Karin & Tony 2 Bed Wee House on Lismore - The Wee House Company
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Karin & Tony

Karin & Tony

A Downsized Dream Home

Location: Isle of Lismore, Inner Hebrides

Bedrooms: 2

Move in date: 22nd May 2019

Turnkey project cost:  £222,396.60


GAZING out to sea, Karin Spalter is in her happy place on the Inner Hebridean island of Lismore, off the west coast of Scotland, a place she and her broadcaster husband Tony Currie can now call their forever home.

Having spent annual staycations on the island since the 1980s, when the time came to downsize from the family’s substantial detached Victorian villa in Glasgow’s Pollokshields, Lismore was the obvious choice, particularly as the couple had bought a croft in 1988, which came with planning permission for a house.

“We installed a caravan until we could see our way to building a house – fortunately, 30 years later, when we were ready to build, modular construction offered an easier and quicker build solution for rural and island locations.”

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Karin and Tony wanted a home traditional in style but which used innovative sustainable materials, underfloor heating (from a heat exchanger), and construction techniques to echo the character of older existing homes on the island and be firmly grounded in the landscape.

Karin has Parkinson’s and uses a wheelchair, therefore the accommodation had to be all on one level and easily accessible.

As Tony regularly broadcasts his Radio Six International programmes to a worldwide audience both online and to 54 affiliate stations, their new home had to incorporate a radio broadcasting studio. The solution was a bespoke, modular home, constructed off-site in Ayrshire by the award-winning Wee House Company then transported by road and ferry to the island where it was erected in a matter of days.

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“We were attracted by the company’s high-quality specification and unique take on the use of space and proportion,” explains Karin. “Being able to adapt the modules to our own requirements within the basic design format has been paramount for me, living in a wheelchair as I do. And as the design options were always envisaged for countryside dwellings, we saw them as complementary to the local vernacular.”
Flexibility at the design stage meant Karin and Tony were able to enlarge the central living space more along European “salon” lines, and upsize the kitchen and both the main bathroom and separate wet room, without detriment to the overall amenity or compatibility.

“Not being restricted to a specific footprint or template was a major advantage – and all this came within precisely detailed cost parameters,” she adds.
Spanning a floor area of approximately 95 square metres, this wee house turns out to be deceptively spacious, with a layout comprising vestibule/hall, salon-style living/dining space with wood-burning stove, French doors to the garden, and a broad open archway through to a large library/second reception/bedroom. There is also a shower/wet room, two double bedrooms (one with French doors), bathroom, and fully-fitted kitchen. The design features two front-facing gables with an adjoining covered veranda, while the rear elevation incorporates a double-glazed window.

The layout is particularly well-suited to the site, nestled amid the backdrop of a steep embankment and trees which hug the house at the rear, leading up to a fenced, wild, three-acre field, while the grassy stretch in front of the lower shoreline boundary gives a ha-ha effect, making for an uninterrupted view across the water to the hills of Morvern.

Plans are now under way for more native planting with scope for fruit and vegetables.
The house also has copious parking space – with room for a fire engine in accordance with planning regulations – and there is easy access to the utility room entrance where muddy boots and shoes can be removed before entering the house.

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Tony’s broadcasting station is based in a Wee House special addition: a detached studio in identical colours and finishes, notably larch cladding – a highly durable and sustainable timber painted in Dulux Heritage Invisible Green to blend in with the landscape. There are also additional timber windows and doors, painted in Dulux Heritage Cornish Clay, an earthy tone that blends well with the Invisible Green walls, and a pitched roof clad in Brick Red recyclable metal sheeting, a traditional colour used on the island and surrounding rural areas.
Being timber, the windows are more sustainable and can be repaired if the need arises, unlike UPVC windows which need to be replaced in their entirety.

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Living in a Wee House is everything the couple hoped for and more.
“Strangely, it felt like a seamless transition between two very different houses, perhaps because we were already so familiar with the island, much of the local hugely supportive community, and with Wee House construction in advance of moving. Scaling down our possessions was the only real challenge,” says Karin.
“Our location is magical. Can you be on an island on the west coast of Scotland and not be captivated by the ever-changing landscapes, seascapes, and skyscapes?

The content on this web page was written by freelance journalist Beverley Brown. The full article can be viewed here.

“It is clearly a well thought-out operation at The Wee House Company. Everything went very smoothly. No-one seemed rushed or cutting corners, and the work proceeded rapidly. We should also mention that the construction crew created a favourable impression with the islanders.

The design was ideal for our site and the modular characteristic enabled us to personalise layout, size and detail. We were particularly encouraged by the quality of the build, materials and the finishes, and the overall sympathetic character of the design.

 We enjoyed seeing the whole project evolve and admired the quality of workmanship and positive engagement of everyone involved.

We wonder why  more houses aren’t constructed on this basis, rather than rows of identical little boxes?”

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