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We want to holiday here: Lary in the Scottish Highlands

Instagram is a funny old beast, but it can introduce you to fantastic feeds to follow and places to visit. Emily Salvesen’s The Muddy Mummy is one such feed and her beautiful Scottish cottages (available to rent through air b’n’b are definitely ones to visit. We got the lowdown on Lary, the biggest of her stunning cottages, her decorating style and what to do when you visit….


Please tell me a bit about your setting, where are you in Scotland and why is it such a lovely place to visit?

Lary is situated about 3 miles from Ballater in Aberdeenshire. It’s about 1.5 miles down a single track road and it’s the very last house (not that there’s many houses down the track!) It’s unusual for a highland lodge because usually they’re miles away from civilisation -ie 20 miles down a track and 40 miles from the nearest town. So you have all the benefits of being isolated in a quiet and peaceful location with amazing views, but it’s only five minutes to the shops. Pretty unique I think.

Did you have to do much to Lary before you could start welcoming guests? Did anything structurally need to be done?

The house has undergone a huge transformation. It was originally a very small redundant farmhouse with two bedrooms and a dilapidated old steading and some sheds. The previous owners did much of the work to turn it into a six bedroom house and when we bought it we added an extra four bedrooms.

How would you describe the interior style of Lary? Did anything or anywhere particularly inspire you?

The house is very much based around the style of a Belgian interior designer named Axel Vervoordt. His belief was that interiors should be a reflection of the way you want to live, the ideas that define your tastes, perspectives and connections to the world”. Hence Lary is a reflection of the very Scottish highland landscape that it sits in. But in a very cool way! Hence the focus on wildlife and taxidermy. Some people don’t like this but I think the way in which it is done is extremely tasteful. Not everyone’s cup of tea though.

The Master Bedroom

The master bedroom is one of the ones we added. The wood was all sourced from Rik Storms in Belgium, so that it matched exactly with the wood in the rest of the house. It’s a very unique colour (very old oak). The sheepskin rugs and faux fur bedspread are from Cox & Cox, the bedding is all 100% linen from Secret Linen Company and the bedspread is from The White Company. The side table and lamps are from Oka, and the wardrobe is from the Scottish Antique and Arts centre in Edinburgh.

This is my favourite room. Waking up and putting up the blind (you don’t even have to get out of bed, there’s a remote!) and looking out at that view over the hills is just very very special.

The Blue Room

This is another bedroom, which we added. It’s located in the courtyard and we call it the blue room – super original! All the rooms do actually have names based around local hills but no one can pronounce them so we just resort to colours! The paint on the walls was done by a specialist painter from Edinburgh who does a textured finish but not in a really naff way! It’s based on Farrow & Ball’s Stone Blue. The effect is really rustic and not too pristine. I love colour, you only have to look at my Instagram page to see that, but I think using colour in interiors is a bit different and if you’re not careful it can jar a little and date quite quickly. The nice thing about decorating a holiday house is that you don’t have to worry about getting bored of it, so you can get away with a bit more.

Children’s Room

This was one of the original bedrooms. The walls are based on Farrow & Ball’s Eating Room Red, but again the paint was mixed by a specialist painter. He added a little brown to it. It sleeps two and is generally the children’s room. The house is filled with teddies.

The Pink Room

This room is painted in Setting Plaster by Farrow & Ball. The chandelier we found on Amazon!

The Kitchen

There are in fact two kitchens at Lary because there are two buildings. The farmhouse has two bedrooms, the dining room and the main kitchen. The steading is where the rest of the bedrooms are, as well as a living room and the smaller kitchen. We generally use the smaller kitchen for drinks before and after dinner!


This is such a beautiful room, but I can’t take credit for the brilliant wicker storage idea as this was done by the previous owner. The names on the baskets are the Belgian names of his family/children.

The Living Room

This is quite a room! There’s an enormous buffalo on the wall called “Billy”! It’s designed to be able to seat a full house (20 people) and it’s a very social room. The whole idea of the house is to get away from it all and talk to each other. There’s only one TV in the whole house and it’s tiny! The rug is from The Nomads Tent in Edinburgh, the fabric is Ralph Lauren. The sofa came from eBay and the chairs from Oka and Graham & Green.

Is your own home similar in style? 

I wish! My own house is a Victorian Farmhouse. We moved into it when we returned from Singapore. We’ve inherited my in laws’ house and we are embarking on a huge renovation/demolition project and rebuilding much of it from scratch. When we first moved into our house we thought we’d be there for 2/3 years at the most, so we did very little to it, just painted and decorating the bare essentials really. But five and half years later, we are still here and we’ve only just got planning permission for our build. We’re now in a strange position where I can’t really justify doing anything to our current house but it’s driving me mad. We have no utility room, which is a massive problem with 3 children and 3 dogs! But when we moved in we didn’t have all that! I’m going to be writing a blog on the house build and the website will also include the holiday houses and some fashion/interiors inspo.

Can guests organise a cook/housekeeper when staying at Lary?

Yes, the vast majority of people get a chef as it just makes for such a relaxing holiday and the house is perfectly set up for it. We know a few and can always put you in touch. Split between 20 people the cost is really minimal and really makes all the difference.

Please tell me some fantastic things to do whilst you’re staying at Lary.

  • Visit the new Fife Arms in Braemar for spa, dinner and also the pub The Flying Stag.
  • There’s great walking and mountain biking with many many tracks within easy reach.
  • Whiskey tours (Lochnagar distillery 15 mins away)
  • Ballater is lovely to visit.
  • Book a table at Prince Charles ‘ restaurant Rothesay Rooms
  • Come in August and try and spot the Queen driving her Land Rover around!
  • In the summer there are the highland shows in the local towns. The Lonach and the Braemar ones are especially good.

Finally, how can people book?

Lary and are two smaller properties are on air bnb. The smaller ones are near Torphins in Aberdeenshire. One is a two bedroom farm cottage, small but perfectly formed! The other is a three bed cottage with a bit more space. They have a different feel to Lary but hopefully just as comfortable.

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