See This Cozy Scottish Kitchen In a Georgian Farmhouse
Hello dear readers, my name is and I'm a new monthly columnist from Scotland here on cattledogs as part of Holly's growing team of writers, stylists and photographers. I've been creating features for interiors magazines with my photographer husband, Douglas Gibb, for 20 years now, in his native Scotland. For my first column, which isn't a full home tour but a gorgeous kitchen instead, I will share the space of Arlene and David Munro-Wise who live in a 200-year-old Georgian farmhouse, located in a magical spot on Scotland's East Coast, called Lunan bay.
On arrival, my husband and I were immediately bowled over by Arlene's warmth and incredible sense of style. As a couple they share an artistic vision completely and have a proven track record for rescuing ancient houses.
They previously restored their own 400-hundred-year-old home in France and then spent nine years thereafter undertaking restoration projects for clients all over Provence, the Tarn and the Languedoc. They then decided to move to Scotland, where Arlene was born and brought up, to be nearer to family and old friends.
Together they run a business creating events: staging some of the biggest and most extravagant shows in the world, from concept through to production, including the Armani event at the Dubai World Cup.
You can see her stunning landscape paintings dotted around her home: she studied theater design at Nottingham and then went on to do an MA at the Slade School in London,. She painted the sets for Scottish Opera for five years while her son was a child, she then met David and remarried and moved to France. Find out more about Arlene's work here at
Derelict for five years, Arlene describes the interior as 'dark, gloomy and hideous' when they bought it; they wanted to open up the roof spaces, expose the trusses and create new windows and roof lights to enhance the light. Working in a freelance capacity and ready to travel at a moment’s notice, they have mastered the art of what Arlene calls ‘living lightly’.
They have skillfully injected this philosophy into their home: both spatially sensitive and light sensitive, they have stripped it back and reinstated its unique qualities and architectural features, while also adding contemporary touches.
The most dramatic transformation is undoubtedly the kitchen. Arlene and David have deliberately exposed the tactile pinkish stone walls and ceiling rafters, installed four Velux roof lights, replaced an existing window and installed glazed double doors to access the garden. Never has the phrase ‘let there be light’ been more appropriate.
“I love the juxtaposition between old and new,” Arlene adds. Finding the original, time-worn flagstone floors in the kitchen was a joyous moment,” she reveals. “The kitchen floor had been covered in shiny black tiles and paired with red gloss-painted Artex walls and a dark pine kitchen. Some of the flagstones were damaged but we were able to repair them.”
“We chose made-up units that came ready for painting, which I did myself – paint, sand, paint became a mantra - in a soft shade of grey contrasted with white that features throughout the house. The units and central island are topped with white Italian composite quartz work surfaces and all the appliances were bought online,” she says. Arlene is an able cook, entertaining for friends is effortless when you have coordinated events on the scale of the Dubai World Cup.
A key feature, if not the star feature, is an old door suspended on a sliding wheeled mechanism against the kitchen’s exposed stone wall. Battered and studded with monster-sized nails, the door is 400 years old and was carefully transported from the couple’s former home in France. “My brother rigged up a suitably ancient looking sliding system to hang it from,” adds Arlene.
When it comes to buying things for the house Arlene confesses to loving a bargain. “I’m a truffler!” she laughs. “I truffle for things wherever I go, although I like to buy nice materials. Her truffling to date has resulted in furniture from India, Dubai, France and the UK, where sources range from auction houses to TK Maxx and online.
While the house is still an on-going project, Arlene and David can now afford to take time out to enjoy nearby Lunan beach and explore the Angus countryside and coastline.
“For us this project was a mission to restore the historic detail while also providing contemporary comforts to make a home livable in again,” Arlene muses. There is a much longed for studio where Arlene can paint in the garden. For this well-traveled couple it has been a remarkable journey – one that has secured this beautiful period property’s future for another few hundred years.
See you again soon with another tour from a Scottish home, next time an entire home that you will love! - Alison.
(Photography: Douglas Gibb // Text: for cattledogs)