Designer outlet: Edinburgh's Colin McShane Interior Styling

Designing and refurbishing interiors for a client’s own home, and staging a property specifically for the sales market, are two very different aspects of the same discipline.

Colin McShane Interior Styling

One requires building relationships with home owners and working to their remit on investing in and improving on their living environment.

The other is all about the best returns on the outlay and making a property attractive to buyers in the shortest possible time.

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Colin McShane tackles both but didn’t start out as an interior designer. He explains: “I trained as a cataloguer of antique and domestic furnishings at Lyon & Turnbull Auctioneers in Edinburgh.”

Colin McShane Interior Styling

But he changed career direction and moved into property management, and McShane feels that from there it was an organic move into interior design work.

Colin recalls: “I set up the business in 2008 after I started to be asked to do refurbishments for property rental for clients who were abroad.

“We initially offered minor trade work, painting and decorating, and then we were asked to fit kitchens and bathrooms, and from there it has grown so we now tackle everything up to structural alterations.”

The business, which Colin runs with a small team based in Marchmont, Edinburgh, hires in contractors for its private client and showhome activities.

Renovation work for individuals comes through word of mouth or from recommendations by property finders, for instance, if their client is moving to the Capital.

Colin says: “If a property has been identified as of interest, we can take a look at the floor plan and work out what can be done and the ballpark figures on costs – often before they have made an offer, so they know how it can be improved.”

His team can then see the property through from project management to the finishing touches.

For the staging side of the business, most work comes from estate agents, but it can vary from being a quick spruce up to much more ambitious projects.

Colin says: “Some need complete redecoration, with painting, new carpets, even new kitchens and bathrooms can be beneficial to a property for sale. It depends on what the property needs, what the market dictates and, of course, the client’s budget, and if they can see the likely return.”

For property staging, most clients give free reign once the budget has been set, but it is certainly not just a case of painting everything beige.

Colin says: “You wouldn’t do anything outrageous because you need to have a broad appeal, but you can inject colour and be bold.

“Blandness is almost the worst thing you can do. The first impression is from photography and often neutral decor can make a property not stand out at all.”

He believes that this is where the services of an interior designer can really come into its own. “There will be things that an owner might be hesitant about doing, because they don’t know if it would work.

“But it is the property that determines how best to show it off and it is all about creating the best impact for viewers.”