Castle Ryan: A home of my own

Welcome to Castle Ryan, my new house that I hope to transform into a home.

It was about 16 years ago that I last made the happy announcement of home ownership, along with my husband. Sadly, he died less than a year later, which led to my saying goodbye to the house we made a home so that I could rebuild my life as a widow, rather than a wife. At the time, I didn’t have plans to buy again. And to be honest, I only started to give serious thought to the idea last summer.

I shared news of the house search about two months ago when I mused about the differences between my “dream” house and the reality of what I would end up with. And I am pleased to say that I landed somewhere between the two, as I had hoped. (Well, I’d hoped for the dream, but my second hope was not to buy a money pit.)

Indeed, I managed to find a house that has several things from my initial checklist including 3 bedrooms and a garage, private front and back gardens, a decent-sized living space with a separate dining area, and it is in instantly liveable condition. However several things don’t meet my ideal. Like the kitchen that is too, well, look at the photos below. Also, it is a mid-terrace rather than a detached or semi-detached and the gardens are smaller than I would like. It also lacks a downstairs loo and is a little further from the office than my initial scope.

However, there are a few things that I hoped for but that didn’t make my Want List as they weren’t “important”. Specifically, the house has a real fireplace and a finished loft space for storage and a craft/sewing room. Of course, both of those things are on my “needs attention” list, as they are not suitable as is. There are several other things on that list, too. Nothing that needs immediate attention, just things that don’t meet my standards or ideals. But all these things can be fixed or reimagined to work in my favour. For example, the fire is a small “open fire” and there is no mantle or fire surround. It’s just a hole in the wall. But I can change it to a wood-burning stove insert and add any kind of mantle and surround I want. And then the kitchen needs a total re-do. Look at the photos and you’ll understand. Also, the north-facing, very small, very unappealing back garden has the potential to become a secret hideaway for whimsy and art – kind of like Dick and Jane’s Spot in my home county, but with my own aesthetic. (Watch this space for creative updates!)

There are also several smaller projects, like refinishing the wood floors and fitting a carpet runner on the stairs; creating a defined path through the front garden, leading to the front door; and refreshing the bathroom to brighten it up – and everything else in between. So, more than enough opportunity to really make this queendom my own.

Carrying on from the dreams Paul and I had for our home, my vision for Castle Ryan is to incorporate as much reclaimed and rescued furniture and materials as possible as I take this place from house to home. There is a bit of sadness in that, however, because each time I think about the changes I want to make to Castle Ryan, I am reminded of the changes that Paul and I made to our home – and I am very aware that I will be doing the same things… but without him. Given he died less than a year after we first moved into our home, and that later this month will mark 15 years since his death, it’s all a bit emotional. But I survived the last 15 years, so I am sure I will survive this bitter-sweet milestone, too.

But this is a new chapter filled with possibilities and opportunities. The walls are bare, the rooms echo with the promise of memories to come, and every corner holds potential. The blank canvas of Castle Ryan is an opportunity to unleash creativity and to curate a space that reflects me, Just Frances. From selecting the perfect colour palette and textures to finding the right furniture and arrangement of rooms, there are so many opportunities to bring out the castle’s character in a way that reflects my own life. I am stepping into a future filled with endless possibilities. And that’s equal parts exciting and scary!

I won’t share (easily) “identifiable” exterior photos of the house here on JustFrances, but below are some interior shots of the space – including some detailed photos of bits I either love or loathe – and a few of the things I’ve already purchased for my new home. And in the coming months/years, I will share updated photos and stories as I make changes to Castle Ryan, and even some of my furniture refinishing and upcycling projects.

Or if you want to see more of Castle Ryan and you’re my family or friends, you can make plans to visit Castle Ryan to see it in real life.

6 Replies to “Castle Ryan: A home of my own”

  1. Depending on the orientation of those skylights, you could have a ‘greens’ garden in the loft for year ’round fresh veggies!

    1. They are on the north side, so I don’t know how that would work. But there’s no reason I couldn’t do a windowsill garden in one of the south-facing windows! (Although it might be cheaper just to buy greens each week.)

  2. It looks like a very comfortable abode, and I know it will come to life with all your fun ideas. Just the fact it’s in Scotland makes it a + for me!
    Once you start decorating, maybe I can make something for a wall or guest room bed.. stay in touch.

    1. It is really comfortable, and I’m certainly planning some fun and whimsical ideas for decorating it. I’ll share more photos when I am home in America next!

  3. Well it’s a lovely start! I, like you I’m sure, when I see spaces- always wonder why “they did it like that”! I can’t wait to see the changes you make 🙂

    1. Thanks, Ramona. My head is filled with ideas, but I won’t do too much too soon as those ideas are constantly evolving. But you can be sure that I will share changes when I make them!!

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