With a basement designed to delight visiting grandchildren, Pat and Nigel Sharp didn’t overlook the rest of their Edinburgh townhouse when it came to creating an elegant grown-up space
When Pat and Nigel Sharp took their property off the rental market, they had a lot of fun creating a home that would suit them and their grandchildren. Nigel’s career with Ford Motor Company has taken the couple around the world, but they’ve always had a UK base and this townhouse in Edinburgh suited them perfectly. Although they have owned the property for 18 years, it has been rented to a number of tenants, so when they decided to make it their permanent home, they chose to give it an upgrade, which took a year.
“We have done work to the property before,” Pat recalls. “When we bought the house it had been a repossession. It was missing many of the Georgian period features and there was Artex and hessian wallpaper,” Pat says.
“This time around we not only wanted to change the décor, but also the layout and we really wanted to make the most of the garden, so we got in touch with Tremmel Properties. After a meeting with Ron Tremmel, he agreed the property did indeed need some tightening up and they set to work.”
The ‘tightening up’ included restoring the period features, reconfiguring the kitchen layout, refurbishing the four bathrooms and redecorating throughout. This new layout also gave Pat the opportunity to put into practice her plans for the basement. As a former estate agent, Pat’s ideas for the space were two-fold.
“Ron was keen for us to locate the main kitchen in the basement as traditionally that’s where it should be, but I’m not of that mindset, and I knew if I had to run up and down stairs to the dining room we’d never use it. I also wanted somewhere for my granddaughters [aged 3 and 4] to come and play, and do what they liked. The basement truly is their space. I have a lot of nice things in my house and I didn’t want to be saying ‘don’t touch, be careful’ – down here they can do what they like. Thinking about resale, I put on my estate agent’s hat and designed the basement level so that it is a self-contained, separate flat, although at the moment it is very much part of our home. It has two bedrooms, a bathroom and a large living space, so it could easily be a nanny, granny or office space.”
The kitchen downstairs is a new room created after demolishing an offshoot, which many of these Georgian properties have. “We negotiated with the planners that if we knocked it all down and started again, it could be slightly larger and it also gave us more space for the terrace off the kitchen upstairs,” says Pat. “We’ve managed to maximise the natural light and the courtyard outside is so sheltered the girls love it. I’ve fitted little twinkle lights in the paving stones and at night it’s magical.”
The basement level was also Pat’s chance to have some fun with contemporary interior décor. “There were no period features to retain, so I chose to go ultra-modern. The mural in the dining space is called ‘Winter Garden’, which I bought online and chose because the planners wouldn’t let us have a conservatory. The large tropical fish tank is another eyecatching feature, adding to the feel of a garden room.
Upstairs the look is more in keeping with a traditional Georgian property with a contemporary twist. Designing the curved kitchen wasn’t easy as it had to be bespoke, but, teamed with the Chinese teapot wallpaper, the effect is stunning.
“I did spend a lot of time on the internet looking at wallpaper,” Pat says. And it wasn’t just the wallpaper she wanted to get just right. Pat sourced the mahogany for the top floor as well as the greenheart wood used in the dining room from a reclamation yard in Ireland, and when attempts to restore the archway in the hall didn’t look right she liaised with William Boyle Interiors in Glasgow to create a new one.
Pat’s passion for this property doesn’t just involve the interior. The garden has had a makeover too. On top of the basement kitchen is a stylish terrace. “I think there must be many hidden gardens in Edinburgh just like this. We did have to remove tonnes of earth to create it, but now it’s a wonderful space.
“I always think it’s a privilege to live in a house like this and really we’re just passing through. Ultimately we know that this is a house for young legs, but until we find our dream penthouse – with a lift – we’ll continue to enjoy it.”
Tremmel Properties (0131-226 7518, www.tremmelproperties.com)