In this imaginative Stockbridge conversion Tara Macdonald and Jamie Robertson have created a home with style, comfort and lots of space for all the family
ARRIVING outside 26-28 Dean Street in the heart of Edinburgh’s Stockbridge area, nothing about the exterior of this property prepares you for what is going on inside. You don’t expect to find a five-bedroom, four-bathroom house with some 4,400 sq/ft of living space, and you certainly don’t expect to find a loft-style interior.
Yet, centred around two voluminous living spaces bathed in light from glazed cupolas within the vaulted ceilings, there is a large seating area with a pool table, and mezzanine level dining-kitchen above and a family room with a mezzanine level snug.
First time visitors to the home of Tara Macdonald and Jamie Robertson experience that same sense of surprise at discovering this stunning and highly individual home. Tara and Jamie live here with their four children – Angus, seven, Molly, six, Kate, three, and eight-month-old Rosie – but when the couple first moved here 11 years ago, their lives, and this space, were very different.
When they bought number 28 Dean Street it was a two-bedroom apartment that had been developed by Sundial Properties. The property dates from the 1850s and had previously been occupied by The National Trust for Scotland as a warehouse space, although it is believed to have originally been a church hall.
“It was a great space for us,” says Tara of the vast living area, which, combined with a generous dining-kitchen, created a fantastic entertaining zone. From the outset the couple were thinking ahead. At the time, Sundial Properties had their office in the neighbouring building. “The week we bought the apartment, we went next door to the office and said, ‘If you ever consider selling, we’d like to know about it,’” Tara says.
The opportunity arose three years later when Sundial relocated its office to Charlotte Square, and the couple purchased number 26 Dean Street, which included a car park. They had the vision of redeveloping the property and joining it with their existing apartment to create today’s loft-style family home.
Jamie and Tara’s lives had already evolved with the arrival of Angus, and Tara was pregnant with Molly. “We were so happy to do this as we could imagine the space the kids would have to run around in,” Tara says.
Number 26 was stripped back to a shell, and rewired and re-plumbed before the new spaces were created. The couple worked with a friend, Kerr Blyth, of the design practice KBA+D.
The couple also tackled the former car park, creating a cool urban garden with a 39ft long patio to one side, and built a mews property that faces onto Dean Street, with a double garage at ground level and a self-contained three-bedroom flat above. (The garage belongs to number 26-28, while the flat is available for purchase by separate negotiation.)
Tara, who runs The Mews Company, offering luxury self-catering in Edinburgh mews houses, and Jamie, who works for a publishing company, moved out and rented a property nearby during the year-long project. “My background is in project management so I loved the process,” Tara says.
The existing living space evolved slightly as the couple added the industrial-style balustrade on the mezzanine level, making this area safe for the children, while one of the original two staircases leading up to this level was removed to open up the ground level and create an easy flow into the new family room.
Tara and Jamie understood the importance of considering the acoustics – and sound-proofing – so two sets of doors were added between the family room and the new bedroom spaces.
The master suite is a standout space with its walk-through dressing area leading to an en-suite clad in clay-toned tiles – picking up the colour of the built-in Italian wardrobes in the bedroom. Single LED lights are set into the mosaic tiling above the bath, creating a starry effect, and this idea is echoed in the master bedroom where the black leather headboard is inset into the wall and features button back detailing, arranged in an abstract pattern, including integrated LED lights.
The lofty ceiling heights throughout allowed the couple to get even more inventive when installing the ‘bedhouse’ into one of the two front bedrooms. The two-storey bedhouse was designed by an architect friend, Rob Bruce, and Molly has 26A, the sleeping zone on the ground level, while Angus has 26B, the sleeping zone ‘upstairs’. It’s a quirky, fun feature for the kids that also demonstrates the ingenuity that has gone into creating this unique home.
The family room includes a projection screen, and Sunday evenings typically involve having friends round for a movie night. The volume is particularly striking up on the mezzanine level, in the dining-kitchen space, which is big enough for two islands. The cherry wood detailing here is echoed below in the panelled wall that backs the seating area – one panel opens to reveal the doorway leading to the bedrooms behind – and the couple reflected this in the bespoke cabinetry they had made for the spaces.
The gleaming red light suspended over the pool table is by Mike Stoane Lighting. “It’s a modern interpretation of the traditional fringed lights you’d get above a pool table,” Tara says.
Having started as an off-white space, the couple have added colour over the years, with rich red feature walls picking up on the vibrant tone of the suspension light while complementing the warm mushroom colour that extends throughout, and the latter in turn complements the sandstone floor tiles within the main living space, which are combined with underfloor heating.
The super-sized modular sofas in the family room are contrasted with the clean, minimal lines of the Spanish sofas in the seating area, while the grey swivel chairs are original 1950s pieces that Tara received from her parents when they downsized. Rather than attempt to fill the floor space, the couple have relished the space itself – as have their children. “Something I hadn’t thought about at first was the way the kids would use the space. They can scoot around, they play tig; if it’s a rainy day and you’re inside, it’s a great space for the kids to be in,” says Tara. “It’s a playground.”
• Offers over £1,275,000; contact Knight Frank (0131-222 9600, www.knightfrank.com)
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