Xanthe Weir’s collection of furniture and artworks fits elegantly into her Edinburgh townhouse
‘WE FELL in love with the scale of the houses in this city,” says Xanthe Weir of the move she, her husband and their three children made from Belsize Park in London to Edinburgh in the summer of 2013. “The house we finally settled on was perfect for us in every way. Its size, the garden and the proximity to the city centre was just what we were looking for.”
As Xanthe, who worked as the marketing manager for Paul Smith and who recently launched the furniture and lighting shop and online business Lair, and her husband are from Scotland, the move to Edinburgh was a natural one. With three children, Imogen, now 16, and twins Mack and Calypso, both 11, to consider, timing was important. “Due to Imogen being about to start her GCSEs, it was now or never,” says Xanthe.
A powerhouse of fresh ideas and professionalism, Xanthe arrived in Edinburgh determined to set up Lair, a business based on her passion, mid-20th century furniture and design.
Having gleaned some of her knowledge from the fashion designer Sir Paul Smith himself, an avid art and furniture collector, Xanthe bought initially for her own home. “By the time we left London our four-bedroom apartment couldn’t accommodate another Murano vase let alone a couple of Italian sideboards,” she says.
The move to a Georgian townhouse in Edinburgh solved the problem. Xanthe’s collection of predominantly French, British and Italian furniture slid into place to create elegant, polished reception rooms with just the right amount of irreverence.
Sanded wooden floors, pale walls and shutters on windows allow the contents to be noted, not the décor. However, until Xanthe found a permanent showroom the furniture had a habit of moving on. “We used it as and when it was needed and then when a buyer came along, I sold it. Our house looked like we were permanently either moving in or moving out, with big gaps for furniture,” she says.
Launching Lair as a ‘pop-up’ shop at contemporary art gallery Arusha Gallery in Edinburgh at the end of May last year was a success and led Xanthe to test the waters further with a follow on ‘pop up’ shop in Glasgow. Having proved that there was a demand for this kind of business Xanthe opened a permanent Lair at 17 Dundas Street in Edinburgh.
“After 18 months of research, the success of the online business and two pop up shops, we are delighted to have a permanent home for Lair. So far business is going well. The French and Italian furniture of this period is much bigger and grander than the Scandinavian of the same period but large Scottish houses can cope. It also has a bit more bling, something that, probably because of my Glasgow roots, especially appeals to me,” says Xanthe.
She intends to collaborate with other specialists and include more taxidermy and curios together with relevant literature into the Lair fold. “We will hopefully bring in some amazing finds from around the world. Whilst the business is based in Edinburgh, I believe that there is a demand for my business further afield as well,” she says.
Together with the furniture that has finally found a place in her home, Xanthe has lovingly collected beautiful paintings throughout her time living in Hong Kong and London. Treasured pieces are comfortably displayed on the large walls of the family’s first floor drawing room with its views out over the city to the Forth Bridge and Fife. The house was built in 1819 for a whisky merchant who wanted to watch his ships coming up the Forth to the warehouses.
Behind the drawing room is the master bedroom and en-suite bathroom overlooking the garden, while upstairs on the top floor are three more bedrooms and a bathroom for the children. On the ground floor is a large dining room, perfect for entertaining visiting friends and family. A spacious contemporary dining kitchen behind has double doors which open out into the garden.
“At the top of the garden is a hidden doorway that leads into a beautifully kept private communal garden which, for both the children and our new puppy, is another reason to love this house,” says Xanthe.
“Moving from London to Edinburgh was a big decision but a great one. It is, I am sure, mainly due to this wonderful house. Immediately it gave the whole family a real sense of home.”
• Lair is open at 17 Dundas Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6QG; www.yourlair.co.uk