Sometimes a property sale can fall through with the best possible results. In 2013, Simon and Jo Wigglesworth were looking for a larger home suitable for starting a family.
They were living in Fettes Row in Edinburgh’s New Town at the time and their careers were in the city; Simon works as a chartered financial planner and Jo is a radiologist at the royal infirmary but like many couples on the cusp of parenthood, they decided that a move out of the city centre was in order.
However, having made their decision they encountered a few setbacks.
They were outbid on a property in Cramond and when they eventually found another they liked, this time in Morningside, they successfully bid for it only for the sale to fall through at the last minute.
Simon says: “We were actually heading off to my brother’s wedding in the US for two weeks at the time and because the owners decided they didn’t want to sell, we didn’t have anywhere to live on our return.”
Fortunately a kind friend with a large property in Abercromby Place offered them space and what started out as a stop-gap stay turned into a five-month sojourn which allowed them to rethink what they really wanted.
“It worked out well as it allowed us to realise we weren’t ready to give up living in the centre,” says Simon.
The couple had seen a flat in Scotland Street which they had discounted as needing too much work.
But after it languished on the market for some months there was a price drop and although their previous experience of doing up flats amounted to no more than putting in a new kitchen or bathroom, they decided to take the plunge.
Jo says: “It needed much more than redecoration to make the most of it. It needed a full structural reconfiguration.”
The existing small kitchen was in one corner of the flat, while the dining room was diagonally opposite, with the bedrooms in between.
Simon says: “We wanted to make the layout make sense and to create a much more communal dining kitchen too.”
By taking the kitchen out of a small room, which became bedroom three, and putting it into the former master bedroom, they not only created more room for cooking but looked to link the new dining kitchen to the drawing room next to it.
Simon says: “We had a bit of a discussion with planners on our hands, because they didn’t initially favour giving permission for the double doors between the two but some of the original decorative cornicing suggested that there may well have been door there when the house was built.
“Our architect went through the archives and found the application for planning permission to block off the opening in the 1870s so it became a case of reinstating the doors.”
Linking the two public rooms has made a huge difference to the flat and created a big social space at its heart.
During the building work they also added an ensuite bathroom for the master bedroom and put a shower room in what used to the be old kitchen’s utility.
The work has been substantial; one of the problems they discovered was that the plaster was detached from the walls, so the flat had to be replastered.
Jo says: “I was pregnant throughout the work and had horrendous morning sickness set off by the dust so my help was largely given at a distance.”
The couple moved out and stayed with relatives while the majority of the work was carried out.
By the time they got round to decorating the third bedroom, it had become a nursery for their son Hamish born 15 months ago, just after they moved back in.
One of the things that had sold the flat to Simon and Jo was the size of the rooms, which are bright and airy with high ceilings. The entrance hall alone is the size of some new-build apartments.
The reconfiguration has made it a home worthy of the 21st century but having caught the renovation bug they are now looking for a long term project.
They are still staying in the city however, Jo says: “I think at heart we are townies and love being within walking distance of everything.
“We thought we would have to move out when we started a family but this place has shown us that we don’t.”
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