DCSIMG

Interiors: When the Monteith-Manns bought a 1930s house they set about giving the place a bright new future

Photography: Square Foot Media

Photography: Square Foot Media

This had clearly been a much loved family home,” Shân Monteith-Mann reflects, recalling her first visit to this three-bedroom 1930s detached house at Greenbank Grove on Edinburgh’s south side nearly eight years ago.

“I think when you walk into a house for the first time, you do get a feel for a place.” Shân and her husband and twin sons had been living in a flat in the city’s Bruntsfield area when they decided the time had come to upscale to a family house.

“Coming here as a family, we loved the space and views,” she says, and little wonder as the front of the house gives a fantastic vista towards the Pentlands, while the master en suite looks out towards Craiglockhart Hill. “There’s so much more sky here,” Shân says. “From the outset we could picture ourselves living here, although we knew the house would need a bit of tweaking.”

The Monteith-Mann family moved in at the beginning of May and lived in the house as it was until the following spring, getting a feel for the spaces and for how the house functioned – and for those areas that didn’t. “The house had lovely original features which we were keen to keep, but it needed to be brought up to date for the way people live now,” Shân reflects. “We aimed to modernise this house while keeping its integrity.”

Crucial to this was reconsidering how the existing spaces worked. Previously, the kitchen was accessed from the hallway and was a separate room, while the combined living and dining room at the rear of the house had been used as a sitting room, leaving the bay-windowed sitting room at the front of the house under-used.

The couple improved this arrangement by opening up the wall that separated the kitchen from today’s dining and sitting room, transforming the feel of both spaces but in particular the kitchen, which suddenly seemed much bigger and brighter. The door from the kitchen into the hallway was replaced with a panel of glass bricks, which in turn pulls daylight into the hallway.

Glass features again within the kitchen where the glazed wall cabinets provide great storage without feeling “heavy” within the space. The couple mixed materials here, combining cabinets in white and stainless steel with a bespoke stainless steel worktop that extends along one side of the space. The timber worktop opposite frames the hob and wraps round the dividing wall into the dining area – a subtle touch that enhances the connection between the two zones. As Shân points out, the stainless steel worktop is three metres long: for all that this kitchen once felt compact, it’s actually a good size to work in. “We have friends who are chefs and they love it,” she says.

The dining space reflects the eclectic style that extends throughout this home. The dining furniture has a subtle Danish aesthetic but turns out to be vintage Habitat – as Shân says: “We thought the table looked quite Fifties” – while the cream, button-back Ikea sofa recalls the iconic sofas from the lounge collection designed by Florence Knoll in 1954. The red oval table is a genuine 1950s piece that Shân unearthed from her parents’ garage, while the gilt-framed antique mirror is another heirloom that reflects the old-meets-new aesthetic.

The built-in shelves that extend along one wall here are also bespoke and the books and magazines and mementoes that fill the shelves add colour to the predominantly pale palette.

The shelving also conceals the staircase that leads to the master suite above – indeed, walking around this house, you might never register the presence of this staircase. Although the attic had already been converted when the couple bought the house, there was scope for improvement, and this area was reconfigured to create today’s master suite. Storage was built into the eaves – other than the bed, there’s no need for additional furniture to eat into the floor space – and Velux rooflights drench both the bedroom and the en suite bathroom in light, while affording those views.

The en suite was created from a former study, and additional space was reclaimed when the old water tanks were removed, leaving enough room for a large bath. “Having the bath just makes this space feel more luxurious,” Shân observes. The couple sourced the chalky matt Italian mosaic tiles and combined these with Vitra fittings for an understated contemporary look, while another antique mirror provides that stylistic twist. As Shân says: “This is the space I’ll really miss when we leave. It’s so private here, you can bathe under the stars.”

The bathroom on the ground floor was also completely overhauled to include a new bath, shower and flooring, and with tongue-and-groove panelling reinstated along one wall. Oak flooring was laid throughout the ground level with carpeting in the remaining two bedrooms, and the whole house was redecorated in subtle tones from Farrow & Ball that suit the age and character of the property.

The couple also did some research when sourcing a fireplace for the sitting room in order to find something appropriate for the period, and chose today’s cast iron surround to complement the original hearth. “The original fireplace would probably have been a bit larger than this one and in wood, so we kept with the style and shape, but these proportions work better without dominating the room,” Shân explains.

Again the sitting room displays a mix of periods and styles, from the original teak Mackintosh sideboard to the retro coffee table, to a chair that originally belonged to Shân’s great-grandmother. “Each house you move to, you’re taking the same pieces with you, so hopefully the things we like would work equally well whether it was a Victorian space or something ultra-modern,” she says.

The couple also extended the living space out from the house in the form of a large split-level deck that appears to float over the garden. The tongue-and-groove panelled sunroom that gives access onto the deck was already here, but as this street sits on a slight hill, thereby elevating the house slightly, stone steps previously led to the garden. Shân has family living near Seattle and used to spend summers there as a teenager, and the large deck on the house there provided the catalyst for this version.

The split-level design has created, in effect, two extra “rooms” that come into their own during the warmer months. “We use this space whenever we can, even if it’s just sitting outside with a cup of coffee,” she says. The dark-stained timber adds a contemporary accent to the rear of the house. As Shân says: “If you’re doing something modern, why not celebrate the fact it’s modern?”

Now, after eight years here and with the couple’s sons having left home, it’s time for a new venture. The Monteith-Manns can leave in the knowledge that they have given this 1930s house a fresh lease of life. This had clearly been a much loved family home,” Shân Monteith-Mann reflects, recalling her first visit to this three-bedroom 1930s detached house at Greenbank Grove on Edinburgh’s south side nearly eight years ago. “I think when you walk into a house for the first time, you do get a feel for a place.” Shân and her husband and twin sons had been living in a flat in the city’s Bruntsfield area when they decided the time had come to upscale to a family house.

“Coming here as a family, we loved the space and views,” she says, and little wonder as the front of the house gives a fantastic vista towards the Pentlands, while the master en suite looks out towards Craiglockhart Hill. “There’s so much more sky here,” Shân says. “From the outset we could picture ourselves living here, although we knew the house would need a bit of tweaking.”

The Monteith-Mann family moved in at the beginning of May and lived in the house as it was until the following spring, getting a feel for the spaces and for how the house functioned – and for those areas that didn’t. “The house had lovely original features which we were keen to keep, but it needed to be brought up to date for the way people live now,” Shân reflects. “We aimed to modernise this house while keeping its integrity.”

Crucial to this was reconsidering how the existing spaces worked. Previously, the kitchen was accessed from the hallway and was a separate room, while the combined living and dining room at the rear of the house had been used as a sitting room, leaving the bay-windowed sitting room at the front of the house under-used.

The couple improved this arrangement by opening up the wall that separated the kitchen from today’s dining and sitting room, transforming the feel of both spaces but in particular the kitchen, which suddenly seemed much bigger and brighter. The door from the kitchen into the hallway was replaced with a panel of glass bricks, which in turn pulls daylight into the hallway.

Glass features again within the kitchen where the glazed wall cabinets provide great storage without feeling “heavy” within the space. The couple mixed materials here, combining cabinets in white and stainless steel with a bespoke stainless steel worktop that extends along one side of the space. The timber worktop opposite frames the hob and wraps round the dividing wall into the dining area – a subtle touch that enhances the connection between the two zones. As Shân points out, the stainless steel worktop is three metres long: for all that this kitchen once felt compact, it’s actually a good size to work in. “We have friends who are chefs and they love it,” she says.

The dining space reflects the eclectic style that extends throughout this home. The dining furniture has a subtle Danish aesthetic but turns out to be vintage Habitat – as Shân says: “We thought the table looked quite Fifties” – while the cream, button-back Ikea sofa recalls the iconic sofas from the lounge collection designed by Florence Knoll in 1954. The red oval table is a genuine 1950s piece that Shân unearthed from her parents’ garage, while the gilt-framed antique mirror is another heirloom that reflects the old-meets-new aesthetic.

The built-in shelves that extend along one wall here are also bespoke and the books and magazines and mementoes that fill the shelves add colour to the predominantly pale palette.

The shelving also conceals the staircase that leads to the master suite above – indeed, walking around this house, you might never register the presence of this staircase. Although the attic had already been converted when the couple bought the house, there was scope for improvement, and this area was reconfigured to create today’s master suite. Storage was built into the eaves – other than the bed, there’s no need for additional furniture to eat into the floor space – and Velux rooflights drench both the bedroom and the en suite bathroom in light, while affording those views.

The en suite was created from a former study, and additional space was reclaimed when the old water tanks were removed, leaving enough room for a large bath. “Having the bath just makes this space feel more luxurious,” Shân observes. The couple sourced the chalky matt Italian mosaic tiles and combined these with Vitra fittings for an understated contemporary look, while another antique mirror provides that stylistic twist. As Shân says: “This is the space I’ll really miss when we leave. It’s so private here, you can bathe under the stars.”

The bathroom on the ground floor was also completely overhauled to include a new bath, shower and flooring, and with tongue-and-groove panelling reinstated along one wall. Oak flooring was laid throughout the ground level with carpeting in the remaining two bedrooms, and the whole house was redecorated in subtle tones from Farrow & Ball that suit the age and character of the property.

The couple also did some research when sourcing a fireplace for the sitting room in order to find something appropriate for the period, and chose today’s cast iron surround to complement the original hearth. “The original fireplace would probably have been a bit larger than this one and in wood, so we kept with the style and shape, but these proportions work better without dominating the room,” Shân explains.

Again the sitting room displays a mix of periods and styles, from the original teak Mackintosh sideboard to the retro coffee table, to a chair that originally belonged to Shân’s great-grandmother. “Each house you move to, you’re taking the same pieces with you, so hopefully the things we like would work equally well whether it was a Victorian space or something ultra-modern,” she says.

The couple also extended the living space out from the house in the form of a large split-level deck that appears to float over the garden. The tongue-and-groove panelled sunroom that gives access onto the deck was already here, but as this street sits on a slight hill, thereby elevating the house slightly, stone steps previously led to the garden. Shân has family living near Seattle and used to spend summers there as a teenager, and the large deck on the house there provided the catalyst for this version.

The split-level design has created, in effect, two extra “rooms” that come into their own during the warmer months. “We use this space whenever we can, even if it’s just sitting outside with a cup of coffee,” she says. The dark-stained timber adds a contemporary accent to the rear of the house. As Shân says: “If you’re doing something modern, why not celebrate the fact it’s modern?”

Now, after eight years here and with the couple’s sons having left home, it’s time for a new venture. The Monteith-Manns can leave in the knowledge that they have given this 1930s house a fresh lease of life.

 

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