A Scottish love story at Croiscrag Lodge, Loch Rannoch

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You need passion to persevere through a lengthy restoration project. Thankfully for Croiscrag Lodge in Highland Perthshire, its new owners were already head over heels

 words Chae Strathie photography Alex Baxter 

“It was horrid. It was terrible. It was the worst possible experience.” It’s fair to say it wasn’t love at first sight when Roderick Murray and Croiscrag Lodge first met.

No fireworks, no puppy-dog eyes – just rain, cold, a powercut and frayed nerves. Luckily for both of them, Croiscrag Lodge had the ‘P word’ in its favour: potential. And despite the inauspicious start to their relationship, Roderick saw the inner beauty in the rambling set of buildings on the shores of Loch Rannoch.

Croiscrag Lodge amongst the trees on the shores of Loch Rannoch, Scotland
IMAGE | Alexander Baxter

Still, there’s a noticeable shudder as he recalls the details of that first meeting in the depths of a grim Scottish winter. “I hated the drive up to Croiscrag Lodge. I’d lived in Hong Kong for 25 years and wasn’t used to the winding single-track roads. When I finally got there, there’d been a power cut so there was no light and no heating. Oh, and the estate agent had been waiting for me for two hours because I was late, so she was really grumpy!

“She showed me around, and it was nasty. But the location was amazing and it had huge potential.”

Croiscrag Lodge in Perthshire, external shot and entrance
IMAGE | Alexander Baxter

The rest, as they say, is history.

Roderick, an architect, convinced his partner, Selfridges managing director Andrew Keith, that this was the place they were looking for, and so began the transformation from a dated, confusing warren to the stunning blend of old and new it is today.

That theme of balance is a thread that runs through Croiscrag Lodge and the life that Roderick and Andrew have created at Croiscrag Lodge.

Sitting room and stairwell on the shores of Loch Rannoch, Scotland
IMAGE | Alexander Baxter

The fabric of Croiscrag Lodge is a mix of original features and the very latest materials, while the furniture is a gorgeous marriage of modern design and vintage warmth. Even the local area combines ancient woodland with a train station that allows the couple to jump on the sleeper service direct to London. However, getting to that point was neither quick nor easy.

Despite being an incredibly experienced architect who’d worked for Norman Foster, Roderick needed help negotiating the local planning process.

Croiscrag Lodge, living room interior in yellow by Alex Baxter
IMAGE | Alexander Baxter

Once they got the green light, it was all systems go.

Roderick moved onto the site to oversee the work. “The decor was dusky pink everywhere. It was quite… special,” he says with a diplomatic twinkle in his eye.

“We were initially working on the level of, ‘let’s just replace it’. But then you take the wallpaper off, and it’s just crumbling plaster behind. Eventually we had to take it all back to just bare stone walls in some areas. We even ended up going right down to the earth as a lot of the timbers the floors were sitting on were just planted in the ground and were rotten.”

Hallway featuring floral wallpaper in Scotland
IMAGE | Alexander Baxter

Despite having to rip out so much of the fabric of the building, Roderick and Andrew were determined to reuse as much of the original materials as possible.

“We wanted to make sure we kept the character,” Roderick says. “We saved the old staircases, a lot of the old timbers and all the original doors.”

Balancing contrasting colours in the master bedroom in Scotland, on the shores of Loch Rannoch
IMAGE | Alexander Baxter

“The place suited a more decorated look, and we got into the idea of wallpapers and colours,” he says. “We’re moving away from that kind of Scandi-Scots look. I’d like to think Croiscrag is a reflection of Scottish design without being couthy. I think you’d recognise it as a Scottish home.”

Despite that inherent Scottishness, many of the walls are adorned in striking William Morris wallpaper and there are Chinese-influenced furnishings throughout, courtesy of the Hong Kong years.

One of the most impressive spaces is the morning room, with its bright, sunshine-yellow walls. It takes a certain confidence to pull off a colour as daring as this in a traditional Scottish lodge, but it works. Like the rest of the house, it’s beautiful.

Croiscrag Lodge, living room interior in yellow by Alex Baxter
IMAGE | Alexander Baxter

“The rooms can take it,” states Roderick. “Before we started decorating Croiscrag Lodge, the morning room was beige. We needed it to be bright – and it certainly is.

“But right beside that room you go into a long side room and the wallpaper there is a dark olive green. When we were showing samples to people, they were like, ‘Are you crazy?’ But it doesn’t feel dark, it feels lively, and it’s such an interesting space to be in.”

Dining area that finds the perfect match between rustic and artistic in Scotland
IMAGE | Alexander Baxter

What Roderick and Andrew have ended up with after years of hard work and creativity is something far removed from the confusing, exhausted house they bought.

Now, finally, it makes sense. It’s simply breathtaking.

Read the full feature about Croiscrag Lodge in our July & August edition, available to buy in most reputable retailers. You can also subscribe here.


Looking for more interior inspiration? We think you’ll love our tour of Prospect Cottage, the coastal home of the late Derek Jarman.

Prospect Cottage: Inside the late Derek Jarman’s coastal home

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