Scotland’s Home of the Year

Feel I need to give a shout out to last nights Scotland’s Home Of the Year – do follow the link to watch it on BBC IPlayer if you missed it. I was delighted to be approached by the producer as a researcher and thrilled to see my name in the credits at the end and described as a ‘consultant’!!

All three homes in last nights opening show had been photographed for various publications by my husband Douglas Gibb Photography and sourced by me for the ‘South of Scotland’ episode.

The Edge – a stunning contemporary home, built on a cliff overlooking the Solway Firth in Dumfriesshire.

The first house Douglas photographed when it was first built by the original owners, for Grand Designs magazine. They had poured their heart and soul into it, Carole and John were sailors and John’s hobby was boat building. Every detail was literally ‘ocean ready’.

John making sure all is ship shape in the kitchen

The new owners, who seemed charming, but to be fair, had simply bought it and had needed to do very little to their already beautiful home. If they read this they can just laugh at my clear envy if I say that I did not feel they had quite stepped up enough: I felt some of the accessories that they had added were a bit ‘pedestrian’ for the extremely contemporary setting. A dream for them though – what a wonderful experience!

The winner was a classic Victorian villa

The next house, which won this early round, Douglas had photographed for 25 Beautiful Homes. The owner, Cathy, had clearly committed to a cool colour palette and had a soft gentle style. The result was cohesive and soothing. A worthy winner I felt.

The luxurious rooftop penthouse style apartment which the owners added to the top of the historic grain mill.

The third house the Grain Mill with a contemporary addition on the roof, Douglas had photographed for KBB magazine. The owners, interior designer, Elina Helenius, of Decodence Design and her husband, Michael, had given themselves a massive challenge: buying this basically as a ruin and turning it into an exciting family home. They have been very experimental with a few different styles.

The dining room, in the old part of the mill, doubles as fabulous entertaining space

The results are extremely theatrical – almost like a selection of film sets. I know Elina and I know how fun and adventurous she is, the house makes sense to me. However, it left the judges feeling a little disorientated and I felt they were a bit uncertain who lived there.

The judges were brilliant of course: interior designer Anna and lifestyle blogger Kate beautiful and witty both and the token man, architect and author Michael, did better I felt – those girls have taught him how to behave and he has stopped saying things like ‘here are the stairs’!

The programme illustrates immediately the breadth and excitement of Scotland’s architecture and how we have risen to the challenge of competing with the glorious landscape that many homes here are set in. Our beautiful Victorian and Georgian sandstone villas and tenement apartments are set mainly in the streets of our towns and cities of course and make beautiful contemporary homes now that they are being cleverly updated.

Last nights episode, to me, perfectly illustrates the importance of ‘deciding on a style and sticking to it’. Elina’s home, the Grain Mill, I feel I should point out, serves as both her home and a studio – a showcase for her design work. The scale of the old mill is not typical of a residential property so the normal rules do not really apply. It is an extraordinary building which the owners have rescued – the part of it that they actually live in is wonderful and very glamorous AND homely, but the other areas serve as a workplace and guest accommodation so they have been treated differently, hence the variety and unexpected nature of the property.

The winner’s home, by contrast, is quite ordinary, a classic Victorian semi detached villa, but by committing to a style and taking it as far as she can, the owner has lifted it into something very unique and personal.

Would love to know what you think?

Please forgive me for giving a wee plug to my Interior Design Toolkit here! As you know the whole point of it is to help you discover your personal style and use that knowledge to decorate more confidently!


3 thoughts on “Scotland’s Home of the Year

  1. Hi Alison!
    Great blog post. Good to hear your views aligned with ours
    Just a wee thing. I’m not Anna Murray (tags) any more. Divorced 8 years ago (hurrah) so can I be Anna Campbell-Jones or @anna.hab please?

  2. Thank you for a great blog piece Alison, and for the lovely shout out for Decodence!

    Given our years overseas, the brief for the Mill was a ‘hotel for family and overseas friends’! I’m
    tempted to pitch for a series of mini shows on how each area works or how indeed they came out to be! In the case of the two dining tables, which so many have been curious about, the two of us sit comfortably at one of them for special meals, but when put together can easily cater for the 20 during Christmas and New Year!

    Thanks again and also to all of you lovely people who watched the show and have reached out on @decodencedesign! Appreciate all the support!


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