Deeside Delight

Gillian and Paul Alexander have added some exotic touches to their traditional Scottish country home from their globetrotting days

Six years living in Brazil, before moving into their now, permanent home in the Scottish Highlands was inspirational to Aberdeenshire born and bred Gillian. ‘The interiors were fantastic, with big spaces and I learnt not to be afraid to mix things up. I have collected some Chinese furniture and all sorts of exotic pieces of art work.’ Blue and white china pieces sit happily beside shimmering fabrics, in this artful, coordinated home, with results that are never predictable.

Gillian and Paul bought the house as a new build, when they were still living abroad. ‘Paul continued to travel quite a lot for his work, so we wanted something low maintenance, but that we knew we could improve. We wanted to put our own stamp on a property.’

The house is a one off, traditional, characterful and distinctive. It sits in it’s own grounds, on the edge of a picturesque Deeside village, surrounded by forest. ‘It is a beautiful area, with wonderful walks. The sense of space up here is amazing” Gillian says; “yet we have the vibrant city of Aberdeen on our doorstep, plus some very pretty smaller towns and villages’

We were attracted by the unusual spaces in the house: it has two turrets at the front and a vaulted ceiling downstairs; all the rooms upstairs have coved ceilings. It is unique, with great kerb appeal, in a very quiet and peaceful spot. We really liked the configuration of the generous public rooms. They are perfect for entertaining; alongside a cosy snug, a guest room and a useful study’ Gillian explains.

They tackled the basics first, laying really good quality, wide planked, oak flooring and carpets throughout and replacing the radiators with a chunkier style, that are in keeping with the character of the house.

Upstairs, the layout was less ideal for them as a couple, ‘the master bedroom was a bit small, pocket sized really’ Gillian recalls, ‘so after a few years, we undertook some major alterations, sacrificing a room to create a lavish, open plan bedroom, dressing room and bathroom’.

The house is now perfect for their needs. ‘It is our forever home, not an investment, so reducing the number of bedrooms from five to four did not worry us’ she explains. They installed a new kitchen recently as well, ‘it is a traditional design, not too ornate’ Gillian explains. ‘We were able to place a large table in the new layout, which meant we no longer needed a dining room, what was the dining room is now the TV room.’ Gillian and Paul have added a pretty orangerie style extension to this room, again adding further individuality to the house.

Gillian has succeeded in striking a very pleasing balance between contemporary and traditional. She is a fan of the New England look, both in terms of architecture and design, and has deliberately used a neutral, subtle backdrop, typical of that style, grey and silvery paint on both walls and woodwork, over which she has added further, eclectic layers, reminiscent of other influences from her travels. The result is glamorous and exotic, with a touch of ‘east meets west’. ‘I have always aimed for a ‘Global Fusion’ feel,’ Gillian shares.

‘Living out here in the wilds is my ideal, but I do need occasional doses of city life and I enjoy trips to London and Glasgow regularly. I always come back inspired having come across new designers and fabulous bars and restaurants’ Gillian shares. ‘A recent stay at the Kit Kemp hotel in London has really resonated with me actually and I am ready to inject more colour and pattern into the house now.’

However, there is a minimalist streak throughout her home and the effect, although opulent, is never over the top. Gillian has used symmetry and equilibrium knowingly; her love of balance is immediately evident. ‘I have quite a restrained hand when it comes to decorating, if it is not right, I won’t do it’ she admits.

‘Pinterest is a great source of inspiration for me’ Gillian admits, ‘especially for Christmas decorations.’ Lovingly arranged, by her stylists eye, Gillian loves getting the house ready for visitors and preparing meals for family and friends. ‘Although we have had the opportunity to travel widely, we are both real home lovers, this is where we are happiest.’ Gillian is from the area and cannot see herself moving away again, life here with their beautiful Rhodesian Ridgeback, Lola, could not be more perfect.

An experienced stylist, Gillian offers a good value supportive service and can work long distance. She advises her clients to ‘surround yourself with beautiful things to make a house feel like your own.’ TC
Published: November 2017