A former confectionary shop in North Edinburgh reveals a tasteful and inventive family home, finds Kirsty McLuckie
In terms of surprises, the unassuming house that lies at 2 Craighall Avenue in Trinity, Edinburgh, has a lot of tricks up its sleeve.
Owner Sondra Mahoney-Muir says that she was unimpressed with the first picture she saw of it in a link to an estate agent’s website her husband, Alex Muir, sent.
She recalls: “The fact is that from outside it doesn’t look like much, and I was really not sure until I saw the interior photos and understood that it opens out into a much larger property at the back.”
The detached suburban house is indeed an unassuming box from the street view, and started life as a modest sweet shop serving the pupils of Trinity Academy across the road.
The property was originally converted to residential use in the 1980s, but did not take on its current form until 2006, when it was bought, extended and renovated by architects Charlie and Melanie Sutherland as their own home.
Alex and Sondra bought it in 2017 and Alex says: “Although the square footage isn’t phenomenal it is just a perfect use of space and you never feel cramped.
“It has so many wonderful architectural features, such as the way the windows line up and the view from one room into the next, it is really special.”
Alex is a data architect and works from home but the couple have travelled extensively – Sondra is American and French – and they have picked up an eye for good design.
Alex says: “We lived in Scandinavia and really like the feel of houses there, which this house definitely has a feel
of – particularly with the wood-burning stove which we use most days. It creates a definite feeling of hygge.”
The main living space is on the first floor and is open-plan, with a large sitting room, kitchen and dining area.
The room is double-height and has beautiful exposed beams and roof windows, so the whole area is infused with light but retains a sense of privacy.
Alex’s office is to the front and has the only window overlooking the street and is used as a fourth guest bedroom when required.
He says: “You can open up the double doors to the living space and, with an adjustment of the light, it is
“It means the whole house is a really sociable space, where I can work, Sondra is perhaps cooking, and the children are doing their homework.”
The couple’s offspring are Alice, 14, and Benjamin, eight. His favourite part of the house is the view of the adjacent Victoria Park, and he has had to be dissuaded from knocking a hole in the fence to speed up access.
The ground floor has three bedrooms, all with floor-to-ceiling glass doors leading out on to a decked terrace in the enclosed garden at the back.
The garden area is low-maintenance but offers a pretty spot for barbecues and lunches outside.
In their time here, Alex and Sondra have replaced the kitchen, to create a central island for dining, and taken out all the carpets to replace them with hardwood floors.
They have also continued to make the most of the space available. Both children’s bedrooms have mezzanine-style built-in beds with desks underneath.
The main bathroom is between bedrooms two and three, while the master bedroom has its own ensuite and a bank of built-in wardrobes.
A quirky feature is the painted stairs, numbered in French.
For their next move, the family are looking to stay in the Trinity area, which they describe as a great spot with the Shore close by and the city easily accessible, but perhaps take on a renovation project of their own.
And this new project will almost certainly take inspiration from the house at Craighall Avenue.
Alex says: “We are looking for somewhere with that mix of quirkiness and function, with this much light and also close to the park, but we realise that finding somewhere that suits us will be quite a challenge.
“I have a feeling that this house has spoiled us a bit.”
Offers over £495,000, contact Simpson and Marwick on 0131-525 8600