40 Scotland Inspired Design Ideas to Bring the Highlands Home

Shannon Quinn - June 24, 2019

Have you ever dreamed of making your home look like it came straight out of the Scottish Highlands? For many people, the idea of coming home to a cozy, warm house in the European countryside is truly a dream come true. Thankfully, it’s actually possible to replicate the design of Scotland, no matter where you are in the world. Here are 20 tips on how to achieve the look.

Tartan is a staple in Scottish culture. Credit: paisleyplaidandthread.com

40. Tartan

Tartan kilts are a huge Scottish stereotype, so let’s just get this one out of the way. Many Scottish-inspired homes will incorporate plaid and tartan into their design. One of the best examples of this is Ralph Lauren home decor. They have tons of equestrian and preppy themes. You may also be able to find a similar aesthetic at Pottery Barn, or get lucky with discounted pieces at Home Goods. Of course, the brand name does not matter. As long as you make it tartan, you should be good to go.

Most Scottish design incorporates a lot of taxidermy. Credit: Bronson Van Wyk

39. Taxidermy

Scotland has a lot of land and forest, and hunting is a very popular sport. Many homes- especially historic homes- will have deer heads mounted on the wall, because the men in the house proudly displayed their biggest achievements. It is not uncommon to see other forms of taxidermy, as well, like foxes, turkeys, and more. If you are vegan, or taxidermy creeps you out in general, you can still get the look with fake deer heads and other animal inspired pieces. The whole point is to somehow incorporate images of the local wild life into the design.

The “Ollie” fox pillow from Anthropologie. Credit: Anthropologie.com

38. Pillows With Animals On Them

If you prefer not to go anywhere near taxidermy with a ten foot pole, a really great alternative would be finding a pillow with an image of wild life on it. This could be a fox, bear, moose, or whatever you like. However, keep in mind that animals like llamas and alpacas might be super trendy right now, but they don’t exactly scream “Scotland”, do they? If you truly do want to remind people of the UK, pick animals that are indigenous to the Highlands.

Butterfly collection on display in a terrarium. Credit: Shutterstock

37. Bug Collections

For some people, the idea of a bug collection is totally gross. For others, it is absolutely beautiful. After all, certain bugs (like butterflies) have a short lifespan anyway, so why not keep them preserved under glass? That way, they can be admired and appreciated for years to come. Usually, they are placed inside of a shadow box frame and hung on a way. Or, they can be placed under a bell jar, like the photo seen above.

Displaying odd objects is known as a “cabinet of curiosities” Credit: Pinterest

36. A Cabinet of Curiosities

An amazing tradition over in the UK that we should see more often here in the USA is a cabinet of curiosities. This practice originated during the Victorian Era, when people were fascinated with the macabre. Typically, these items would be collected over the course of a lifetime. Unique items like animal skulls, taxidermy, knick knacks, statues, and more would be put on display. Smaller items like feathers, stones, and buttons can be stored inside of the actual cabinet drawers. Not only does this look beautiful, but it is also a great conversation-starter whenever guests come over.

Mud rooms are a must-have in large Scottish homes. Credit: Shutterstock

35. A Mud Room

Large country homes in the UK are not complete without a mud room. This is an area where people can take off muddy boots and their jacket so that they don’t track dirt into the rest of the house. It is also perfect for people who have pets, because you can make sure their muddy footprints stay isolated to one area. Not everyone can afford to build an entire mud room in their home, but you can still recreate this with an entry way that is devoted to putting your outdoor gear away.

Most Scottish homes have wooden beams. Credit: Shutterstock

34. Wood Beams

In most older homes in Scotland, you will find wooden beams supporting the ceiling. In the United States, they used this technique up until the 1800’s. This historic details is gorgeous, so if you have it in your own home, don’t hide it away under drywall! In modern homes, some people will even buy decorative wood beams to give a house the look of being historic. Unfortunately, that will make the task of getting this look, far more expensive if your home is newly built.

Having a library in your home is epic and luxurious. Credit: Shutterstock

33. Built-in Library Shelves

It truly is a luxury to have a library in your house. Most people cannot afford to have something as grand as what you see in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Many of Scotland’s finest mansions will have at least a small library room, or an office with built-in book shelves. However, there are plenty of solutions to displaying your books in an elegant way, like the office featured above. An office can have a large built-in piece that makes a room truly feel like a study area.

Outdoor foliage looks beautiful on top of the mantlepiece. Credit: Pinterest

32. Natural Greenery on the Mantlepiece

In the UK, they have a gorgeous tradition around Christmas time where they take greenery from the outdoors and create a display on the mantle above the fireplace. The best part of this tradition is that if you have a garden, you might just get away with doing this for free! If not, check out your local craft stores and plant nurseries to see what you can find. As an added bonus, consider finding scented pine cones. You won’t regret it.

Historic stately homes always have a huge portrait of a family member on the wall. Credit: Pinterest

31. “Family” Portraits

In a quintessential historic stately home in the United Kingdom, there are always large portraits of dead relatives. Usually, there is a grand story about how this man founded the family hundreds of years ago. In the photo above, you can see the huge picture of a man with a kilt. If your goal is to make a house look as Scottish as possible, you might want to find one of these! Even if your family did not have portraits, there are plenty of options out there for you to choose from. Not related to anyone Scottish? Well…You can always make up a funny story to go along with it.

Most Scottish homes are decorated in Earthy colors. Credit: Shutterstock

30. Use Earth Toned Paint

Modern homes usually try to stay away from dark colors in favor of bright minimalist vibes. Usually, having lighter colors helps people feel like they are in a happier mood. But in Scottish homes, the color scheme usually feel very masculine and dark. They don’t shy away from green, brown, red, or blue walls. The color scheme is very earthy in general.

Glass terarriums look beautiful on a back porch, or inside of your living space. Credit: Shutterstock

29. Glass Terrariums

Enclosed glass terrariums are great, because they basically create their own ecosystem inside of the container. These also look so much more visually interesting than plants in simple pots, because you can gaze inside to see the roots and the layers of dirt that are helping to make the plants grow. Terrariums look great almost anywhere- on a coffee table, window sill, or a back porch.

Antlers are popular in Scottish homes. Credit: Shutterstock

28. Antlers

Even if you hate the idea of having real taxidermy animals in your house, many homes in Scotland will opt for antlers, instead. There are even pieces of furniture and huge chandeliers made out of antlers. As you can see in the photo above, there are a lot of options out there for faux antlers made out of wood or plastic, as well. Check out eBay and Etsy for the various faux antler options out there.

Be sure to get some accent pillows in your living room. Credit: Shutterstock

27. Accent Pillows

For most of you, finding great accent pillows is a no-brainer, no matter what kind of style you have in your home. However, remember that Scottish vibes are all about having somewhere cozy to lay down with a good book. So pillows are a must-have. If you are not sure how to incorporate tartan fabrics into your home, accent pillows may be the best place to start. You can find the pattern in almost any color, and they can easily be thrown on a couch or chairs.

Old brick fireplaces are common in homes in the UK. Credit: Shutterstock

26. Brick Fireplace

If you close your eyes and try to imagine a big house in Scotland, the very first thing you probably thought of was a grand brick fireplace. This is quintessential in most stately European homes. Yes- it’s expensive to install a fireplace from scratch. If your home does not already have one, this project may be way out of your budget. However, they make faux fireplaces for a fraction of the price. You could also consider a wood burning stove, which would help cut down on your heat bill in the winter.

Antique books like this line the libraries of older Scottish homes. Credit: Shutterstock

25. Antiques

Most Scottish homes that have been passed down from generation to generation are filled with antiques that were left behind from previous owners. Or, people inherit items from their grandparents, and they ultimately end up on display at some point. The amount of antiques arranged in homes around the UK may even border on tacky. It is the polar opposite of the modern minimalistic vibe. So, the more trinkets, books, and heirlooms you can get, the better.

A brick pizza oven Credit: Shutterstock

24. A Bread/Pizza Oven

Back in the day, people would bake things in a brick oven. Today, these are incredibly rare to find in American homes. The taste of pizza and bread truly is different when it is baked on brick near a fire, versus the results you get from an electric or gas oven. For some people, the taste is totally worth it, and they use it for entertaining guests. If you want to build a pizza oven, it would cost a lot of money. Most people opt to have one outdoors, as well, just in case there are any issues.

Bring history into your home with family heirlooms. Credit: Shutterstock

23. Family Heirlooms

Many of the larger homes in Europe are passed down from generation to generation. Some of the wealthiest families even have a crest. Having a house that is lived in for multiple generations also means that a lot of family heirlooms are left behind. Maybe a father’s sword is displayed on the wall, or a mother’s dress is put behind glass in a frame. Each family is different, and there will be sentimental items that mean something to you.

Older European homes always had hardwood floors. Credit: Shutterstock

22. Hardwood Floors

Most older homes were build with dark hardwood floors, and you will be able to sand and polish it without tearing it up. Whenever you buy an older house, check under the carpet to see if it’s there! This items is practically a must-have since it is an element that you will see in most Scottish homes. Real hard wood can be very expensive, but you can find vinyl flooring that mimics the look of hardwood for a fraction of the price.

Antique trophy collections look amazing on display. Credit: Shutterstock

21. A Trophy and Ribbon Collection

Since many Scottish homes have a preppy theme, it is very common to see sporting trophies displayed in the mud room, den, or “man cave”. You may also see ribbons for equestrian or marksmanship. Some interior designers will go out of their way to create a trophy collection in someone’s home, even if the trophies do not actually belong to the home owner! There is just something cool about a really good antique award. As an added bonus, try to look for antique boxing gloves and other sporting equiptment.

Most European homes have chandelliers. Credit: Shutterstock

20. Chandeliers

Every luxurious European home would not be complete without a chandelier. However, before you rush out and buy one, keep a few things in mind. The height of the ceilings and the length of the chain will make a huge difference in the size of your chandelier. You also don’t want anyone to hit their head when they walk under it. If you live in an apartment, for example, you may want to skip this step all together. It truly works best in a house with high ceilings.

Some people really have a knack for mismatching furniture really well. Credit: Pinterest

19. Mismatched Furniture

In most older homes in the United Kingdom, families will have a collection of furniture from all different sources. Some pieces will have been passed down for hundreds of years. Others are bought, received through hand-me-downs, and so on. In America, on the other hand, you will see people with furniture sets that are brand new and match perfectly. If you are trying to achieve that Scottish look, the matchy-matchy sets are a huge no-no. However, if you still want the room to look cohesive, try to at least stick to a similar color story. Lucky for you, it is actually cheaper to find mismatched furniture, anyway. Browse your thrift shops and discount interior design stores like Home Goods to see if you can find anything that catches your eye.

Canopy beds are popular in Europe. Credit: Shutterstock

18. Canopy Beds

Having a canopy bed is truly luxurious. It is usually only something that wealthy people can afford. Years ago, the curtains served a few purposes. It kept out bugs, the draft, and it also gave some privacy in case servants came into the room to bring you breakfast in bed. In modern times, it may be good if you have really bright windows, and you just want to sleep in longer on the weekends. However. most people keep the drapes tied back for decorative purposes.

A luxurious antique range. Credit: Shutterstock

17. A Range Oven in the Kitchen

Range ovens are an extremely European feature, and you will almost never see it in the United States. If you wanted to replicated this in America, it would cost a lot of money. (When we say a lot of money, we mean like over $10,000.) On top of that, they are very difficult to use. For most people, they would never actually go out of their way to get one installed in their house. But gosh, darn it. They are truly beautiful to look at, aren’t they?

Solid wooden furniture is classic in European homes. Credit: Shutterstock

16. Dark Wooden Furniture

European homes famously have real wooden furniture. Instead of relying completely on cheap IKEA pieces, try to incorporate some real wood into your Scottish-inspired home. Don’t worry about matching perfectly. If you are in a tight budget, start out by visiting local auctions, thrift stores, and yard sales to see if you can find pieces that are in good condition. With real wood, you can also sand and re-stain anything that needs some TLC.

Oriental rugs can make a space look more classic. Credit: Shutterstock

15. Oriental Rugs

There is something about oriental rugs overtop of a hard woof floor that elevates a room to make it feel more luxurious. Lucky for you, these are available just about anywhere at all different price ranges. The color of your rug should complement the other fabrics in your room. Be sure at least one of the colors in the rug matches the drapes, throw pillows, or furniture.

A statue of the Celtic Cross. Credit: Shutterstock

14. The Celtic Cross

For Christians, The Celtic Cross is popular in both Scotland and Ireland. If you subscribe to that faith, you may want to consider hanging a Celtic Cross in your home, or maybe even get a statue for your back yard. There are also a lot of different home decor items that managed to incorporate the Celtic knots. Once you begin looking for it, you will notice that these pieces are for sale all over the place.

Heavy drapes keep out the draft and the light. Credit: Shutterstock

13. Heavy Drapes

Most homes in Scottish designs seem to have the grand floor-to-ceiling drapes made of thick fabric. This will do two things to help you. It makes the ceilings look even higher than they actually are, and it also blocks out the sun if you are trying to take a nap. Most of the time, those drapes also serve to keep the draft out in the winter time, especially if you have the older single-pane glass. Thick curtains can help maintain the temperature all year long.

Many homes in Scotland have large oil paintings. Credit: Shutterstock

12. Landscape Oil Paintings

Europe has a rich history of art, so it only makes sense that people in Scotland would have original oil paintings in their home. The most common types of antique paintings people can get ahold of are landscapes. If you can find one that has a golden frame, you get extra points. Check out your local thrift shop. You’ll be shocked to see how many beautiful paintings you can find.

Many Scottish homes are not afraid of dark colors. Credit: Shutterstock

11. Dark Wall Colors

Normally, interior designers would recommend that you go for bright colors. In general, we also recommend doing this, because studies have shown that lighter colors will help get you in a good mood. However, in Scotland, most homes have very dark colored walls. They are big fans of forest green, red, brown, and grey. Combined with a roaring fireplace, this dark and brooding color scheme is great for cuddling up with a book and getting ready to go to sleep.

Scots love to enjoy the outdoors when the weather is nice. Credit: Shutterstock

10. A Garden Seating Area

In the spring and summer months, people in the UK love to spend time out in the garden. No matter how small their backyard may be, people appreciate having any land at all, and will make sure to have a little seating area. Usually, small gardens will be well-maintained, and seating areas are big enough to fit all of your friends and family if you want to celebrate outdoors.

Sky Cottage in Loch Tay in Scotland. Credit: YouTube

9. Stone Siding

So far, all of our tips have been about the interior of a home, but the exterior will also have a huge impact on your houses’ vibe. Many Scottish homes have stone siding. This is iconic, and will help your home look like a country cottage, or maybe even a castle. In the photo above, you can see the blend of wooden siding, stone, and slate roof tiles. It looks quintessentially Scottish, and almost like something out of a fairytale.

Wallpaper in the bathroom can look lovely. Credit: The Chateau Diaries on YouTube

8. Wallpaper in the Bathroom

Normally, we would not recommend adding wallpaper to a bathroom, because the humidity may cause it to bubble and peel. However, this bathroom in Scotland is a great example of how it can be done correctly. Plain white tiles line the walls surrounding the tub, which will prevent any water from splashing on the wallpaper. And the dark blue and white pattern contrasts with the white.

Sometimes, matching the walls to the furniture can look beautiful. Credit: The Chateau Diaries on YouTube

7. Furniture Matches the Walls

Normally, painting your walls the same color as the furniture runs the risk of being too matchy-matchy. But sometimes, it can truly look stunning. Take the photo above for example- The sherbet colored walls match the couch perfectly, but it is accented with a print curtain, wood furniture, and gold accents. What may feel too heavy in some homes is balances beautifully with the antique Scottish furniture.

William Morris wallpaper adds a flare of elegance and excitement to a room. Credit: Pinterest

6. William Morris Prints

If you are going to put up wallpaper in a home, you should stop and consider the design, first. William Morris was a print maker from England who became famous for his wallpaper and textile designs. His prints can be found all over fine Scottish homes. Normally, a room that is fully wallpapered might feel overbearing, but there is something truly eye-catching about Morris prints that turn a room into an amazement. If you are interested to know more about Morris prints, check out the book called William Morris Textiles.

A Multi-purpose bathroom maximizes the space. Credit: TreeHugger.com

5. Multi-Purpose Bathrooms

In older Scottish homes, you may be surprised to see the mix of furniture in kind of an odd order. There is a wood stove with tea kettles on top, a sink, shower, toilet, and claw foot tub all crammed into the same space! Years ago, it was far more convenient to have everything together, since there was just one bathroom in the house, or “water closet”, instead of dividing up your various styled bathrooms in different spaces.

In older UK homes, there is a sink in the bathroom. Credit: The Chateau Diaries on YouTube

4. A Sink in the Bedroom

Having a sink in the bedroom is very old-fashioned in European homes. Nowadays, many modern home owners choose to remove the sinks, because they would rather keep everything in the bathroom. Maybe it was convenient, and the idea of having a sink in the bedroom is intriguing. If you ever want to wash your face, hands, or need a drink of water in the middle of the night, it’s right there! Nowadays, this seems to be a bit silly. We don’t recommend doing it, but it does show up a lot in Scotland.

Sometimes, homes in Scotland will have French inspiration blended with items from the UK. Credit: The Chateau Diaries on YouTube

3. French Inspiration

Even in a Scottish home, there will be inspiration from other countries in Europe. For years, the United Kingdom has taken inspiration from France, because their style is truly decadent. In the photo above, you can see the French inspiration in the Rococo headboard and the toile wallpaper. But then you still have the Scottish style family portraits of children, and the dark wooden furniture. It is perfectly fine to mix and match cultural inspiration as you go along.

Many Scottish country homes make sure to appreciate the views. Credit: YouTube

2. Appreciate the Views

One of the great appeals of going to Scotland is seeing the wide open spaces, and the beautiful lochs. If you happen to live in the country, and you have beautiful things to look at too, don’t hide it away with curtains. Open your windows and experience the outdoors as often as possible. If you live in the city, maybe consider putting up a piece of artwork that reminds you of nature, instead.

Whiskey is popular in Scotland. Credit: Shutterstock

1. Whiskey Decanters

Scots are famous for drinking, and whiskey is often the liquid of choice. There are some great distilleries in Scotland that are worth checking out during your stay. If you want to bring that element into your own home, consider purchasing vintage whiskey decanters, and keep them on display for an at-home bar. If you plan to be in Scotland any time soon, check out the list of 9 best distilleries to visit from The Culture Trip.