Practically perfect Pared-back decor in a terraced cottage
Pared-back decor has given this family home on the outskirts of Edinburgh a sense of light and space
Apretty terraced cottage on the leafy outskirts of Edinburgh provided the happy compromise between town and country for Catherine and Cameron McCallum. ‘When Alexander was a year old we moved here from a flat in the centre of the city,’ Catherine explains. ‘We wanted a house with a garden and considered moving to a rural area, but eventually decided against it to avoid Cameron having a lengthy commute to work.’
With excellent schools and plenty of green spaces nearby, the property is in the perfect spot for a young family. It had been decorated in cosy but dated colours, which may have deterred prospective buyers because the couple managed to snap up the house with minimal competition for such a sought-after area.
One of the features Catherine and Cameron were most attracted to was the open-plan layout downstairs. Two walls had been removed by the previous owner to create a spacious L-shaped living, kitchen and dining area, with the kitchen hidden from view around a corner.
‘We improved our last property to sell it on and didn’t really get the chance to enjoy the fruits of
our labour. This time round we decided to make changes sooner rather than later and enjoy the benefits for much longer,’ explains Catherine.
‘We stayed in rented accommodation for the first month after the sale completed, which meant our builders could get the work underway without delay. They replastered and painted throughout, replaced the bathroom and cloakroom fittings and laid new carpets upstairs.’
Having lived in a large Georgian apartment, with its grand scale and period details, the couple were pleasantly surprised by the manageability of the cottage. ‘It’s so easy to heat and keep clean,’ enthuses Catherine.
A year after moving in, Catherine and Cameron invested in a new kitchen and the following year replaced the laminate flooring downstairs with pale oak floorboards and added a woodburning stove and fireplace. ‘We also changed the 1980s-style staircase for a more child-friendly solid balustrade and increased the size of the cupboard in the hall to give us more storage space,’ Catherine explains.
Before having Alexander, Catherine worked in property
management but the costs of childcare made returning to work unaffordable. She then hit upon the idea of setting up an online business in collaboration with her mother, Fiona Denholm, who is an interior designer. ‘I wanted to create a website selling a range of design-led products that are made to last,’ says Catherine.
This ethos of combining style and practicality is reflected in the couple’s choices for their home. ‘We don’t live in a strictly minimalist way,’ says Catherine, ‘but do enjoy a pared-back approach to decoration. Much our furniture is very practical, so the children can run around without me worrying they might damage something. And we have some designer pieces and original artworks in the mix, as our wedding list was with The Conran Shop.’
Catherine’s eye for design means she’s adept at finding affordable pieces and turning them into eyecatching decorations. ‘I love maps and buy prints of old ones from the Map Library in Edinburgh,’ she says. ‘When framed, they make fantastic artworks. You could even wallpaper a room with them!’
Catherine buys kindling packaged in sturdy potato sacks, which makes a fun display. The basket is from Toast
Simple white units from Ikea keep the space light and bright. The Metro-style tiles are from Walls & Floors
FRONT OF HOUSE
The cottages share the green space outside
The artwork above the stove is by David Mach. ‘It’s a treasured piece that Cameron’s parents bought us as a wedding present,’ says Catherine
Catherine perches on the Skogsta bench from Ikea, which is teamed with a matching table
Caroline bought the glass carboy from an antiques dealer on Gumtree
An all-white scheme is uplifting in this small space