A unique glazed turret provides commanding views ... and may also inspire the new owners to become landscape artists, writes Ann Wallace
WHAT: Five-bedroomed countryside home
WHERE: Strathdon, Aberdeenshire
COST: Offers over £440,000
CONTACT: CKD Galbraith 01224 860 710
A STRIKING house with a spectacular octagonal tower, perfectly placed in a Scottish glen, features as this week’s dramatic Hot Property.
Allathumpach was designed by current owner Duncan Reid, with stylish interiors by his artist wife Frances, to fit beautifully into the surrounding countryside.
"One of the early ideas was to build it directly into the hillside behind, with a round exterior inspired by the ancient brochs," explains Frances.
"It was too difficult and expensive to do, however, so Duncan, working with local architect Peter Robertson Gibb, came up with the idea of the tower – and I’m very glad they did. The views are incredible."
Allathumpach is a five-bedroomed, detached home located in around 10 and a half acres in the picturesque burgh of Strathdon. The closest village is Bellabeg, home to the famous Lonach Gathering and Highland Games, which attract thousands of visitors to the area each year.
"We are between the Don and the Dee, so Deeside is right on our doorstep," says Frances.
"It is a fantastic location, close to Aboyne and Alford, and the wonderful Haughton Country Park. We are also extremely handy for winter sports, which our grandchildren love..."
The house itself is beautifully designed to take full advantage of its elevated position in the Aberdeenshire countryside.
From the bright, open entrance hall and handmade oak staircase, to the stunning tower room with its 12 windows, the attention to detail is fantastic.
"This was my original studio, which was a lovely place to work," smiles Frances. "I have since moved down to a bigger space on one of the lower floors, which allowed me more room to run workshops but the tower room was lovely.
"It could be used as anything really – a yoga studio, for example, another bedroom, or a teenager’s sitting room."
There are many flexible spaces throughout the house, in fact – the upper landing, for example, could be used as a study or office area, while Frances’s new studio could be a spectacular bedroom, with five windows flooding the space with natural light.
The master bedroom is spacious, with more windows including French doors leading to a Juliet balcony, and an en-suite bathroom, while a further double bedroom also offers open countryside views.
The large family dining kitchen has been recently refurbished, and it leads through to a useful utility/boot room with access to the garden.
The main sitting/dining room is comfortable and stylish, leading into the octagonal snug with its cosy woodburning stove, while a delightful sun room on the western side of the lower level provides access to a decked patio and more of those outstanding views.
"The sun room is wonderful in the spring sunshine – the perfect spot to sit and read a book," smiles Frances. "There is no noise at all, apart from birdsong.
"In the winter, the snug is cosy and warm. It’s a lovely place to be."
There are two further double bedrooms, plus a family bathroom with large bath and separate shower cubicle.
The gardens and grounds stretch down to the Deskry River, and are easily maintained and sheltered, providing a beautiful haven for an array of birds and wildlife. There is also a fenced area ideal for growing vegetables and fruit and the substantial polytunnel will remain.
Frances has designed the interiors, which feature a mix of subtle, neutral backdrops and soft colours, beautiful artworks and stylish, contemporary furniture and textiles.
"I’m a painter, rather than an interior designer, but it was lovely to get the chance to design a home from the starting point of a blank canvas," she explains.
"Outside, the emphasis was on ensuring the home did blend into its countryside surroundings. Over the 16 years we have lived here, the lovely exterior wood has weathered beautifully and it really does look like it belongs here."
She adds: "It’s influenced my work too, living here. I was never a landscape artist but after we moved in, all I wanted to do was paint the view.
"Being surrounded by this lovely countryside has certainly filtered into my work over the years..."
The couple are downsizing now that Duncan has retired from his role as an occupational health nurse. Frances adds: "It was always Duncan’s dream to live in a house like this, so we will be sad to leave. The grandchildren will miss it too – it’s been lovely watching them explore and play here."
She smiles: "There is plenty of space for everyone to escape each other if they need to!
"But equally, the way it has been designed means everyone can be together too, either relaxing in the snug or entertaining. It’s a fantastic family home."