Scotland’s Home of the Year

BBC Scotland/iPlayer


TRADITIONAL or modern? It is the question every estate agent asks, and it turned out to be the choice facing the judges in the final of Scotland’s Home of the Year last night.

The winner was – spoiler alert – The Moss, a Georgian renovation in Killearn that is home to interior stylist Karen Welstead, husband Matt and their daughters Cora and Marnie and son, William.

The runners up were the modernist The Garden House, St Andrews, and the Mid-Century Fun House in Dunblane.

For the second year running, the west of Scotland produced the winner. Last year it was a traditional Glasgow West End flat with fin de siecle flourishes, this time it was a fabulously stylish but homely pile with a pink exterior.

Doric House, the William Henry Playfair-designed winner of the Lothians heat, suffered an early and surprise ousting. Too picture perfect, apparently. Also in the “close but no cigar” pile was Spottes Mill near Castle Douglas – aka the one with the motorbikes parked indoors. One judge admired the owners’ sticking to their guns on taste but was not sure she could live there.

Colonel’s House in Inverness; 1882 House, Ayr; Bealach Bothy, Skye; Evrabister croft in Orkney and Shetland: all failed to make it into the top three for reasons ranging from not being distinctive enough to a missing “vibe” in some rooms.

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The final was rather like a second viewing. That cosy place you had fallen in love with at first sight now looked a tad poky. Delightfully quirky had turned into cheesy. Could you really live with such a dark kitchen?

As last year the final was held in the House for an Art Lover in Glasgow, a place, we were told, designed by “renowned Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh”. You might think that viewers of a 10-part series about architecture and design could be relied upon to know who Rennie Mackintosh was, but there we are. So be it if this, and indulging the director’s addiction to slo-mo walking shots, was the price to pay for one last nosey around other people's homes.

Now three series in, the judges – interior designer and tattoo lover Anna Campbell-Jones, architect Michael Angus, and lifestyle blogger Kate Spiers – give off an easy, all pals together air, even if the women do mercilessly tease Michael when the spirit of architecture overcomes him.

The task before the judges was summed up by Campbell-Jones. There was a line, she felt, between a successful interior and a successful expression of the idea of home. It sounded like the sort of glossy mag, high-falutin thing an interior designer would say, but you knew what she meant. Roughly translated, the winner had to feel like a place where you could put your feet up.

The Moss had this quality in abundance, summed up for Campbell-Jones by an old, well-scrubbed, family dining table that nestled in the kitchen alongside ultra-modern, shiny cupboards.

Instead of having all nine finalists come to Glasgow only the top three were invited. It may have been a Covid-inspired change but it worked to the show’s advantage in that it felt like less of a guddle, and there was more time to get to know the homeowners.

Further detail would not go amiss, though. How much did each family spend, and what is value of their homes now? Or would such questions be considered bad form, more suited to an American show than a Scottish one?

Scotland’s Home of the Year (SHOTY to friends) has built a reputation on being a nice programme in which nice people say nice things about lovely homes. There is no snark to it. In the Scotland represented on SHOTY there are no politics, no divide between Yes or No. If there is a common enemy it is magnolia paint. Would that everyone could live in SHOTY land.

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Perhaps its uncomplicated cheeriness is why the show’s audience has grown and why a fourth series starts filming this month. So roll on the next one, when we can once again play shoe roulette (will the judges leave them on or take them off this time?), and laugh when the trio of city mice dress inappropriately for the Highlands then complain about being cold. Oh, and one more thing: could we have a Christmas special please featuring the judges’ homes?

Scotland’s Home of the Year, full series, made by IWC Media for BBC Scotland, is available on BBC iPlayer