Interiors: 23 Saxe Coburg Place, Edinburgh

Buying a flat in Edinburgh was never a top priority for Ella and Finn McCreath, what with an organic dairy farm and four holiday cottages to run in a remote part of Galloway. "The idea seemed a bit of a fantasy," says Ella.

However, the couple regularly bring their four young children to Edinburgh and the notion of owning a bolt-hole they could let to holidaymakers, and occasionally utilise themselves, always lingered.

In the event, their purchase of a city pad last summer was not the result of meticulous planning. It happened instead quite spontaneously when, during a short break in the Capital, they spotted an apartment in one of the city's prettiest squares while browsing an estate agent's window.

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"We knew Saxe Coburg Place as we used to swim in the old Victorian pool there," says Ella. Finn persuaded her to take a quick look and a few days later they'd made an offer.

It's not difficult to imagine Ella's delight on stepping through the door of this first-floor Georgian apartment with its leafy views to private gardens in the middle of the square.

Buildings with a sense of history are her kind of thing. High Lodge, the first property the couple revamped on their Galloway farm was an old gamekeeper's cottage while the most recent, Cruggleton Lodge, is a Georgian building perched dramatically on a cliff edge.

Over the years Ella has honed a signature look for these properties – a melange of rusticity and sophistication – that reflects her rural lifestyle as well as the pleasure she derives from trips to the big smoke. This two-bedroom apartment, with high ceilings, vast original windows and working timber shutters presented her with a perfect canvas on which to project that style.

Of great appeal was the lack of structural or decorative work required here. Freshly painted and floored largely in solid oak, the apartment even had a smart kitchen in place, allowing Ella to concentrate on furnishings.

For the kitchen she bought a large dining table, chosen in part for its slightly rough, "unfinished" look, although another determining factor was its capacity to extend to ping-pong proportions, a feature her children adore.

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Her quirky design touches include wall-mounted images declaring "Love" and "Peace", from online shop, Pedlars.

"They're actually dishtowels I framed up," she says.

Her creativity is also on show in the bathroom where she jazzed up a roller blind with pom-poms and re-tiled a stainless steel splash back with pretty mosaics.

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Working with high-ceilinged rooms was a new experience for Ella and in the double bedroom she used an oversized headboard to balance the scale. Meanwhile, Finn used the height in the second bedroom (which has zip-link twin beds) to build a raised sleeping platform that allows all the children to squeeze in.

"That's only for our use," laughs Ella.

She felt the high walls could carry off pattern and chose a large dandelion wall sticker (from online store, Rocket St George) for the second bedroom. Views from this back bedroom stretch to the spire of Fettes College, while your gaze rests more immediately on the Victorian swimming pool next door.

"The pool was the deciding factor for Finn when we viewed the flat," says Ella.

Owned by Edinburgh Leisure (a charity that receives council funding), the pool was threatened with closure a few years ago but aggrieved locals had the decision reversed.

Reopening next Friday after extensive renovations, this public pool is a superb asset for guests to Ella and Finn's apartment. And it's fitting that the style of the refurbished pool is, like the apartment, mindful of its past; original Victorian features sit side by side bang up-to-date gym equipment and a sauna.

"We think guests will love the idea of taking a dip in the morning or relaxing in the sauna at night," says Ella. "Older children can use the pool on their own, allowing adults time to themselves."

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Both the double bedroom and living room are at the front of the building, with huge windows giving the sense that you are hovering over the gardens below.

"From the outside you notice these windows are not astragalled but from the inside the uninterrupted glass really integrates outside and in," says Ella; "It's lovely to lie in bed and gaze out at the trees. You can see the buildings behind peeking through, which I love."

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The couple bought the mirror and chest in the double bedroom a long time ago in Dumfries & Galloway.

"There are things we've had at home which seem suddenly to have found their place here," says Ella. She made the cushions on the bed, while the side tables were bought locally.

In the living room Ella introduced a large, gilt framed mirror above the marble fireplace, and with typical attentiveness promptly decided to have the former painted white.

"The gilt just looked too orange," she says.

This fireplace creates a lovely focal feature, and its mantelpiece provides a home to lamps from John Lewis. Ella fell for the patina effect on the glass lamp bases, complemented by candelabras found in TKMaxx.

A wall-mounted corner cupboard in this room is an antique piece from a shop in Dumfries & Galloway, and the still-life painting with dense shades of dark and green by Serena Rowe, a successful young artist from Dumfries, lived previously in the couple's home. "I'm a huge fan," says Ella.

Two stools, including one that's charmingly tattered and another Ella customised with ribbons, also came from the family home. One little side table was an eBay buy, while a striking black table featuring reliably sourced camel bone was an irresistible online buy from Graham & Green.

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She may have made several forays into self-catering accommodation, but Ella is hugely excited by the prospect of guests checking in to her first city bolt-hole.

"We're just thrilled with the place," she says.

For weekly lets and short breaks at 23 Saxe Coburg Place visit Edinburgh Holiday Accommodation,;

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• This article was first published in The Scotsman on Saturday, June 26, 2010