Transforming a tired drawing room flat in Glasgow’s West End took a little longer than Matt and Laura Paton envisaged, but their chic apartment was worth the wait
MATT Paton could clearly see potential in the tired and broken apartment he bought in Glasgow’s West End in May last year. Walls were crumbling, there were exposed electrical wires and both the plumbing and heating systems needed to be ripped out, but he could still envisage the chic, two-bedroom Victorian flat he now shares with his wife, Lauren.
As project manager with Chelsea McLaine interior designers, he steers clients through the planning, building warrant and listed building consent processes, so he wasn’t disheartened in the least by the condition of the B-listed, first floor, drawing room apartment. Nevertheless, the couple, who married in May, took a hands-on role during the renovation – while also planning their wedding.
“The flat was in a pretty terrible condition but I thought it was amazing the first time I came in,” laughs Matt. “In my work I do a lot of renovation projects but this flat was pretty bad. I believe about 50 people viewed it and we were the only people who made an offer. As I’ve done a lot of renovations for clients I realised what needed done – I don’t think Lauren quite realised though. I told her we would be living here within three weeks but it was six months before we were able to move in, and it was far from finished even then. She still agreed to marry me though.”
He adds: “The first bit of work we had to do was structural. There were four walls that were almost falling down. We had to strip them all back and put in several supporting lintels and timber beams to make them safe and secure. Then we tackled the electrics and plumbing – quite often plaster would come off a wall and we would find a live cable tucked behind which was a major fire risk. Eventually we had to switch all the electrics and gas off as it was too dangerous and we ran an extension cable from a neighbour’s flat so we could have light at night as we were doing all this after our day jobs. We did a lot of work ourselves to keep costs down.”
The heating and plumbing systems were replaced, windows were returned to double glazed timber sash and case units and walls knocked down to create an open plan kitchen, living and dining room with magnificent bay window. False ceilings were removed to reveal original cornicing and plasterwork, including an archway in the hall. The couple even moved a wall six inches to make the space flow better.
However, a second sitting room was so vast – 7m by 8m – that Matt and Lauren decided to subdivide it, creating a master bedroom, en suite, utility room, cloakroom and a mezzanine study. Their attention to detail is to be applauded, with deep skirtings continued onto the ‘pod-like’ division and the clever use of a glass sliding door to conceal the en suite.
“With the amount of space we have and being in such a great part of the West End, I wanted to spec the flat to a high standard and felt we could afford the luxury of creating two en suites,” admits Matt.
He enlisted the help of a cabinetmaker to bring his vision for the kitchen to reality – with high gloss, white units, white glass worktops and backlit splashbacks, with a backlit glass shelving unit adding depth to the space.
“The kitchen had a small doorway off the drawing room and was quite dark with no natural light,” says Matt. “The ceiling had been lowered too so it was very claustrophobic. We took the whole wall down and made it open plan. I got one of the cabinetmakers I work with involved and he came up with lots of ideas. Lauren and I like cooking, so we took a bit of time working on the layout – it works really well and is a real cook’s kitchen.”
When it came to the interior of the apartment, the couple naturally turned to Matt’s mother Margot Paton, who founded Chelsea McLaine 20 years ago, for advice. She helped add a feeling of intimacy to the huge kitchen and living space with a Designers Guild wall covering within the drawing room panelling, and a striking Brian Yates wallpaper from the Marrakech collection on the rear kitchen wall. The colours blend well with the couple’s brown leather and linen sofas.
The hallway has been painted Zoffany’s Victorian Purple, with the detailed plasterwork highlighted, while Osborne & Little’s holographic Komodo wallpaper was used in the guest en suite, accentuating the freestanding bath. In the master bedroom, a soft grey wallpaper from Designers Guild’s Kasuri collection was used as a backdrop, with the original panelling being used as a feature behind the bespoke Osborne & Little headboard.
“We all told Matt not to buy the apartment as it was in such a poor state of repair,” admits Margot. “He was confident he could sort it out though – and he was right. I’m really impressed by how they have used the space.”
Matt too is pleasantly surprised by how well the flat has turned out.
“When we were doing the work, I thought I would be most pleased with the kitchen, which is really nice, but the bit I am most happy with is the master bedroom,” he says. “We divided it up and made it a lot more useable. It has turned out much better than I thought it would. I see so many properties that have been subdivided and lost the original features but it was important to us to keep the original features and, where things had to be replaced, replace them with like for like and the best materials.
“We have a lot of bright colours but we wanted it to be a fun flat. We wanted to show the features and history of the building, but in a more modern context. It is just a fab flat to live in.”
• Chelsea McLaine (0141-942 2833, www.chelseamclaine.co.uk)
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