Dornoch project mingles Riviera chic with Highland highlights

Riviera styling breathes new life into a home on Scotland’s far north-eastern coast

For some peculiar reason, holiday homes often fall victim to wardrobe malfunction. Coastal cottages end up dressed in shells, bits of driftwood and nautical stripes. Ski chalets are tricked out Heidi-style, with cuckoo clocks, gingham and lots of pine. Highland hideaways are often the worst of all, weighed down by a heathery overload of tartan and tweed.
This last was emphatically not what the owner of this 18th-century house in Dornoch wanted. She had been born near the pretty village on Sutherland’s east coast and knew the area well, having returned regularly for family holidays. Now a London-based art dealer, she had bought the property ten years ago as an escape from the stresses of life in the capital. It made a great base for summer visits and shorts breaks, but its spacious and well-proportioned rooms had been decorated in dark colours and heavy fabrics that didn’t live up to the sparkling sea views beyond the windows.
Within a couple of years, as her family grew and more space was required, a decision was made to have a new two-storey wing built, designed by architect Lachlan Stewart of Anta. It was the perfect time to overhaul the décor of the entire house and finally see it fulfil its potential. To help her do so, she hired Maurizio Pellizzoni, an interiors specialist who’d spent more than a decade as part of the creative team at Ralph Lauren Home, directing the presentation of collections in London, Milan and Brussels. “The client visited our showroom in London one day and asked if someone could help her to design her holiday home using the same style we used when creating beautiful home showrooms,” he explains.
Pellizzoni, who was setting up his own interior design business, took on the project. He started off by spending time with the family to get an understanding of the house and how they wanted to live there. The new wing had just been completed, so was a blank canvas, but the original part of the building needed work. “It had a very dark, very strong Scottish influence in both the colours and the fabrics,” he recalls.
His task was to create a scheme for the new wing – a kitchen, living space and two extra bedrooms – as well as all the existing rooms, including the bathrooms. “The brief was to bring a dash of the Côte d’Azur to the Scottish Highlands,” he recalls. “The client didn’t want to use typically Scottish colours and patterns – she wanted something fresh and calm, as you would find in the South of France. She had very clear ideas about what she wanted for each space and how she and the family would enjoy each room. As a designer, my job is to listen to the client’s idea and make it a reality.”

This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 196-206, issue 108.

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What An extended 18th-century house
Where Dornoch, Sutherland
Interior design Maurizio Pellizzoni
Photography Douglas Gibb
Words Judy Diamond