LIKE a phoenix, Logie Country House has risen from the ashes to become a five-star retreat – complete with a ghost.
“Ever since university, I’ve always been working on some kind of restoration, so I guess it was all in preparation for this,” says Tim Erbe, owner of the newly refurbished Logie Country House in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire.
A fire all but destroyed the house in 1974, and the property sat empty until the Erbe family bought it in 2007. “It was a shell apart from the old servants’ quarters, which is now the site of the guest house,” says Tim. Originally a fortified tower house built in the 1670s and sitting within 7492 acres, the house was extended in the 1700s. It was home to Lord and Lady Elphinstone – it was known as Logie Elphinstone House – and remained in the family until the 1900s.
“All of the bedrooms are named after the family or the positions that they held. Everything about the house is unique – it has all the charm but none of the drawbacks of a listed building,” says Tim.
The building work on the house began in 2007 and took a couple of years until it was structurally sound, and ready to be renovated inside. Where many would have shied away from such a large-scale project, Tim wasn’t fazed: “I love a challenge,” he says, “and hate to see historical buildings going to ruin.” Tim’s wife Stef was in charge of the interior decoration, but they both agreed they wanted it to feel like a home from home. The furniture was acquired mainly from auctions and reflects the couple’s love of antiques. Much of it has come from Dunecht House, a grade A-listed stately home six or seven miles away, the contents of which fitted the period, style and look that Tim and Stef were seeking.
In fact a large, lifesize portrait of Lord Cowdray, Dunecht House’s previous owner, hangs in the dining room of Logie House. “We wanted a mix of antiques and modern furniture, and not to re-create the house exactly as it was, because it would need to fit a modern lifestyle,” says Tim. With this in mind the couple bought new sofas and upstairs in the eight bedrooms, guests will find new beds sitting comfortably next to antique wardrobes.
The layout of the main house comprises of eight rooms, six of which are doubles, one twin and one four bunkbed dormitory, ideal for children. The master bedroom, playfully named Laird and Lady Erbe, suits its title as it boasts its own dressing room and luxurious en suite with an 8ft freestanding bath, shower, twin sinks and toilet. The additional rooms have names such as Earl and Countess of Mar, Chancellor of Scotland, which has a circular bed, and Earl and Countess of Grouch. The overall feel of the house is a nod towards its location and past, but without being oppressive or twee.
It’s not just the bedroom names that are a reminder of the rich history of Logie Country House. It is also – apparently – home to a ghost, which can be heard walking around upstairs in the main house. “We think the ghost is of John Pirie, who was the gardener who was buried here in 1817. He is friendly and not at all scary – the kids have even named him JoJo,” laughs Tim. “His movements are pretty consistent – footsteps upstairs when no-one is there.”
It’s no surprise JoJo has chosen this property to haunt. After all, who wouldn’t want to spend time here? There’s a fully equipped Mark Wilkinson kitchen waiting to be used by aspiring chefs. It’s kitted out with Miele dual dishwashers, a wine fridge, induction hobs, a steam oven, coffee machine, fridge freezer and four-oven Aga.
If relaxation is more your thing then make some popcorn and head to the cinema room, which features a 70in HD TV, Blueray player, surround-sound and Sky+ HD. Rather enjoy some exercise? Take a swim in the indoor nine metre infinity pool or chill out in one of the two large Canadian outdoor spas or Jacuzzis. The old game store is now a gym with a cross trainer, rowing machine, spin bike, Powerplate and incline trainer.
The self-contained guest wing is similarly decorated to complement the main house and is joined to it via the old tower. This five-bedroom wing can be rented as part of the whole house or separately for smaller parties and consists of four doubles, one en suite, a twin room, large lounge with inglenook fireplace and spacious kitchen that will easily seat ten. The little luxuries continue here with DVD players, Apple TVs, Xbox 360, a Wii player, iPod docking stations and wi-fi throughout.
Both the main house and guest wing are wired for sound in some rooms via iPhone controllable speakers. It is these thoughtful, modern touches that take Logie Country House from a relaxing holiday home to five star, luxury retreat. Tim is always looking for new ways to update the house: “Just now the house is eco-friendly as it is heated by a log burning boiler that uses timber from the grounds but I’d love it to one day be hydroelectric,” he says.
The house now sits in 140 acres that include woodland filled with wild flowers. Three Pictish standing stones can be found here, having been moved to the grounds in the 1800s and are listed as an ancient monument. There is also a small orchard and private island that is perfect for fishing and picnics.
“I love Logie,” says Stef. “It’s been a real labour of love for both Tim and I. For months, our lives consisted of doing the annoying little jobs that everyone hates, like hanging light fixtures and putting up curtains. It was a lot of work but I wouldn’t change a thing. Doing up a place as big as Logie and doing it well is very satisfying because we’ve put so much of ourselves into the house, I believe it’s what sets it apart from many other venues. It’s more personal.”
It is hard to imagine the scale of work undertaken to transform Logie Country House, but thanks to the Erbes’ love of a challenge it can now be enjoyed in total luxury and comfort.
• For more details, availability and booking Logie Country House, tel: 0845 094 2424 or visit www.logiecountry house.co.uk