It can take time to make a former rental property feel like home.
Emma and Pete Millar bought their second floor flat in Mardale Crescent in Merchiston in 2012 as their first home together after getting married.
Emma says: “It had been an HMO property, and as such it was a bit tired.
“The kitchen and bathroom weren’t great and although the previous owners had repainted it throughout with magnolia so it was neat and clean, it just didn’t feel very loved.”
The couple had set their hearts on the Bruntsfield or Merchiston areas. Pete grew up nearby but Emma is from the West Coast.
She says: “We wanted somewhere that was big enough for us to enjoy, but with a spare room for visitors.
“We also hoped to start a family of our own so a room for a nursery was in the back of our minds too.”
The flat at 28 Mardale Crescent has the spacious proportions of its Victorian design and the original features were intact, although they took some finding.
Emma says: “The fireplaces were mostly boarded up, but there weren’t any serious problems, the work needed was mainly cosmetic.”
The area was top of their wishlist because it is close to the restaurants and cafes of Bruntsfield and Morningside.
“I can’t think of anywhere in the city that I’d rather be as everything is on your doorstep and it is only 15 minutes into the city centre,” says Emma.
Both also are able to walk to work as they are employed in the financial sector at Tollcross.
On moving in, they tackled the work needed in the flat one room at a time, starting with the sitting room.
Emma says: “We took the carpet up and sanded the floors, reinstated the fireplace and then painted throughout.”
It is a large sunny room with high ceilings and an expansive bay window which easily houses a dining table.
A room just off it is now used as a box room study.
The two guest bedrooms, both doubles, were next and then they bit the bullet to replace the kitchen.
Emma says: “We thought long and hard about how we wanted it to work for us. The sink used to be at the window and a fireplace and boiler took up a large portion of one wall, so it really wasn’t making the best use of the space available.”
The boiler is now enclosed with a built-in bookcase in front. They can still get access to it when necessary, but the space isn’t wasted.
The window now houses a pretty window seat and table, while Pete’s hobby of baking meant they planned plenty of workspace into the design.
Most of the appliances are integrated and there is extra storage in the walk-in pantry.
It was during the kitchen renovation that they found out that Emma was expecting their first child.
She says: “It wasn’t great timing to have no kitchen for a couple of weeks when I wasn’t feeling great but it at least gave us a deadline to get all the work completed.”
When they moved in, the bathroom didn’t contain a bath, despite being a good size.
They replaced the double shower unit with a bath with shower overhead.
The last room to decorate was the nursery, which could equally be a third double bedroom.
The floorboards were replaced and the room repainted.
It was ready just in time for the arrival of Clara, now ten months.
Since Clara was born, the couple have discovered more advantages of the flat. Emma says: “Parking is easy because there are only houses on one side of the road, but we tend to walk everywhere with the pushchair. There are lots of baby groups and activities going on and the cafes are all family friendly.”
The shared garden space at the back is also useful. It is not divided but has a lawn, shrubs and a picnic table and children’s play area.
She says: “We have lovely neighbours and we all use the garden on a warm day – it is kept very neat and tidy.”
They are now moving on to find a garden of their own but both want to stay in the area.
Emma says: “It is a brilliant neighbourhood to bring up children and we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
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