Never a Dull moment with Stella the Airstream and Highland Spaces

When Stella the Airstream landed in Dull near Aberfeldy she caused quite a commotion; today you have to look hard to find her.

Stella Airstream at Dull near Aberfeldy, with Highland Spaces
Stella Airstream at Dull near Aberfeldy, with Highland Spaces

“We bought Stella on a whim,” owner Niki Kinloch Bakshy recalls. “We’d always wanted an Airstream and we found her on eBay on Boxing Day 2018.”

As proprietors of Highland Spaces which also has the quirky Tabernacle on their books, Niki and herhusband Nir are prolific travellers. However, after buying Stella they swiftly cancelled their plans for

their trip to Oregon to see a total solar eclipse and decided to focus on manifesting yet another

Stella airstream Nichola Hunter

fabulous Highland space.

Stella came off the production line in the USA in 1973 and had been based in Canada until her owner

died. She was inherited by a relative in Yorkshire where she was relocated and listed on eBay where

Niki and Nir found her.

“She was delivered to us in the snow in January 2019,” Niki recalls. “Fortunately, we had managed

to get the local farmers excited about her arrival and with their tractors, Manitous and the A-Team

music as our soundtrack she was manoeuvred up our incredibly steep drive and around the mental

curve at the top of it. Her rear end was carefully lifted around the corner, the wheels were off the

ground and to the shock of the village of Dull, ‘Shiny’ arrived.”

Nir continues: “It wasn’t an ideal introduction for Dull. It was like the arrival of a rocket ship and as

there were no leaves on the trees at that time of year, we really were incredibly conspicuous.”

Conspicuous wasn’t what the couple wanted but they were prepared. “When we pushed the button

to purchase her, we knew what we needed to do next – prepare a space. After a phone call to the

local digger driver, it evolved simultaneously – a dance with the land and the space . We wanted to

provide something unique with Stella - something really high end with accommodation that was

properly nestled into the landscape, and which would offer guests total privacy.”

With plans for extensive landscaping underway the next thing was what to do with Stella’s interior

as it was not pretty. “She looked pretty shocking inside,” says Niki. “Lots of brown Formica, a

mustard yellow colour scheme and lime green carpets.”

The first step was to remove the entire interior saving all the aluminium panels and refurbishing

them. “For me,” says Nir, “the refurbishment was a real revelation, the realisation there are no

straight lines, nothing standard; we learnt a lot. The initial stages were slow but after we got the

hang of it, we picked up speed. We found a great carpenter, Gary to help us. Usually, he doesn’t

leave his workshop, but he loves Airstreams and he said he couldn’t imagine many more would be

coming to Scotland so for Stella he left his workshop.”

Once everything was stripped out, insulation was fitted, an underfloor heating system installed, and

the electrics renewed. The couple also decided to reconfigure the layout as Niki explains: “Where

we’ve located the bed, there was a bath tub and where the existing bathroom and cupboards are

now, were two single beds on either side of the corridor. The kitchen is in the same place and where

the dining space is, was almost the same – a seating area which could be made into sleeping

accommodation. As we knew that Stella had found her forever home and we wouldn’t be taking her

on a road trip, we removed one of her wheels as we didn’t want a wheel hub intruding into the

room and this allowed us to fit in a proper shower room. I joined lots of forums and compared a lot

of designs and layouts until I found the one that I knew would work for us.”

To get the space exactly right, everything has been custom made, from the bed, to the kitchen to the

glass shower screen and Nir remembers the process well: “I made a cardboard template measuring

every centimetre to get the curve exactly right for the glass - it could have been a very, very

expensive mistake but fortunately my measurements were correct.” The glass wasn’t the only

challenge however, refitting 7 metres of aluminium sheeting with rivets which had to be kept in the

curve and all the while not denting it while fitting it. “We were so impressed with ourselves when it

was finished!”

Proportion was everything in this project but for Niki the outdoor situation is the real icing on the

cake and what gives Stella her USP. “We were really dialoguing with our environment. We put

Stella here and we let the space speak to us. Having travelled extensively, in Asia they have these

wonderful outdoor spaces in which to relax and it’s not enough to add a deckchair or a lounger. It

must be space where people can totally relax and be outside. You can’t guarantee the weather in

Scotland, but our guests can be outside even when the weather doesn’t support that option.”

To make this happen, Niki has planted a willow dome which surrounds the hot tub and a living

willow fence to help hide Stella from the outside world. A pergola has been built at the side of the

Airstream with lounge beds and a fire pit underneath so even in Scotland’s changeable weather,

guests can immerse themselves in nature whatever the season.

“When I’m a guest I want complete privacy. It’s important that people are in their own bubble when

they stay at Stella. You won’t see us, other guests, the postman arriving – no-one. Although Stella

looks very jazzy and full of bling, she has a totally secluded space – she’s a capsule of calm. It’s a

beautiful duality of bringing people into a place where they can reset and recharge themselves.”

Stella may have arrived with a bang but now she’s Dull’s best kept secret.”

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