This traditional croft house is the best home in Scotland

·3-min read
Photo credit: Paul McGinley
Photo credit: Paul McGinley

New Tolsta – a traditional, early 20th century croft house in Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland – is a truly unique home that was previously uninhabited for 37 years.

The property is home to artist Tom Hickman, who bought the building in 2006 and painstakingly restored it over 15 years to its former glory, while adding his own distinctive style throughout.

Filled with Tom's artwork and mixed with traditional pieces of furniture, New Tolsta was unanimously crowned the winner of Scotland's Home of the Year 2022 by the three judges – interior designer Anna Campbell-Jones, architect and lecturer Michael Angus, and lifestyle blogger Kate Spiers.

The charming home, filled with historic artefacts and quirky memorabilia, follows a traditional two-up, two-down layout. Inside you'll find a kitchen, living room and bathroom on the ground floor, with two bedrooms upstairs.

Photo credit: Paul McGinley
Photo credit: Paul McGinley
Photo credit: Paul McGinley
Photo credit: Paul McGinley

The interiors are expressive of Tom's personality and taste. Lending itself to the cluttercore aesthetic, every room looks like a museum, with a treasure trove of curated objects embedded in history, exhibited as if it's part of the furniture.

Highlights include a statement fireplace, walls filled with paintings and tapestries, and painted flooring. There's an entire wall of blue and white china plates on open shelving in the kitchen, while the ornate and elaborate bedroom comes to life thanks to a very simple backdrop of painted tongue and groove panelling. And there's also a doll's house, which has been designed as a mini replica of New Tolsta.

Photo credit: Paul McGinley
Photo credit: Paul McGinley
Photo credit: Paul McGinley
Photo credit: Paul McGinley

All in all, this property has a stately home feel with an eclectic, lived-in aesthetic – every corner provides an opportunity for creative expression. 'If I still had the strength I'd love to do it all over again but maintenance work will always be required,' says former antiques dealer Tom.

Photo credit: Paul McGinley
Photo credit: Paul McGinley

Anna, Kate and Michael's search for Scotland’s Home of the Year took them the length and breadth of the country. Home styles included cosy little homes, grand and quirky conversions, stunning self-builds, and environmentally-friendly houses.

"I don't think we have ever seen such an exceptional example of a home meeting these criteria," Anna explains. "The overwhelming sense of the person who lives there communicated via the cornucopia of his incredible creations, from the painted floors, to the embroidery to the artwork on the walls, all by his own hand – what a genius!"

Kate was particularly thrilled with the Tom's commitment to being authentically eco-conscious: "Everything in the home had been repurposed, upcycled, thrifted or rehomed. It was inspiring to see."

Photo credit: Paul McGinley
Photo credit: Paul McGinley

Meanwhile, Michael concludes: "If home is a marriage of inhabitant and property, what stood out about New Tolsta was how special that relationship was, how perfectly suited both appeared, both infusing the other creatively and spiritually. It wasn't the building nor the setting which made New Tolsta unique, despite each being remarkable in their own way. Rather it was the rejuvenated spirit blossoming so vibrantly within, serving to establish an unforeseen future for a building doubtless deemed condemned. What worse fate for a building, than uselessness? And what better than having fresh possibilities revealed?"

See more photos of New Tolsta below:

Photo credit: Paul McGinley
Photo credit: Paul McGinley
Photo credit: Paul McGinley
Photo credit: Paul McGinley
Photo credit: Paul McGinley
Photo credit: Paul McGinley
Photo credit: Paul McGinley
Photo credit: Paul McGinley



Photo credit: Paul McGinley
Photo credit: Paul McGinley
Photo credit: Paul McGinley
Photo credit: Paul McGinley
Photo credit: Paul McGinley
Photo credit: Paul McGinley

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