The Grand Reveal
Updated: Sep 18
Right from the very first moment, I had a vision of what the finished flat would look like. It would be a beautiful haven that blended new with old, with a very sentimental nod to the Morris and McVicar tartan colours of green and blue. Before I had finalised the purchase and convinced Trish to join me on this journey, I had created a vision board. Many laughed!! On the end result, I was clear. It was the process in between that was a mystery. And a massive learning curve.
The journey to the grand reveal was at times all consuming. I have never renovated a property on the other side of the world before and without Trish and Shaun, I am certain that it would have been a lot more challenging. Daily messaging, a deep understanding of what I wanted to achieve, a mutual love of beautiful design and a sincere appreciation of my sentimentality all helped. And in the end, not only was a beautiful flat restored to all of her latent potential, but lifelong friendships were forged.
We arrived at Rothesay on Wednesday 5th April, after a long flight from Australia and a few days of recovery in London. The ferry trip across from Wemyss Bay was full of excitement for my two teenagers, and a lot of memories for me. It was quite surreal to reflect that I had first made this journey 32 years ago. It still seems like yesterday.
Trish picked us up at the ferry terminal and much hugging and squealing ensued. She is such a warm person that Ruby and Hamilton immediately felt at ease with her. We drove up to the flat excitedly to finally see the grand reveal.
The first thing I noticed was the magnificent navy blue door with brand new brass hardware and a custom made "Kyles of Bute" mat. Trish really had thought of everything and her thoughtful touches would be steadily revealed as we explored the flat.
Beyond the front door, the first thing I had a good look at was the bathroom. Although we had reluctanctly sacrificed the clawfoot bath under the window, the end results were absolutely stunning. The transformation was so absolute, that I promptly burst into tears of joy and gratitude and hugged Trish. Below, you can see why!
We have successfully blended the old with the new, with both traditional and modern touches throughout. And although that shower head looks remarkably old school, I can confirm that the water pressure is exceptional - a consideration that one helpful soul pointed out was a deal breaker. :-) And that lovely green glass and crystal heart was a gift from Trish, made by a local Bute artist.
Next stop was the kids' room, which they promptly made their own. Note the Easter Eggs and Scottish dictionary, thoughtfully supplied by Trish! Over the space of the trip, we managed to further enhance this room with a gorgeous dresser that we spotted at the Bute Oasis Food Bank and Charity Shop. The wonderful book lamp was a gift from Trish to my son Hamilton, from https://www.facebook.com/thegreeninteriors Aside from a new blind and perhaps a lovely rug, this room is close to finished now.
We then moved onto the kitchen, which I think is quite possibly one of my favourite places in the flat. Although we still need to put up the brick slip tiles, the kitchen is now close to finished. This room is such a lovely place to sit with a cup of tea and toast, and that is exactly what I did (often with Hamilton by my side) on many an occasion. The view is amazing and continuously changing - and being able to see exactly where my ancestors lived from there is quite surreal. I love it.
True to form, Trish and Shaun ensured that there were a couple of thoughtful touches in the kitchen too, aside from the well stocked larder! Using some of the left over oak, they made a wine rack (which I quickly filled with a reliable Australian red) and a cutting board. I picked up the thistle milk jug and sugar pot near Loch Ness from a local Scottish artist. And the "good friends" plaque is from Trish, alongside my https://www.bonniebling.co.uk/ key ring and Easter bunny flowers picked up at the local Rothesay Coop. It all felt very homely for our stay.
Next we looked at the incredible lounge and dining area, with an equally gorgeous view out of the bay window. This became a place where Ruby, Hamilton and I enjoyed many a meal together and an entertaining, evening ritual that included a game of cards and much laughter.
The two new leather chairs arrived from London whilst we were there and it was great fun to unveil them together! Although they are new, they are made from antique materials, which worked well with the whole theme of the flat.
The navy velvet sofa bed proved to be a comfortable spot to read, as Ruby can attest to! And although that fire place is yet to be finished with a new wood burner, hearth and tiles, I can now visualise what it will look like when finished. I can't wait to sit next to the fire and read on my next visit.
Aside from the fire place, we have a few bits and pieces to do in this room before it is complete. We plan to build a window seat for additional seating and storage under the bay window. We also plan to build some joinery where that small TV set currently sits, for storage and eventually some AV bits and pieces. Interestingly enough, we didn't use that TV set once - it turns out that playing cards and a sense of humour is all that you really need for entertainment.
We will work out some sort of blinds and a beautiful rug for this lovely room. That is a task that Trish and I have already started to discuss, but we now have the luxury of taking our time and finding the perfect solution.
What I particularly love about this room is the treasure trove of second hand furniture pieces that I managed to find all the way from Australia on both Bute and the mainland. Thankfully Trish was a willing participant in my treasure hunt and would often go and check on the item, pay for it on my behalf and then transport it back to her place for safe keeping! The dining table (from the mainland), the large mirror (from Bute) and the mantlepiece (from Bute) were all sourced locally and in perfect, pre-loved condition.
Trish provided the dining chairs (which look gorgeous), the lovely Spring tulips and the magnificent William Morris placemats and coasters. Although the famous designer William Morris is not "my" William Morris, the sentiment was very touching and made me smile enormously. Perfect colour too, I might add.
And finally, there is my beautiful bedroom. This is a place where I slept soundly, although my dreams were often deeply surreal. I may need time to unpack the messages that my subconscious mind was sending me!
After much discussion with Trish, we decided to place the bed in this position under the window. Eventually there will be dark navy velvet curtains to frame that view and add to the grandeur of the space.
You can see the beautiful antique dresser that has been in the flat throughout all of the renovations. Finally, it is at peace! It was sourced from For Bute https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100066394916963 along with the oval antique mirror above it.
The magnificent gold lamp from https://www.facebook.com/thegreeninteriors will eventually find its way into the lounge, but for now, it is very happy in my bedroom. And I am particularly taken with the new sheepskin rug, also from The Green, which adds a touch of luxury and cosiness.
So, now we are in a lovely phase of decorating, rather than renovating. As is my way, I have made a list of items that still need to be purchased, alongside the final jobs that need to be done to complete my flat. In comparison to what we have achieved, these remaining jobs will be easy.
I loved spending time in my Kyles of Bute flat and sharing that experience with Ruby and Hamilton. I also loved every minute I managed to have with Trish - Hamilton even suggested that maybe I should leave her alone at one point... Nah!
On our last night, we had a celebratory dinner together at The Kingarth Hotel on Bute. Would you believe that it was established in 1786? https://www.facebook.com/ButePA20/ It was really special to celebrate with Trish and Shaun - what a journey we have been on together. And no doubt there will be many more to come.