Restoration or Grand Design

26 April 2018

Hebridean Earth House

Photo: Hebridean Earth House

When it comes to your next self-catering holiday a difficult decision is always going to be whether you decide to go for modernity or history. Where would you rather stay, a sympathetically restored old building with all its history, quirks and atmosphere, or a completely new and unique architect designed house that reflects the spirit and fashion of the age. To try and help you decide, here are a few of our favourite examples of each, the one thing they all do have in common is that they are all luxuriously comfortable and available to book now through LHH.

One of the most unique houses in all of the Hebrides is the easiest of all to miss. The reason being is that it has been built into a hole in the ground and covered with a turf roof. The Hebridean Earth House blends effortlessly into the landscape and offers privacy as well as tranquillity. As you approach on foot by the side of a loch you will see that the whole front of the house is made from glass, it goes without saying that the views are magnificent but when you step inside you really appreciate the design of this unique hobbit hole. Solar tubes provide added light and the holistic design means that everything fits together perfectly rather than being a collection of ideas. Although built recently, it has a timelessness to it beyond current fashions or fads. It is a retreat first and foremost, somewhere to practice mindfulness and escape the pace of the modern world while still being a part of it.

Mountain View makes no concession whatsoever to tradition. This house is the ultimate in sleek, 21st century cutting edge design. The main feature is its spacious main room which incorporates sitting room, dining room and kitchen. One wall is floor to ceiling glass designed to maximise the stunning views across to the Ross-shire hills which can also be appreciated from the thoughtfully located hot tub. A massive plasma TV, full Sky package and quadrophonic sound system provide entertainment when the sun goes down.

Denfind House is truly state of the art construction. From the moment you arrive and step into the illuminated courtyard you realise the architects have thought of everything and designed the ultimate getaway for a group of golfers. There is space to land your own helicopter, charge points for electric golf carts, a fabulous social space to get together after your game and a hot tub. It is secluded and quiet but just a 7 minute walk to the famous course at Muirfield. In fact there are 20 courses within 30 minutes of the property. Enough for numerous visits and part of the reason guests come back year after year.

The Old Salmon Bothy is exactly as its name suggests. For decades this derelict store that sits right on the waters-edge had been used by local fishermen but had latterly fallen into an unappealing state of disrepair. Rescued from ruination in 2013 and restored lovingly into a fabulous one bedroom home, this is a brilliant demonstration of creative use of an existing space. A Velux window ensures the interior is bright and airy and a terrace outside makes the most of its sensational location overlooking the sea. A wood burning stove and the sound of the waves outside provide the ideal ambience for relaxation.

Achaglachgach Stables is a great example of a historical building being given a new lease of life without sacrificing the stunning original features. Designed by the famous Scots Baronial architects Peddie and Kinnear in the 1860s, the stable doors were originally made tall enough for riders to walk through without dismounting. The resulting conversion repurposes this grand stone structure into a comfortable and stylish destination with an extraordinary 50ft long, high-ceilinged room for living and entertaining. A wood burning stove and geothermal underfloor heating with slate and wooden floors means cosiness without sacrificing the historical feel while huge windows and sliding doors show wonderful views across the loch and into the beech wood and gardens beyond.

Converting an old building like a byre can be a challenge but sometimes the process forces you to be more creative that you may otherwise have been. The Barn at Reef is an exquisite restoration where the focus has been on stylish decoration to create the ultimate relaxing, aesthetically furnished retreat. Nothing has been left to chance with every minute detail mulled over from the top quality linens to the shelves made from whisky boxes and the unique cabin bed. It very much fits in with the Gaelic idea of còsagach meaning cosy, comfy and snug, as far removed from its origins as you can imagine.