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|CKD Galbraith|

Back in December, the Scottish property consultancy CKD Galbraith asked me to write a guest blog post on three houses that could be described as the dream Christmas home - think distinctive properties full of character and with plenty of space for hanging out with family and friends, and even with enough space for a ceilidh, given that Christmas soon becomes New Year. I wanted to share these houses here because, really, they are timeless. And these photos make me think of the spring and summer days ahead.

I wrote about three very different houses: a 16th century castle in Aberdeenshire, a country house in Perthshire, and a contemporary home in the Scottish Borders that's described as a "12th century" modern house.

Balbithan House

When I was looking for houses to write about for the blog post and thinking, what kind of property says "dream Christmas home" in Scotland... I knew there had to be a castle involved. Which brings me to Balbithan House, or Balbithan Castle as it's also known. This A listed baronial house sits in a secluded valley just north-east of Kintore by Inverurie in Aberdeenshire.

Photography by Square Foot Media

Photography by Square Foot Media

It’s thought that Balbithan originally formed part of the Estates of the Abbey of Lindores but that by around 1490 it had come into the possession of the Chalmers family. At that time the first House of Balbithan – “Old Balbithan” – stood on high ground above the River Don opposite Kintore. It’s said that a cannonball fired from the tower of Hallforest on the far side of Kintore fell into the courtyard of Old Balbithan and the Chalmers Laird of that day vowed that he would build his castle where “neither friend nor foe could find him."

Today’s Balbithan was built by the Chalmers around 1560 as a simple oblong keep with a large round tower at the north-west corner. This tower was removed around 1600, and the house was extended. A new wing was built around 1630, and then early in the 19th century the entire roof was rebuilt as the top floor was removed and the ceilings of the second storey were raised.

Between 1760 and 1860 the interior was altered as large rooms were divided and passages added. Today, Balbithan has 4 reception rooms and 9 bedrooms. From the exposed stone of the staircase to the old wooden floors and open fires, this house has a wonderful patina of age and history. Highlights include the library on the first floor and the incredible gallery space on the upper level that stretches to over 44ft long. Ceilidh anyone?

See the listing for Balbithan House

Rannagulzion

Located at Bridge of Cally near Blairgowrie in Perthshire, like Balbithan, Rannagulzion House has a private setting within its own grounds above the River Ericht, with the most incredible views over the countryside and to the Lomond Hills.

Again, this house comes with some interesting history attached, including the belief that Queen Victoria once sheltered here from a snow storm while travelling north. The house was also used was a nursing home for Canadian officers during the Second World War.

One of the most notable features in today's 7 bedroom house is the wealth of period detailing, including fine plaster cornice work and painted wooden panelling and panelled doors – the ornate plaster ceiling in the drawing room is just stunning.

Photography by Square Foot Media

The gardens are a highlight. The formal gardens lie to the south with terraced lawns and mature planting and trees. The former kitchen garden sits to the west along with a newly planted woodland. To the east you’ll find a woodland dell with a stream running through it, and a former Victorian curling pond, and there's a paddock to the south. Beautiful house, beautiful setting.

See the listing for Rannagulzion House

Whiteknowes

I’ll admit, when I first saw the exterior photos of Whiteknowes, I had no idea that it was a modern house. It looks old, and this is alluded to in its description as a “12th century” modern house. Located just north of the Berwickshire village of Westruther in the Scottish Borders, Whiteknowes was completed in 2010.

The house combines the character you would expect from a period home with its lovely stonework and traditional windows – not to mention interior details such as the solid oak doors with their pewter latches – with a range of contemporary and eco features.

Due to the high insulation standards combined with a ground source heat pump providing underfloor heating, supplemented by solar panels on the roof of the sun room, Whiteknowes qualifies for the Government’s green deal attracting a payment of approximately £5,000 per annum - payable for seven years from the launch of the scheme in April 2015.

Photography by Exposure

The main structure of this distinctive home is the striking green oak frame. The exposed beams give this interior a warmth and character that’s complemented by features throughout, such as the period clay brick wall in the kitchen or the Gothic chimney pot fireplace in the sitting room.

The main house has 5 reception rooms and 5 bedrooms, and there’s also an adjoining converted byre – now a two bedroom cottage with exposed stone and brick internal walls and with a log-burner cosying up the sitting room. A former stone farmhouse has planning permission to extend creating a four bedroom home. There’s potential project here for the next owners.

And this incredible property has around 13.33 acres of land, including a wildflower meadow and a half-acre wildlife pond, with a summer house where you can soak in this idyllic setting.

See the listing for Whiteknowes

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