Isabella Wilson was living in Canada five years ago when she and her husband decided to look for a home in Edinburgh’s city centre. “We’d been looking at the market for about a year,” Isabella says. “We’re from Fife originally and have lived up and down the country, and we were living in Canada for my husband’s job. We travelled over to Edinburgh for a week and looked round the city at properties with a few different agents. This place was off market and was the very last property we viewed.”
This handsome Georgian apartment is located at 15 Dublin Street in the heart of Edinburgh. Isabella says: “We’d wanted something as near to the centre of town as possible, and you couldn’t get a more central location. When we came in, we knew this was the one.”
Number 15 is arranged over two levels – ground and first floors – with three bedrooms, including the master suite, and a family bathroom on the first floor, and with a fourth bedroom on the ground level along with the large dining-kitchen and sitting room. The New Town property had just been developed by Sundial Properties. “We didn’t want to have to walk into a place and gut it; we wanted a property that had this lovely shell with all these original features, but that had been completely redone inside,” says Isabella.
The quality of the period detailing in this property is notable, with intricate plaster detailing on the ceiling in the entrance hallway and flagstones underfoot. The original staircase with its decorative balustrade is another striking feature, as is the dado panelling and cornicework, not to mention the full-height astragal windows.
Isabella was starting with a blank canvas here in terms of furnishing this interior. “We had a house in Aberdeen at the time and our furniture was either abroad or in Aberdeen, so we were able to start from scratch,” she says. In terms of aesthetics, Isabella was influenced by her time living in Abu Dhabi where the couple had an apartment before relocating to Canada. She picked up Afghan rugs and pieces of art and furniture when in Abu Dhabi, and has integrated these items here.
Before furnishing the spaces though, Isabella turned her attention to the decoration. The walls had previously been painted in muted colours, but she felt that the tones were too gloomy for this interior and her style, so she redecorated with a fresher palette, working with John Graham & Co decorators. She also laid the seagrass carpeting on the staircase and changed the carpeting in the bedrooms, which had been finished by the developer with an oatmeal coloured carpet. “It made the place feel cold and miserable,” Isabella says. “I got lots of samples and decided to go for warmer heather tones, and also chose warmer tones for the curtain fabrics.”
Although the kitchen cabinetry was already in place, including a central island – a feature Isabella particularly liked having not had the space for an island in her Aberdeen kitchen – she wasn’t so keen on the existing range cooker so she swapped it for a Falcon range cooker and hood. As Isabella says: “I had a larger version of this cooker in Aberdeen in blue and loved it, so I chose the same here but in red as this bigger room could take the colour.”
In the four years since the family have lived here, Isabella has gradually chosen furniture and accessories that complement her existing pieces. She acknowledges that if she doesn’t find what she wants, or what will work best in a room, she’d rather wait than simply buy something to fill a space. “I don’t like to overload a room with furniture,” Isabella says. “In selling our house in Aberdeen and bringing pieces here, for me it’s a bit too crowded now, but the pieces do all fit in and work here.”
There are a few surprising features in this property, including the glass-fronted display cabinet built into the bow-ended wall in the dining-kitchen, which is original. And in choosing the kitchen and bathroom fittings in particular, the developers were sympathetic to the age of the building. The kitchen cabinetry has a traditional yet understated feel, while the en-suite bathroom includes a freestanding claw foot bath and pedestal basin.
Now, although the family are moving – the couple live here with their daughter and granddaughter – they plan to remain in the city centre. This location will be hard to beat. “I will miss being just across the road from Harvey Nichols and St Andrew Square and all the local shops and cafés,” Isabella says, “and having the tram line here is brilliant when you’re travelling in and out to the airport.”
Isabella won’t be looking for a project next time round either. Taking on this property highlighted the benefits of buying a home where all the hard work has already been done, and where the only decisions to be made were aesthetic. Now number 15 is ready for the next owners to put their stamp on its timeless and elegant interior.
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