Staycation Scotland: Step inside this stunning converted steading in the Highlands

Family ties kept the Antscherl family returning to the Cairngorms, but they didn’t expect to achieve quite as close a connection as they have with their unique holiday home.

Mark Antscherl’s parents bought a cottage in Dulnain Bridge when he was 15 and for many years it was their much-loved retreat. “I returned to Scotland in 2008 after 20 years living overseas and by this time my parents had sold the cottage. However, myself and my family continued to holiday in the Highlands. We loved it so much that when my father passed away, we scattered his ashes on the Spey where he used to fish.”

Which is how Mark, his wife Louise, and their family came to be in the vicinity of Broomhill Steading in 2018. “We were visiting my father’s special spot on the Spey and as we looked up the hill, we saw a For Sale sign. We had been looking for a holiday property, potentially a doer upper, but hadn’t found the right one. We went up the hill to investigate further and fortunately the builder’s wife was on site.”

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The property was already sold, but Mark and Louise were invited in to have a look around. “We really liked the quality and finish of the building, so we asked her to keep us in mind for future projects. Three days later her husband called to say the sale had fallen through and the rest is history.”

Broomhill Steading

The conversion of Broomhill is an interesting one. The 160-year-old steading has been split into three properties – a larger one along the back of the site, which is owned by the Antscherls, and two smaller properties on either side. “For all intents and purposes, it’s a new property built within the fabric of an old building; everything that’s been put in is new and what you would expect from a new build.”

Although the three-bedroom steading had been finished to a remarkably high spec, Mark and Louise were keen to personalise it. “We enhanced the downstairs kitchen, dining and living area by extending the kitchen island to incorporate seating for eight and we had a log burner installed which is a wonderful focal point. Upstairs, there were two very large bedrooms and we partitioned one of them into a family room. It has a double bed and two singles with a wooden partition in between and an en suite to share. In the second large bedroom we did the same again, but this time we created a living room instead of a second sleeping area.”

Another change the couple made was the access to the outdoor space, which is a huge appeal of the steading, as Mark explains: “The house is on an incline and access to the back garden was from the upstairs veranda, and that was the only access. As the kitchen is downstairs if you wanted to have a barbecue, you had to carry your food through the house. Whilst we’ve retained this original access, we’ve added another one direct from the kitchen where you go outside and up some steps to the barbecue area.”

The outdoor space has been well considered and it suits the entire family’s needs. “There are three quite distinct areas.” says Mark, “The first level has an outside cooking area with a large fire, the second has a sheltered seating area to take in the views across the Cairngorms and the third and highest level has a sauna, an outside rainfall shower and another seating area. It’s a large sauna with a long window allowing uninterrupted and spectacular views across the mountains. For the kids there’s a play fort with slide and climbing wall tucked away in the trees.”

Spacious kitchen diner

After a couple of years, the family decided that as well as using it themselves they would also offer the steading to guests. “There are some properties in the Highlands that are built to rent, they’re quite robust and suited for heavy duty wear and tear, but that’s not our home. Having invested significantly in the interior we decided if we were to welcome guests to Broomhill, we wanted to work with an agent that would take care of our property in the same way we do and had the same philosophy as us. Seasgair’s approach was exactly what we were looking for and they totally understood our focus – comfort, luxury and space. It’s worked.”

Although the steading is now available to guests, it hasn’t stopped more tweaks and improvements. “We’ve extended the decking areas and moved things around a bit. The next stage will be extending the sauna level even further to incorporate a spa area for a hot tub and cold dip tub. We’ve also got space outside for a games room so it’s still a work in progress. For me coming here is such a great contrast to living on the East Coast, it’s a beautiful part of Scotland and I never tire of it.”​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

A snug living area
Outside space to relax
A twin room
And even a sauna