The Duke and Duchess of Fife, David and Caroline own Elsick House in Aberdeenshire. The historic house is nestled in 1,500 acres of grounds and has been in David’s family since the 1300’s.
Elsick House has been in the family since the 1300s, and it was where David was brought up. There’s a huge amount of history within these walls. Sadly, David’s dad passed away last year leaving the house and estate to us. We have frequented here with our family over the years so the house truly holds a lot of cherished memories.
We rescued the house and restored it with a lot of love and it has certainly come alive again! We re-wired, re-plumbed and added more bathrooms. Making the most of the 10 bedrooms en-suites added more modern living to the house.
It was important to us to have a lot of open living and entertaining space, which I think we’ve achieved. We didn’t want a fussy formal atmosphere. We tried to keep the house old with a modern twist, so the traditional features have been kept but perhaps updated. A fresh colour palette was used, with some flair and personality given to each room through accents.
The McDuff bedroom is my favourite, most probably because it was actually David’s bedroom/nursery growing up. It’s just timeless, I love the quirky old panelling that isn’t straight, but why would one mend this feature? It’s the cosiest part of the house, and will always remain the ‘nursery’ to me. I also love the study, I love the masculine, non-feminine feel to it with its vintage leather sofas and natural fabrics, again this room is simply timeless.
We bought everything from scratch, Taylor’s Auctions were a fabulous source as was Coach House, which I absolutely love! I’d say our biggest splash out was our dining table which seats 16 people. Our best buys were the two large art pieces in the main foyer which were only £50 for both from Taylor’s Auctions. David came up with the genius idea of taking pictures of our original art from our home in Fife, and having them made into large canvases then mounted and framed in a traditional way fitting for the house – so although they are not originals, they are loved pieces from our home, many pieces are of family through the generations!
I have a love of the Edwardian period, and Downton Abbey, I find it very romantic. I would say that there is always something good in every era though. I love natural, vintage fabrics with fresh neutral pallets. Soft corals and petrol blues are amongst some of my favourite colours, but I hugely dislike navy carpets – which we have running through the house, but I’m happy to say, I have permission to change these!
Elsick House Grounds
I just couldn’t live without flowers. We are so lucky to have Joyce who looks after this house for us, she is wonderful at floristry (as she is many things), with many of the flower arrangements coming from the gardens.
Although summer is beautiful at Elsick House with all the surrounding gardens, autumn is my most favourite season. I love the colours and crispness of the leaves, and the freshness of the wind. Living in the countryside, it’s the most dramatic season.
Interview by Robyn Lang-Shankland (twitter @rlsinteriors) , pictures by Eve Conroy.
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