COMING UP ROSES:
A rare chance to buy an extensive B-listed home set in delightful grounds on the edge of Edinburgh
THE Burnside family have lived in a few far-flung locations, from California to Australia. But their ideal location was always much closer to home. “Edinburgh is our dream place to be,” smiles Kat Burnside. “We have loved living everywhere life has taken us over the past few years, but this was the city we wanted to come back to. “Edinburgh has everything – history, culture, art, countryside close by, sport … it’s perfect. There is something for everyone and it’s all within easy reach. “So when we spotted Northfield for sale, it seemed the perfect place.” Northfield, in the conservation village of Balerno, around seven miles south west of Edinburgh city centre, is an exceptional family home. It was built in 1910 by renowned architect William Crum Watson but, as Kat agrees, it looks much older. “It’s built in the Baronial style, with many fine old features and a grand exterior,” she says. “We looked at lots of houses but this was so different, and so unexpected, that we loved it instantly. “It’s like having your own little castle.” The Burnsides rewired the property and updated the bathrooms and kitchen when they moved in six years ago, and subtly changed the décor.
“It needed a little work when we took it on – the hallway, for example, had black-painted flooring to make it look Jacobean, and the walls were very dark,” says Kat.
“We painted the walls a more neutral, pale coffee colour and returned the floors to a warm, wooden look, which was much more cheerful.”
The main house is spread over the ground and first floors, with a self-contained “guest” apartment or granny flat on the second floor.
The entrance hallway – one of the first things Kat and her husband
It was one of the first houses to have gas lighting. A generator piped it to the library and dining room
Chris admired about the house – is spectacular, with an Ailsa Craig granite column and arches leading to the stairway.
The lovely library is also useful as a second sitting room, with its carved oak Rose and Thistle stone fireplace; and the elegant dining room, complete with floor-mounted bell connection to the kitchen.
Kat explains: “There are bell pushes in a few of the rooms – the gentleman who owned it originally had servants, of course, so if he and his guests wanted to summon the staff they would simply press the bell buttons on the floor.”
She smiles: “Our children – Ellie, who is 12, and Finn, who is nine – and their friends have great fun pressing the bells. There’s even one in the bathroom.”
There are other reminders of Northfield’s distinguished past – the fireplaces are the same as the ones in the Palace of Holyrood, and the wrought iron banister features a Scottish thistle design incorporating the architect’s initials.
“It was also one of the first houses in the area to have gas lighting,” says Kat. “It had its own generator in the garden, which piped gas in to the library and dining room.”
The kitchen, with a variety of pantries and stores, can be found on the western side of the building and houses a four-oven gas fired Aga.
On the first floor, along with three double bedrooms and two family bathrooms, there is also a beautifully preserved drawing room with oak panelled walls, a barrel vaulted ceiling and superb views over the gardens to the north, south, west and east.
“This is a fantastic room, perfect for Christmas time, or for parties,” says Kat. “You can see in all directions from this space, the views are fantastic.”
The second floor includes two double bedrooms, a bathroom, sitting room, kitchen, WC and ample storage in the attics.
Outside, spread across around 1.26 acres, are interesting features, such as a ha-ha, oak tree, yew hedges and a daffodil walk.
There is also the pretty Knot Rose Garden and the family’s very own bluebell wood.
“The bluebell copse is beautiful in the springtime, and the Knot Rose Garden is very special,” says Kat. “The gardens are perfect for hide and seek, as my children will tell you. There is plenty of space to play and explore.”
The Burnsides are moving on once again – but this time, just a little bit closer in to the city itself.
“It’s what we feel is right for us now, although we have absolutely loved being in this house,” says Kat.
“The location is perfect, really, whether you want to get out and enjoy the Pentlands, or go horseriding on the quiet country roads; or whether you need to be close to the M8 for work in Edinburgh or Glasgow; or just simply enjoy being near to all the culture and social scene of the city.”
GRAND SCALE: The grounds have several interesting features, while the first floor includes a self-contained ‘granny’ flat.
PARTY SPACE: The three-floor layout provides many options for entertaining while the grounds are ideal for childrens’ hide and seek.