Inside The White House in Kirkcudbright
Inside The White House in Kirkcudbright

White House is Scotland’s home of the year

The owner of a beautiful bespoke house hugging one of the country’s most stunning coastlines has been crowned winner of Scotland’s Home of the Year, as featured on the new BBC Scotland channel.

Retired academic Lesley Smith’s house in Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway, was revealed as the stand-out property of the series’ eight-week run in the final, filmed at House For An Art Lover in Glasgow.

It was unanimous decision by the programme’s three judges – architect Michael Angus, interior designer Anna Campbell-Jones and lifestyle blogger Kate Spiers – who’d taken viewers on a seven-week tour of Scotland, considering 21 houses for the prize along the way.

Judge Anna Campbell-Jones said: ‘Everything in the house had been given thoughtful consideration, from the big architectural vision to the tactile details. The whole home exuded personality, the furniture and artworks clearly demonstrated many years of collecting with love and discernment and the way that incredible view is revealed as you enter the house is breathtaking.’

Inside The White House in Kirkcudbright (Photo: Douglas Gibb)

Kate Spiers added: ‘I think we all fell in love with the winning house. The owners had built the home around the view, but for me, it was the library that blew me away. The curved walls were stacked floor to ceiling with books so that they could be read and loved. It was magical.’

Owner Lesley, 72, looks on her home, The White House as a lasting legacy to her late husband Mike. The couple planned and built the house together and moved in on their 30th wedding anniversary, August 4, 2010, but sadly Mike only got the pleasure of living in their dream home for a short time. He was 66 when he passed away only 14 months later, following surgery, in October 2011.

Lesley said: ‘Mike would have been so pleased at receiving this award and I’m delighted to accept it for both of us. We had a lovely year together enjoying our new home, which Mike saw fully completed, down to the last detail. He left behind a beautiful house as testament to his vision, his innate sense of style, and his gift for making things happen. The house is a wonderful place, full of light and life and happy memories.’

The couple first spied the site while on holiday in Dumfries and Galloway in 2002. They brought in Glasgow-based architects PagePark to oversee the project and their two-year build began in 2008.

The striking cylindrical form of the house, with its curved exterior walls and intriguing internal features, took influence from the design of lighthouses and from the couple’s love of Russian architect Konstantin Melnikov’s Round House in Moscow.

The White House won Scotland’s Home of the Year (Photo: Douglas Gibb)

Aside from the breath-taking raised drawing room with its views over Kirkcudbright Bay to the Isle of Man, Lesley’s favourite room is the library, high on the academic couple’s list of priorities – Mike was Pro-Vice Chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University and Lesley’s working life, under her maiden name of Milne, was spent as a specialist in Russian literature.

By designing their home with the main living area on the first floor, above the ground floor with four bedrooms, three bathrooms and a cloakroom, they made the very best of the breathtaking views from every angle.

Lesley added: ‘Mike and I had to keep pinching ourselves after we moved in here. We had this utterly lovely house, which was everything that we had hoped, and more. It truly is a home – it’s one that we built from scratch and contains all the bits and pieces that are all memories of happy times.

‘I know Mike would be smiling at the idea we’ve created Scotland’s Home of the Year. It’s made me really happy and reminds me that although we only had a short time here together, it’s where we felt most at home because it’s a house that’s absolutely ours in every sense.”

· Scotland’s Home of the Year, the full eight-part series, made by IWC Media for BBC Scotland, is available to view on BBC iplayer HERE.