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House Curious

Lifestyle and interior shop. Social workshops for the creatively curious.

The Interior Inspiration Behind this Scottish Hideaway

Sommer Pyne

Nothing makes me happier to see how our customer use our gorgeous wares to create a welcoming home. Recently one of our lovely customers, Michelle shared with us her unique contemporary retreat on the Scottish Isle of Skye. So of course we had to share it with you. And if you fancy staying here you’ll find it on Unique Home Stays who are the experts when it comes to finding luxurious and unique homes off-the-beaten track in the UK. It sounds so idyllic and I could easily see myself lounging with papers on that large swing seat.

Tori from Unique Home Stay talks with Michelle, owner of Kyn about the inspiration behind her contemporary retreat on the Isle of Skye.

KYN - Images ©  Unique Home Stays

KYN - Images © Unique Home Stays

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us, we would love to start by hearing the story behind how you discovered Kyn? 

My husband and I began our search for a holiday home on the Isle of Skye at the beginning of 2017. We were looking for somewhere to escape to from our busy lives as defence lawyers. Over a year we made many trips to the island to view properties and plots, concentrating our focus in and around the Sleat peninsula. The location was the most important element of the search as we were willing to build or renovate if it was in the right location.

The drive out to view the property that is now Kyn took us along Skye's highest road climbing 279m above sea level over Bealach Udal, and the views were extraordinary. The road commences it’s descent down the mountain, curling around bends and clinging to the sides of steep slopes as it plunges into Kylerhea. I knew immediately that we had found the perfect place before we had even seen the house. Upon viewing the property, it was obvious that it required a lot of work but it was where we wanted to be.

Images © Unique Home Stays

Images ©  Unique Home Stays
Images ©  Unique Home Stays

We absolutely love the clean Scandinavian style, what was your inspiration behind the interior design? 

We took inspiration for the design from the farm buildings dotted throughout the Skye landscape. Kylerhea is a crofting township so it was important to us that the building was sympathetic to that tradition. The simple pared-back style of Scandinavian design fitted the brief, and the corrugated red tin roof on the veranda is a nod to the local farm buildings and traditional croft cottages. A simple palette of wood, tin, marble and stone help to blend the property into the natural landscape. The simplicity of the design required a concentration on quality craftsmanship, from the hand made kitchen and lights, to the porch swing made and shipped from Tennessee. 

Images ©  Unique Home Stays
Images ©  Unique Home Stays
Images ©  Unique Home Stays

What do you enjoy most about Kylerhea and the surrounding area?   

The beautiful scenery and wildlife. Kylerhea sits by the edge of the sea strait that separates the Isle of Skye from the Scottish mainland. Nestled in a secluded glen beneath the mountains Ben Aslak and Sgurr na Coinnich, Kylerhea is in a Special Area of Conservation and is noted for its wildlife with otters, seals, deer and sea eagles being the most common visitors.

The view across to the mainland takes in the spectacular mountain ridge known as the five sisters of Kintail. The nearby Sleat peninsula is referred to as "the garden of Skye" and is dotted with historic castle ruins, galleries, craft shops and a brewery offering whisky tasting. It is also home to Kinloch Lodge, the historic seat of the Clan MacDonald, now an award-winning hotel and restaurant.

Images ©  Unique Home Stays
Images ©  Unique Home Stays
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Images ©  Unique Home Stays
Images ©  Unique Home Stays
Images ©  Unique Home Stays

What would your ideal weekend at Kyn entail?

A typical Saturday usually involves a late breakfast followed by a walk to the Kylerhea Otter Hide, located about a mile or so from the house. It's the best way to see the otters, seals and other local wildlife. A dip in the hot tub may follow in the afternoon, before a sumptuous dinner at Kinloch Lodge.

On Sunday, we usually take the Skye ferry which is a short walk or drive from the house over to the tiny highland village of Glenelg. The crossing takes five minutes, then we will head to Glenelg Inn which serves a great Sunday roast. After, we collect the papers from the village shop to read when we return home.

How would you describe Kyn in three words? 

Mother Nature's Beauty. 

Images ©  Unique Home Stays
Images ©  Unique Home Stays
Images ©  Unique Home Stays
Images ©  Unique Home Stays
Images ©  Unique Home Stays
Images ©  Unique Home Stays

House Destinations - Balearic Islands

Sommer Pyne

Photo by  Adrien prv

Photo by Adrien prv

The Balearic islands have long been a favourite holiday destination of ours. Most recently we ventured to Mallorca but I have a long standing love with Ibiza, so much so that my husband and I got married there, so it only seemed right that we explore these majestic islands next on our house destinations tour around the globe.

Photos from Est Living

Photos from Est Living

Farm House - Ibiza

This farm house was once a private home however it has now has been converted into a small boutique hotel called La Granja Ibiza. We love it so much we couldn’t not share it. A stunning house that has strong moorish influences and nods to Iberian architecture it’s the perfect place to relax and decompress on the white isle.

Photos from Est Living

Photos from Est Living

The communal outdoor space is a mixture of rustic eclecticism. Natural materials such as mixed wood, wicker, bamboo along with aged iron adds character to the exterior furniture and accessories. Cleverly the furniture blends into it’s natural surroundings as if it was meant to be there. Stone and gravel flooring add additional textures.

Photos by La Granja Hotel

Photos by La Granja Hotel

The warm weather allows guests to take advantage of the outdoor space with large outdoor tables and benches for eating and entertaining. Large trays on the tables filled with local seasonal fruit are a simple but effective centerpiece that an easily be replicated in your home. The benches are softened with linen cushions and throws.

Photos from Est Living

Photos from Est Living

Sometimes less is more especially when you have original beautiful features such as the exposed wooden beams. Earthy colour tones are a common theme throughout the house and you can clearly see that the colour pallet has been inspired by the natural beauty that surrounds the property. The paired back style gives a sense of calm and tranquility.

Photos from Est Living

Photos from Est Living

Photos from Est Living

Photos from Est Living

There are cosy corners and great nooks for reading and relaxing in. In the image on the left hand side there is a gorgeous built in seating area. You could add something similar to your own home and with hidden storage underneath. We love the use of mis-matched style of coffee tables at slight different heights.

Photos from Est Living

Photos from Est Living

The bedroom in much darker in colour to create a cosy nest to sleep. The beds are luxurious but rustic with layers of neutral linens. Materials of burnt wood, brushed and oiled ash, stone and slate all help to ground the room.

Photos from Est Living

Photos from Est Living

Photos from Est Living

Photos from Est Living

We love the dark shutters and stone tiled floors which also help keep the rooms cool during the heat of the summer. Low hung pendant lights either side of the bed are a great alternative to bedside table lights.

Photos from Est Living

Photos from Est Living

Photos from Est Living

Photos from Est Living

Photos from Est Living

Photos from Est Living

One of the most luxurious things I have ever experienced is a soaking in a roll topped bath by an open fire.

Photos from Est Living

Photos from Est Living

Simple decor features throughout, we love the low hung bamboo lampshades, rustic stools and palm broom. The crittal doors add a modern touch to the house and seem to compliment any space.

Key features we love :

Source : Est Living

Photos by GCA ARCHITECTS

Photos by GCA ARCHITECTS

Family House - Formentera

Next up we hop over to Formentera a stones throw from Ibiza, the smallest of the Balearic Islands. A great place for a day trip from Ibiza or a week long getaway. We love this hippy island with it’s crystal clear waters and long sandy beaches. This house is a stunning family home with gorgeous views of the ocean.

Photos by GCA ARCHITECTS

Photos by GCA ARCHITECTS

Photos by GCA ARCHITECTS

Photos by GCA ARCHITECTS

The sandy colour of the exterior allows the property to blend into its surroundings. Large wooden shutters keep the interiors shaded and cool. Small windows are in keeping with the original style of the property.

Photos by GCA ARCHITECTS

Photos by GCA ARCHITECTS

Photos by GCA ARCHITECTS

Photos by GCA ARCHITECTS

Again this property has a large outdoor dining area perfect for entertaining late into the evenings. Climbing vines have been planted to grow and eventually create shade during hot summer days. Outdoor pendant lights have been hung over the table to create an indoor/outdoor vibe.

Photos by GCA ARCHITECTS

Photos by GCA ARCHITECTS

Photos by GCA ARCHITECTS

Photos by GCA ARCHITECTS

Furniture in the interior is modern and angular to compliment the clean lines of the property. Natural wood has been used on the ceilings and walls, which seems to a be a trend that we’re seeing more and more.

Photos by GCA ARCHITECTS

Photos by GCA ARCHITECTS

Photos by GCA ARCHITECTS

Photos by GCA ARCHITECTS

Photos by GCA ARCHITECTS

Photos by GCA ARCHITECTS

Photos by GCA ARCHITECTS

Photos by GCA ARCHITECTS

The stone walls used throughout this property are typical of this area and are a real statement feature of the building. By using natural materials from the surrounding are and combined with architectural modern lines it feels modern and in keeping with the houses original style.

Naturally woven baskets are a great accessory to soften any space and is an easy fix to add to your home.

Photos by GCA ARCHITECTS

Photos by GCA ARCHITECTS

Key features we love:

  • Sand coloured exteriors

  • Exposed Wooden beams

  • Large pool

  • Outdoor shower

  • Flat stone wall in native sandy colour stone

Source : Design./Visual.

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

Mallorce House - Deià, Mallorca

Set in a tiny village on the island of Mallorca, this hill top hideaway it full of character and history. Dating back to the 13th century it is now owned by several members of a nordic family. You can feel both a nordic and mallorcan influence throughout the property.

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

Situated over three storeys on a steeply terraced site, the house is accessed via the middle floor, where the kitchen, dining room, and a bedroom and bathroom are situated. The floor above has the master bedroom and an ensuite bathroom, as well as affording access to the spacious main outdoor terrace, and on the lower floor are two more bedrooms (including one with multiple built-in bunk beds for kids) and a shared bathroom.

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

Large glass doors and windows allow light to flood in. Stone floors keep the building cool.

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

The white washed walls and exposed beams are very quintessentially balearic. We love the addition of plants though out the property for splashes of colour in a very neutral colour palette. Brass, stone, wood, linen, raffia and wicker are the key materials used to decorate this space.

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

This bespoke sink is a beautiful feature and you can almost envisage the stone that it was craved out of. The aged brass accents are warm and go perfectly with the earthy tones of the house.

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

Simple bedding with soft texture, layered pillows and cushions add a softness to the bedrooms. Again the owners have hung pendant lights as a way to save space in the bedroom and avoid bedside table lamps.

Photos by Greg Cox

Photos by Greg Cox

I love the relaxed no fuss vibe of this outdoor area. The exposed original wall and natural wood compliments the natural surroundings do effortlessly.

Key features we love:

  • High hilltop position with views for miles

  • Brass bathroom fixtures and fittings

  • Outdoor seating area

Source: Est Living

If you’ve missed any of the previous blog posts in this series don’t worry you can check them out here.

House Destinations - Australia

House Destinations - America

House Destinations - Scandinavia

Enjoy x

Week 2. Plastic Free Travel - Mindset and Behaviour

Sommer Pyne

IMG-3297-1.jpg
Turtles in Kastellorizo swimming through rubbish and microplastics. We regularly get nets to clean the harbour but are ridiculed by locals who refuse to do the same.

Turtles in Kastellorizo swimming through rubbish and microplastics. We regularly get nets to clean the harbour but are ridiculed by locals who refuse to do the same.

Be vocal

A lot of locals in remote islands or in other places around the world are not as aware of plastic and environmental issues as the UK. Often they have the mentality that if they didn't put the rubbish there it's not theirs to clean - when it's a responsibility for all of us. They care about tourists but don't see any connection between the environment and tourism. That means tourists have a huge opportunity to make a difference and make locals care by realising it may impact tourism. Speak up and say that you don't want single use water cups or straws at a seaside restaurant. If you're at a water front restaurant, tell them nicely that you're not eating with them if the water is filthy or if there are straws all over the beach. On the flip side - speak up and tell them how much you love their efforts if they are making efforts. We found places in Sri Lanka and Formentera with metal straws and glass jars for smoothies - so we wrote great reviews for them on Tripadvisor.

Mention in person and then rant or rave on Tripadvisor - business owners and locals will soon see that the environment impacts tourism.

We factor in extra time to sit down for a meal rather than grab takeaway - Sushi is more fun with a sushi train.

We factor in extra time to sit down for a meal rather than grab takeaway - Sushi is more fun with a sushi train.

Beach Cafe in Formentera serving smoothies in glass with metal straws.

Beach Cafe in Formentera serving smoothies in glass with metal straws.

Be a Slow Traveller

Be a slow traveller and sit down for meals. As convenient as Pret and M&S are, we now get to the airport a little earlier (totally out of character for me) and sit down to eat rather than grabbing take away. We have our takeaway containers and usually order extra to take as leftovers as we avoid plane food and snacks. It also means you are less likely to miss your flight!

Campo di Fiori, Rome - we looked for Airbnbs that were next to Rome's largest food market

Campo di Fiori, Rome - we looked for Airbnbs that were next to Rome's largest food market

Trapani in Sicily, again we chose an airbnb near the local market.

Trapani in Sicily, again we chose an airbnb near the local market.

Seeking out bulk food and zero waste shops - in Lyon.

Seeking out bulk food and zero waste shops - in Lyon.

Stay Near Markets or Agritourismos

We love picking Airbnbs so we can cook and select those that are near markets so popping downstairs each morning and collecting everything we need whilst immersing ourselves in local life. In Rome we stayed above Piazza Di Fiori and in Trapani we have the local market downstairs. It makes a huge difference living by a market as you have a real local experience every day and don't have far to carry the groceries! In Mallorca we stayed at an Agritourismo with chickens and a veggie garden that the girls could access every morning to help collect eggs and food.

Freshly picked coconut cut to make its own spoon in Sri Lanka.

Freshly picked coconut cut to make its own spoon in Sri Lanka.

Search for Zero Waste Shops

Unfortunately markets don't usually have everything. So I do a quick googles search for zero waste or bulk food shops when I arrive somewhere. The website https://www.bepakt.com/ is a great reference for a list of locations. We then spend time in our first few days checking them out and doing our shopping. Often we visit a few to cover all our needs, finding ones with milk in glass is a real treat. It gives us a sense of direction as soon as we arrive somewhere and it is a bit of an adventure.

Collecting eggs in the morning from Son Mesquida Vell.

Collecting eggs in the morning from Son Mesquida Vell.

Seeking out plastic free cheese in the markets in Sardinia.

Seeking out plastic free cheese in the markets in Sardinia.

Make Zero Waste Fun

Whether it's at a bulk food shop and supermarket, we make it a treasure hunt seeking out food with either no packaging or in glass or tin (that is readily recyclable). My kids love going on the hunt for yoghurt in glass or finding nuts at the markets to make nut milk. We also seek out local activities related to food production, such as cheesemaking or mushroom foraging and of course embrace local foods for breakfast - such as olives, cucumbers and eggs.

Foraging in Greece - carob, pomegranate and figs

Foraging in Greece - carob, pomegranate and figs

Foraging in Greece for wild figs

Foraging in Greece for wild figs

Forage

Ok, it sounds a little wanky but it's anything but! If you're in a location that lends itself, engage with your food and forage for some. If you have kids it's a great way to connect them with the environment and teach them about local flora and cuisine. Have a forage and then include what you find in your next meal. My kids hated pomegranate until they picked it off the tree themselves. The Mediterranean islands are full of wild herbs, succulents, figs and carob and of course the allusive prickly pear. France has mushrooms and sunflower heads full of seeds, everywhere has something. My daughter and I have spent a good 2 hours trying to remove the micro-needles from our prickly pear foraging experience - but it hasn't deterred us, the harder to get, the more you want it right?

Foraging in Greece - local succulents to use in salads.

Foraging in Greece - local succulents to use in salads.

Foraging in Greece - Sage.

Foraging in Greece - Sage.

Learning how to say 'no plastic' in the language of the country you are in, this is Italian.

Learning how to say 'no plastic' in the language of the country you are in, this is Italian.

Get Down with the Lingo

The best way to communicate that you don't want plastic is to learn how to say 'no plastic' in the language of the country you are in. I find people so responsive when we have clearly made the effort to learn a little bit of the language! I get the girls to look up on google translate how to say 'no plastic' in which ever language we need to use.

Beach Clean in Sri Lanka. We limited the clean to outside our house - otherwise the kids would have cleaned all day.

Beach Clean in Sri Lanka. We limited the clean to outside our house - otherwise the kids would have cleaned all day.

Do a Clean and use Hashtags

You're on holiday - it's not your responsibility to clean all the time but I feel that I can't let my kids think waste in nature is normal - and the only way to get that message across is to do something about it. We mix it up with small cleans and larger beach cleans.

For a larger clean, get in touch with a local Facebook group to see if there's anyone who can join you - just search your location and there are likely to be groups. Take pics, post on social media and use hashtags such as #2minutebeachclean #TAT #TAT*yourlocation* #trashchallenge or #3forthesea. Don't let unattractive pictures stop you posting. If you have a pretty social media account hide the waste pics in a gallery and make the leading pic pretty - the end result.

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Unfortunately sometimes the only way to do a clean is to use plastic bags as hessian aren't available. But it's a judgement call - it's better to do that and remove the waste from a vulnerable area such as a beach than leave it in nature.

Quick 2 minute clean in Croatia at the Krka Waterfalls.

Quick 2 minute clean in Croatia at the Krka Waterfalls.

My kids pick up waste all the time so I actually have to put rules around it i.e. 2 Minute Beach Clean, and teach them it's not their job to do it all the time everywhere. I also make sure that if they are building a sandcastle of fairy house they only use items from nature to decorate, not trash.

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IMG-3280.JPG

Offset your travel

Finally - as much as plastic is a problem, the greatest challenge of our time is climate change. One of the greatest ways we as individuals can reduce emissions is to reduce air and boat travel. There is already too much carbon in the atmosphere, so there's a moral imperative to not add to the problem. Offsetting comes in because we can't plant our own trees en-mass or create renewable electricity in developing countries. We offset all our travel and more using Cool Effect https://www.cooleffect.org/ and their simple calculator, getting our kids involved in choosing a project. It's a small cost - sometimes as little as £7.

Then remember - have fun! It's almost impossible to be plastic free - but your efforts to be imperfectly plastic free will make a difference far beyond the actual trash you save. You'll be influencing your children, friends and over time - regulators. When you do use plastic - do it mindfully, like you would having a treat if you follow a healthy diet. If you have a plastic binge - like one trip to M&S in desperation - use it as a time to reflect on how much plastic is created in a single purchase and how far you've come by usually avoiding it. Awareness is everything.

Turtles in Kastellorizo - who often swim through rubbish and microplastics with no effort made by locals or the municipality to clean the area.

Turtles in Kastellorizo - who often swim through rubbish and microplastics with no effort made by locals or the municipality to clean the area.

To get daily inspiration follow Jacqui on instagram @jacqui.scruby or if you want extra help to live a plastic free luxe life check out her 6 weeks online course to going plastic free www.6weekstoplasticfree.com @6weekstoplasticfree and www.jacquiscruby.com

Also if you missed last weeks blog post you can check it out here Week 1. Plastic Free Travel - What you need to pack.