Right royal makeover: Designer Cherith Harrison’s Edinburgh flat

Designer Cherith Harrison in her kitchen at home in Moray Park Terrace. Picture: Julie Bull
Designer Cherith Harrison in her kitchen at home in Moray Park Terrace. Picture: Julie Bull
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Making way for Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall’s Canongate Kirk wedding by changing their own was stressful for Cherith Harrison and Gregg Walter so returning from honeymoon to a renovated flat was just the ticket

IT IS every person’s dream to return from holiday to find their house has had a makeover, everything has been painted and decorated and all the newly purchased furniture is in place. This is precisely what happened to Cherith Harrison and Gregg Walter when they married on 30 July 2011 and went away on honeymoon for two weeks.

The spare bedroom. Picture: Julie Bull

The spare bedroom. Picture: Julie Bull

“We had a very stressful build-up to the wedding, which started with an urgent request from the Palace for us to change our choice of church. Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall wanted to get married at Canongate Kirk on the same day at the same time. After much discussion, we capitulated and chose instead to get married down the road at Greyfriars Kirk,” says Cherith.

In the end, Cherith and Gregg had a lovely wedding and great reception, then disappeared for two weeks on their honeymoon to Egypt – only to return to a perfect flat. It is an unpretentious top-floor, two-bedroom property with an attic that Cherith’s parents bought 14 years ago for their four children to share. The first family tenant was Cherith’s sister Shelley, closely followed by Cherith, who moved in as a graphic design student at Edinburgh College of Art. When Shelley moved out to get married, their brother Franklin moved in.

“I had lived in the flat for eight years, so when Gregg and I decided to get married it was assumed that we would move out of the flat and buy somewhere else. After months of searching and finding nothing the right size that we could afford, we decided that we really liked the layout of the flat, the outlook and the location so we asked my parents if we could buy it. With all their children grown up and settled, the answer was a fantastic yes,” says Cherith.

Whilst Cherith and Gregg were delighted to take possession of the property, years of student life had taken its toll. The flat was in desperate need of a complete refurbishment, including a new kitchen, bathroom, new floor coverings throughout, painting and decorating.

Despite having a full-time job as a graphic designer, Cherith has a home and giftware company under her maiden name, Cherith Harrison, where she sells illustrative tea towels, tote bags, mugs, bunting and cards that all feature her own original screen-printed artwork. To accommodate Cherith’s screen printing and her stock, the couple decided to turn the second bedroom into a studio with a day bed for the odd visiting guest.

“When we were planning the refurbishment of the flat, we decided that we would sacrifice the second bedroom for my studio and shelve the attic space for more storage. Before we were living with boxes and boxes of my stock everywhere, but now we can hide it away in the attic. That has probably been the best thing about staying in this flat. If we bought somewhere new, we would never have been able to afford to buy somewhere with so much storage space,” says Cherith.

With a wedding to plan, full-time jobs and Cherith’s mail order company to run, the couple were too busy to supervise the flat renovations before the wedding. They decided to organise for the work to be done whilst they were away on their honeymoon. They did, however, have to make the decisions about what they wanted before they went away.

Having done a lot of research, looking at magazines and design companies, the couple finally settled on a high-gloss kitchen with an acrylic splashback and dark wood worktops from In-Toto Kitchens. The rest of the building work was done by recommended local tradesmen. The old navy carpeting was replaced with dark wooden flooring throughout, with the exception of the bedroom and studio, which were carpeted in cream.

“It was so exciting to choose everything for the flat but the part that we enjoyed the most was putting together our wedding list at John Lewis. As we were starting from scratch, we chose everything that we could ever need – from wooden spoons to blenders to a sofa and armchair. We really did not expect to get any of the larger items, but my aunt, who lives abroad, bought us our sofa and the leather chair, and my brother and sisters clubbed together to buy us side tables,” says Cherith.

More than a year has passed since they got married and their home has continued to evolve, with bits and pieces added from forays on eBay, Gumtree or from their favourite shop, Friday Street in Portobello.

“I love things with a story or a bit of history, and Friday Street is full of interesting old things, says Cherith. “I like the story that our flat tells, with the original pieces of furniture that we inherited from my grandparents sitting side by side with our wedding present furniture – and tossed in to the mix my eBay and Gumtree bargains.”

With some thought and flair and a few impressive internet bargains, Cherith and Gregg have transformed a tired student flat into a comfortable first home.

• Cherith Harrison’s screen-printed gifts are available from www.cherithharrison.com or see them on facebook at 
www.facebook.com/CherithHarrisonHomeGiftware