Buying a top-floor duplex when you have two small children might seem like an unusual choice. But for Philip and Alexandra Church, their Dublin Street home in Edinburgh’s New Town was exactly what they were looking for three years ago.
The couple, who have children Beatrice, six, and Magnus, four, were relocating from Guildford in Surrey at the time.
Philip says: “Alexandra has Scottish family and I went to Fettes and it was on a trip to Edinburgh for a school reunion that we really started asking questions about what we were doing living in the south-east of England.
“We just seemed to live in a world of constant pressure and saw a move to Edinburgh as a real chance to raise our quality of life and as a great place to bring up the children.
“When we saw the size and location of a flat like this one we couldn’t believe how much better off we would be by moving.”
The two-storey apartment, which has astoundingly wide-ranging views over the city, Queen Street Gardens, to the Forth and over to Fife has a different interior feel from the other Georgian properties the couple viewed.
Philip says: “It is a bit of a quirkier layout because it is up on the top floor but the interior feels more modern and as the top two floors of a no-through road it is also surprisingly peaceful.
“The use of Velux windows means it is very light, in contrast to some basement flats we had viewed.”
Moving from commuter-land meant they were also excited about being in the middle of town.
Alexandra says: “We are only a couple of minutes from John Lewis and everything we need is in walking distance.
Philip adds: “We really like the village feel of Broughton Place, with its butcher, greengrocer and fishmonger, and there are great restaurants on the doorstep too.”
Living in such a desirable area does have its downsides, according to Philip.
He says: “After our first summer – when I don’t think we had a weekend guest-free for months – we decided to limit invitations to family and close friends.”
The couple changed the configuration of the flat, what was a bedroom became their living room while the master bedroom – a luxuriously large room – was created in what had been the sitting room, and has two big windows and a fireplace.
This bedroom also leads into a study which suits Philip, who works as a sales director for the Financial Times.
He says: “I work from home mostly, so that has given me an office with two doors between me and the children, which is crucial.”
The lower floor has three large bedrooms in total, the sitting room and study, plus a chic dining kitchen, separate utility room and two bathrooms.
This floor makes for a good-sized family home in its own but up a flight of stairs are the children’s bedrooms, with steeply angled ceilings and Velux windows.
They are both intriguing shapes and you can imagine make for very exciting bedrooms for the younger members of the family.
Philip says: “I think it was a sort of teenage den for the last owners. Our two have sort of hideaway bedrooms and absolutely love them.”
Residents’ access to Queen Street Gardens has also been a boon. The couple added a dog, golden labrador Lotta, to the family a year ago, in what was perhaps another unusual move for a family living in a top-floor flat, but there are plenty of walks on the doorstep.
As for the copious stairs involved in living in the Dublin Street duplex, the family have seen them as a positive. Philip says: “There are 81 steps, so the kids are kept fit going up and down. I think it is what has made them such robust children.”
Alexandra is a personal trainer who runs her own business, Natal Fitness, for pre and post-natal health, so perhaps it is understandable that the ups and downs of life on the top floor have all been taken in her stride.
The family are planning a move to the Borders, but Alexandra has taken some convincing to agree to sell.
She says: “I love the flat, the views and the location which feels like it is at the heart of everything.
“It has been great fun to bring the kids up in such a vibrant cultural spot.”
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