Interior design case study and guest blog - ‘Tiny houses’ in the Scottish Highlands by Alicia Storie.

Eco-conscious interior designer Alicia Storie, from AdesignStorie, gives us an insight into how she approaches interior design, based on one of her recent projects.


Tiny house sustainable timber cabin scotland

Photography by  Megan Redden Photography


So, let’s start with a bit of background on how I got involved in this amazing project. 

By September 2020 I really wanted to learn how to build to demonstrate my integrity as a sustainable designer. Aligning my interior design skills with carpentry skills to gain a deeper understanding on how to best to repair, maintain and upcycle joinery and furniture. 

I had met a carpenter- Karl, who was making quirky structures like eco pods and tiny houses. He needed some help on a tidy house he was building and I was keen to learn from him so I jumped right in! 

Located in Ballater in the Cairngorms National Park in the most stunning surroundings, this place perfectly lends itself to this type of sustainable accommodation. 

The story continues and it was all of a sudden September 2021, just 6 months later and the tiny house was built. Karl wanted to make a series of quirky rentals and he needed an interior designer. 

We spent a lot of hours planning how to make the process as sustainable as possible without compromising on quality, aesthetics or user experience. 

I worked on the interior decor and sourcing for the tiny house. Working closely with Karl to source every single item second hand to transform this into a cosy holiday let. This is now complete… 

Timber cabin scotland sustainable

Photography by  Megan Redden Photography


I then moved onto creating a unique design identity for each of the eco short-term lets that subtly references the varied local landscape (Forest, Mountain, Loch, River)

The next accommodation on the list to be constructed was the ‘forest cabin’ which is now currently onsite. I will share more about how we consciously approached the design of this one as I was involved in the  concept design of this one…


Eco cabin scotland timber

Exterior Copyright Megan Redden Photography



Concept design 

As the site is located in the valley of the idyllic Scottish mountains the brief was to celebrate this and link the interior design to its surroundings. 

The forest cabin has a skylight above the mezzanine so you can fall asleep to a view of the stars. It looks directly over the mountains of the Cairngorms and is a short walk away from the River Dee. Naturally - my source of inspiration was nature.

We played with the forest concept to select textures, colours and forms for the interior design.

Eco material palette

The material palette for the Forest cabin  | AdesignStorie


The material colour palette layers earthy, muted, green tones and warm neutrals alongside the vivid greens of plants and teamed this with natural materials such as wood and cork.

The interior walls and floors for the bedroom are cladded with a reclaimed oak that was salvaged locally to Ballater. 

Through the use of tactile textures, the space was made to feel more inviting and comfortable. From the GOTS certified organic crushed linen of the bedding to the textured, pre-loved cushions and throws draped over the furniture.

We referenced the beauty in the organic form of nature by placing hand- sculpted imperfect ceramics on the open wooden shelves, adding to the charm and authenticity of the cabin.

We are also introduced brushed-brass accents in the furniture and decor to add to the rustic feel of the cabin. This will age well giving the space a timeless feel.

The bathroom is tiled with lush reclaimed, green tiles and is filled with plants so you are welcomed by a ‘secret garden’  as you open the door.

How the materials and furniture were sourced sustainably

Interior design concept render

 Conceptual Interior Design of Forest Cabin |   AdesignStorie 

There was a big focus on second hand sourcing.  The majority of the materials were sourced online from local suppliers.

Most of the interior products from oven gloves and glassware to hanging plant holders were sourced in person from charity shops. Second hand stores really are treasure troves for beautiful interior decor. These were sourced in a single trip so they could all could be transported together to reduce the carbon cost.

Furniture was either hand-made in the workshop using reclaimed materials (wherever possible) or sourced from local vintage stores. 

We also love to support small, sustainably focused brands. Here are some products that we specified;


  • The incredible eco paint brand Graphenstone. Here is what they say on the sustainability of their products:

“Graphenstone's sustainable paint absorbs CO2 as they cure, to improve the air quality in your home and in the natural environment. ….no plastics, no harmful toxins”

  • Mycelium pendant by Tŷ Syml. There isn't a more perfect lamp suited for a forest cabin  than the mycelium pendant. This lampshade is made from wood waste which has been inoculated with mycelium. Alongside the beautiful minimal aesthetic there are so many amazing eco characteristics such as being non-toxic, fire resistant, sound insulating and rapidly renewable.
  • For the artwork we are collaborating with illustrator Francesca Williams to create a beautiful mural on the outside of the forest cabin. This will show the biodiversity of the surrounding landscape. It will include illustrations of the forests and the endangered animals that live there too. Some of her working illustrations will also be framed inside the cabin itself.



Colour Palette Nature Organic

Natural Colour Palette |   AdesignStorie 


AdesignStorie’s top tips  


So here are my top tips for designing and sourcing with the planet in mind.

  1. Defining the concept design at an early stage of the project makes sourcing sustainably so much easier as it defines a clear brief on what to source!
  2. Steer clear of trends. Select furniture and finishes that reflect you or your brand and avoid the temptation to replicate a mood image from Pinterest.
  3. Mix old and new furniture. Selecting furniture from different periods and origins will allow for a unique design style tailored to you so is therefore less likely to date.
  4. Start sourcing early and build up stock. It takes a little more patience when sourcing reclaimed materials so if you see a beautiful gem buy it in advance! I recommend looking on Vinterior, Ebay or Facebook Marketplace!
  5. Source locally there is so much amazing furniture and decor close to you so have a look on marketplaces or in your local second hand stores! Another tip here is to try and get as much as possible in one trip. Ask people to hold it for a short while and then get it all while you’re out!
  6. Select high quality materials. Consider the long term cost of furniture where possible and purchase materials fit for purpose, easy to maintain and will last the test of time. 
  7. Opt for non toxic finishes. Paints, glues, sealants. This is also much better for your health and the planet.


Upcycling workshop

Steadings - Copyright Ceranna Photography

Lastly, I’d like to say…

If you’re looking to design your home sustainably, the tips above provide a great starting point. By using natural materials and incorporating green features into your design, you can create a space that is comfortable, beautiful and eco-friendly too!

June 23, 2022

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