Lee Collins' children are in their twenties but "we'll probably never see the back of them", he says, laughing.

It's no wonder because the family's renovation of a 200-year-old former Perthshire mill incorporates a townhouse for Max, 22 and his 24-year-old sister Ali, with a separate entrance for them to come and go as they please.

The Old Mill caught the attention of Scotland's Home of the Year producers and will feature in Monday's episode of the popular BBC show.

"My son nominated us and we only found out when we had been selected," says the 50-year-old, who runs a kitchen and bathroom firm with his wife Dawn, 49.

"I said I'd be nowhere near a TV but I got talked round."

The couple has transformed the industrial building – which had lain empty for 25 years - into a three-storey, five-bedroom home that has the feel of a spacious New York-style loft apartment with the bonus of a riverside setting.

The Herald: The Old Mill was later a factory for engineering firm FerrantiThe Old Mill was later a factory for engineering firm Ferranti (Image: Scotland's Home of the Year)

They kept as much of the original stonework as possible, with a modernised central section and stylish interiors filled with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces. 

"It was a bit of a risk," says the businessman. "There was hardly any roof on it so the internals were all ruined. 

The Herald:

"I was first attracted to the site because of the river running through it but when we went inside we realised we could do something special with it.

"Our last house was very modern so I really wanted to get something with character," he added.

The Herald:

"We started during Covid and it took us three years. Covid was a bit of a blessing because we have joiners and plumbers who work for our company so they could actually work here when the country was in lockdown and they couldn't get access to peoples' houses."

Although the pandemic meant that costs for materials "went through the roof" he says.

The Herald:

SHOTY judges Anna Campbell Jones, Danny Campbell and Banjo Beale, are impressed with the way the couple have made the vast building, near Dunblane, feel homely.

"We split it in a way that we have a townhouse for our two children that has its own access and kitchen," he says.

"They have their own place and I did want to create a homely feeling but I still liked the space aspect of the factory.

The Herald:

"I think we've been able to achieve that. We have the space but it doesn't feel vast or empty. It feels homely to us."

He says the building itself gave them hints about how the interiors were styled and they have reclaimed much of the original brickwork and beams.

"A lot of metal had been added over the years so we tried to put as much of that back into the property as possible," he says.

The Herald:

Amongst its features, The Old Mill has a lift shaft which is now his office.

"That lift shaft proved to be a really nice feature going up through the house," says the owner.

"I said to my wife that it would be a special building when we took it but I don't know if it's got a soul - but the feeling you get is really nice, really calming.

"The river obviously helps and you hear that sound."

The SHOTY judges also visit Sandstone Villa in Bridge of Allan which dates back to the early 1900s.

Homeowner Rona has reconfigured the back of the semi-detached house to better suit family life and designed playful and modern interiors with artwork, plants and second hand finds complimenting the period features of the home.

Her teenage daughters Molly and Penny are used to waking up in the morning to discover the home has been redecorated overnight by their hands-on interior design loving mum.


Inside jobs turn 'ugliest' house into extraordinary home 

The renovated croft house tipped for Scotland's Home of the Year 

The last contender for Central Scotland is Courtyard Farmhouse between Falkirk and Linlithgow.

Owners Gill and David bought the property in a derelict state and worked with a local architect to create their dream home after the first one said he “wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole”.

A property dream-come-true, Gill had always wanted a project to work on and has lovingly created a four-bedroomed home with a light, bright modern interior which makes the most of the stunning countryside views.