Scotland's Home of the Year 2022: 'Truly unique' restored croft house crowned winner

A traditional, early 20th-century croft house on the Isle of Lewis, which lay uninhabited for 37 years, has been crowned Scotland’s Home of the Year 2022.

New Tolsta, the home of artist Tom Hickman, was the unanimous choice of the judges following the hour-long finale of the popular BBC Scotland series on Monday night.

Mr Hickman bought the building in 2006 and, since then, has painstakingly restored the croft house on the north-east coast of the Isle of Lewis to its former glory. It is filled with Mr Hickman’s artwork, mixed with traditional pieces of furniture.

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New Tolsta beat off stiff competition from eight other finalists from across Scotland.

New Tolsta, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis.

A ‘mini-museum’, the winning property has no phone, TV, fridge or internet connection, requiring Mr Hickman to visit a neighbour if he needs to call someone.

The property is instead adorned with historic artefacts and quirky memorabilia, including paintings, tapestries, shell sculptures, doll houses and furniture

Mr Hickman – a former antiques dealer – admitted he was both thrilled and surprised to win the coveted title.

"I have to admit it does bring an unexpected smile – winning is not something I’m used to,” he said. “I’m certainly surprised, but way down deep somewhere there is a little voice saying ‘at last’. As artists, we are all our own worst critics, so yes, it’s nice to receive praise.

Tom Hickman at the front door of New Tolsta.

“Labours of love are in themselves worthwhile, but I certainly didn’t at any time imagine I would be entering a competition and even less to be winning anything.”

All three judges – lifestyle blogger Kate Spiers, interior designer Anna Campbell-Jones, and architect and lecturer Michael Angus – were in no doubt New Tolsta was a worthy winner.

Campbell-Jones said: “We are always looking for individual homes filled with the expression of the home owner’s personality and taste – and, of course, love. I don’t think we have ever seen such an exceptional example of a home meeting these criteria.”

Spiers added: “I think New Tolsta just packed in so much of what we all look for in a home. It stood out because it really had its own atmosphere – it didn’t conform to trends or a certain aesthetic, but somehow it was still this beautiful, timeless home, which captured the personality of the home owner.”

New Tolsta - living room.

And Angus added: “What stood out about New Tolsta was the rejuvenated spirit blossoming so vibrantly within, serving to establish an unforeseen future for a building doubtless deemed condemned.”

Travelling to Glasgow for the final was also a thrill for Mr Hickman, as the final took place in the iconic House For An Art Lover building, designed by Charles Rennie Macintosh, and was his first visit to the city in quite some time.

“The last time I’d visited Glasgow was in 1958 to have my tonsils out when I was five, so there was a real sense of adventure,” he said. “And when the taxi arrived at House For An Art Lover, I was gobsmacked as the arts and craft period is my favourite.”

A fifth series of Scotland’s Home Of The Year begins filming later this month. Applications to take part are open until June 10 at www.bbc.co.uk/shoty.

New Tolsta - fireplace.
New Tolsta - entrance.
New Tolsta - kitchen.
Tom Hickman's home is filled with his artwork.
New Tolsta - bedroom.
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