If there were a window into my soul, I think the view would be a rain-soaked Scottish landscape. Not, I hope, because I have a relentlessly bleak nature. My dad plotted family holidays all over the small but majestic country I grew up in, and while I didn’t greatly appreciate his efforts at the time – the walks were a bit too long, the cycles often too uphill – the colours and scenes etched into my memory from those trips are the ones that still restore me today. They form the palette that now underpins the design of my holiday home on Loch Tay, Perthshire.
I’ve been a Londoner since 2001, but in 2018 my husband and I built this house to share the gift of spectacular dreich [an evocative Scottish word for dreary] summers with our two city-dwelling children, Rafer, 11, and Gilda, eight. The architecture is by my old school friend Kirsty Lees, who I have known since we were both four. She runs local practice Tektonika with her husband David McMillan, and together they devised a simple, long structure. The base is solid rock and the roof is clad in black zinc, while the huge windows between allow for the feeling of living within the view, with its ever-changing skies, stolid mountains and that stretch of loch, breathtaking in its stillness.
Kirsty selected the building materials for their ability to cope with extraordinary extremes of weather and I followed the same logic for the interior, using colour and texture to root the building in its setting, while also offering protection from it. This meant blending minimal details with cosy ones – concrete with the aggregate exposed, warm Douglas fir wood, handmade zellige or flattish-toned encaustic tiles, and woven fabrics. Everything is built on a palette of green, yellow, navy, pink and brown (the sludgy versions), allowing the rooms to bleed into the land they overlook.
I spend the majority of my time working in Peckham’s Bussey Building in southeast London, where we’re lucky to have lots of creatives on the doorstep. Thus, my kitchen was made by carpenters just outside my office, and the terrazzo floor tiles were sourced a few miles away in Bermondsey. Everything else, though, was made in Scotland. The kitchen worktop was poured on site and much of the custom carpentry was produced just an hour away in Perth. The result is an interior that feels like a life distilled, but also the beginning of a wondrous new chapter. jillmacnair.com; tektonica-architects.co.uk
For the full house tour see ELLE Decoration Country Volume 16, on sale now
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