Scotland’s Home of the Year 2024: Lee Collins’ astounding Old Mill transformation



Lee and Dawn Collins’ 200-year-old Old Mill property sat empty and neglected for 25 years until they got their hands on it

 words Mairi Mulhern photography Kirsty Anderson

In episode four of Scotland’s Home of the Year 2024, judges Anna Campbell Jones, Banjo Beale and Danny Campbell must choose between a converted old mill near Dunblane, a Victorian semi in Bridge of Allan and a farmhouse conversion between Falkirk and Linlithgow.

Anna, Banjo, and Danny’s first stop will be The Old Mill. We spoke to owner Lee Collins about this property before the episode airs on Monday 20th May.

Lee and his wife Dawn are co-owners of Braco Designs so used their own design and installation expertise to transform The Old Mill from a derelict shell (complete with water damage and crumbling foundations) into a three-storey, five-bedroom masterpiece.

The couple kept as much of the original stonework as possible, as well as modernising the space for family living, and creating a stylish interior with a mix of antique and contemporary pieces.

Why apply to Scotland’s Home of the Year 2024? 

My wife and I actually had no idea that we had entered! Our son submitted the application without telling us, only to reveal the news once our feature on TV was confirmed.

My son also started The Old Mill’s TikTok page, which has 159.5K followers and 4.6 million likes. We’ve been sharing the restoration journey on there since 2021, during lockdown. Now, we get to proudly show off the finished result. People love to see the before and after.

Colour schemes are inspired by the wildlife and countryside that surround The Old Mill.
Colour schemes are inspired by the wildlife and countryside that surround The Old Mill. IMAGE | Kirsty Anderson

Where did you find inspiration for the interior design?

We’re surrounded by the Scottish wildlife and countryside, so we wanted to bring that into our spaces, whether that’s via natural light, patterns, or artwork. It was really important to us to maintain the bare bones of the building, so that’s why you can see the exposed brick walls, wooden beams and some panelling. I hope the Scotland’s Home of the Year judges are able to appreciate that.

Lee Collins' finished Old Mill transformation.
Original wooden beams, pillars, and wall panelling were restored, adding character to every room. IMAGE | Kirsty Anderson

Was it important to you to respect the history of the building?

A lot of the building had been ripped out over the years after being used for factories and things like that, so we had a pretty empty canvas. We managed to salvage an old pully system and lift shaft, which give the place some character – it was this kind of thing we wanted to keep, and the kind of thing I think Scotland’s Home of the Year highlights nicely.

Tell us more about the lift shaft restoration! What were your plans for integral parts of the building like this?

The engineering on the lift and lift shaft is impressive and really stood the test of time. The lift was cast in concrete and has lots of industrial metal through it, so we were able to maintain the elegant buttons, framework, and impressive doors. We couldn’t make it function as a lift today, so we’ve re-worked the lift shaft space on the ground floor to create a WC and then on the upper floor, the shaft space is used as an office.

There’s also an industrial winch that we lifted out and had restored. It now sits at the heart of a winding staircase, like an exhibit, which brings a lot of character – and Scotland’s Home of the Year loves character!

Do you think there is value in restoring historical Scottish buildings like this?

Definitely. I am a passionate believer in looking after the buildings that we have. You see so many beautiful Scottish buildings, with real legacies behind them, getting knocked down. I think that’s a great loss. So, we’re happy and proud to have taken The Old Mill and given it some life again. It’s going to be in the family for many more generations to come and I love the idea of it lasting another 200 years because of the work we’ve done.

Submit your home for Scotland’s Home of the Year 2025 here.

Scotland’s Home of the Year, Ep4: Central airs on Monday 20th May, BBC One Scotland at 7.00-7.30pm

Click below for some more behind-the-scenes access to Scotland’s Home of the Year 2024 properties.

Scotland’s Home of the Year 2024: Tina MacGeoch’s stunning Newlands Croft House

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