Those looking for a Highland home brimming with the ‘wow’ factor need look no further than Socach House at Clynelish Muir in Brora – as it has the wow factor in spades.
A stunning contemporary home set in 14 acres of croftland and enjoying far reaching views over the local countryside, including Socach hill from where it takes its name, it was designed by owner Kendra Ballantyne, while her husband Gerald Urquhart helped with the construction.
It’s one of several homes Kendra has had a hand in designing as everything about the property world, from design and build through to the interior design and styling, has held a huge fascination for her for years.
“I would have liked to have been an architect 30 years ago, but back then it wasn’t really a job for women,” said Kendra, who is mum to Robbie, 17 and Jeanie, 19.
Instead she turned her attentions to the world of beauty, running her own salon in Chester, where they lived for 18 years, and Blisss in Brora for 10 years.
“When the children arrived, we decided to return to Brora as it is a good place to bring up a family. We managed to buy a croft and designed and built our first house. About five years ago I went back to college in Inverness, this time to study architectural technology.
“Doing that helped with this, our second house. Plus I learned a lot while building the first house including that no matter what your budget is, you always have to compromise.
“I project managed the build, while my husband, who works at Sullom Voe in Shetland, did the labouring for all the tradesmen during his days at home.
“Doing this also made me realise I didn’t want to be sitting doing drawings all day, plus I’m too much of a people person and my skills are getting things done, so now I run my own project management company,” said Kendra who is also proprietor of Highland Weddings and Gatherings.
Built in 2012, Kendra has created a luxurious family home designed with growing teenagers in mind, and one which makes the most of its position while providing spacious and flexible accommodation on two levels.
Nestled in the hillside in an elevated position overlooking West Clyne and beyond to the rolling countryside, the house is flooded with natural light.
“I wanted to create a house where the sun comes in from the south but the views are to the north.
“Every bedroom, bar one, is double aspect and because the house has fantastic insulation, it is always warm and cosy.”
The attention to detail and specification of this wonderful home are immediately evident as soon as you step across the front door, with numerous features such as underfloor heating, double glazing, a double-sided log burner, solar panels and recessed lighting to name but a few.
Other nice touches include a large circular window in one of the bedrooms. “I always wanted a round window as a little girl so I had a round window put in my daughter’s bedroom in both this and the previous house,” said Kendra.
The accommodation begins with a wonderful open plan living area which incorporates the lounge, kitchen, dining and family area. The lounge is a beautifully presented double aspect room which attracts a bright and airy ambience, while at the same time providing stunning views of the local surroundings.
The kitchen centres around a bespoke Ashley Ann island unit which includes a Neff induction hob, electric oven, integrated dishwasher and convenient boiling water tap.
There are further larder units and an American-style fridge. The kitchen opens up into a dining area perfect for entertaining. For the summer months the French doors lead to the rear south facing Caithness slate terrace. An inner hallway leads to a modern fitted wet room complete with WC, wash hand basin, overhead and hand power showers and tiled floor with underfloor heating.
The utility room provides further storage facilities and space for white goods. A door leads to the integral garage which has two electric up and over doors at each end.
Moving upstairs, there’s a magnificent galleried landing which doubles as an office/study area with lovely views over the woodland to the rear of the property. The bedrooms are all stylishly designed and decorated and include a large master bedroom with walk-in dressing room and en-suite.
There are two further bedrooms and a family bathroom which is beautifully appointed and has a WC, large wash hand basin and shower.
Outside, the house, which is on the market at offers over £350,000, sits in a large, landscaped garden which is fully enclosed. The large driveway has ample space for several vehicles and the immediate gardens around the house are designed for ease of maintenance with mainly lawn and terracing.
To the side of the house there is a large workshop which includes an office area, toilet/WC and metal storage container. There is also a huge log store, timber dog kennel, covered storage area, greenhouse, cow shed and bike shed.
“Brora is on the A9 and part of the NC500 route. The big barn at the side of the house could be converted to become a brilliant bunk house, so there’s lots of potential,” said Kendra.
The remainder of the 14 acres is registered croftland, which lies to the front and rear of the property. “There’s lots of land which you can have fun with by keeping cows, chickens or goats, or the like.”
While the family has loved living here, Kendra is now looking for her next project, but rest assured, because she and Gerald love Brora so much, you can bet it won’t be too far from here . . .
Contact: Strutt and Parker on 01463 719171.