Even though Ian and Kathryn McCulloch have lived at Craigton Steading near Banchory for almost six years, they still can’t believe how lucky they are to be able to call it home.
“We thought ‘wow’ when we came to see it for the first time, and we still think ‘wow’ today,” Kathryn said.
When the couple made the move to the north-east from Buckinghamshire with daughters Amy, 15, and Katie, 11, they bought a house in Aberdeen’s Polmuir Road but soon realised it wasn’t for them.
“We were renting the house and the landlord said he was going to sell it. We didn’t want to uproot the children so we bought it but then realised we had made a huge mistake as we really wanted to be in the countryside.”
After spending a year looking for their new family home, the couple immediately fell for the grand house as soon as they saw it.
“It really was love at first sight – we saw it and just had to have it.”
The only concern Kathryn had about the house was about commuting to work.
“I thought it was quite a distance from Aberdeen but thought for the love of the house I’d put up with a long commute. I’ve not found it an issue at all and I can be at my desk in Aberdeen in half an hour.”
Luckily, the steading was in good order when they moved in meaning there was little to do.
“We’ve done something to every room but haven’t done anything major. We’ve redecorated and put in a new kitchen.”
Although the impressive five-bedroom home – on sale at offers over £775,000 – spans a whopping 257 sq metres, the large kitchen is a family favourite.
“I actually thought it was two houses when we first came to view and when I said to the owner that I thought I’d parked in front of her neighbour’s house she explained it was all one house. I couldn’t believe it.
“I have to say we live in the kitchen. It’s such a wide room and the television is in there. People always laugh at us as we’ve got three other living rooms.
“The girls have a playroom and go there when their friends are round.”
The annex, complete with lounge, bedroom and shower room on one level has been well used over the years and would make the perfect teenager’s den.
“We have lots of visitors coming to stay. My mum lives in Malta and my brother lives in Tenerife so when they come over they’ve got their own self-contained area.
“We always thought about putting a kitchenette in there too but didn’t get around to it – it could so easily be done.”
Outside, beautiful gardens surround the house and there is an established orchard and mature native trees and shrubs, perennial flowerbeds, rockery, drystane dyking, high hedging, and a paved patio.
“It’s quite interesting as it’s thought Lord Montrose and his army camped where the garden is today on their way to the battle of Justice Mills,” Kathryn said.
During their time at the house the couple have also obtained planning permission for part of the steading that’s not converted to transform it into a four-bedroom home – offering the new owners the option to try their hand at a property project.
“When we moved here the plan was that one day I would run it as a holiday let or bed-and-breakfast. I’ve always been in the tourism industry, I used to work for the English tourist board, latterly as the tourism manager for Buckinghamshire and actually used to advise people on setting up a bed and breakfast.
“It was always our long-term plan to run one from here, but Ian has been offered a job in Qatar and we really fancy it. We feel this will be our last family adventure before Amy goes to university.
“We are really, really sad to let it go but are really excited about moving overseas. Our dream is still to come back to Scotland one day and run our bed-and-breakfast – we would snap it up if it was on sale when we came back.”
Contact: Simpson & Marwick on 01224 622622.