One particularly eventful New Year's Eve a few years ago, one of my friends demanded that we each label our new year with a tag line. Without a moment of considered thought, I christened that particular year, "The Year of Living Dangerously". Although said in jest, it seemed to set forth a series of incredibly challenging events in my life with one poorly thought out phrase. The power of words...
So during early January this year, whilst on Bute, I pondered my tagline for 2024. It would most definitely not be the year of living dangerously, that I knew for sure. For me it felt like the end of a very challenging cycle in my life and the beginning of a new chapter of good fortune.
My internal musings about the new year were answered with a visit to Glasgow, where I happily a delivered a beef pie to my interior designer, David. [As an aside, the beef pies from Macqueens of Rothesay are truly exceptional, and never fail to delight! There is a reason they have won so many awards.]
To my surprise, David had organised a magnificent gift of bespoke cushions, made by his team for my little flat. To say that I was overwhelmed with gratitude would be an understatement. It was such a beautiful gesture and I was so appreciative of his kindness. One of those cushions featured a golden bird, wings spread out, flying toward the sky. Immediately, I thought of the rise of the phoenix, whilst also appreciating his exceptional taste and the lovely shade of sage!
Here you can see the "phoenix" cushion, comfortably settled in its new home.
As I lugged the gorgeous cushions (their quality was assured by their considerable weight) around Glasgow to my work meetings that afternoon, my eyes were continuously drawn to that bird in full flight. I determined that my mantra for 2024 would indeed be "The Rise of the Phoenix".
The phoenix is a mythical golden bird that is associated with renewal and regeneration. Rising from the ashes of its previous life, the phoenix is a symbol of hope, of life and of better things to come, born from the knowledge and experience of difficult times and challenging circumstances.
As I marvelled at my beautiful flat, I realised it also had shades of the phoenix in its story. Together we were both going through a journey of renewal and regeneration. This was very much cemented for me when I invited one of my neighbours over for scones and tea. Yes, I made the scones. Here is the proof, in case you don't believe me!
My neighbour Harry has lived in the close of flats for a long time and knows much more than I do. He told me a bit more of the background of my flat and it saddened me greatly to learn that it once stood empty for over 10 years - unloved and forgotten. So, the last 18 months has also seen my Kyles of Bute flat rise like a phoenix into a new era of love and appreciation!
This week, as the final little jobs were finished by David and his team, I realised my vision was complete. My flat has eclipsed that mood board I created when I first started dreaming about its purchase. It is now more than I had hoped for and it has brought me more happiness and purpose than I expected.
Although I will no doubt share more blog posts about my trip and the final touches to the flat, please let me introduce you to this beautiful phoenix, my Kyles of Bute flat, in her fully restored glory.
Here is the hallway, with a new coatrack and perfectly boxed (& virtually hidden) utilities meters. As an added bonus, if you look closely in the mirror, you can see the delightful David!
Here is the bathroom, with that amazing view now optional, after the installation of the navy blinds.
Here is my magnificent bedroom, framed with new navy wool curtains. I managed to average 10 hours sleep here almost every night, happily safe in its cosy magnificence.
Here is the second bedroom, that has now seen many visitors and will hopefully see many more! You can also see the gorgeous cushions gifted from David and his team, which match the navy and grey hues in this room perfectly.
And here is the kitchen, featuring "Sarah's mirror". Even David has now agreed that it has the "wow" factor. Indeed it does!
And last, but certainly not least, here is the beautiful lounge and dining room. This room is very special indeed, as it features a fireplace (you can see the original stonework at the back) and equally stunning views. The gorgeous navy curtains now frame that view perfectly. I am also thrilled with the addition of the tartan rug (custom made in our family tartan), small bookcase and green velvet dining chairs.
You might also notice an incredible antique seaman's chest, which I found in Glasgow. I am very grateful to David and Lewis for transporting that gem to the island (& up all of those stairs!). Thank you so much! The handmade red crochet decoration on the chest is from my lovely sister in law, Tracy - it is so special to have a reminder of my family from Australia there.
So, the next visit to Bute will entail less jobs to be completed at the flat and more leisure. I am looking forward to now enjoying my little Scottish haven and sharing it with family and friends. For both my flat and me, 2024 is looking like a promising year! Like the phoenix, we are both well on our way to better times ahead.