Renovated Victorian apartment in Edinburgh

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With their previous flat on the market, Emily Smoor and Simon Sumner received a very attractive, but rather urgent, offer from a prospective buyer, who needed to move quickly. The couple had recently bought another apartment, which they planned to renovate over time, but the sudden change of circumstances required them to make their new project habitable in four weeks.

Having acquired the property in a horrendous condition, the task in hand for the couple was enormous, and they were immediately in a race against the clock, as Emily explains. ‘It actually took around six to eight weeks, and for two of those weeks we were showering at the local gym!’

Fact file

  • The owners: Emily Smoor, an upholsterer and designer, and her husband Simon Sumner, a property developer, live here with daughter Grace, one, and their dog, Winston
  • The property: A two-bedroom Victorian apartment, built in 1857
  • The location: Edinburgh, Scotland
  • What they spent: The couple bought the property for £167,000, and have spent around £17,000 renovating. It has recently been valued at around £230,000

A hands-on approach

With a creative background in film and television and a natural flair for design, Emily finds it easy to visualise things, and, wanting to roll up her sleeves and make something herself, she quit her job to pursue her love of design, training as an upholsterer. ‘My father is a retired architect and my parents always had a project on the go, so it’s in the blood,’ she says.

With Simon an experienced builder and property developer, between them the couple had strong ideas as to how the flat should look, as well as the practical abilities to achieve it. They undertook almost all the work themselves. ‘We had some help from friends – I know that a few of them felt quite sorry for us when they first saw the place!’ Emily recalls. ‘We did employ a plasterer, an electrician and a plumber for the central heating, though.’

Victorian apartment building

Entrance corridor in Victorian flat

The costs

Decoration and soft furnishings£3,200
Central heating£3,000
Electrical work£1,800
Removing wall in kitchen and bathroom£1,500

Featured image: Walls painted in Olive by Homebase form a backdrop to the room’s interesting artefacts, including the couple’s mask collection, with souvenirs from travels to Bali, Thailand, Sri Lanka and North Africa. Simon made the coffee table from old joists and an Ikea glass top. The elegant floor-to-ceiling windows feature the original working shutters