It is mind-blowing to discover a tropical oasis amongst the Scottish Highlands. Forty hectares of woodlands shelter 21 hectares of botanic gardens. Think giant gunnera, beautiful specimen rhododendrons, waterlilies, bamboo, and even vegetable gardens all despite the northerly latitude. A true representation of countries from across the world, don’t be afraid to fill your own backyard or balcony with plants that do not match.
I love to mix old and new – here I was inspired by Strongarbh House on the Isle of Mull, a car ferry ride away from Oban on the west coast of Scotland. We discovered it through an Instagram recommendation. The lovingly restored house on the hill has had many reincarnations throughout its life from a morgue to an officer’s mess and home. Enter to a flagstoned hallway and big wooden staircase, and two front rooms that look over Tobermory port. The library is all whitewashed light & modern (I think Ilse Crawford had some influence here) with beautiful, deep, shuttered windows. There are painted grey floorboards (more people should do this) in the gallery with a B&B Italia sectional sofa/ottoman and Monocle newspapers. You can have a beautiful old building but it does not mean that everything you own has to be old! I might be attracted to pieces from the past time and time again, but I love modern. It was done to perfection at Strongarbh, by resting on their traditional foundations but creating a modern space.
A timberyard to begin with, then an old prop house and theatre, now it is a restaurant & an Edinburgh must-go, and a source of inspiration here. Simply propped, you walk into Timberyard toward a ramp and there’s an old leather-topped gymnasium vault and candles. A central courtyard is the perfect place to admire the space and enjoy your Hendricks served with cucumber, and tartan rugs to keep you warm.
Timberyard is tactile, subtle & perfectly executed and the family who run it are absolutely lovely. Don’t disregard the importance of simplicity in styling, use this as a reference point and be excited about uncomplicated wall art and the quiet moment it can achieve. Here, single antlers shed by their original owners are strung up.
The littlest things can remind you of a place. I just added some loch-y ferns to my new, old kitchen made by master blacksmith Saul. As I am part-gypsy, there is no need for stoves & ovens in my kitchen. I work with a cast iron burner and it caters for all my needs. Don’t feel like your rooms have to have all the mod cons – install only what you’ll use and suits your lifestyle.
My Scotland recommendations:
Powis House Stirling FK9 5PS Scotland
Applecross Wester Ross IV54 8LR Scotland
Inverarnan North Loch Lomond G83 7DX Scotland
Tobermory Isle of Mull PA75 6PR Scotland
Glengarry Castle Hotel
Invergarry Inverness-shire PH35 4HW Scotland
65 Dundas St Edinburgh EH3 6RS Scotland
21st Century Kilts
48 Thistle St Edinburgh EH2 1EN Scotland
IJ Mellis Cheesemonger
30a Victoria St Edinburgh EH1 2JW Scotland
Amazing craft & design online and stay in their beautiful holiday cottage in Callakille, Applecross.
AG Hendy Home Store
36 High St Hastings East Sussex TN34 3ER England
If you can – a must-visit in the south of the United Kingdom.
Bonnington House Steadings Wilkieston Edinburgh EH27 8BB Scotland
Inverewe Garden & Estate
Poolewe Ross-shire IV22 2LG Scotland
Ledaig Tobermory Isle of Mull PA75 6NR Scotland
Book for tour to avoid disappointment.
Isle of Mull Argyll PA64 6AP Scotland
Isle of Iona Argyll PA76 6SQ Scotland
Drummond Castle Gardens
Muthill Crieff PH7 4HZ Scotland
Glenlyon Tweed Mill
Taybridge Terrace, Aberfeldy Perthshire PH15 2BS Scotland
Isle of Mull Weavers Bunessan Isle of Mull PA67 6DR
Edinburgh Farmers’ Market
Castle Terrace Edinburgh EH1 2EL Scotland Every Saturday 9am – 2pm.
Firle, Lewes East Sussex BN8 6LL England
If you’re in the south of England, don’t miss the Bloomsbury Group’s country meeting place.
10 Lady Lawson St Edinburgh EH3 9DS Scotland
Ninth Wave Restaurant
Bruach Mhor Fionnphort Isle of Mull PA66 6BL Scotland
Be sure to book.
155 West Port Edinburgh EH3 9DP Scotland
A recommendation from Timberyard.
1 Forth St Edinburgh EH1 3JX
Sobering coffee & almond/orange cake.
The Bon Vivant
55 Thistle St Edinburgh Scotland EH2 1DY