Adding family value in an Edinburgh West End home

Kitchen makeover led renovations which transformed a home in the Capital’s West End, says Kirsty McLuckie

In terms of floor space, the extension of the lower villa at 3/1 Wester Coates Terrace in the West End of Edinburgh can not have been the largest construction ever taken on by householders.The work, carried out three years ago, removed a stone wall on one side, pushed out the area of the kitchen from a narrow galley to a wedge shape and added sliding doors to the now diagonal room.

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The kitchen extension. Picture: Strutt and Parker

But in terms of balance of accommodation and ease of use, the extension and accompanying adjustments to the configuration inside has made a world of difference, according to owners Sophie and Stuart Gilmour.Sophie says: “There was a dining room and a small door into the galley kitchen. This led out to the garden, but both the kitchen and the garden were quite dark.”

The rest of the villa is very traditional with Victorian high ceilings and huge windows, so the kitchen layout was certainly outdated for a modern family.

The traditional sitting room. Picture: Strutt and Parker

When the Gilmours bought the property six years ago, they had one child, Leo, who is now nine. Daughter Gracie was born a week after they moved into the villa, so any thoughts of improvement projects were put off for a year or so.

The master bedroom. Picture: Strutt and Parker

Sophie says: “Our previous place was on the top floor, so this suited us so much better. But, we were aware that the kitchen was too small and that having a big space for the children to play, and a room that could open out to the garden, would make a real difference to the house and they way we use it.”

The dining area of the kitchen. Picture: Strutt and Parker

The extension was created by architects from Fine Designs in Dunfermline, and Sophie used a Fife-based friend from school, John Boag of Boag Builders, for the construction work. She says: “It can be risky employing friends, but actually it made the project much easier to manage. Fortunately, we are still friends – they did an excellent job.”As well as the extension, the wall between the dining room and the kitchen was taken down to open up the whole space at the back of the house.A roof light was added, as well as the glass doors, so from being quite a small, dark kitchen, the area now makes for a bright open-plan living space.The existing kitchen units, handmade from the Edinburgh Kitchen Company, were remodelled into new units complete with new worktops.

The bright hallway. Picture: Strutt and Parker

The whole process took about ten months, with the family moving out during the disruption – understandably, as Sophie was by this time expecting a third Gilmour, Arlo, who is now two and a half.The paved garden was underused before the renovation, as it was not child-friendly, but it has been redesigned with the help of a landscape gardener.Sophie had reservations about using artificial grass, but recommends it highly now. “On nice days we open up the doors right back and everyone is in and out all day, and we don’t have mud being tracked in at all.”The back garden is walled, so it is both sheltered and safe. The mature front garden is a lovely space too and perfect for coffee in the sunshine.

The sunny front terrace. Picture: Strutt and Parker

A single garage is a boon in this part of Edinburgh, but Sophie admits that theirs is full of the Gilmour kids’ accoutrements rather than a car. Luckily, there is a parking space as well.It is also fortunate that the rest of the house did not require much work. The layout includes a beautiful bay-windowed sitting room at the front with fireplace, cornicing and working shutters. Also on the ground floor are a dining-kitchen and two large bedrooms.An added bonus is the staircase from the dining area which leads up to a maid’s room on the first floor, making three bedrooms in all.

A child's bedroom. Picture: Strutt and Parker

The West End location has been convenient for both Gilmours careers, Sophie is a lawyer working in the Capital and Stuart is a long-haul pilot flying out of Edinburgh Airport.But it is a great spot for family time too. Sophie says: “We are right on the cycle path and there is access to the Water of Leith, so we are five minutes from the modern art gallery and Stockbridge.”She has a heavy heart about leaving. “It is literally just not quite big enough, otherwise I would stay in a heartbeat as it really is a lovely house.”

Offers over £695,000, contact Strutt and Parker on 0131-718 4487