Elegant, stylish and awash with wonderful light, this Victorian house in Cullen ticks all the boxes, writes Susan Welsh
Approaching the gleaming front door of Stroma, a gorgeous double-fronted Victorian house in Cullen, it’s easy to see someone with great gardening skills lives here.
Two marvellous large potted succulents of the Agave variety stand guard either side of the door of the house on Seafield Place, while the air is thick with the sweet scent of blossoming honeysuckle.
Every inch of the small front garden is packed with carefully tended herbaceous and perennial plants, borders and mature vying for space.
Step inside the historic property that’s home to architect Les Hunter and his gardening-mad wife, Caron, and it’s instantly clear their creative flair for design and colour has extended from the garden to the house which has been their home for 11 years.
Sympathetically restored, it acts as a showcase for what can be done when you correctly combine the best of fine original architectural and traditional features with modern styling.
The result is a contemporary six-bedroom family home that’s ready to move into.
Caron, whose passions are gardening and tennis, which is handy as Cullen Tennis Club is just around the corner, takes up the story.
“I understand the house was originally built in 1865 for a doctor whose home was knocked down for the railway to come to Cullen.
“He ran his medical practice from here.
“Over the years, the house has had many incarnations and has been a medical practice, family home and for more than 20 years run as a successful B&B.”
Caron, who grew up in India but later lived in Edinburgh where she met Les, moved to the area because of her husband’s work.
“When we first moved here, we wanted to find an old property to renovate and found it at Mill of Durn in Portsoy, where we spent 21 years.
The derelict category B-listed mill, surrounded by an acre-and-a-half of wilderness, was converted and brought back to life by the couple who modernised it while retaining the integrity of the mill with all of its outstanding features, while maximising its potential as a family home.
Les won an architectural award for the conversion of the mill.
A desire to flex their creative muscles, plus the need for a home that would allow Les to run his practice, Leslie F Hunter Architects, from home saw them jump at the chance to buy Stroma.
“I loved the light in this house, plus the rooms are all of a good size, and there are wonderful views from the windows looking out across the town to The Bin of Cullen, and across the sea to the hills of Sutherland in the distance,” said Caron, 60.
Les said: “The quality of the light is impressive, but the spaces flow well which makes it a great house for entertaining, “ said Les.
“Changes we’ve made include redecorating from top to bottom – it was awash with woodchip. We installed a new kitchen, bathrooms and shower rooms and upgraded the heating system,” said Caron.
The house, which has a guide price of £365,000, is tastefully decorated in just three colours throughout, Egyptian cotton, white and a warming, deep red, shades which make the most of the natural light that floods the house.
The accommodation begins with a large vestibule which leads to a well-lit hall.
From here, there’s access to two impressive bay-windowed reception rooms, one of which is used as an office by Les, and the other as a sitting room.
Both rooms have impressive traditional fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. It’s worth casting your eyes up here as these rooms have gorgeous plasterwork detailing on the ceilings.
This floor also has two further reception rooms including a conference room/music room and a study which leads directly to the garden.
Another room with masses of “wow” factor is the dining kitchen, designed by the couple and featuring Ashley Anne high-quality gleaming white wall and base units with an integrated fridge, freezer, microwave, two ovens, gas hob and dishwasher. The dining area
is a wonderful space as it has a huge floor-to-ceiling broad window, incorporating a seating area, which looks out in to the private garden which also has a stylish decked seating area.
This floor also has a large utility room, larder and cloakroom/WC.
Accessed vie stairs from the dining area is the former maid’s room which houses the boiler and hot-water tank and is currently used as a drying room.
Moving upstairs, the spacious and bright first-floor landing is lit by an original stained-glass astragalled window.
This floor has four enormous double bedrooms, each with a Victorian washbasin and fine views of the tennis courts, hills or sea, plus two modern, luxurious bathrooms.
The second floor is unusual in that the rooms are just as big as the floor below.
Accommodation here includes two large double bedrooms, a study area, modern shower room and a walk-in store room.
From here, there are further fine views towards the coastline.
“Because it is so large, it could be used as a self-contained apartment which would make ideal owners’ accommodation if you wanted to offer B&B here,” said Caron.
The gardens have been laid to lawn with an entrance drive to the rear providing off-street parking. There is a double garage with an insulated loft and superb landscaped, mature gardens which offer privacy and seclusion.
Stroma is within easy walking distance of the centre of Cullen, a historic coastal town which sits between the rivers Deveron and Spey.
“Cullen has recently become a destination point for visitors with a passion for vintage and antiques as the town now has several specialist shops including an architectural salvage yard and antiquarian bookshop.
“People come here at weekends to browse, shop and eat in many of the fine restaurants such as the Rockpool Bistro which offers fantastic seafood.
“There’s a great range of shops including a deli and coffee shops, and there’s a strong feeling of community with lots of amenities and classes.”
There are well-established sporting clubs including a vibrant private tennis and bowling club, a challenging 18-hole links golf course, football and badminton and many
diverse craft and art groups.
The town has a playgroup, nursery and well-respected primary school. Secondary schooling can be found at Buckie High, Keith Grammar or Milnes High School in nearby Fochabers.
“We are selling as it is time to downsize so are now in the process of building a very different contemporary, eco-friendly house in the area.”
Contact: CKD Galbraith on 01343 546362.