When Teresa Atkinson and her partner Andrew Bartlett moved to the Isle of Harris in September 2015, little did they know that they would soon find another house on the island that was simply too good an opportunity to let go.
Sunday, 27th September 2020, 7:00 am
hen Teresa Atkinson and her partner Andrew Bartlett moved to the Isle of Harris in September 2015, little did they know that they would soon find another house on the island that was simply too good an opportunity to let go.
“As soon as we were here, 1 Luskentyre came on the market,” Teresa recalls. Situated on the west side of South Harris in the Outer Hebrides, Luskentyre is one of the most spectacular beaches in Scotland. Indeed, Luskentyre was named as one of the UK’s best beaches in the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards, and as one traveller summed it up: “This is as close to heaven as you could get…”
With miles of white sand and stunning green-blue water, it isn’t hard to appreciate why Teresa and Andrew were drawn to this beach and this cottage, which is part of a scattered settlement of crofts and cottages that are strung out along Luskentyre Bay. “When we came to see the house, we turned around and looked at the view and thought, ‘We have to have it,’” says Teresa.
The couple were taking on a substantial renovation project with number 1, but wanted to stay faithful to the past. “We tried to keep the character of the cottage,” Teresa says of their approach. “We didn’t want to lose the original identity.”
The building was stripped back to the stone walls, with new plumbing, electrics, central heating and insulation, and with new flooring throughout. From the start, it was clear that this cottage would benefit from being extended to the rear, creating a much larger kitchen and utility area. Being mindful of the north-facing aspect at the rear, as well as the view to Taransay and the distant view towards Ben Luskentyre behind the house, the extension was designed with a vaulted ceiling, with Velux rooflights pouring light into the kitchen.
The renovation took just over three years to complete, with a commitment to using local tradesmen. Slowing the process down gave Teresa and Andrew an opportunity to really consider what was right for the building. “It gave us time to be thoughtful and reflective about the surroundings, and we started to feel that the house was an extension of the landscape,” Teresa explains.
This influenced decisions in many ways, from the colour palette to the features that were preserved and those that were integrated. The two bedrooms are upstairs, along with the bathroom, and when the bedrooms were stripped out and the ceilings were taken down, the couple realised that the vaulted ceilings above would be wonderful features if preserved, and the original roof beams were painted white.
Downstairs, there was original dado-height tongue and groove wall panelling, which the couple retained, complementing it with new panelling in the same style throughout, including in the bedrooms, creating a visual flow as you move around the cottage. A Velux window was installed in the bathroom, so you can lie in the bath looking up at the sky.
There had been a small coal fire in the living room, but without a fireplace, so here the couple installed an electric fire with a Caithness stone hearth and inset, and with a solid oak fireplace to reflect the oak flooring. One of the stone walls has been left exposed, and this creates a lovely rustic feature here. Traditional-style radiators again give a nod to the age of the cottage, as do the panelled timber doors with their cast iron locks and handles.
The interior design was an organic process, Teresa says, as one decision led to the next. This aesthetic is reflected in the timber floors and white walls, other than in one of the bedrooms, where Teresa used Sea Urchin 5 by Dulux, picking up on the turquoise of the sea on a bright day.
A similar shade was chosen for the kitchen cabinetry, using Magnet’s Dunham kitchen in the Dunham Sky colourway, with Nebraska Blonde timber effect worktops and splashbacks that have the look of driftwood. When selecting furniture and lighting, the couple chose unfussy pieces with a touch of traditional styling, from the Bowmore Harris Tweed sofa by Tetrad to lighting from the Baldwin collection by John Lewis. Teresa used to have a textile company many years ago, and during lockdown she decided to revisit her skills by making Harris Tweed cushions for the cottage, and has since gone on to launch Harris Cushion Company, using local Harris Tweed from Tarbert as well as tweeds from mills around Scotland.
When furnishing the two bedrooms, the couple chose Hypnos beds. The bedlinen in the white bedroom is Taransay from Bluebellgray, a hand-painted design by the company’s founder, Fi Douglas, that was inspired by the island.
Now that 1 Luskentyre is on the market, Teresa and Andrew are happy to sell the furnishings with the cottage, offering a turnkey second home or holiday let business for the next owners. The cottage was completed in February this year, just before lockdown, and as the property was never used as a holiday let, this interior is as new.
There is one feature of 1 Luskentyre that takes its design inspiration from much further afield: the veranda that the couple added to the front of the cottage. When in New Zealand visiting their son, the couple admired the verandas they saw on houses there and took photographs for reference. While borrowing from a distant vernacular, this design makes sense here as you can sit outside taking in the sea view while remaining sheltered from the elements.
When asked if there’s a favourite space in this cottage, Teresa cites the bedroom with the Sea Urchin-coloured walls. “You can sit in here and just take in the view,” she says. “This room has such a lovely feeling.”
The same could be said for this cottage that has been transformed with respect both for its character and for its breathtaking location.
See more of this cottage on Instagram at @oneluskentyre. 1 Luskentyre is on the market at offers over £385,000; contact Galbraith on 01463 224343 or visit www.galbraithgroup.com. A closing date has been set for Wednesday at noon