Inside Scotland's Home of the Year quirky Lanarkshire contender dating back to 1800s

The Old Manse, South Lanarkshire.
-Credit: (Image: BBC)


Scotland's Home of the Year is back and interior design fans have been given a brand new chance to ogle some of the country's most interesting homes each week.

And this week, viewers of the hit BBC Scotland show will be given a feast for the eyes when they step inside The Old Manse in South Lanarkshire.

Dating back to the early 1800s, the property has been completely renovated, adding character and quirky touches while maintaining its traditional feel with plenty of upcycling and second hand and vintage finds.

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Jo, who owns the house alongside her partner Graeme, spoke to Glasgow Live about her love for interiors, how she first came across The Old Manse and why she is a strong proponent of a 'make do and mend' attitude when it homes to home design.

Jo and Graeme have completely renovated the property, adding character with their love of upcycling and second hand and vintage finds
Jo and Graeme have completely renovated the property, adding character with their love of upcycling and second hand and vintage finds -Credit:BBC

"I was always a fan of Scotland's Home of the Year," she said. "I am very nosey by nature and like to see what people are doing in their houses. It's the same as Instagram, I was always one of those people that would look in people’s windows to see what they'd done with their interiors. The fact that’s on TV is fantastic for me!"

Jo and Graeme, who live in their home with three of their six children in their modern family, first purchased the house in April 2021. She said she fell in love with the property immediately, despite the extensive work it required.

"This is the first house my partner and I had together," she explained. "I had my cottage and he was in Loch Lomond. We viewed a house on main road and didn't like it, but we saw a for sale sign nearby and we went for a look. The Old Manse had been empty for five years and was pointed out to us, we had a mooch around, a woman came out and asked 'can I help you?' She told us was her mother’s house and she asked if we wanted to look inside. We went in and I literally walked in and said 'I’ve got to have it'."

Jo and Graeme
Jo and Graeme -Credit:BBC

The fact that Jo and Graeme had children that would fill the home and were keen to protect the tradition elements of the Old Manse were key in them securing the sale.

Jo said: "The woman was very picky who to sell it to because of emotional ties, and she really liked us and said I reminded her of her mother and she really wanted a family in it. So we put in offer and she accepted it.

"I said I would endeavour to keep all the furniture they'd left here and honour it as a family home, and promised it will always be full of joy. I’ve really tried to leave everything as much as I can. Every time she comes in she cries."

The home turned into a true labour of love, with multiple structural issues that the couple had to face head on.

The original property dates back to the early 1800s
The original property dates back to the early 1800s -Credit:BBC

"When we moved in, one of the kids slammed the front door a little too hard and the whole porch roof collapsed," Jo said. "Luckily nobody was hurt but that was the very first day. I creeped up the stairs and went into the bedroom and there was a massive sag in the floor. Grame said they didn’t know how we'd fix it and three out of three traders didn’t want to touch it. My dad, Graeme’s dad and Graeme got anchors, and put new beams in, and did a brilliant job.

"It’s had a new kitchen, walls knocked down, it’s been rejigged because we’re a modern family. Our bedroom didn’t have an ensuite and that was important to us."

She continued: "I am not exaggerating when I say we worked on it every night and every weekend. We didn't take a day off in this house and we did it all ourselves. We’ve thrown ourselves at it. We worked every night and weekend. It’s been a huge passion project. I did everything myself, everything’s handmade. it's funny, now that's it's done, I can’t sit down and relax. It feels really strange.

"My partner wasn’t working for a wee while, he took a year out and it saved us a fortune. He’s an HGV lorry driver to trade but he turned his hand to absolutely everything.

"We worked tirelessly to get it to the point. We used what we had or went on Facebook Marketplace. Recycle, reuse, learn the trades - not electrics - have a bash yourself. You’d be amazed what people will give away. You don’t need to have loads of money to do a big renovation."

Describing her quirky, playful approach to decoration, Jo explained that she was never tempted to make a career in interior design.

Bursting with quirkiness, Old Manse features a distinctive purple door and a secret bar
Bursting with quirkiness, Old Manse features a distinctive purple door and a secret bar -Credit:BBC

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"I love what I love," she said. "People asked me why don’t I do it as a job? I decorate my friends' houses at Christmas for example, and people ask why I don’t I do it full time, but I just don’t have the confidence and I know what I like.

"Somebody asked me the other day what my vibe was and I said 'traditional whimsical'. I love traditional, but I like a little bit of fun, things that I can change. If you keep the basics traditional and update the ornaments and lamps and wall colours, you can change it up."

One of the most eye-catching elements of the property is its vibrant lilac front door. However, Jo joked that it has already changed colour and is currently a summery yellow.

"My instagram is called The Painted Cottage because when I started it, I had a little tiny cottage and I used to paint the door every six months. It’s been lilac, mint, green, yellow, pink. I paint it all the time. The lilac has been everyone’s favourite of all of them, but it’s yellow at the moment.

"It costs £12 for a pot of paint and it makes me happy, makes everyone else smile. It’s just a running joke at this point!"

Scotland's Home of the Year returns tomorrow (Monday, May 27) at 7.15pm on BBC One Scotland.