Interiors: Anne Hunter’s Edinburgh New Town sanctuary was worth the wait

WHEN Anne Hunter viewed a one-bedroom, top-floor flat in Edinburgh’s New Town she knew she would have her work cut out to make it the tranquil home she wanted. Ten years on, the interior designer admits it has been a lot of work, but it is now the sanctuary she had initially envisaged.

“It was in definite need of refurbishment,” she smiles. “It had an incredibly old and basic kitchen. All the sockets were half-way up the wall, so the whole place had to be rewired. The bath was in a small box room along with a wardrobe and there was another room with the shower, a toilet and basin – it was all very strange. It was a one-bedroom flat when I bought it, but I could see that, over time, I could rearrange the rooms to create a second double bedroom. But as I was busy doing designs for clients I had to do my own place in two stages.”

The first phase of work involved creating a fully functioning bathroom, refitting the kitchen, rewiring and turning the old box room into a small bedroom. The second phase was even messier, as it involved swapping the small bedroom and kitchen around.

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The original shower room was reconfigured, taking away a recess to allow for a full-size bath with power shower above to be installed. The water tank was also moved to make space for the toilet, wash-hand basin and a floor-to-ceiling mirror-fronted storage cupboard, while the ceiling, which had been lowered, was taken back to its full height. Anne’s choice of large limestone-effect porcelain wall tiles, with limestone mosaic, Kelly Hoppen’s ‘Basket’ paint on the other walls and metallic bronze Amtico tiles on the floor resulted in the boutique hotel-style bathroom she had longed for.

In the kitchen, she repositioned the new boiler, effectively cutting a space into the deep walls to make it disappear into the room. She fitted the room out with plain white gloss units but invested in internal fittings.

“I bought the fittings myself from a German manufacturer and got things like pull-outs and corner units that allow you to use every inch of space,” she says. “The doors are from Howdens and all the appliances are Smeg.”

When it came to turning the old box room into a kitchen, Anne cleverly worked the space so that every unit could be re-used in exactly the same way. This time around, she added glass splashbacks and shelving to add a new colour to the white and stainless steel design.

“When I first moved into the flat the kitchen was a large dining space too and I had envisaged having lots of dinner parties, which just didn’t happen,” she recalls. “When I finally discovered that I was not going to be Nigella Lawson it made sense to swap the kitchen and bedroom around. I worked out that I could fit the exact layout of kitchen units into the other room at very little cost – the only thing I had to replace was the worktop. I replaced the skylight with a new Velux window to get more light in, and I could still fit a small table in here if I wanted. It meant that I got a good kitchen, but also a big double bedroom that I now use as a spare room and my home office.”

In the living room, Anne took away a stove in favour of a new fireplace that she created from MDF and painted to tone with the limestone hearth. The room is painted Sanderson’s ‘Oyster White’, which accentuates the black lacquer units either side of the fireplace – one of which conceals the television – as well as the statement mirror over the mantel.

Throughout the flat, Anne has a host of objects that she has brought back from her travels to the Far East – such as the Thai Buddha in the master bedroom and the Vietnamese stone busts on the living room fireplace. It was after living overseas that she was inspired to specialise in interiors, setting up Anne Hunter Designs on her return to Scotland 15 years ago. In addition to her interior design work and offering ‘house doctor’ style advice for properties for sale, she is now embarking on a new venture, Re:boot – boot camp style courses that address fitness, nutrition, styling and grooming.

“Re:boot really came about because over a number of years I was a reluctant exerciser, though early last year I had got to a stage where I was exercising a lot and enjoying it. Then I broke my foot and was in plaster for two months,” says Anne. “When it came to exercising again I just couldn’t do it so took myself abroad to an exercise camp. It gave me the kickstart that I needed.

“I realised there are a lot of people out there like me who are not natural Elle Macphersons or runners and who would benefit from that type of course. My good friend and personal trainer Gill Penfold and I decided we would do it here, but we wanted to look at the whole lifestyle issue. We have brought in a nutritionist, chef, stylist, make-up artist and skincare expert so that people go away from these courses having toned up and lost weight, but also with the tools and tips to keep it going and to look and feel good.”

The first Re:boot camp is being held in May at its base near Aberfeldy, and is aimed at both men and women, with around 12 people on each course.

Anne is a great believer that if she discovers something that can have a positive impact on life then it should be shared. “I am really excited about Re:boot,” she admits. “I guess, just like my interior design work, it is something that has come out of me enjoying it and seeing the benefit. It is very satisfying helping people achieve their goal.”

What is your favourite way to keep fit and healthy?

To eat less and move more. I do Power Plates which is a great and effective way of doing all-over body toning. If out, I also make myself drink a glass of water with every glass of wine to keep hydrated.

Who is your favourite designer?

I like Kelly Hoppen, Amanda Rosa and Jonathan Adler.

What is your favourite drink?

A cocktail called Skinny Bitch made with Grey Goose vodka, soda water and fresh lime.

Do you have a favourite shop?

Selfridges in London as it has everything – great interiors, fantastic fashion and a food hall. I like Shanghai Tang in London and Isolee in Madrid which is a concept store.

Where is your favourite holiday destination?

For skiing I like Verbier in the Swiss Alps and for heat I love the Far East.

For more information on Re:boot (www.; Anne Hunter Designs (0131-468 7444,