FOR Terry and Shirley Rose, who recently spent several weeks in what could potentially be a home for their retirement, it’s all about exploring their options and so their plans remain fluid. The Roses had been living in Reading when close friends of theirs moved to Ullapool about 20 years ago. “We visited them regularly and loved the complete change from our current living environment,” Terry recalls. “However, at that point in time, we had a very different life. Shirley was an art teacher, and I was a property director at a major corporate and we were very busy.

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“Things changed when my father passed away. He left us a small amount of money and we wanted to create a lasting memory to my parents.”

A piece of land was the option the couple chose to explore and after looking at sites closer to home, they realised budget was an issue. “It was Shirley who suggested Ullapool and said we love Ullapool, I wonder if we could get something up there?”

In May 2014, the couple brought the bespoke, modular building that is now Sealoch House to a plot near Loch Broom. Initially the idea was to use this as their holiday home for family and friends. However, after six months they decided on something more radical.

Terry explains: “I had started a new job which wasn’t what I had envisioned, and Shirley and I decided it was time for a change. Westlea House in Ullapool had come on the market, we put a business plan together with our bank, moved up here in the December and started our B&B business.”

The couple didn’t go into their new roles half-heartedly and Terry affirms that in the first nine months he lost three inches off his waist. “Life was so full on undertaking the transformation of the property,” he points out.

“It’s not a part-time job but very rewarding and once you’ve done it for a few years you’ll understand it’s your business and, finances permitting, you can run it to suit the lifestyle you want to achieve.”

Westlea was also the ideal property for the Roses to turn into a stylish place to stay, as Terry explains: “It works perfectly as we have our own two-storey living accommodation at the back of the house, but the guests have access to an open-plan lounge and dining area.

“They don’t have to share our space, hide in their rooms or stay out all day. Indeed, we encourage them to bring in a takeaway or a bottle of wine to enjoy in the guest lounge, peruse the artwork and book collection, and listen to the vinyls on the record player in front of the log fire.”

This approach has been a huge success with lots of loyal repeat guests, many of whom have become friends.

Which brings us to the next project: Waterfell. “Westlea and Sealoch have proved to be very popular and we really enjoy them,” says Terry, “but we wanted to give ourselves options given that we are in our sixties.

“When we are ready to pass on the running of the B&B, we expect to move into Sealoch House. It therefore made sense to build another small building to complement Sealoch – it could become an art studio for Shirley, or we could continue to rent it. Building Waterfell gave ourselves more options and the ability to choose our future.”

As with Sealoch House, Terry and Shirley had a specific idea and build in mind, and decided that this needed to be a building that had a distinctive presence in the landscape while complementing the modern style of Sealoch.

“Sealoch House is very much about looking at the sea loch while Waterfell became about cantilevering over the burn, hence the name.”

The couple had worked with Sussex-based builder Boutique Modern to realise their vision for Sealoch but for Waterfell they wanted to use a Scottish builder and met with the award-winning Echo Living to put forward their ideas.

“We invited Echo to visit the site and Sealoch, and they stayed at Westlea to get a feeling for what we liked and wanted,” Terry continues. “They took on board that we appreciated challenging architecture, shots of colour, interesting furniture and art – they were excited by that.

“After their visit, they sent us some sketches of what they thought would work. They suggested a jewel-shaped, dual-level building sitting inside a drystone wall enclave cantilevering over the burn. The design didn’t need a lot of refining.

Planning permission was granted on March 30, 2020 just as lockdown hit. The couple pushed on with any parts of the construction that they could using their great local contractors – and their persistence eventually paid off when they welcomed their first guests in July 2021.

“The most frustrating thing for us is normally we would stay in the property for a while to get a feel for how the space works but we ran out of time although the response so far has been brilliant.”

Although Terry and Shirley didn’t get as much time as they’d like to road-test Waterfell, they recently had the chance to revisit Sealoch House and spend several weeks there over the winter while Terry recuperates from a major operation.

“It’s been really good seeing how we would live here when we decide to retire from the B&B,” Terry adds. “We wondered if it was too far from the village (approximately 15 minutes’ drive) but it’s so relaxing – such a different vibe.”

However, we’re not saying goodbye to Terry and Shirley just yet as he explains: “I like that we created a business that integrated us into the community and gave us an opportunity to change our lifestyle again if we so choose.

“However, I also like the idea that when we sell the B&B, it will hopefully give someone else the opportunity to change their lifestyle while allowing us to move onto the next stage of our journey.”