CHRISTINE and Glenn MacLachlan loved their Stockbridge apartment in Edinburgh when they bought it, and after a wholesale redesign and redecoration, they love it even more
OFTEN, when someone explains why they redesigned their home, it’s because the ‘before’ version was tired and in dire need of change. This certainly wasn’t the case for Christine and Glenn MacLachlan, however, when they bought this property at 4 Carlton Street in Edinburgh’s Stockbridge area two years ago.
“The previous owner had done the house beautifully,” says Christine. “She had a really nice style and we loved the house when we bought it.”
So why change it? And by change we’re not simply talking redecoration: the only space that hasn’t been altered in some way in this ground and garden level apartment is the voluminous drawing room with its view onto the Georgian properties that line Carlton Street. The hallway has been opened up and a new staircase inserted, leading down to the garden level and up to a new mezzanine study area that was formed when the false ceiling was stripped out. The rear of the ground level has been reconfigured to create today’s open-plan kitchen and dining area – there was a dining area and kitchen here before, but the MacLachlans swapped the spaces over, creating a more generous cooking zone.
The entire garden level has also been reconfigured. Additional storage was created and a corridor removed, increasing the size of the smaller of two bedrooms at the front of this level, and a new utility room formed. The back of the garden level was completely re-jigged to create today’s master bedroom suite, and french doors now open onto a terrace that leads to the rear garden.
The couple, who live here with their daughters, Molly, 17, and Grace, 14, had not planned to tackle all this work. In fact, they bought the property intending to split their time between Edinburgh and another house in Perthshire, but ended up spending all their time in the city. As it was, Christine explains, the layout wasn’t ideal for a family of four with all the ‘stuff’ that a family accumulates.
“We realised if we reconfigured the garden level, added more storage, and gave everyone their own space, it would work much better,” she says. “And we like doing this. However nice a house is, we like putting our own stamp on a place.”
The family lived here for six months before moving out for the work to begin. Staying was never an option. Christine says: “Walls were being rebuilt; there was no kitchen, no staircase.” The couple had initially considered relocating the kitchen to the garden level and extending the property at the rear, but decided against this option. As Christine says: “We realised it was nice having all our living space on one level.”
Instead of extending to create the space they desired, the MacLachlans have achieved the same effect by reconsidering the space they had. Adding the French doors into the bedroom (replacing a window) has created the indoor-outdoor connection they wanted, while opening up the hallway has transformed the feel and flow of the interior.
“The original hallway felt small and the staircase had a different position,” Christine explains. Glenn is in the steel business and the new staircase was constructed (by Hepburn Fabrication Services) using steel from his company, combined with engineered walnut treads and a glass balustrade. “We wanted the rivets to be showing, and we wanted it to look like big chunks of steel,” Christine reflects of the slightly industrial styling, but this is counterbalanced by the walnut and glass.
Glenn’s company also supplied the steel for the base of the bespoke walnut-topped dining table that was designed to fit the new dining area. Relocating the kitchen from this space was instinctive as the couple wanted a bigger cooking zone with an island, while the dining area’s booth seating was an inspired touch. “It isn’t a huge dining area, but we can fit lots of people in here,” says Christine, who worked with Corrine Muir of Guardian Soft Furnishings in Stirling when choosing fabrics, including the alcantara on the booth seating, which was upholstered by the company. Combined with the Prandina pendants over the table and with coloured lighting spilling up the wall, this feels like being in a cool restaurant.
Lighting was a key consideration throughout the property, and the couple turned to lighting consultant Scott Ferrier of LightMedium, suggesting their own wish list of fittings which Scott then complemented, as with the elegant Dokka pendants suspended over the kitchen island.
After spotting the sculptural Castore suspension lights (by Artemide) that hang over the stairwell in a magazine, Christine was initially unsure whether they would work here and if the space was big enough. “Scott assured me it was, if they were hung properly,” she says, and these stunning fittings now add to the impact when walking in. As there is an integrated lighting system, the mood can be changed subtly throughout the day.
Glenn planned the kitchen layout with kitchen company Ekco, combining anthracite matt- finish cabinets with glossy white Corian worktops and a glass backsplash. It’s a sleek, cool kitchen with clever touches: the coffee machine slides out from a storage unit, so it’s easily accessible without always being on show.
As for the anthracite hue, the couple wanted to enhance the connection between the kitchen and the drawing room at the front of the flat, where the fireplace wall is painted in Farrow & Ball’s gorgeously rich Off-Black, with Stony Ground on the remaining walls. “We always have the doors open so, although separate, the colour flows through,” Christine says.
Downstairs in the master suite, the challenge lay in creating an en suite that would not only function well but also complement the bedroom thanks to the open-plan layout. “I never really fancied a contemporary bathroom, but then I don’t like a bathroom to be really traditional either,” Christine says. Instead she mixed aesthetics, combining a claw foot bath and traditionally-styled basin and shower head with chrome fittings, and with a simple sheet of glass rather than an enclosure defining the shower area. This showering zone is lined in slate tiles that have been cut into a simple brick formation.
The couple were able to use their existing furniture in the bedroom, including the overscaled padded headboard that was designed for a previous house, while the walnut furniture feels as if it was sourced to complement the walnut flooring. Christine is good at seeing something and visualising what she can do with it, be it a space or a detail: for example, a wall-mounted coat rack in the hallway was made using a strip of timber and decorative coat hooks from Graham & Green. “I don’t like rushing anything,” she says. “I’ll spend hours looking and deciding, and I know when something’s right.”
Now, the couple are gearing up to do it all again. “Sometimes you get a formula of things that work, and possibly because we move so much we don’t get tired of the formula,” Christine reflects. Saying that, nothing about the interior of this property feels even vaguely formulaic. k
• Offers over £750,000; contact CKD Galbraith (0131-240 6960, www.ckdgalbraith.co.uk)
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