Scotland’s Home of the Year


BBC1/BBC Scotland/iPlayer

ACROSS the country they waited. The cushion scatterers, the throw throwers, the worshippers of original parquet floors and well-positioned skylights. Each one desperate for an answer to the only question that counted: who was going to win Scotland’s Home of the Year 2022?

The business in Westminster was a minor skirmish in comparison, though it is worth noting the part played in Mr and Mrs Johnson’s troubles by £840-a-roll gold wallpaper. Homes matter, in part because they say so much about us, and no property show presents a bonnier picture of Caledonia than Scotland’s Home of the Year.

It has been nine weeks since judges Anna Campbell Jones, an interior designer, Michael Angus, architect and lecturer, and homes blogger Kate Spiers began traipsing through strangers’ houses, sometimes taking their shoes off, sometimes keeping them on (what should you do?). Now, at last, the homeowners were gathered at the House for an Art Lover in Glasgow to hear the verdict.

The session started in traditional style with the judges walking to their deliberations in slow motion, the ladies in floaty dresses, a long-haired Michael Angus in his traditional black. They could have been a Meat Loaf tribute act on their way to a gig at the community centre.

As Campbell Jones said, this year it has been particularly tough to choose a winner. Four series in, the homes are getting not just bigger and better, though there is some of that, but more distinctive.

This year’s entrants, for example, included a customised new build in Dundee that had been adapted brilliantly for a disabled teenager, and a tiny but perfectly formed cottage in Fort William. Environmental friendliness becomes more important by the year.

The finalists were a friendly bunch who spoke affectionately about their own properties while heaping praise on the competition.

“We’re both very proud,” said one half of the couple behind the Ostro Passive House in Kippen. “It’s not something you say often being a Scottish person, but we worked really hard on our house and put in a lot of love, and a lot of time, over six years.”

One woman had not told her husband she had put them forward for the competition. “That was a surprise,” he said with some feeling, though you could see he was quietly chuffed.

“It’s just a really nice place to come home to every day,” said another contender, putting their finger on exactly what everyone wants from a home, be it ever so humble or grand.

In the judges’ room there were tears before presentation time, most of them shed by Michael Angus, as the winner emerged. In the end they all fell hard for New Tolsta, a traditional, early 20th century croft house in Stornoway that was packed to the rafters with treasures great and small. No wonder they adored it. This was home that celebrated a life well lived, a place that existed to give comfort and joy in equal measure.

Owner Tom Hickman, an artist, looked as stunned with the result as the judges had been when they first entered New Tolsta. It had taken 15 years to turn what a villager once called “an old hovel” into this stunning home, and it had been worth every minute. Wouldn’t like to do the dusting, mind you.

The plaque awarded, it was time to draw the curtains and turn off the lights on another series. Not for long, though. A fifth starts filming later this month. Applications are open until June 10,. More information at