A stylish home with wow-factor

Angela and Alastair Geddes have opened up the interior of their property by extending and adding stunning design features for a contemporary finish

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Although Angela and Alastair Geddes loved the location of their recently built family home in a leafy suburb of Edinburgh, they soon realised that the house didn’t completely suit their needs. ‘We bought the property around four years ago, and we especially liked the views out to the river at the back,’ explains Angela. ‘Despite its large size, however, it wasn’t our idea of a family home. When we bought it, we knew we would create a bigger, more centralised kitchen and redecorate, but it wasn’t until we’d lived in the house for around a year that we realised we wanted to make other changes, too.

In particular, the couple planned a more light-filled interior. ‘Visitors would enter the house via a dark hallway – it wasn’t very welcoming. And the living accommodation was at the back of the house rather than at the front where there is plenty of sunlight,’ adds Angela. ‘We also discovered that the whole building was extremely cold during the winter months.’

Fact file

The owners: Angela Geddes, a housewife, lives here with her husband Alastair, a management consultant, and their children

With all this in mind, Angela and Alastair approached local architect Urban Creatures to help with redesigning their home. As well as bringing light into the house and creating a large central kitchen, the couple wanted to convert the garage – which took up almost half the footprint of the existing ground floor – into extra living space. ‘These were the must-haves, but our wishlist also included a playroom for the children, and we wanted to make the most of the view out to the back garden,’ says Angela. ‘We were keen to make some external changes, too, as the exterior of the house was very brown and uninspiring.’

In addition, the Geddes prepared a list of ways that they could add wow-factor to their home, including by adding a side extension. ‘We appreciated that creating wow-factor often comes at a price, though, and knew we might have to forgo it to keep down costs,’ says Angela. Fortunately, by the time the couple’s house renovation was finished in the summer following a 16-week build, it included not only their wishlist essentials, but also stunning, wow-factor design features.

‘When we bought the house we certainly couldn’t have envisaged its amazing transformation. But it was always going to be our long-term family home, so when the architects proposed making more fundamental changes than planned, we thought about it and then went ahead with them,’ explains Angela. ‘Although we chose the more ambitious option, we decided not to include some elements, such as a side extension. It would have added wow-factor but also cost a lot, and we felt that the planned new kitchen and double-height hallway would be enough of a design statement.’

Planning permission for the changes was granted without any problems, and the main contractor Ballina Construction started on the build. To achieve the rear open-plan kitchen/ dining/living area, the back wall was knocked down and the house extended into the garden by 2.5 metres. The new kitchen was then created in the space that used to be the dining room. Floor-to-ceiling, glazed sliding doors opening onto the garden ensure that the new dining and living areas in the extension are filled with light and make the most of the views.

Elsewhere on the ground floor, a home office has been built as part of the rear extension, and there is now a TV room/ playroom in the old kitchen space. The main entrance to the house has been re-routed to allow for a clear flow from the new front door through the hallway and into the open-plan kitchen, while the former entrance has been turned into a downstairs WC. Incorporated into the front of the house, the old garage has been converted into a large living area to one side of the new hallway.

One of the most striking aspects of the re-development, the spacious hallway features a large pivot door and offers views through the house. ‘Alastair travels a lot for work, and had a real desire to have a view from the front door right through to the river,’ says Angela. ‘He liked the idea of coming home and looking through to the countryside, leaving city life behind.’ This was made possible by knocking through an interior wall and then removing part of the upper hallway where there were store cupboards, thereby creating a doubleheight entrance. A new ‘floating’ glass and timber stairway, built by the main contractor, provides access to the first floor.

Upstairs, the reconfigured landing and hallway features a new en suite bathroom. This adjoins the master bedroom, which has been enlarged by removing a partition wall between two smaller rooms, and includes a dressing room within the space.

The exterior of the house has also had a makeover, with grey concrete roof tiles replacing existing brown ones, and the dormer being clad in grey Sarnafil, with grey replacement window frames. The brown bricks have been rendered white, and some of the existing windows have been moved to the remodelled areas.

The renovation has brought the property completely up-to-date, with underfloor heating and high-performance windows installed. The kitchen/dining/living area has been super-insulated, and the roof was insulated before new tiles were laid, so cold weather is no longer a problem. For better control, a bespoke lighting system has been fitted in the kitchen/dining/ living area, hallway and living room on the ground floor, while speakers built into the ceilings of the living room and dining areas are another hi-tech addition.

The family moved into accommodation nearby during the construction stage of the project, which allowed Angela to visit on site every day. ‘My background is in project-management,’ she explains. ‘Every day I walked from our rented house with the dog and a pram with my young son in it. I knew everyone working on site, but I wasn’t intrusive as I realised that might add costs. I think that by being involved I helped the project run to time, though, as it was a very tight deadline.’

Although the project was run as a main contract, Angela contracted out the painting herself. ‘I had a great painter who I’ve worked with before, and that was the personal touch I wanted,’ she says.

When it came to the interior finishes, Angela was instrumental in choosing them, with the help of Edinburgh-based company James Wilson Interiors. ‘My own taste is modern traditional. When we moved into this modern property I started looking around for pieces that were contemporary but not too edgy,’ she says. ‘I picked out every last detail of the finish with my architect when specifying at the tender stage, so that the build didn’t overrun. For example, I wouldn’t compromise on the kitchen, which is a high-gloss Champagne design with a mahogany surround, from a bespoke kitchen designer, complete with a five-metre-long island.’

Angela and Alastair have enjoyed seeing through the whole renovation project from start to finish. ‘We now use every room in the house, and visitors are constantly amazed by the change,’ Angela adds. ‘It’s funny to think that originally I was so reluctant to leave our previous home – a 1900s coach house – but we had to move as we needed more space. And having moved reluctantly, I now feel that this is the house we’ve always wanted.’

The costs

Building work (including windows, doors and roof)£190,000
Kitchen£25,000
Décor (including lighting, staircase, curtains, flooring, and downstairs WC)£25,000
Architect£20,000
Landscape/ external work£9,500
TOTAL£269,500