WHO will be crowned Scotland’s Home of the Year? It is a question that has kept viewers rapt over the last two months as the judges have criss-crossed the country in search of abodes that delight and dazzle.

The third series of the popular BBC Scotland show reaches its climax this week. It has showcased outstanding homes – big and small – stretching from the Borders to the Hebrides, across the Highlands to Orkney and Shetland, as well as Lothian, Glasgow and the Clyde Valley.

Each week saw the judging panel – interior designer Anna Campbell-Jones, architect Michael Angus and lifestyle blogger Kate Spiers – rank their favourites, with the highest-scoring home from nine regional categories going forward to the grand finale at Glasgow’s House for an Art Lover on Wednesday.

The winner of the debut series in 2019 was The White House, a sweeping, cylindrical structure hugging Kirkcudbright Bay, while in 2020 it was a beautifully renovated Victorian conversion in the west end of Glasgow that took top spot. Who will follow in their footsteps?

Here we look at some of the contenders for this year’s title. Let’s take a peek through the keyhole …

MID-CENTURY FUNHOUSE, DUNBLANE

THIS colourful and character-packed home, built in 1973, belongs to Nick and Fiona Grant who live there with their 11-year-old son Eddie. The couple have spent eight years transforming its interior and rambling garden.

The eye-catching decor has a retro and vintage flair that includes parquet flooring, Formica-patterned wallpaper, a snug with an arcade game and a hand-painted jungle mural. The garden, meanwhile, has its own Tiki bar and smokehouse shack.

HeraldScotland: The kitchen diner of the Mid-Century Funhouse in Dunblane. Picture: Andrew Jackson/IWC Media/BBC ScotlandThe kitchen diner of the Mid-Century Funhouse in Dunblane. Picture: Andrew Jackson/IWC Media/BBC Scotland

Nick, 50, did almost all the renovation and decoration work himself, putting in long hours during evenings and weekends around his day job as an IT consultant. He and Fiona, 48, a school support for learning assistant, moved to Dunblane in 2012.

What first caught his eye about the property? “It reminded me of the 1950s houses in America,” says Nick. It is an era he loves, stoked by a passion for old cars (Nick has been painstakingly restoring a 1957 Chevrolet for some years now).

When the family moved in, the walls were mainly white or magnolia – a blank canvas that allowed them to put their stamp on things. “When we first did the house, we looked at the colours from the Festival of Britain held on the South Bank in London in the 1950s,” explains Nick.

“We kept some of that palette, but actually used car colour charts from the 1950s. We have a 1957 Chevy, so we looked up ’57 Chevy colours. The turquoise in the dining room is the colour that our car was originally.”

The striking design choices include a jungle-themed mural on the floor-to-ceiling cupboards in the open-plan kitchen diner. Alloa-based signwriter Ross Hastie, who Nick met through the classic car scene, spent four days painting the green, leafy mural by hand.

HeraldScotland: The Tiki bar in the garden of the Mid-Century Funhouse in Dunblane. Picture: Andrew Jackson/IWC Media/BBC ScotlandThe Tiki bar in the garden of the Mid-Century Funhouse in Dunblane. Picture: Andrew Jackson/IWC Media/BBC Scotland

Nick, meanwhile, trawled the internet and found a marine salvage yard selling doors from an old ship. These now hang pride of place at the entrance to the kitchen diner.

“They come from a ship, built in 1959, that used to go from Southampton to Cape Town and back every week,” he explains. “That was an amazing find – and probably cheaper than buying a brand-new set of good quality doors. They are solid teak and weigh an absolute ton.”

The snug contains another much-beloved gem. “The arcade machine I built myself,” says Nick. “I wanted something that would fit with the decor. The 1980s ones had a plastic wood effect, so I made it from MDF and then teak-veneered it.”

Outside in the garden Nick has created Kon Tiki, an exotic-themed drinking hole. “The whole Tiki thing comes from cars, hot-rodding and the 1950s,” he says. “I decided to build a bar because we like having people round to socialise. That turned out to be a good idea with the way the world is.”

That was his first big al fresco project in 2014 (not forgetting the vast extension for the kitchen diner which Nick also built from scratch himself). He has since made a den for his son Eddie, a shed that looks like a mid-century bungalow and a smoke shack where Nick likes to put on his chef’s hat.

HeraldScotland: The living room of the Mid-Century Funhouse in Dunblane. Picture: Andrew Jackson/IWC Media/BBC ScotlandThe living room of the Mid-Century Funhouse in Dunblane. Picture: Andrew Jackson/IWC Media/BBC Scotland

“I love cooking outside,” he says. “I needed something with a bit of shelter and lots of air flow. I cook out there a couple of times a week. I have even cooked Christmas dinner out there a few times.

“There is a gas barbecue and a big bullet smoker where you put in charcoal and oak to get the flavouring. I do American-style barbecuing with brisket cooked for 24 hours. There is a pizza oven too.”

Upcycling is a mainstay of his projects. “Most of the garden buildings are made from whatever I could find to keep the costs down,” says Nick. “Part of the bar is an old shed that had rotted round the bottom. I built a frame, hung the walls off it and repurposed that.

“The wood panelling inside – one of my neighbours had their doors replaced so I grabbed those and used them. Salvaging stuff makes it possible because it would ridiculously expensively otherwise.”

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Plans are already under way for Nick’s latest endeavour. “This year’s build is for Fiona,” he says. “She is getting a little reading/yoga-type place in the garden.”

SPOTTES MILL, CASTLE DOUGLAS

ON the site of a former grain store, this new-build property is beguiling at first glance. From the outside it has a traditional stone facade, yet inside a contemporary, open plan layout awaits with a predominantly black palette, bold artwork and industrial flourishes.

Spottes Mill near Castle Douglas is home to Mark Paterson, 38, who runs a quad bike dealership, and his partner Carol-Ann Brown, 34, a business advisor. When Mark bought the picturesque plot beside a fast-flowing burn in 2009, he was looking for a project to sink his teeth into.

“We saw lots of potential,” he says. “It was a rectangle-shaped barn/grain store that had never been a house before. The possibilities were endless. It was an exciting prospect to do a renovation almost from scratch.”

The original idea was for a conversion but upon discovering the existing building didn’t have foundations, it was back to the drawing board.

HeraldScotland: Interior of Spottes Mill near Castle Douglas. Picture: Andrew Jackson/IWC Media/BBC ScotlandInterior of Spottes Mill near Castle Douglas. Picture: Andrew Jackson/IWC Media/BBC Scotland

“Essentially it is the same footprint as the conversion would have been,” says Mark. “But it has allowed us to make the quality of the stonework, foundations and structure of the building much better.”

Spottes Mill has been several years in the making. “We bought it in 2009. Lost planning permission in 2010, halfway through. Got the new planning permission in 2011,” he recalls. Around the same time, his father passed away, seeing Mark take over the family business.

“I mothballed the project for about five years,” he says. “It has been quite a journey. It is only the process of being on TV and talking about it all again – looking at the old photographs of a huge, wet hole in the ground and half a building with no roof – that you then remember how difficult it was.”

It was worth the wait. The interior is impressive with a strong and distinctive look: poured concrete floors, dark walls, neon hues, a graffiti mural and industrial detailing, including a cantilevered staircase and steel tension cables cleverly incorporated within the exposed ceiling trusses.

“When I started out, I probably wanted to make it even more industrial,” says Mark. “I always fancied a New York loft-style home. I thought about putting stonework on the inside, like exposed brick, but that felt almost like it was forcing the look too much.

HeraldScotland: Interior of Spottes Mill near Castle Douglas. Picture: Andrew Jackson/IWC Media/BBC ScotlandInterior of Spottes Mill near Castle Douglas. Picture: Andrew Jackson/IWC Media/BBC Scotland

“It has evolved. We went industrial in terms of using the metalwork instead and not pretending it was something old. We didn’t want to try too hard and make it look like a converted loft. Although I like that style, that’s not what I have got.

"It was still referencing the old grain building and the Scottish country but with my style which is more urban and industrial.”

Mark knew that he wanted the airy living space to showcase some special art. He commissioned Paisley-based graffiti artist Mark Gorrie to do a giant and vibrant mural.

“I got the same artist to do a mural at my work,” he says. “The back of the building is painted with a big mural showing my grandfather, who started the business, on a motorcycle.”

Many viewers loved that the couple give their collection of motorcycles pride of place within the home – even riding them in through the front door. Was Mark surprised by that reaction?

HeraldScotland: Interior of Spottes Mill near Castle Douglas. Picture: Andrew Jackson/IWC Media/BBC ScotlandInterior of Spottes Mill near Castle Douglas. Picture: Andrew Jackson/IWC Media/BBC Scotland

“A little bit,” he admits. “There was someone who commented on Facebook: ‘What? Can’t they afford to build a £5,000 garage?’ But the majority of the feedback, especially from bikers I know, is that they were hoping we would keep the bikes inside for the filming.

“That is genuinely where we keep them. There is a Harley-Davidson under the stairs, up on a wooden plinth. I do use that – just not as often as the other bikes. I think it looks nice under there.”

The motorcycles might soon have a pad of their own. “We have acquired a wee bit of ground and the idea is to build something cool,” says Mark. “It is a beautiful site just opposite and there is an offshoot of the burn that runs through it.

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“Some landscaping and a garage for motorbikes and other toys. It is a suntrap that will hopefully make a nice outdoor dining space.”

THE MOSS, KILLEARN

THE showstopping Georgian house – with matching pink Aga – sits on 26 acres in rural Killearn. The property is home to Karen and Matt Welstead and their children, Cora, 12, William, nine, and Marnie, seven.

Matt, 43, runs a recruitment agency, while Karen, also 43, has a property furnishing business. The couple previously lived in Milngavie and Karen – a self-described “serial stalker” of online estate agent listings – spotted The Moss during a late-night browsing session while Matt was asleep.

It was love at first sight. “I thought: ‘Oh my gosh, I am going to have to wake Matt up and show him this pink house because it is fabulous,’” she recalls.

“It is exactly what we were looking for. When I say ‘we’, he wasn’t looking to move – it was me, I was looking for a big project. There is something special about the house. We came to view it and as we drove down the driveway, I was like: ‘I am really sorry, we are going to have to move …’

HeraldScotland: The Moss in rural Killearn. Picture: Paul TyagiThe Moss in rural Killearn. Picture: Paul Tyagi

“The house has a lovely feeling to it. As soon as we walked in, even though it was completely empty and you could see it needed a bit of upgrading, I knew it was exactly what we … I... was looking for.”

Matt was less keen initially. After much agonising, they decided not to put in an offer. But a few weeks later, when Matt was away on a business trip, Karen decided to take another look with the children in tow. As she pulled into the driveway, fate intervened.

“The owner drove in behind us and we couldn’t get out because it is a singletrack,” she says. He offered her another tour. “We looked round it again,” she says. “That was it. I had to tell Matt we had been back and that we were going to make an offer.”

Since the couple moved into The Moss in 2018, they have done a complete renovation, introducing a modern feel with quirky and eclectic detailing, while highlighting the original features. At its heart, Karen says, she wanted the home to feel relaxed without stiff formality.

“The Georgian aesthetic is not overly opulent,” she says. “Things like the cornicing and ceiling roses are quite plain. Although they liked to play with colour – such as bright mustard yellows – the Georgian aesthetic wasn’t hugely fancy.

HeraldScotland: The Moss in rural Killearn. Picture: Paul TyagiThe Moss in rural Killearn. Picture: Paul Tyagi

“None of the rooms are what we would call a ‘formal’ or ‘good’ room. In our old house, we had a good room that nobody went into. Every room here has an eclectic feel. The furniture we put in is comfortable. It is meant to feel inviting as opposed to terrifying.”

Something that tickled the judges is the Aga in the kitchen being the same colour as the home’s exterior. “When we moved in the pink wasn’t that colour,” says Karen. “We bought the Aga and then we matched up the exterior.

“[The exterior] was more of a peachy colour. It needed painting and we changed it to a fresher pink that I think would be more of a Georgian colour.”

The house is filled with hidden nooks and crannies. When new wood panelling was being fitted to give the dining room a glamorous feel for evenings and parties, Karen came up with the idea for a secret bar area tucked away out of sight.

“I wanted it to have an inside-of-a-jewellery-box feel with the gold wallpaper and the lighting,” she says. “The kids find it hilarious to bring people in to try and find where the bar is.”

HeraldScotland: The Moss in rural Killearn. Picture: Paul TyagiThe Moss in rural Killearn. Picture: Paul Tyagi

The aesthetic is slickly done with mix and match. “We didn’t buy everything new for the house,” says Karen. “A lot of furniture has come with us from our other homes, as well as heirlooms from family. The two leather chairs in the window of our TV room are my grandfather’s original Scandi chairs.

“I like a vintage look. I like mid-century. I like having the odd piece put into a room without necessarily having everything the same – an eclectic look. I don’t put too much value on spending ages picking expensive statement pieces. I enjoy having old pieces mixed in with new, Ikea and vintage.”

While The Moss looks stunning, Karen insists there is still much to be done. “It is one of those things when you live in an old house. There is always something – with character comes commitment.”

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The sprawling garden beckons next. “There is a small gardeners’ loo and a couple of stores I would like to do something with,” she says. “I am always looking for a project.”

THE OTHER FINALISTS

The Garden House, St Andrews

An architectural gem designed from scratch with – as the name suggests – a garden at its heart. Every room allows a connection to nature and the outdoors. 

HeraldScotland: The Garden House, St Andrews. Picture: Rory Dunning/IWC Media/BBC ScotlandThe Garden House, St Andrews. Picture: Rory Dunning/IWC Media/BBC Scotland

1882 House, Ayr

This ground-floor Victorian villa conversion brims with attitude and verve. Original period features meet oversized disco balls, neon lights and an indoor jungle.

HeraldScotland: 1882 House, Ayr. Picture: Andrew Jackson/IWC Media/BBC Scotland1882 House, Ayr. Picture: Andrew Jackson/IWC Media/BBC Scotland

Colonel’s House, Inverness

Built in 1897 for the Colonel of the Cameron Barracks, a recent incarnation saw it used as a B&B. The three-storey property has been painstakingly renovated back to its former glory as a family home.

HeraldScotland: Colonel’s House, Inverness. Picture: Thomas Skinner/IWC Media/BBC ScotlandColonel’s House, Inverness. Picture: Thomas Skinner/IWC Media/BBC Scotland

Evrabister, Kergord, Shetland

A but-and-ben croft house dating back some 200 years old, it was extended in the 1960s. The cosy interior incorporates mid-century modern and retro decor. 

HeraldScotland: Evrabister, Kergord, Shetland. Picture: Rory Dunning/IWC Media/BBC ScotlandEvrabister, Kergord, Shetland. Picture: Rory Dunning/IWC Media/BBC Scotland

Doric House, Edinburgh

This luxurious New Town pad was designed by William Henry Playfair and built in 1824. Inside it is brimming with character, paying homage to its historic roots while embracing modern living. 

HeraldScotland: Doric House, Edinburgh. Picture: Rory Dunning/IWC Media/BBC ScotlandDoric House, Edinburgh. Picture: Rory Dunning/IWC Media/BBC Scotland

Bealach Bothy, Staffin, Skye

A century-old former croft house that lay vacant for many years before being lovingly brought back to life with a bold and contemporary renovation.

HeraldScotland: Bealach Bothy, Staffin, Skye. Picture: Rory Dunning/IWC Media/BBC ScotlandBealach Bothy, Staffin, Skye. Picture: Rory Dunning/IWC Media/BBC Scotland

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The Scotland’s Home of the Year final is on BBC Scotland, Wednesday, at 8pm. Episodes are repeated on BBC One Scotland on Mondays at 7.35pm and available on BBC iPlayer