Ken and Vivienne Macrae / Artist Bothy / Beauly, Highlands

Ken and Vivienne Macrae installed an Artist’s Bothy alongside their two-bedroom cottage in the Highlands as a place to relax and entertain guests away from the main house. The bothy’s location was carefully chosen to make the most of the spectacular views and to provide a peaceful retreat. As a former lecturer at the Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow, Ken is particularly pleased with the quality of the bothy’s design and detailing, while Vivienne loves having a comfortable place to read and listen to music.

This is Ken and Vivienne’s bothy story:

Ken: We’ve had this cottage for about 15 years and we moved here permanently from Glasgow around six years ago. It’s a small, two-bedroom cottage and one of the main reasons for building the bothy was to have an extra bedroom for when our grandchildren come to stay.

Vivienne: It’s a great space to escape to and it adds a different dimension to the house rather just tacking on another room. When people come to visit we use it for entertaining as it’s a bit more fun than being in the house all the time. 

Like going on holiday in the back garden

Ken: We were considering buying a camper van that we could use to tour around Scotland but then we realised it would be more sensible to just make the most of where we live because we enjoy it so much. Vivienne saw an article in the Alba section of the Times newspaper about Bothy Stores and we decided that instead of driving around the Highlands we’d get a bothy for our own garden. 

Vivienne: If we want to go travelling we can stay in bed and breakfasts and put money into the local economy. Having the bothy means we get to really enjoy the wonderful view we have here and it feels like going on holiday but in our own back garden.

 

Quick and professional installation

Ken: We contacted Bothy Stores in February 2021, not long after we saw the newspaper article, and the whole project came together very quickly. It was all built and ready to use by August the same year.

The first step was deciding on the type of bothy we wanted and after that I made a quick sketch of what I wanted in terms of window arrangements and decking. We received a quote we were happy with and then we were ready to go. 

The bothy turned up prefabricated and flat packed on the back of a lorry. We were really impressed with the skill of the guy who craned the pieces into place and how careful he was. The lads who put it together were also really professional and kept the site very clean.

 

An architect’s eye for detail

As an architect I think the design is fantastic. It would have taken me much longer to do it myself so it’s a great convenience to know this design is tried and tested. There were plenty of options for the windows, doors and finishes so we were able to personalise it to what we wanted.

We opted for the Corten steel cladding because it looks in keeping with the Scottish vernacular. There’s an old shed with a rusted corrugated metal roof next to the site and it really complements that building.

Vivienne: It looks like it's always been here. It's got a Scottish feel to it with the pitched roof and the patinated metal. And the quality of the finish is just terrific – it’s a work of art. I really like the dimensions and everything feels in proportion. 

 

A home from home

Ken: We specified a small wood-burning stove which we really love. We used it all winter and it heats the space up in no time at all. The rest of the space is very simple and we’ve added some of our own furniture and a kettle so we can make tea and coffee.

Vivienne: We really do enjoy it. We like being able to come out here to read and listen to music. It’s very easy to use and we feel really comfortable and relaxed out here. We certainly get more use out of it than if we’d bought a camper van!

 

All images copyright Ruth Clark