An old manse in a beautiful Perthshire village has been comprehensively restored and upgraded.
The Old Manse is in the village of Kinloch, between Blairgowrie and Dunkeld. It looks out over Loch of Drumellie to the mountains of Highland Perthshire beyond.
It was once the minister’s house for the nearby parish church and some of the surrounding land is still owned by the Church of Scotland.
The beautiful B listed house has red sandstone walls and large traditional windows.
Susan Timoney and her husband Kevin bought the Old Manse four years ago and set about a full programme of renovation.
“It wasn’t derelict or anything, it was just a bit tired,” Susan explains. “We basically reworked everything, from plumbing to electrics to timber, in order to put our own stamp on the house.”
Updating a handsome old home
The oldest part of the Old Manse dates from the mid-1700s, with a Georgian southern façade added in the 1840s.
An entrance vestibule has decorative tiling and opens into a beautiful hallway. Herringbone patterned timber flooring gives warmth and a large Velux throws light down the stairs to floor level. The original banister and balustrades have been stripped back and repainted.
The living room has an open fire, comfortable sofa, large south facing window and additional east facing window.
The drawing room is a more formal space. There’s no television in here, and the windows face south and west, capturing the sunshine all afternoon and evening. “This is where the minister would have hosted people for a wee dram and tap them up for a few pounds to fix the church roof,” Susan smiles.
Between the living room and drawing room is a lovely south facing library, which is used at Susan’s home office.
Susan and Kevin employed a semi-retired Dunkeld cabinet maker to do bespoke carpentry work on the house. He fitted timber panelling in the hallway and beautiful bookshelves in the library, complete with sliding ladder to access the upper shelves.
“His brief was to make something that looked like it had always been there and he absolutely nailed that,” Susan explains.
The walls are painted in Farrow and Ball colours, with Susan choosing from their range of Scottish shades – Inchyra blue and Cromarty Green are just two of the hues. “They do such fantastic colours and they look different as the light changes throughout the day.”
Light fixtures, meanwhile, are by Suffolk-based designer Jim Lawrence. Door surrounds and skirtings are made from pine imported from Quebec, and have been sanded and restored. The couple installed cast iron radiators to fit the home’s character. All of the windows have restored original shutters.
When Susan and Kevin bought the Old Manse it had a small kitchen tucked away at the rear of the home. The couple have turned this into a utility room. The magnificent new kitchen was created by knocking four small rooms into one expansive space.
A wood burning stove and dining area occupy one end of the room. The other has a large range cooker with an island and seating. Stone flooring gives a traditional country feel, but there are modern touches such as a wine fridge.
The solid oak units were handmade by the couple’s Dunkeld cabinet maker. They’re absolutely stunning and are beautifully designed. Susan loves to bake and one cupboard has a shelf which cantilevers out, bringing her food mixer up to worktop height.
Spacious bedrooms with views
The staircase sweeps up to a spacious landing. Three large double bedrooms face the front and enjoy views through mature trees to the loch. A huge family bathroom has a walk-in wetroom shower and a bath facing a window onto a mature beech tree. “We have a family of eight squirrels and you can lie in the bath and watch them all play on the branches,” Susan smiles.
A west facing room is used as Kevin’s office but could be a fifth bedroom if needed. Above the new kitchen is a small suite of rooms consisting of a landing, dressing room, shower room and bedroom. It’s designed to be self-contained and is used as guest accommodation.
The Old Manse has innumerable unique and special features. A small metal grate in the coat cupboard on the staircase can be opened so it draws in warm air to dry wet coats. A beautiful freestanding stove was reclaimed from Paris when the city went smoke free and burns bioethanol. Outside, a cast iron fountain trickles a steady flow of water. The boot room cupboard has beautiful brass bees for door handles.
A beautiful garden
To the rear of the house is a courtyard seating area and several large stone outbuildings.
The fantastic garden stretches to just under 2.7 acres, including a 1.4 acre paddock occupied by the family’s two tame sheep and a pair of lively ponies. Three chickens come clucking over to say hello, and the couple’s 10-year old flat haired retriever Darcy lollops across the lawn looking for a cuddle.
Four large clematis climb the wall of the house and are thought to be nearly 200 years old. An apple tree of a similar vintage occupies a sunny spot by the lawn.
The garden wraps around the house, with two large expanses of lawn – one of which was once a tennis court. A raised patio faces west and is the couple’s favourite spot for a gin and tonic on a warm evening.
Behind the main garden is a kitchen garden. A polytunnel, orchard and fruit cage are the centrepieces of a fantastic growing area that leaves the couple largely self-sufficient for food for much of the year.
The Old Manse is the third property the couple have restored. The previously renovated a derelict cottage and a steading in Perthshire. Both are very hands on. “I learned how to do tiling from YouTube and Susan has an aptitude for interior design,” Kevin says.
“This is the last one though, we need a break from it,” Susan adds. “For a while at least…”
With their daughter now at university Susan, 50, and Kevin, 54, have decided to downsize. They’re moving to a new build, architect designed house in Highland Perthshire. “We’ve put so much work into this house it does seem a shame to sell it but we don’t need such a big home anymore,” Kevin says.
“At least we’ll get to enjoy living in the finished house for a month or two until the sale completes. The new house is very different from what we’re used to but it’s also lovely and we’ll soon put our own stamp on it.”