A house built on a historic site in Dumfries and Galloway has been shortlisted for Scotland's Home of the Year.

A chance meeting in his family's fish and chip shop led to John Pagani-Palmer acquiring land owned by Bonshaw Tower, the ancestral seat of the Irving clan that was built in 1570.

Historical records state that Robert the Bruce took refuge at an earlier tower built in 1298 and now the idyllic spot next to the Kirtle Water in Dumfries and Galloway is a peaceful sanctuary for John and his husband Dan.

"Dumfries and Galloway is stunning beautiful and often overlooked," said John, who runs the Cafe Royal in Annan, which was named one of the UK's top 50 fish and chip shops in 2021.

"The owner used to come into my cafe before work for a coffee and told me he was selling a field for houses to be built upon.

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​"I looked into it but the plan was to build eight houses on the plot which wouldn't have suited me. 

"Months later and after several planning applications, the planning department would only give the builders permission to build two houses.

"Once that information reached me, I was right over to the builder to see what we could do."

He says he "drew his perfect house" on a scrap of paper, inspired by his many visits to Los Angeles and the builder got to work.

"The house was originally built very much as a white box internally, like an art gallery," he said.

The Herald: The couple drew inspiration for the interiors from their trips to LAThe couple drew inspiration for the interiors from their trips to LA (Image: Scotland's Home of the Year)

"About 8 years later, I met Dan and we got to work to make the house reflect us as individuals as well as a couple."

The interiors of Kirtle Water Grange, near Lockerbie, are designed for entertaining and there’s an eclectic mix of items collected on their travels as well as some clever upcycled pieces. 

SHOTY judges Anna Campbell Jones, Danny Campbell and Banjo Beale are immediately drawn to an unusual dome-shaped cocktail bar that the couple sourced in LA while they were on a recce for their wedding.

"We visited a home store called Restoration Hardware and fell in love, not only with the general style but specifically the many peculiar design objects," said John.

The Herald: The SHOTY judges are immediately drawn to the unusual cocktail bar The SHOTY judges are immediately drawn to the unusual cocktail bar (Image: BBC Scotland)

"The cocktail bar was based on a German bulb tester from the early 1940s. It's heavy but we had to have it. 

"The store sent it to a removal firm in New York City from LA and from there we had it literally shipped to Glasgow. 

"So it was six months later but we had it and still haven't seen another one since. 

"It's a great talking point, one of the things we cherish the most and reminds us of a very happy time preparing for our wedding."

The three-bedroomed property has a dramatic, extended driveway and makes the most of the tranquil riverside location with a magnificent garden that is split into themed areas.

The Herald: Kirtle Water Grange boasts an impressive garden that is split into themed areas Kirtle Water Grange boasts an impressive garden that is split into themed areas (Image: BBC Scotland)

"We truly aren't gardeners but we have, through experience, discovered what grows where and how to make the most out of the different types of ground," said Dan X.

"The meadow is  a fenced area where you'll find our chickens ratching about and there is an abundance of fruit trees which we are growing  to feed my need for Fruit Crumbles."

The Top Garden has about half of the river frontage with a more formal laid-out space and a gravel path that is lined with specimen trees leading to the riverside hot tub. 

"We had visited the High Line, garden/walk in New York and got to replicating it back in Kirtlebridge," he added.

Their solar-powered home boasts an opulent bathroom complete with copper bath and tiger-themed wallpaper.

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There is also quirky features including a doggy treat station, flying saucers on the wall and a stuffed giraffe head.

"I'd say the style is just us, quirky, surprising and welcoming," says Dan.

The Herald: The house is an ideal space for entertaining The house is an ideal space for entertaining (Image: BBC Scotland)

"We like to upcycle but equally, we like to find bargains. There's always that one thing you just must have.

"Many of our favourite areas within the house combine with the outdoor areas, the upstairs balcony always has a little surprise when you sit out for long enough, no matter what time of the year or even day. 


"The great room is such a sociable area, whether you're cooking, watching tv or sitting on the verandah, you can all speak to each other as well as having your own space."

The SHOTY judges also head to Moffat to visit Honeysuckle Cottage, home to Bryony, Mark and their sons Grayson and Zavier.

A stone cottage dating back to the 1700s, this cosy home has been completely renovated by the owners and includes a modern glass sunroom extension and converted basement.

The final home in the South is Old Manse in South Lanarkshire home to Jo and Graeme and three of their six children.

The original part of the property dates back to the early 1800s, and it has been extended through the years. 

Bursting with quirkiness, Old Manse features a distinctive purple door and a secret bar with a crushed velvet ceiling.