Vanessa Branson by Rachael Smith


Photographs – Rachael Smith

Words – Dominic Bradbury


Hotelier, artist and entrepreneur Vanessa Branson and her family have owned the island of Eilean Shona on the west coast of Scotland for many years. This picturesque retreat, accessible only by boat, is home to a number of crofts and cottages, which have been updated over the years. The latest is The Old Schoolhouse, an off the grid delight about thirty minute’s walk from the island’s main dock.

The freshly converted Victorian building is modest but full of character. The former classroom and school master’s quarters on the ground floor have been remodeled as a free flowing, open plan living space with a lounge at one end and a kitchen/dining area at the other, both arranged around wood burning stoves, which also provide hot water; lighting comes from the gas wall lights throughout. Upstairs there are two bedrooms and a bathroom, making the most of the sublime views.

As well as many integrated elements, the interiors mix contemporary pieces with many treasurers sourced by Vanessa in Marrakech, where she has a hotel and spends part of the year. The overall effect is soothing and calm. The re-invented house has become a firm favourite with the family and is also available for holiday rentals.

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