31st July 2016
Although I am an ‘interior’ designer, I am passionate about making homes look beautiful inside and out. One of my favourite things to do is to reimagine tired and sorry exteriors, making them beautiful and welcoming.
Some transformations may require the skills of an architect to realise the potential of a house. But if the overall shape and proportions are already pleasing, then it truly is amazing what new windows, doors, roof materials and landscaping can do to totally transform a home from one that you’d pass by without a second glance, to one that makes you smile.
I stumbled across this extremely worn out 70’s home on a property website and could immediately see its potential using the existing structure. With the help of a photomontage technique, I’ve come up with two ways to update it with an exterior makeover, first with modern steel windows and then with a more traditional style. Both makeovers also rely on pretty landscaping to complete the look. What do you think? Which one do you prefer?…
10th October 2014
While summer is my favourite season I can’t help loving the changing colour of the leaves at this time of year – the clear autumn skies, pulling on cosy jumpers to go walking and enjoying seasonal foods.
If you’re lucky enough to have a working fireplace, now’s the time to rediscover the joys of that too. One of the most successful improvements made to this Edinburgh flat was the reinstatement of the fireplace in the living space. It transformed not just how the room looked by providing a focal point, but how it felt as well.
You can see from the first image that the fireplace had been completely removed and bricked up by previous owners.
It took a bit of work but with the flue thankfully still intact and working, it was possible to reinstate the fireplace.
While a real fire is not to everyone’s taste, and does take some work, there are other options like stoves or gas fires which may be more suitable.
And if you can’t have a fire, candles are a great way to light the dark evenings.
The awkwardly designed kitchen in this Edinburgh apartment was originally at the front of the living space, cutting across one of the lovely sash windows and jutting out into the room. The layout was very muddled and the sink was a tiny bowl sink. It was obvious to me that this had to go!
There was a perfect alcove at the back of the room that I just knew could house a kitchen and free up the space in front of the sash windows for a dining table…
With some careful planning and my very patient joiner, the new kitchen fits like a glove as you can see below. And you’ll also notice that the chimney breast has had a fireplace reinstated to provide a superb and welcoming focal point in the form of a real fire.
Having a pantry space adjacent was a boon as it meant I could choose glass-fronted doors for the wall cupboards to house glassware and china while tins and other foodstuffs could be stored in the pantry. With a ceiling height of just over 10ft I found wall cupboards that were slightly taller than the average unit so there would be less of a noticeable gap between the top of the units and the ceiling. Proportion is key in matching a modern kitchen to a period space. I placed glassware above the cabinets to further bridge the gap and draw the eye upwards in a subtle way.
The style of the kitchen follows a New England aesthetic with white wood and glass cupboards, subway tiles, a black granite worktop and an elegant goose-neck tap. It’s a classic look that should not date and should look just as fresh in years to come.
And to sign off, here’s how the front of the room looks now without the kitchen obscuring those lovely, original sash windows…
Having a fireplace in a master bedroom is a luxurious touch. There was a fireplace in the room that was to become the master bedroom in the apartment I renovated in Edinburgh, but it looked drab and sorry as you can see here below. The tiles on the hearth were broken and the tiles on the fire surround had been painted an ugly matt black. The opening itself was small and totally out of proportion with the mantel.
I thought the whole fireplace might have to be replaced but once the new cast iron surround and new hearth were in place, the existing mantel looked in proportion and only needed to be painted a crisp white to finish the look. Finally, the walls were painted in a wonderful, ethereal grey from Farrow & Ball called ‘Blackened’. This set off the mantel perfectly and provided a soothing, restful feeling for a luxurious master bedroom.
The home office and pantry spaces in the Edinburgh apartment that I redesigned started out as fairly unusable spaces as you can see from the pictures above.
It might seem like a mundane element of designing a space but I am a fervent believer in good storage being key to a successful home. It doesn’t matter if you are a minimalist or prefer to be surrounded by your favourite belongings, there are still myriad things that you need that you don’t necessarily want to have on show all the time. Good storage keeps clutter at bay and, importantly, means you can find things when you need them. It keeps your home ordered in a way that simply makes life easier. And it’s definitely more aesthetically pleasing – check out the home office and the pantry in the ‘after’ pictures below!