Ge­or­gian el­e­gance abounds in this ten­e­ment flat in Ed­in­burgh’s New Town


Buy­ing a home isn’t al­ways love at first sight. In­deed, for in­te­rior de­signer Asta Young-Smith, her ini­tial re­ac­tion to this Ge­or­gian apart­ment in Ed­in­burgh’s New Town was un­der­whelm­ing. As she says: ‘The flat had no soul. The in­te­rior was bland, with mag­no­lia walls, pine floors and a dated kitchen.’ But, though Asta wasn’t ex­cited, her part­ner Stu­art Hol­li­gan most cer­tainly was. ‘We’ve re­fur­bished a few prop­er­ties together and have picked up a lot of knowl­edge over the past few years, so this was my chance to put it into prac­tice,’ Stu­art says.

Orig­i­nally, the kitchen was at the back of the flat, along with a bed­room, with a sec­ond bed­room at the front, along­side the sit­ting room. There was a box room off the hall­way, which was use­ful for stor­age but felt like dead space in a flat of this size, so the cou­ple de­cided to re­con­fig­ure the lay­out and make ev­ery inch of this prop­erty work for them.

Stu­art and Asta made the bold move of tak­ing out the in­ter­nal wall be­tween the box room and sit­ting room to cre­ate a big, open-plan kitchen and liv­ing space bet­ter suited to how they wanted to live together as a fam­ily. The cou­ple were then able to cre­ate a third bed­room from the for­mer kitchen, giv­ing them a use­ful guest room.

Asta was faced with the chal­lenge of de­sign­ing a func­tional kitchen within a com­pact floor space, while en­sur­ing the cook­ing zone didn’t vis­ually dom­i­nate the open-plan room. She achieved this by us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of cab­i­nets from Ger­man firm

Hacker and util­is­ing the full height of the space with high-level units. She also chose two dif­fer­ent fin­ishes, Laser Soft Taupe and Terra Oak Matt, to cre­ate a lay­ered ef­fect, with open shelv­ing tucked into a re­cess. ‘To de­sign the kitchen in a way that was prac­ti­cal with plenty of stor­age was chal­leng­ing, but now it re­ally has be­come the heart of our home.’ A small penin­sula sep­a­rates the cook­ing area from the liv­ing space, and serves as a break­fast bar that’s also the per­fect spot to perch while some­one’s cook­ing.

As Asta says, de­tails can make a room. One of her ad­di­tions that has re­ally had an im­pact is the an­tiqued bronze mir­ror splash­back – a glam­orous choice that also re­flects light back from the tall win­dows in the liv­ing room into the kitchen at the rear. The mu­ral in an al­cove on the end wall is an­other in­spired


in­clu­sion. ‘When I saw it online I felt the tones were right for this space, and it feels like a view, as if you’re look­ing out of a win­dow,’ she says.

Stu­art has been in­volved in re­fur­bish­ing prop­er­ties for years and worked on their new apart­ment ev­ery day, adding shut­ters and win­dow seats - fea­tures that look as if they’ve been here for­ever.

The cou­ple also de­cided to add wooden pan­elling to the rear bed­room (pre­vi­ously the kitchen), tak­ing in­spi­ra­tion from the orig­i­nal flag­stone floor to cre­ate a look that wouldn’t seem out of place in a coun­try house. Stu­art drew out the plans for the pan­elling and made and fit­ted each piece with his joiner. He then car­ried the theme through into the other two bed­rooms, with be­spoke pan­elled head­boards and wardrobes. ‘It has worked so well,’ says Asta, ‘and

‘You can’t be scared to re­think your de­sign choices - if some­thing doesn’t work, change it’

Far­row & Ball’s Mole’s Breath paint on the walls and pan­els is such a won­der­fully rich colour.’

There was the odd moment of panic dur­ing the ren­o­va­tion work, such as when a pipe leaked in the util­ity room. ‘We had to cut a hole in the wall to fix it, and it had just been freshly plas­tered,’ Asta re­calls. But then, as she says, mi­nor glitches are to be ex­pected when work­ing with an older prop­erty.

The apart­ment’s mix of crisp de­tail­ing and luxe el­e­ments re­flects the cou­ple’s eclec­tic ap­proach to the in­te­rior styling, which com­bines auc­tion house pur­chases and pieces that Stu­art has made – of­ten us­ing re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als – with high street finds. Asta loves a lay­ered, tac­tile aes­thetic, and has com­bined tweeds with faux fur throws to cre­ate a cosy am­bi­ence. When spec­i­fy­ing fit­tings for the shower room off the hall­way, she chose an over­sized basin that might have looked far too big on pa­per - in­deed the plumber was as­tounded when it ar­rived - but by us­ing a few state­ment pieces and play­ing with scale, she has cre­ated a truly in­di­vid­ual look.

Some ideas, how­ever, didn’t gel in re­al­ity. In the main bed­room, the cou­ple de­cided to strip, sand and then hand-paint the orig­i­nal floor­boards. ‘It was an ex­per­i­ment, but when we’d fin­ished we didn’t like how it looked so laid car­pet in­stead,’ Asta says. ‘You can’t be scared to re­think your de­sign choices - if some­thing doesn’t work, change it.’ This typ­i­fies this cou­ple’s ap­proach to in­te­ri­ors. By be­ing bold enough to re­lo­cate the kitchen and cre­ate an open-plan liv­ing space, they have cre­ated a fam­ily home that is both func­tional and stylish.

KITCHEN Hacker units in Laser Soft Taupe and Terra Oak Matt work with the colours across the rest of the open-plan liv­ing space. The work­tops are quartz, in a Morengo fin­ish, from Sile­stone at De­vel­op­ment Di­rect, while the an­tiqued mir­ror splash­back is from City Glass. Stu­art made the bench by the kitchen is­land us­ing the tim­bers that were re­moved when the wall was opened up, and also made the ta­ble lamp us­ing books bought at auc­tion and a lamp from Ikea

LIV­ING ROOMOrig­i­nal pine floor­boards have been stained us­ing Col­ron Ja­cobean Dark Oak wood dye from B&Q. This darker colour’s tra­di­tional look is off­set by walls painted in a be­spoke neu­tral shade, cre­ated us­ing the NCS colour chart at John­stone’s. This softly ele­gant colour palette com­ple­ments the orig­i­nal Ge­or­gian white mar­ble fire­place, which is high­lighted by a grand, gilt over­man­tel mir­ror with sconces, bought at a lo­cal auc­tion house

BED­ROOM Home­owner Stu­art made the bed­side cabi­net. The an­tique chair and bureau be­side the win­dow are both from Ram­say Cor­nish, an Ed­in­burgh-based auc­tion house. The cir­cu­lar mir­ror is an in­her­ited piece

BATH­ROOMCollinson Ce­ram­ics’ Koshi porce­lain tiles cover the walls and floor. The wash­basin and toi­let are from Vi­tra, and the taps and shower from Grohe FOR STORE DE­TAILSSEE WHERE TO BUY PAGE

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