Anna Martin says she always fancied living in Edinburgh’s New Town, despite never having previous lived in the city.
“We knew it from holidays and so when we were trying to decide where we wanted to live a few years ago, it seemed the obvious choice,” she says.
Anna’s husband Andrew works in international development for the United Nations so having spent years moving from one location to another across Europe, three years ago they found themselves ready to pick a permanent UK base for their daughters, Lola and Rowan, ten and six.
“We knew Edinburgh had everything we wanted in terms of culture and entertainment, good schools and as we had always liked the Georgian architecture of the New Town, we rented at first in Gloucester Place to get to know the area,” says Anna.
“It was a lovely place but a double upper, and we have a dog to consider, so once we knew that this is where we wanted to stay, we started looking for something on the ground floor.”
The main door flat they found on Nelson Street might have been in an ideal situation but it had been let out, Anna thinks probably to students.
The interior was unimaginative, with magnolia walls and a basic kitchen and bathrooms.
All that has changed since the Martins took it on.
Anna says: “It had all the bare bones of a lovely place. We are used to working on our properties, we have done a couple before, in Europe, one in Ireland and a total redecoration of our last place in Kent.
“We don’t do it to sell on, we just really enjoy the process of designing and getting the most out of each.”
She says their nomadic lifestyle has definitely inspired their interior style. “I have travelled all my life, with my parents as a child and obviously since meeting Andrew, and I think interiors from all over the world give us both ideas.
“We also have an eclectic mix of furniture from all over the place, modern contemporary pieces that we have bought on our travels plus traditional furniture that has been handed down, so I really like creating a backdrop in which it all sits easily together.”
They have pieces such as a Moroccan rug which they commissioned in situ, alongside Indian and Scandinavian fabrics brought back from their source, but it all works to add to this bright, eye-catching home.
One of the most striking features of the flat is the bold colours on the walls that the couple have plumped for, but Anna says such big windows and high ceilings in this traditional Georgian home mean that the dimensions can carry off a darker colour.
“We worked closely with Farrow & Ball and took a lot of advice on colours and I’m really pleased with the way rooms such as the drawing room, with its blue walls, have turned out.”
It wasn’t all redecoration; the couple have had some major work done.
Most notably, at the back of the flat, where a long, thin kitchen existed, a smaller kitchen has made room for two new bathrooms, one of which is an ensuite to the master bedroom.
Anna says: “The kitchen wasn’t a great shape and squaring it off like this, adding an Aga and refitting it with painted units actually makes a much more usable space plus the size of flat meant it really needed extra bathrooms.”
The work was done room by room with the family living in the other parts so at times life has been dusty and disrupted. The couple employed tradesmen but also did some of the work themselves, pitching in with a paintbrush where necessary.
The flat is unusual in that it has its own front door, with a drawing room and sitting room either side, both with two large windows. The new layout has three bedrooms, two with ensuites and there is a family bathroom.
It is a roomy flat but the family now fancy a house, so they are moving on.
One thing they won’t be taking with them, however, is the delicate murals of Greek temples by Glasgow artist Jack Sloan that adorn the walls in the second bedroom.
They are just one of the touches that Anna and Andrew have added to make this home both exotic and very “Edinburgh”.
16 Nelson Street is priced at offers over
£775,000, contact Knight Frank on
0131 222 9600.