At the heart of Corstorphine House Avenue in Edinburgh, is the house that named the road. Dating from the early 1800s, it is a beautiful Georgian villa in a large garden.
The house has been split into two, but with private entrances and gardens the lower villa, which is now on the market, is still a very good sized family home.
It was bought two years ago by Katie and John Donnelly who moved from a townhouse in the West End.
Both work in the financial services industry, but weren’t shy of taking on an upgrading project in their spare time.
Katie says: “The house is split into two, but we have part of the upstairs too so it feels like a family house and you aren’t overlooked by the other property. We didn’t know this area of the city but it has been a real revelation.”
With young children, Struan, seven, Gethin, six, and two-year-old Margaret the accommodation being mostly on the same level really appealed to the couple.
But the house, although loved, needed attention and the refurbishment, completed before they moved in, took around nine months.
Katie says: “We started with structural work, taking down walls to reinstate the original footprint. Dividers had been put up in we think in the 1920s.
“That opened the house out and we then employed a master joiner to match the woodwork to reinstate what it would have been like originally. I am very proud of that as the result is absolutely a thing a beauty.”
During the work, the house had plumbing replaced, new wiring and insulation installed, all the floorboards and original sash windows refurbished, and modern bathrooms, kitchen and utility room were fitted.
Katie says: “I think every square inch was overhauled. It has an amazing Georgian structure but in houses of this age they need a complete refurbishment every once in a while. Hopefully this will last for thirty or forty years before any further work is needed. We certainly planned for that and chose quality materials accordingly.”
The Donnellys also had an eye to keeping the house family friendly, whether it is the two washing machines or the heated towel rails for drying laundry even when the heating isn’t on. The scrubbable paint on the walls and the resilience built in to the floors has been designed for an easy life with small children.
Katie says she enjoyed every minute of the project. “I love the process, I think John likes it when it is finished but for me, what I do in my day job is quite technical so I enjoy the creative side of a home project.”
The garden was very much loved, with mature stock, but it hadn’t been tended for about a year before the Donnellys moved in so needed work.
Katie says: “There is some great stuff in there already, beautiful trees, including the very old yew tree in the middle and traditional British species.
“As well as the mature fruit trees ,we’ve planted rhubarb and crabapple.
“We added Persian ironwood and gingko trees to add variety, lots of additional screening including beech hedging to add to what is already a very private space.
“There is a vegetable garden and herb garden that I planted, at huge effort I have to say, but it was a real labour of love.”
It is perhaps the addition of the botanic glasshouse that has given her most pleasure. It now complements the sizeable conservatory, which means the latter can be kept as a public room, allowing the glasshouse to be used solely for gardening.
Katie says: “I found a new hobby in gardening and have absolute enjoyed pottering about after work.”
“You can fling open the conservatory doors – the house is south facing so it is always warm – and the kids can run in and out in the garden all day.”
The location was also revelation. “There is a secret lane just adjacent and only people who live in this road have a key to the gate. The kids love it. There are huge beech hedges so it is quite magical and it leads to the Victorian library and the church where the fete is held. It is two minutes from St Margaret’s Park, with tennis courts, a bowling club and a scout hall. It is an enclave which we had no idea was here.”
Only a job move, to the Channel Islands, has prompted the sale but Katie and John’s work has left a splendid family house which will appeal particularly those with small children.
Offers over £750,000, contact Strutt & Parker
on 0131 718 4597.