Drummond Place enjoys an enviable location in the heart of the Edinburgh’s Georgian New Town, but when Gillian West first saw her lower ground and basement flat here it wasn’t making the most of position.
She says: “The building is on a hill, so the lower flat is actually more like a ground and first floor at the back, where it is level with the rear garden.”
“Now it has French doors from the master bedroom out to a lovely enclosed outside space, but when I first viewed it, in 2008, there was no way of getting out there apart from climbing out of a window.” Having had presumably no one in it for some time, the garden was an overgrown wilderness. It is not the only change since she took over.
Gillian says: “It was an elderly gentleman that was living here alone and I’m not sure anything had changed the thirty years. So for me it was a total renovation project that lasted almost a year.”
Planning permission had to be sought for the new doorway into the garden which was fairly straightforward, but took time.
The work inside was also extensive; with a new kitchen refitted, along with a new main bathroom and en suite.
The walls were skimmed and the flat redecorated.
Where possible, the original features have been retained, such as the flagstone floor in the hallway, but Gillian has also added beautiful new stone flags in the kitchen.
The layout is quite traditional and Gillian has kept the rooms as they were originally designated; the entry is down stone steps from pavement level, there are three underground cellars below the road.
The front door leads into an expansive hallway with the large sunny sitting room at the front of the property and the dining kitchen at the back, overlooking the garden and with an adjoining utility room.
There is a third bedroom and cloakroom at this level too, so it would suit a homeworker who wished to have an office here, although Gillian has always needed it to house guests.
Downstairs are the two largest bedrooms, the master with the doors to the garden and the en suite, and there is a family bathroom too.
The second bedroom’s window is below ground, technically, but lit with a lightwell and because that front wall of the apartment is south facing, Gillian says it actually makes for a very sunny room during the day.
Outside, it is difficult to imagine how much she has had to do to bring the garden space at the back, into use, taming it into a private tranquil spot.
She says: “It was so overgrown, with no one having been in it for decades probably, that I had no idea how big it actually was.”
It took a team of people to turn it into what it is now - a pretty and useful area, with gravel, paving stones and potted plants. Gillian says: “It is very private, and very sheltered - so it turns into an absolute sun trap when the sun is directly on it and it can last in the summer till nine o’clock at night.”
At the front there is a sizeable courtyard patio too which is also a lovely spot to sit. Although Gillian has exercised her green fingers with stunning planting in containers here, it would work too as a low maintenance garden.
Inside she has kept the decor throughout very neutral, as a backdrop for her furniture, most of which came from her previous property in Danube Street.
It is a collection of antique and vintage pieces, such as her daughter’s brass bed which fits really well into the flat here.
The immediate area enjoys all the advantages of central living with easy access to Princes Street, George Street, St. Andrew’s Square, Multrees Walk, Broughton Street and Stockbridge. Gillian, who works for Lloyds Bank based in Sighthill, says that getting around the city from the flat in Drummond Place is so easy on foot or by public transport that she considered getting rid of her car altogether. “I like walking and it is only a few minutes to the foot of Arthur’s Seat for a walk up it, or it is really easy to get to the Water of Leith for a cycle.”
But it is actually her discovered love of gardening that has prompted the move now. She says: “Having worked on the garden here I would like to have more outside space, a larger piece of garden that I can tackle.”
For a professional or downsizer however, who would like the advantage of a garden with little of the work, 30b Drummond Place is likely to be a very attractive proposition; a secure central property with plenty of space, some wonderful features and that rediscovered secret garden at the back.
Offers over £595,000
Contact Strutt and Parker on 0131 226 2500.