At home with: Julian Darwell-Stone

Pictures: Phil Wilkinson
Pictures: Phil Wilkinson
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Walking through the hallway, you enter into a split-level sitting, dining, kitchen and lounging space that is flooded with light from the twin sets of iroko-framed glazed doors that extend along the rear elevation, opening the back of the house on to the stone terrace and the garden beyond.

A utility room located off the kitchen acts as a link between this main part of the house and the guest suite, which again opens directly onto the garden. The only original rooms in this house – the rooms that were here when Julian bought the property nine years ago – are the master bedroom, a second guest bedroom, and the bathroom. Every other internal wall was removed as the inside of the building was scooped out and reconfigured to create today’s flowing, interconnected layout.



“I wasn’t looking for a project,” Julian reflects, “but I wanted something different.” When this property came on the market, he says: “I knew immediately. The house sat on this fantastic plot, with fantastic views, and had the potential to be really quite interesting. Years ago I saw a feature in an architectural magazine of a bungalow that had been refurbished, where it looked almost the same from the front while from the back it was very different. I’d always had this vision in mind.”

It helps that Julian is accustomed to the creative process and to visualising potential. As the managing director of Tangram in Edinburgh, Julian and his design team have built up an impressive portfolio of products – furniture, lighting and textiles - that are used in both domestic and commercial projects. Tangram supplied furniture and lighting for the Missoni Hotel when it opened in the city three years ago, and recent projects include the Quartermile development in Edinburgh and the refurbished National Museum of Scotland in Chambers Street, where the company supplied furniture for the gallery and library.

Julian now has a new venture as the owner of the just-launched Ligne Roset showroom in Edinburgh’s Jeffrey Street, which opened its doors on 1 November. While Tangram and Ligne Roset are separate businesses, as Julian says: “There are synergies between the two, and I’d like to think we’d be working together on some projects.”

When Ligne Roset were looking for a new investor in Scotland to take the company forward, leaving their previous store in Ocean Terminal, Julian recognised an opportunity when a new store unit became available on Jeffrey Street, just over the road from Tangram. “Maybe we can create a little bit of a design quarter with a concentration of high quality furniture and interiors businesses, where customers can come to Jeffrey Street and have an increased choice,” he says.



Julian first became aware of the brand 25 years ago, “long before I was involved in this industry, when I was living in Devon and there was a Ligne Roset store in Exeter,” he says. “I became aware of the aesthetic they were producing, and over the years we’ve had clients at Tangram who’ve bought from us and from Ligne Roset. In the last few years Ligne Roset have started working with designers like the Bouroullec brothers, and they’ve been doing Pierre Paulin products, all of which is making their portfolio really interesting in design terms.”

Turn the clock back to 2003 and Julian’s home was looking anything but interesting with its brown harling, small windows and pokey rooms. As Julian says: “I’d started redesigning the house in my mind before I’d even bought it.” Those concepts became reality when Julian brought on board architect Greg Browne of Faed Browne Architects (Greg is co-director of the practice with Andrea Faed), having worked together previously on a commercial project. Julian and Greg share a meticulous attention to detail, which was channelled into the radical transformation of this property.

“We spent up to 24 months working on the plans, really thinking about what I wanted and working together on various layouts,” Julian explains. It was time well spent as, six years on, this interior looks the same as when first completed. As Julian says: “We worked really hard at getting it right first time.”

Having previously lived in a Victorian terraced house, Julian relished the opportunity of creating an entirely contemporary living space. The lines are clean, from the crisp white kitchen to the large-profile stone floor tiles that extend throughout the main living space. The seating and dining areas are orientated around the Danish Hwan stove, while Julian’s pride and joy, the Estonia piano, is positioned by the window on the upper level with a view out towards Edinburgh Castle in the distance.



“It’s a very easy space to live in,” Julian agrees, “and very light.” Today’s house has resonances of the former bungalow having remained single-storey – although Julian has planning permission to extend into the roof space – while the new living space is arranged horizontally along the rear, rather than being formed by an outshoot into the garden. The design added 40 per cent on to the original living space, yet, from the front, you would never know.

Julian’s choice of furniture was as considered as the space itself and includes a number of contemporary design classics, including the Madame Lillie solid oak dining table by E15 and the 2CV dining chairs from Pallucco, along with the Metropolitan leather armchair by Jeffrey Bennett for B&B Italia. There are pops colour in a glossy red Intu cabinet by Niels Bendsten and the multi-hued Iria rug from Mobles 114.

Perhaps, in the not-too-distant future, new elements will be added to the mix from Ligne Roset. “We have several key pieces in the showroom that haven’t been seen in the store in Ocean Terminal,” Julian says, including the buttoned Ploum sofa, designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec; the highly flexible Mixte storage system designed by Mauro Lipparini; and the Okumi chair by Studio Catoir, the design of which is evocative of a kimono. As Julian says: “It’s a very complete collection so you can furnish your whole house, from furniture to lighting and accessories as well.”

And there are classics including the iconic Togo sofa, which was designed by Michel Ducaroy in the 1970s and remains as popular today. It’s little wonder that Julian is excited about this new venture – there’s simply so much great design here to get excited about. k

Visit the new Ligne Roset showroom at 12-14 Jeffrey Street, Edinburgh EH1 1DT (0131-555 0100,