Rachel Dougherty throws back her head and laughs when I tell her that her lovingly restored farmhouse has been described as "mathematical genuis" by architect and new Scotland's Home of the Year judge Danny Campbell.

"I don't think I've ever or will ever be described as that again," says the textiles graduate, whose postcard-perfect cottage in Banchory in  Aberdeenshire is in the running for the coveted crown.

The new series of the hugely popular BBC show kicks off on Monday with interior designers Anna Campbell Jones and Banjo Beale, along with Danny, casting their expert eye over three unique properties in the North East and Northern Isles.

The Herald: SHOTY judges Danny Campbell, Anna Campbell Jones and Banjo BealeSHOTY judges Danny Campbell, Anna Campbell Jones and Banjo Beale (Image: BBC Scotland)

Quiney Cottage, a traditional farmhouse cottage which dates to the 1860s, is home to the handbag designer and her lucky cat Drizzy.

The property was covered in mould and damp and had no insulation when she purchased it three years ago but it was pretty much love at first sight for the 38-year-old, who was previously living in London and yearning for the open space of her home town.

The Herald: Quiney Cottage dates from the 1860sQuiney Cottage dates from the 1860s (Image: BBC Scotland)

"The earliest we've been able to find it on the map is the 1860s and I know that previous to me it was owned by the estate and would have been a farmhouse cottage for a long time," she says.

"It was rented out by the estate and had sat empty for a couple of years.

"I spent the first year figuring out what I was going to do, with the architect and the joiners."

Armed with a sledgehammer she stripped the property back to brick, restoring every room at a cost of around £100,000 and the two-bedroomed house incorporates her love of clashing patterns, textiles and colours.

The Herald: The judges said the use of colour, texture and pattern was 'creative genius'The judges said the use of colour, texture and pattern was 'creative genius' (Image: BBC Scotland)

"I've always wanted to live in a cottage and I was really looking for a project and I know everyone says this but it was a real labour of love," says Ms Dougherty, whose family live in Banchory.

"I was in a small, cramped flat in London with a tiny bit of garden - even having that in London is very lucky.

"I wanted to live somewhere where no one was around and the actual aesthetic of a cottage is perfect for me.

"It's symmetrical and cute and traditional."

The Herald: Quiney Cottage is in the running to be crowned Scotland's Home of the Year Quiney Cottage is in the running to be crowned Scotland's Home of the Year (Image: BBC Scotland)

Mull-based Banjo enthuses about the "chocolate box" cottage when he catches sight of the property's mint green front door and cottage garden.

The ground floor of the property has a kitchen, guest bedroom, living room and shower room while the upper floor accessed by a twisting staircase has a bathroom and two bedrooms and a work desk that looks onto rolling fields.

The Herald: The blue staircase is described as 'mathematical genius' by architect Danny Campbell The blue staircase is described as 'mathematical genius' by architect Danny Campbell (Image: BBC Scotland)

Most of the interiors were sourced from second-hand and vintage shops or antiques.

"It's better for the environment to re-use things and they just give more character to your house," says the owner.

The Herald: The scullery is quirky and colourful but also functional The scullery is quirky and colourful but also functional (Image: BBC Scotland)

"Older rural cottages can sometimes feel really dank and dark with low ceilings and thick walls but all the objects and colour bring it to life, says Danny, who is impressed by the mathematical way she has maximised space.

The other two judges are blown away by the owner's "incredible colour and pattern sense".

Tartan is mixed with gingham and floral with two different types of curtains in the living room and a checkerboard floor that goes from bright blue to green to separate two rooms.

"People think you have to keep small homes very simple but the owner has showed that the opposite is true, says Anna.

"I couldn't have it any other way," says Quiney Cottage's owner, "because I'm naturally just drawn to colour, pattern and print.

"I did it room by room so I could monitor that I wasn't going too crazy although some people might think different," she adds laughing.

With this in mind she paired a "neutral" striped wallpaper in the hallways with a bright blue staircase.

"I like putting colours together and having contrasting colours next to each other and I think because I've done it room by room it has naturally flowed," she says.


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Referencing the dollshouse-sized bed in her own bedroom she says she enjoys sourcing "tiny versions of everyday objects".

"My two nieces play with it but I just think it's dead cute," she says. "If Drizzy wants to sleep in it, that's okay too."

The 38-year-old was contacted by 'SHOTY' producers when the house was at quite an early stage in her renovations and said it spurred her on to finish the restoration.

Interviewed over Zoom because she is in China for a work trip, she says she loves the property so much she finds it hard to be separated from it.

The Herald:

"I just makes me feel really happy and I'm glad I took the plunge to do it," she says.

The judges also visit Casa Barra near Inverurie, a contemporary self-build barn-style dwelling situated on the site of a family farm.

Home to Maria, Craig and their two children, Violeta and Matias, Casa Barra fits in with the rural landscape, making the most of the impressive views which surround it.

The Herald: Casa Barra Casa Barra (Image: BBC Scotland)

The design inspiration for the home combines Scottish country living with Maria’s Latin American roots.

The final home is a listed former farm dwelling in South Aberdeenshire, which is home to Gemma, Paul and their kids, Stefano and Sofia.

The couple have a hands-on approach to DIY and interiors and sourced the majority of the furniture second hand.

Gemma immersed herself in video tutorials, learning how to tile, paint murals, wallpaper and plumbing.

The homes are scored on architectural merit, distinctive design and personal style with all owner hoping they can make it to the 'SHOTY' grand final held at House for an Art Lover in Glasgow.

Scotland’s Home of the Year, BBC One Scotland, Monday, 8.30pm, and on iPlayer.