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DIY Design and Build: Izat Arundell’s Stone House in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides (For Rent This Summer)

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DIY Design and Build: Izat Arundell’s Stone House in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides (For Rent This Summer)

May 13, 2024

Eilidh Izat and Jack Arundell met at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival in July 2014. She was an ambitious young architect newly back home in Scotland after training at firms in Tokyo and Oslo. He was an out-of-work recent college grad from Yorkshire with a degree in civil engineering. When Eilidh mentioned she was about to install a new kitchen in her apartment, Jack surprised her by volunteering to help.

In 2017, the couple completed their first professional project, Porteous Studio, a snug former blacksmith’s workshop that they turned into an exquisitely composed Zen vacation rental. Next, they founded their own architecture firm, Izat Arundell. Eilidh (whose Scottish Gaelic name is pronounced AY-lee) is in charge of design, and Jack, who picked up contracting and construction skills along the way, makes the wheels turn.

Now, 10 years in, they’ve built a magical new home base for themselves far from Edinburgh on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides. Eilidh’s initial plans for two two-story concrete volumes got entirely scrapped when material costs sent her rethinking everything. She studied the land and used layers of cardboard to envision their modernist, eco-conscious stone cottage: a single-story, one-bedroom house angled to hug the view of their sheltered inlet.

Jack and Eilidh’s brother, Alasdair Izat, a furniture maker, spent 18 months building the structure entirely themselves (with help on the exterior from their stonemason friend Dan Macauley). At times, they all, Eilidh included, camped on the land in tents and trailers. Jack and Alasdair also “battled through nine named storms,” notes Eilidh. Newly complete, the house is rentable this summer for week-long stays as a way to help defray construction costs. Join us for a tour.

Photography by Richard Gaston, unless noted, courtesy of Izat Arundell.

the single story, one bedroom house is known as caochan na creige (little quiet 17
Above: The single-story, one-bedroom house is known as Caochan na Creige (Little Quiet One By the Rock). It sits on an outcrop “strategically positioned to take advantage of the elevated level and panoramic sea views across to Skye,” writes Eilidh. “We’re a stone’s throw from the Minch, the Atlantic sea channel between the Outer Hebrides and mainland Scotland.” It takes about 7.5 hours (and two ferry rides ) to drive to Edinburgh, where many of their clients are based.
the house has a timber frame that was constructed on site and exterior walls of 18
Above: The house has a timber frame that was constructed on site and exterior walls of the same Lewisian Gneiss rock that the house sits on—they sourced the stone from Kenny’s Quarry about five miles down the road. The unusual angles (which not only accentuate the views but avoid large rocks); tall, wood-framed windows; and concrete parapet give the structure a modern stance. Installation of a green roof is in the planning for later this year.
&#8\2\20;internally, soft angles weave throughout the house creating intrig 19
Above: “Internally, soft angles weave throughout the house creating intriguing spaces that flow into one another,” writes Eilidh, adding that she took inspiration from the Isle of Harris’s traditional stone black houses with entirely wood-paneled interiors. The terrazzo floor (supplied by Skye Stone Studio) has under-floor heating.

“The house is connected to the grid but we have a 3.6kW solar panel system that feeds into our hot water tank,” explains Eilidh. “We’d ideally like this to feed into a battery but we need to save up for that. We’re also planning to install a micro-hydro turbine behind the house that will help offset costs in winter.”

supplemental heat is supplied by a jotul combifire \1b, a vintage model that th 20
Above: Supplemental heat is supplied by a Jotul Combifire 1B, a vintage model that the couple found at a great price on eBay and refurbished themselves. The knotty wood paneling throughout is Scottish cedar, and the handmade hearth tiles are from terracotta tile specialists Norfolk Pamments. Jack collaborated with Namon Gaston on the Arundell armchair shown here alongside Bobbin Stools by Alasdair.
jack and eilidh celebrated finishing their house this past fall. she developed  21
Above: Jack and Eilidh celebrated finishing their house this past fall. She developed her interest in design early on via her grandfather, a celebrated post-war architect in Fife, who gave her complex drawing assignments as a child. Photograph by Jack Arundell.
alasdair built the kitchen cabinets and shelves of beech that he &#8\2\20;h 22
Above: Alasdair built the kitchen cabinets and shelves of beech that he “hand selected” by video call with their Glasgow supplier. The ink-black counter is Scottish Caithness stone.
the couple acquired the large painting at an art school graduation show— 23
Above: The couple acquired the large painting at an art school graduation show—its creator was moving and told them they could have it. Photograph by Jack Arundell.
the white walls throughout are finished with clay paint, a natural plaster from 24
Above: The white walls throughout are finished with clay paint, a natural plaster from Clayworks (read about it in Remodeling 101: Modern Plaster Walls). Photograph by Jack Arundell.
the full height windows are designed to follow the path of the sun. the southwa 25
Above: The full-height windows are designed to follow the path of the sun. The southward-facing dining area overlooks the Isle of Rùm.

Eilidh and Jack like to use natural sheep’s wool insulation in their projects but in this case went with mineral fiber “to keep our wall thickness down and achieve good acoustic ratings,” says Eilidh. “The wind and rain here can be very noisy and the mineral wool helps helps keep the house quiet.”

the skylit bathroom is situated between the living area and bedroom. like the k 26
Above: The skylit bathroom is situated between the living area and bedroom. Like the kitchen, it has bespoke cabinets and a Caithness stone counter. Photograph by Jack Arundell.
the lone bedroom is at the northwest end of the house. the couple say they may  27
Above: The lone bedroom is at the northwest end of the house. The couple say they may build additional bedrooms as needed down the line. Photograph by Jack Arundell.

The Model

eilidh designed the house and its angled plan &#8\2\20;to sit respectfully  28
Above: Eilidh designed the house and its angled plan “to sit respectfully in the landscape.”

Floor Plan

the interior has an irregular, angled plan, each room flowing into the next. th 29
Above: The interior has an irregular, angled plan, each room flowing into the next. The kitchen and bedroom are at opposite ends of the house. The house sleeps two and rents for £2,000 per week—this summer only, they say: to reserve, go to Coachan.co.uk.

Peruse the Remodelista Design Travel archive for more Scottish standouts, including:

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Frequently asked questions

Who are Eilidh Izat and Jack Arundell?

Eilidh Izat is an architect and Jack Arundell is a civil engineer.

What is the name of their architecture firm?

Izat Arundell.

Where is their magical new home base located?

On the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides.

How long did it take to build their stone cottage?

18 months.

Can their house be rented this summer?

Yes, for week-long stays to help defray construction costs.

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