Interiors: Colin Lennox’s Parisian style New Town flat

Colin Lennox pictured in his New Town home. Picture: Julie Bull
Colin Lennox pictured in his New Town home. Picture: Julie Bull
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TELEVISION producer Colin Lennox is the first to admit he has a few obsessions. For example, he’s obsessed with colour. “As long as it’s limited,” he says.

Bold punches of colour are key. He’s obsessed with kitchen design. “I look at a space and see it in unit size. When I measure out 260cm, I know what I can fit in there,” he explains. He’s obsessed with storage, as demonstrated in the bedroom in his second-floor flat at 28 Scotland Street, in Edinburgh’s New Town, where one stretch of wall features floor-to-ceiling built-in storage, which he designed and had made by his joiner.

Colin successfully mixes old and new design elements. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Colin successfully mixes old and new design elements. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

He’s obsessed with detail: the panelled doors in that storage wall were designed to match the height of the deep skirtings and the panelling of the original door into the room. “It’s all about getting the proportions to work,” he says. “You might not know why this storage wall fits so well here but it just does, and that’s why.” Likewise, in building out this wall, he retained the Georgian cornice but reinstated new cornicing to match above the storage so that it looks original.

Then there is the importance of lighting: all the lights here are dimmable, creating a wonderfully ambient feeling to the spaces at night. There’s a love of European pop art, seen in a favourite limited-edition print by the artist Francisco Sobrino that hangs in the sitting room. There’s an obsession with efficiency, where form and function have equal billing when creating a living space – no doubt a reflection of Colin’s experience in designing boutique letting properties and the super-stylish B&B Ardmor House with his former partner Robin Jack.

And he clearly has a passion for Parisian style, which is exemplified in this one-bedroom flat. “This flat reminds me of a Parisian apartment,” he says. “I like the idea that in Paris, in Le Marais district, you have the Pompidou and next to it you have a magnificent Belle Époque building and it works. I think that’s what this room is about.”

Colin and Robin bought the property seven years ago, initially as a letting property before Colin moved in two years ago. Back in 2005, the interior was tired, but the bones were fantastic, from the proportions of the two main rooms – the sitting-cum-dining room and bedroom – to original features such as the cornicing and working shutters, or the marble fireplace and the flagstone floor in the hall.

The flat required a comprehensive overhaul, including wiring, plumbing, re-plastering and a new heating system, along with a re-fitted kitchen and bathroom. From the initial viewing, it was clear that the kitchen and bathroom layout needed attention. While the bathroom was big, the kitchen was tiny. Colin drew up the plans for the new spaces, which required the wall between the two rooms to be moved. “The centimetre of where I put this dividing wall counted so that I could fit an extra cupboard into the kitchen,” he says.

The result is a cooking zone that has been meticulously considered. Hand in hand with this functionality is its style, with high-gloss red cabinetry combined with a black granite worktop, and with a backsplash clad in matt-finish circular mosaic tiles. The elongated chandelier-style pendant light isn’t your typical kitchen light fitting, which is exactly the point. As Colin says, “Dimming the chandelier at night, this space shifts from being a functional kitchen to a cocktail bar.”

The bathroom is just as glamorous, with limestone-style ceramic tiling and French crystal wall lights. The basin sits on a chunky slab of black granite, with mirrored units below. “The Hotel Bourg Tibourg, in the Marais, has this idea of the bath as theatre, and I like that,” Colin reflects. “The idea that you accept something less aesthetic because you’re in a bathroom is nonsense.”

Sketching up floor plans is nothing new for Colin. “My dad is a draughtsman and I was playing with draught paper when I was four,” he says. “My family were constantly moving and renovating, and I designed kitchens in our houses when I was in primary school.”

Colin has also inherited that desire for the next project. “That’s why I’m moving. I miss the fun of doing it again,” he acknowledges.

His appreciation for furniture also started young, when he would accompany his parents to auctions. “I’m very interested in 20th-century classics,” he says. The label isn’t important, he stresses. “It’s about the quality.” The coffee table in the sitting room is a good example: a find in a charity shop on Leith Walk. “I knew it was a very good piece when I saw it,” he says, as was the cream leather and chrome chair, which was re-upholstered by Be Seated.

Be Seated also made the black sofa for this space, while Colin picked up the cream leather Chesterfield sofa for a bargain online. The antique wall lights were eBay finds and are a perfect complement to the painted cornice above, while contrasting with the contemporary multi-facet mirror above the fireplace. The classic Arco floor lamp looks as if it was made for this room’s lofty proportions.

The purple drapes in the bedroom add a luxuriously rich counterpoint to the soft grey walls. Rather than place the chandelier centrally, Colin suspended it in front of the window, so that this gorgeous piece meets your eye-line when walking along the hall.

Marble-topped bedside tables sum up his approach to sourcing: they were picked up in a Parisian flea market and carried home. “It was too good an opportunity to miss,” he says. “For me, they’re perfection.”

Of all the properties Colin has lived in over the years, he says, “This is the place I’ve enjoyed the most. It has everything; it’s very peaceful, yet glamorous.” His experience of designing spaces for guests over the years has left its mark, having encouraged him to be bold. “You can almost be braver when you’re designing for someone else,” he reflects. “After a while I realised, why push it for everyone else, why not push it for yourself? Ideas cost nothing.” k

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