which enjoys superb views along the Tay to the Road Bridge. Beside this is a family bathroom that was refurbished as part of the renovation works.
The first floor also has another double bedroom and a small but nicely appointed study.
The second staircase leads to the attic level. Up here are three more bedrooms and a spacious shower room.
One of the bedrooms contains some surprising occupants. “I trained as a zoologist and I’ve always had an interest in exotic creatures,” Andrew says.
One wall is filled with glass cases containing stick insects, snakes, lizards, cockroaches and more. There is a baby bird eating tarantula (“he’s tiny now but he’s going to be huge”) and a very cute little tortoise peers out from under his shell.
Labour of love
Renovating 5C Reres Road took the couple 18 months using local firms PD Decorators and RS Installations.
The love and attention that has been lavished on the projects shines through. Colours have been carefully and tastefully chosen. Artworks painted by Andrew adorn many of the walls and much of the period furniture comes from Montrose based New 2 U.
“It’s a fantastic shop,” Andrew says. “The guy takes a lorry over to France and buys items from chateaux that are being emptied. His prices are incredible too. If the same items were being sold in Edinburgh you’d add an extra zero to the price.”
Reres House has a mixture of shared and private outside areas. There is plenty of parking for owners and visitors. Andrew and Gareth have their own section of garden directly outside their living room window.
This elevated site is sheltered by the building and surrounding trees, making it a nice spot even on blustery days. South-west facing, it gets the sun all afternoon and evening.
The garden also contains a puzzle. A low level window at around ankle height has been blacked out so you can’t see in.
“That’s the mystery window,” Andrew explains. “It is below our stone spiral staircase but there’s no way to get in there. We’ve always wondered what’s behind there – is there a secret room we don’t know about?”
In addition to the garden outside their window, the apartment also comes with another, larger stretch of private ground. This is laid partly to lawn and partly left as a patch of wilderness.
“We get lots of wildlife in it,” Andrew says. “I’ve set up motion sensitive cameras before and got some great footage of fox cubs.”
After a degree in zoology and a career in teaching, Andrew has retrained as an environmental engineer and will soon be starting a new job in Edinburgh.
“We’re sad to be selling up but we want to be in Edinburgh for my job,” Andrew says. “Gareth now works for the Scottish Government so it makes sense for us to move back there.”
He gazes wistfully around his magnificent living room. “I’m pretty sure we’ll never have another living room like this one.”