An 18th-century Highland croft cottage restored

Sara Wallace’s resourceful remodel of a tumbledown lochside cottage has created a cosy home full of traditional appeal

A near-derelict Highland croft might not seem the obvious choice for a change of lifestyle, but Sara instantly spotted the potential of the single-storey dwelling when it came up for sale.

The project

Owner: Retired teacher Sara Wallace lives here. Her four grown-up children often visit

Property: A croft cottage, built in 1780 in the village of Ardfern on the west coast of Scotland

Essential repairs: A kitchen, utility room and shower room were all fitted and the house was rewired, replumbed and decorated. French doors were added to the living room and kitchen

Layout: An internal wall was removed, sacrificing a bedroom to create a larger kitchen-diner with a utility room behind, and a good-size living room. A former animal byre was converted into an en suite bathroom

The oldest house in the village of Ardfern, on the shores of Loch Craignish, it was built in 1780 and extended in the 1950s into a three-bedroom cottage with an animal byre added at the side.

Sara stripped the house back to its bare walls and removed a wall between the kitchen and living room to create a large kitchen-diner, also taking out a 1950s corridor wall and adding French doors to allow more light in. The former animal barn was then turned into a bathroom with a door to the bedroom. Complete with salvaged vintage fittings, it looks as if it has always been there.

Now surrounded by a quintessential cottage garden, the little crofter’s cottage has come a long way from that unloved wreck on the side of the road.


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Wide view of the loch from a coastal home

Wide views over Loch Craignish can be enjoyed from Sara’s home

The marina at Loch Craignish view from a coastal home

The loch is a popular spot for yachts and fishing boats

Garden chair and table in a cottage garden coastal home

A sheltered spot for afternoon tea

Open-plan kitchen-diner with French doors in a coastal home

Open plan to the kitchen, the dining room features French doors and Harris Tweed curtains from the Glenalmond Tweed Company. Sara found the table at Alfie’s Antiques Market and paid £20 for three of the matching chairs in a charity shop. A reclaimed fireplace from Glasgow Architectural Salvage has replaced a dilapidated range Sara found hidden behind the wall

Open-plan kitchen-diner with upcycled furniture in a coastal home

The bobbin-turned shelving is from Portobello Market. Filled with Kilner jars, it creates a charming display, with mugs from Anthropologie hanging below. The cupboards double as a blackboard

Living room with pale sofa and red rug in a coastal home

The sofa was passed on to Sara by a friend and reupholstered in cotton found on holiday in India. The curtains are made from French linen sheets bought at The Cloth Shop on Portobello Road, hung on copper plumbing pipes and Sara’s plumber gave her the bookcases by the window

Living room with red rug and chair and woodburning stove in a coastal home

Sara bought the rugs in Spain and Morocco and found the old Jøtul wood-burning stove in a local farmer’s field. The cushion on the red chair is in a fabric designed by Mary Moore, Henry Moore’s daughter, while fabric from the Glenalmond Tweed Company covers both chairs

Living room with tweed chair, red rugs and large mirror in a coastal home

The old trunk came from Portobello Market. The mirror, painted white, was a present from Sara’s father. The crofting desk by the window was from local antique dealer David Murray, and is made from orange boxes, painted to look like wood

View from living room with red trunk through to hallway in a coastal home

From Sara’s living room you can see through to the entrance hall. The slate flooring is from Topps Tiles. The lamp is a 1980s Habitat classic, the mirror above the hall table was a gift

Hallway in a coastal home, with slate tiles, red rugs, window seat and antique pipe and pint chair

The living room and bedroom beyond can be seen from the kitchen-diner. Using slate from an old pool table, Sara has made an inviting window seat, while an 18th-century ‘pipe and pint’ chair from a Devon antiques shop sits beneath a painting by local artist Ethel Walker

Guest room with wooden bed and floral bedspread in a coastal home

Dressed with vintage Cath Kidston bedlinen, the wooden sleigh bed in the master bedroom was a gift from a friend. Sara’s mother gave her the bridge table, used here as a bedside table

New bathroom converted from a former sheep byre with velux rooflights in a coastal home

In a part of the building once used as a sheep byre, Sara has had a new bathroom fitted, accessed through the master bedroom. She raised the roof and put in Velux windows

bathroom in a converted animal byre with stained glass window in a coastal home

The doorway from the former animal byre has been transformed with a stunning stained-glass window found in a salvage yard. Vintage rugs, and upcycled accessories lend further period styling to the newly converted bathroom

Guest room in a coastal home, with brass bedstead, vintage quilt and Hogarth prints

The brass bedstead in the guest room is from Arbon Interiors and is dressed in a vintage quilt in