Balnagowan, on Murrayfield Drive in Edinburgh is an A listed superb example of an Arts and Crafts villa, but most passers-by would be unaware of its full glory.
Owner Ann Cumming, who bought the main door apartment in the house with her husband, Lesley, 15 years ago says: “The front actually faces on to the lane at the back which would have been the original approach, so as you come in from the road you don’t get the effect of the whole house and garden. We had never seen it, despite living in the area for years, but when we did, we were both very taken with it immediately.”
The property they bought was a three bedroom main door flat which contains the formal drawing room, with a spectacular ornate ceiling and the beautiful bay window so redolent of this turn of the century style. The house was built by architects Parker and Unwin in 1906 which makes a very rare Scottish example of their work.
Ann says “Although they shared many design principles with Rennie Mackintosh, their homes do seem to be more comfortable and much easier to live in.”
Parker and Unwin always referred to houses as homes and described their work as “creating a true setting for true lives”. In keeping with the prevailing Arts and Crafts tradition, they favoured simple, clean lines and the use of white harling here was ito fit in with other houses in the locality.
Ann says that although rare, their homes are very distinct. “We visited one in the Lake District and the attention to detail was there - we recognised door handles.”
The Cummings were able to make some improvements to the house, despite its listing. “We consulted Historic Scotland and the planners and were permitted to extend the drawing room windows downwards; they agreed that it was in keeping with the original.”
Inside they were able to do more: rebuilding the kitchen from the Aga outwards, for instance, to create a great light filled family living and dining area.
They were also able to persuade the planners to allow the covered terrace to be glassed in - it hardly alters the look of the house but it has creating a sunroom that can be used all year round.
Outside the garden was transformed by Lesley’s diligence, from a rather utilitarian space for the previous owner’s children, to an attractive south facing, sheltered private garden - a lovely outlook for most of the principal rooms in the house.
The improvements have been carried out with great sensitivity to the original design, for instance, a huge amount of storage is concealed behind the traditional panelled walls in the reception hall. The Cummings have managed to upgrade this immaculate home without losing any of its original charm, and surely the architects so keen on details would have approved.
Guide price £650,000, contact Lindsays on 0131 229 4040.