In the home they have created in an Edinburgh townhouse, Roderick Murray and his partner, Lane Crawford’s Andrew Keith, have managed to blend heritage and modernity
In the home they have created in an Edinburgh townhouse, Roderick Murray and his partner, Lane Crawford’s Andrew Keith, have managed to blend heritage and modernity. Murray tells Brian Adams how it was done
When Hong Kongbased architect Roderick Murray and his partner, Joyce and Lane Crawford president Andrew Keith, set out to purchase a property in their native Scotland, they had one goal in mind—to create a home. They found the ideal space, a 200-year-old Georgian house with a Grade A heritage listing, in Edinburgh’s New Town, a Unesco World Heritage area.
“We fell in love with the place when we saw it. It’s a grand Georgian townhouse without being too grand,” Murray recalls.
The property, like many of its kind, had been converted into offices. However, the original structure and many of its features, including decorative plasterwork, were preserved behind boards and under carpeting.
“They boarded up the floors, boarded over the fireplaces, boarded up the doors,” Murray says, “so it was all there. The bones of the place were great. We just had to get in there and make it a home.”
Once they had the property in hand, Murray and Keith began what would be a two-year journey with local authorities and Historic Environment Scotland to ensure all the paperwork was approved. Then the couple took over the project management duties and put their ideas into action.
“We had to pay respect to the Georgian house itself, but we wanted it to be a space that we could live in and feel comfortable in,” Murray says. That meant bucking convention and rearranging the layout. “In Edinburgh, there’s a plan that everyone follows. The kitchen and dining room are on the ground floor. There’s a drawing room to the front and then the bedrooms are elsewhere. We didn’t really want that.
We wanted a large lounge kitchen/dining space. So the only way we could do that within the planning restrictions was to put it on the first floor.”
Murray’s approach to the layout, while seemingly unconventional, made complete sense to him. “A space is a space. Until you actually designate a function, it could be anything. So it’s got huge potential. You start thinking of it in terms of home, and what the spaces should be.”
Colour was also a central aspect of Murray’s design, once again combining the couple’s shared experiences to make the space into a home. “It came from our travels. The summer before, we had been to Italy and Bhutan. In both those places you find shocking colour. To be able to use such big colour you need big spaces.”
The outside of the home also required work, including the installation of double-glazed windows designed for Georgian homes. “The building looked ugly; putting back the original windows made a huge difference to the outside of the building,” Murray says. “It went back to its original look. The old house looked like it had its teeth missing. You put back the windows and all of a sudden it became complete.”
Murray embarked on a unique approach to designing each room—compartmentalisation. The new walls are short of the five-metre ceilings, reaching only as far as the picture rails and the 200-year-old creative
spatial awareness The bathroom and kitchen displays Murray and Keith’s keen sense of design and utility