Homes before Scotland’s Home of the Year: Fran Holden’s Coldwater Bungalow in Linlithgow


This is how Fran Holden transformed her neglected 1960s property into a contemporary family home, fondly named Coldwater Bungalow

 words Mairi Mulhern 

You may recognise Fran Holden’s Coldwater Bungalow property from episode six of Scotland’s Home of the Year 2024.

Judges had high praise for the bungalow with Anna Campbell Jones saying, “My furniture would look great in here! I want to give credit to this home for being so special that I would actually cheat on my own flat with it.”

We are curious, though. What did this beautiful property look like before it graced the TV screens of over 300,000 people? How messy was the renovation? And how did Fran build that beautiful blue bar?

Blue bar handmade by Fran and her team for Scotland's Home of the Year property
IMAGE | Kirsty Anderson, IWC Media, BBC Scotland. The blue bar is Fran’s favourite area of the house 2024

The early days

Interior and graphic designer Fran moved into her modernist home with her husband Martin and their two children in 2020. Characterised by colour zoning, vintage furniture and contemporary artwork, Coldwater Bungalow is a bright and breezy ode to mid-century design.

“Named after Coldwater Canyon in Los Angeles, our bungalow is playful, colourful and sociable. We don’t know anyone else who has a property like ours,” Fran smiles. “I’m proud of the space we’ve created.”

The homeowner shows us Coldwater’s property brochure from 2019 – and it’s hard to believe that we’re looking at the same home.

Before the renovation

Every wall was doused in off-white paint and deep pile carpets were a creamy shade of brown. Bathroom tiling was an underwhelming combination of grey and beige while the living room’s regal sofas were dressed with Victorian-inspired cushions and throws.

“There was also a banister that went along the open side of one of the biggest rooms,” Fran adds. “It looked nautical like a ship so we removed it and laid foundations for steps, which created the sunken lounge feel we have now.”

Lounge room in Coldwater Bungalow, Linlithgow
IMAGE | Fran Holden. Main lounge area 2024

Maybe the most astonishing elements of all were the chartreuse curtains that once lined Coldwater’s floor-to-ceiling windows – a rude obstruction to the heavenly garden views.

The interior designer and mum of two still wanted to view the property on the grounds of good structure and great potential. “There weren’t any viewings available, but the estate agent invited us to have a look through the windows… Even from the outside, there was an undeniable charm.”

Kitchen and sink area of 1960s bungalow in Linlithgow, Scotland. Featured on Scotland's Home of the Year
IMAGE | Fran Holden. Refreshed sideboard area in lounge room

Husband Martin wasn’t convinced, but after that peak through Coldwater Bungalow’s windows and an eventual viewing of the home, he couldn’t deny its charm. The house was theirs.

“I am still blown away by the relationship between the home and the garden. Huge windows line all of our walls, meaning natural light floods into the house every minute of the day,” Fran says.

Dining room of Coldwater Bungalow from Scotland's Home of the Year
IMAGE | Kirsty Anderson, IWC Media, BBC Scotland. Dining area and rear-facing window 2024

During the renovation

The temptation when moving into a new space is to start upheaval as soon as possible. However in Fran’s professional opinion, the right thing to do is plan. Before expanding rooms, consider how you can maximise the space that you already have.

Bathroom in Fran's home from Scotland's Home of the Year
IMAGE | Kirsty Anderson, IWC Media, BBC Scotland. This fully tiled white bathroom is a far cry from the once beige and grey layout

Let’s get into the nitty gritty! Fran leads us through her renovation process for Coldwater Bungalow.

“A starting point for us was ensuring the bathroom had everything we need. Our tiler was surprised when I asked him to tile the entire space – even the drawers!”

Master bedroom in Coldwater Bungalow, featuring neutral linens and deep blue homewares
IMAGE | Kirsty Anderson, IWC Media, BBC Scotland. Master bedroom with neutral linens that allow plenty of space for soft furnishings and accessories to shine

Fran has a lot of craftspeople in the family so everyone mucked in. “It was a group effort to gut the house during covid. We removed 125sqm of carpet and original hardwood floor then stripped it back to the joists.

“We laid an underfloor heating system and new engineered oak flooring. Every bit of soffit and fascia board was removed and replaced thereafter.”

Children's room in Coldwater Bungalow, Linlithgow, Scotland's Home of the Year 2024
IMAGE | Kirsty Anderson, IWC Media, BBC Scotland. Kids bedroom featuring mural wall

Fran also built storage in the playroom, decorated the spare room and then refurbed the utility area. The space she once described as sad is now a bold cubby doused in joyful orange. “Doing the washing doesn’t feel so gloomy anymore!”

Coldwater Bungalow utility room, painted in YesColours Joyful Orange
IMAGE | Fran Holden. Coldwater Bungalow’s utility room, painted in YesColours Joyful Orange 2024

Where the home is now

Today, Coldwater’s back patio is lined with purple wisteria blossom and the roof is framed by mint green eaves. An acre of whimsical, well-kept grounds hug the property with a small pond and plenty of playing space for Fran’s two girls.

The considered use of colour and pattern throughout the interior pleases the eye. However, the true charm of the property comes from its structural uniqueness. The best thing Fran has done is make the sweeping wooden beams and tall windows the main focal points in each room.

This playful approach to mid-century interior design proves that you don’t need to sacrifice style to make space for comfort.

Follow Coldwater Bungalow on Instagram 

Want to read more about Scotland’s Home of the Year? Find all the contestants’ Instagram accounts below.

Scotland’s Home of the Year 2024: find the stars on Instagram

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