A Victorian riverside cottage

This riverside chalet-style home practically had to be rebuilt but is now a peaceful Scottish hideaway

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Having a job that can take her anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice made it difficult for Molly Rowan Hamilton to commit to buying a property, even though she knew it would make sense. Buying in London, where her work is based, seemed an unnecessary expense when she is often abroad, so instead she bought in Scotland, where she grew up.

The project

Owner: Molly Rowan Hamilton, a freelance branding consultant, lives here. She occasionally lets Laundry Cottage on Airbnb  

Property: A former Victorian laundry in Perthshire, now a one-bedroom chalet-style home overlooking a river  

What she did: The wooden building had to be almost rebuilt from scratch and reroofed. A new kitchen and bathroom were fitted and an ornate balustrade added around the veranda. The clapboard exterior was repainted


On the family’s farm there were a number of tumbledown outbuildings, including one which had been used for a laundry business up until the 1960s. ‘As children we had used it as a Wendy house and I used to daydream about having it as my home,’ says Molly. Her dreams came true when Molly bought Laundry Cottage from her parents. ‘Now it is exactly as I had envisaged it,’ she adds.

(Image: © Douglas Gibb)

The cottage by the river is an idyllic place to unwind after a busy week. The clapboard exterior has been given a fresh coat of paint; Lakeland Paints’ Powder Blue Gloss is a similar shade  

(Image: © Douglas Gibb)

Secluded and with countryside views that are beautiful at every time of year, the cottage makes a great place to escape from London's hustle and bustle 

Turning it into that dream home, however, was quite an undertaking. The building was a wreck. Its riverside setting and its former life as a laundry made it wet and dank - the two huge vats that had been used for boiling up hot water from the river were still there. The wooden joists were completely rotten, and the house had to be practically rebuilt, but Molly felt it was well worth the effort.  

(Image: © Douglas Gibb)

The cottage is hardly recognisable from the wreck of a building Molly took on. Now warm and dry under a new roof, the light-filled living room features built-in seating, upholstered in a Scottish Linen fabric, with storage beneath. A Riva inset wood-burning stove from Stovax brings extra warmth and cheer, and Molly chose a sofa and ottoman from Graham & Green. The coir rug is from Ikea, the table lamps and bright cushions are from Oka, the striped cushions are from Wayfair, and the bamboo lanterns are from Festive Lights

Once the fabric of the building had been restored, Molly chose a fresh blue-green paint for the clapboard exterior and added a decorative wooden balustrade to enclose the veranda, topped with obelisks for a final touch of drama. ‘I love to sit out here all year round, just drinking in the scenery,’ she says.  

(Image: © Douglas Gibb)

A smart balustrade around the veranda allows plenty of space for an outdoor dining set from TK Maxx, and wicker loungers draped with faux furs from Next and TK Maxx. The tablecloth is from Achica

A wooden floor suitable for the underfloor heating was laid throughout, originally. Unfortunately, just over a year later, a flood from a burst pipe damaged the floor in the hall and living room, and it all had to be replaced. Molly chose slate this time, a more hardwearing and practical choice.  

(Image: © Douglas Gibb)

Molly rescued the glass-fronted cabinet from her mum’s kitchen and found the oak dining table in a junk shop, freshening them both up with a coat of paint. The canvas above the fireplace is Sassy Chalmers’ A Shepherd’s Life. Molly originally chose wooden flooring for the cottage but when a burst pipe damaged it she fitted hardwearing slate tiles from Strathearn Stone & Timber

(Image: © Douglas Gibb)

The fresh garlands and wreaths in the dining area, and kitchen, are from Adelaide’s Secret Garden, a floristry business run by Molly’s friend Adelaide Knott

The wooden kitchen cabinetry was handmade by a local craftsman who made the sink unit and an open-shelved cabinet; the rest of the kitchen is freestanding, bought on Ebay

(Image: © Douglas Gibb)

Molly sensibly chose to keep things simple in the small kitchen with wooden cabinetry, handbuilt by local craftsman Gary Luke, to house an Ikea sink and a Fisher & Paykel dishwasher. The Britannia range cooker was a bargain buy on Ebay, along with the stainless-steel catering unit. For similar tiles, try Walls & Floors. Little Greene’s Pearl Colour Dark is a similar paint

The finishing touch for the laundry’s new incarnation as a riverside sanctuary is an indulgent bathroom complete with cast-iron bath.

(Image: © Douglas Gibb)

Molly bought the bathtub online; for similar, try The Cast Iron Bath Company. The floor tiles are from Strathearn Stone & Timber. She bought the curtains from Oka and the print from the Edinburgh College of Art degree show. The console table is from TK Maxx

As for the décor, a neutral backdrop layered with the very best Scottish linens and richly patterned textiles from further afield has resulted in a rich, warm interior. Salvaged furniture mixes well with the newer pieces and a few bespoke, fitted features save space in the tiny cottage. A high, vaulted ceiling ensures that the living room has a spacious feel, despite the small scale of the home, and its pleasing proportions mean it never feels cramped

(Image: © Douglas Gibb)

The bedroom scheme echoes the Highland shades of heathers and pine, accented with bright cushions from Joss & Main and a throw from Achica. The headboard fabric and curtains are from Scottish Linen, and the coir rugs are from Ikea. Molly bought the bedside lamps unpainted and finished them with Annie Sloan paint and lampshades from Oka

(Image: © Douglas Gibb)

Molly treasures the three botanical prints, which were her grandmother’s. She has had the armchair for years and reupholstered it in a Cath Kidston fabric. The dressing table and stool are junk shop finds

When work commitments keep her away from Scotland for too long, Molly occasionally lets the property for holiday guests. She takes every opportunity to return to her country roots, however. ‘I find the landscape very inspiring. Coming home for Christmas is always a special time and the fact that I can sit on the veranda in the winter sunshine, or curl up by the fire for the evening, will give me some peaceful moments among all the fun.’