Project: Inside Holmwood House


Inside Holmwood House with Ian Howie of Robert Howie & Sons 

We’ll be looking at the restoration of the original decoration of Holmwood House, using traditional decorating methods in a modern era.

Restoring a building of this nature was never going to be straight forward. Ian Howie and his team have been working on the restoration of Holmwood House for the past 4 years due to the complexity of the decoration and the research involved in restoring this stunning building to its former glory.

The techniques and products used in this project are unusual, or even unique! Robert Howie & Son have lovingly restored this property using traditional decorating methods that would have been used, back in the 19th century.

Back then decorators were more technically challenged in their work, almost chemists. In the 19th century lime was mixed up in metal containers, pigments came in powder & natural form ale & eggs were also used in the composition of paint. In order to achieve the desired bespoke colour from a base oil paint, primary colours were used to match up those colours, Designs were created by marking out, drawing and cutting stencils via varnished card & applying the designs. These were then painted with glazes that were made up and applied altering the translucency. The plaster decoration was gilded with gold leaf using oil gold size. This is a huge contrast from today’s demands.

Join us at 9am on Thursday 25th February at the #Trade Decorator Festival, when we go inside Holmwood House with Ian Howie of Robert Howie and Sons and speak live with Ian about the work they undertaken at Holmwood House. The company have a relatively young team, with the two youngest members being 26 years old and a 19-year-old apprentice and we’ll be speaking with Ian about how his company is investing in putting traditional skills back into a younger generation.

What is Holmwood House 

Located in the Southside of the city, on Netherlee Rd, it’s masterfully designed, with grand imagination behind it. Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson designed the house for paper magnate at the time, Mr & Mrs James Couper in 1857–8, and it’s widely regarded as this Scottish architect’s finest domestic creation. His stunning design legacy impresses at every turn. Thomson’s penchant for Grecian styling and symmetry is found throughout Holmwood, where the bold opulent decoration echoes the colours seen in ancient Greek temples.

The property has been in the possession of the National Trust for Scotland since 1994. It had been used as a convent for several years. Many hundreds of hours have been put into the research and fundraising has stretched as far as the National Trust for Scotland USA foundation.

The work at Holmwood House is part of an ongoing conservation project and there’s always something new for visitors to see.

Robert Howie & Son est 1954, traditional Painters & Decorators was Established by 3 Bothers Robert Howie, Andrew Howie, William Howie.  Current Staff consists of Ian Howie (owner manager) who has 35 years’ experience and is of the second generation, Son Calvin Howie Foreman (3rd generation) and John Patterson, Brian Shields and their apprentice Sofia Lindsey.

Robert Howie & Son’s extensively worked for the National Trust for Scotland since 1969 As well as Princes Foundation, Historic Scotland, BBC, plus many country Houses and Castle’s, and they also have many domestic clients.

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