Studio Bothy / Inveraray, Argyll

A Studio Bothy provides self-contained accommodation for friends, family and visiting artists at the Highland bolthole of gallery owner Toby Webster. Toby chose to incorporate a tile-clad WC in the bothy’s extension so guests have all the facilities they require for overnight stays. The building sits at the end of the garden so it feels separate to the existing cottage on this picturesque loch-side site. A large deck provides space for relaxing, while the simple interior can be used as a studio for artists working in these inspirational surroundings.

This is Toby’s bothy story:

The bothy is located on a small one-and-half-acre plot near Inveraray that my family has owned for over 50 years. There is a traditional but and ben cottage on the site and we had permission to extend but it didn’t feel like the right thing to do. I wanted to create another usable space for guests and that’s why I decided to approach Bothy Stores about building a bothy in a part of the garden we weren’t really using.

A versatile space

The bothy is like a guest house and it makes it much easier to accommodate friends and family when they come to stay. It’s really a multipurpose space; it’s like adding another room to your house, but in the garden instead. People can use it to work or to relax. My daughters are artists and they like going there to work on their own. I’ve sat out there myself many times and it feels like you’re on holiday from the cottage.

We opted for the Studio Bothy and used the extended section to accommodate a toilet so guests don’t have to wander over to the cottage to go to the loo. The space is amazing and there’s a view straight onto the loch. We added a large deck that really allows us to feel immersed in the landscape. When you’re there you want to spend most of your time outside but it’s great to have this cosy and well-insulated space to retreat to if it’s pouring down.

Simple luxuries

The interior is quite rudimentary but it feels really luxurious. The birch ply lining is stunning and so is the oak floor. We installed a small stove and added an old folding kitchen table that belonged to my grannie. I plan to build a compact kitchen area and we’ve got a few Shaker-style hooks so you can hang bags and coats. There’s also a bench and we specified the simple Anglepoise lamps suggested by Bothy Stores as they really fit the minimal aesthetic. The bathroom is a bit of a contrast because it feels quite fancy. It’s lined with Italian tiles made by a friend that I’d always wanted to use in a project. 

For the exterior we chose the rusted Corten cladding because it’s the same colour as the bracken in the surrounding forest. There is a barn on the site with a corrugated metal roof and we also built a sauna with a roof made from corrugated galvanised steel, so it works really well with these other buildings.

Overcoming challenges

The process of building the bothy was challenging but definitely worth it. We got planning permission even though we didn’t need it, just to avoid any potential issues down the line. We looked at using screw foundations but there is solid rock below the topsoil so we had to create foundations which added to the cost of the project. The build was also delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but Bobby at Bothy Stores helped to find solutions to problems as they arose and kept things moving forward. 

The bothy is such a lovely thing to have and for me there’s value for money in its beauty, uniqueness and craftsmanship. That’s what makes it different from purchasing a prefabricated cabin out of a catalogue: you’re getting something that’s bespoke and beautifully crafted. Also, as someone who is involved in the art world I wanted to support Bothy Project, which is funded by Bothy Stores and provides opportunities for artist residencies around Scotland. It’s a great initiative that really deserves to be supported.