The rural setting of this quaint Orkney, Scotland cottage offers views onto the sea from every window. As if that weren’t charming enough, the property has belonged to the family of stay-at-home-mum Fiona Annal since the 1950s, beginning with the time of her great-grandmother. Her grandparents built an extension onto the original house in the late seventies and lived out their days here. The house then stood empty for decades until Annal and her husband Leonard Sinclair, an electrician and avid DIYer, decided to make it their own during the summer of 2003. As their family grew to welcome children Jessica, Ollie, and Oscar, they embarked upon an extensive renovation project that left only the sitting room and part of the kitchen remaining. After two years of living with her parents in the farmhouse next door, the lot were able to move back in permanently starting July 2014. There are still several upstairs areas that need some flooring and decorating love, but the couple will tend to those jobs as and when time allows. The completed project provides a home with almost 3,000 square feet, divided up amongst 13 rooms on two floors.
Annal favors a cozy, vintage vibe in her decorating, and one that establishes a connection to the past. Even though much of the house is now new construction, she achieves a lived-in and homey feeling with wallpaper in most rooms, as well as a large collection of thrifted and heirloom furniture pieces. The couple were even able to repurpose many wooden and glass items from the old structure. The current home pays homeage to its history but with a nod to modern living, most notably through the various framed graphic prints on the walls. And though the stylish finished product makes it hard to believe, practicality is highest on the family’s priority list, which is why any design decisions also had to be completely child-friendly. Those lush, bold patterned wallpapers are lovely, but also cover a multitude of sticky-fingered trails!
Though the kids will soon grow up and out, Annal and Sinclair hope they will always return here to enjoy the enjoy the freedom and security that come from island living, and the slow pace of life that suits the family so well today. —Annie
Photography by Fiona Annal