Dated bungalow transformed

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When Gil and Peter Holmes bought their bungalow in 1998 it was a single-storey property that had been renovated several times over the years. The major building work that had already been completed included a kitchen extension and a garage conversion to create more living space.

Its original construction seemed quite converse. Unusually, it had been built facing the back garden, with the rear of the property facing out to the drive. The additional extension work had resulted in closing off the front of the property from the street. This made it difficult for visitors to find the entrance to the house, as it could only be accessed through the extended kitchen at the back.

Fact file

  • The owners: Gil Holmes and her husband Peter, who is a chartered accountant
  • The property: A four-bedroom detached bungalow built during the 1960s
  • The location: A rural hamlet on the outskirts of Edinburgh
  • What they spent: The couple have spent around £440,000 renovating and extending the property

Remodelled bungalow kitchen

Planning the design

In late 2007, Gil and Peter decided to reconfigure their Edinburgh property into a more functional living space. Gil spent a year on research, reading homes magazines, searching the internet and looking at various properties. She found herself drawn to projects by architect Adam Toleman of Arka Architects (

‘If I wasn’t reading about a property that he had designed, I was looking at designs very similar to his work,’ she laughs. Peter liked the examples that Gil showed him, so they contacted Adam in 2008 and outlined their new vision for the house.

‘We told him we wanted to remodel its rather modest layout into something more contemporary, with additional living space and another bedroom,’ says Gil. ‘Adam listened carefully and came up with a plan that included a second-storey extension and a large garden room linking the house with the garden.’

When Gil asked Adam to take his ideas a little further, it resulted in a contemporary Scandinavian-style design, with natural materials, such as oak, cedar, slate and brick featuring inside and outside.

The entrance

‘It was perfect – just what we wanted,’ she says. ‘Adam also planned a new front door entrance facing the drive, which would lead into the hallway, instead of being accessed via our kitchen.’

Creating a new entrance meant that a utility room had to be relocated, but the kitchen gained a little extra space from losing its “front door”access.

The loft

The loft was converted to create another bedroom and extra living space,’ says Gil. ‘By opening up the loft, the hallway could then be extended to make way for a staircase and create a two-storey property.

‘We were thrilled with our new oak staircase once it was installed as it has added character to the house,’ she continues. The new upstairs living space has been designed to be an informal retreat and luxury cinema room.

‘It’s a place where we can relax on our own or with friends,’ Gil explains. ‘Our downstairs sitting room is a more formal space for entertaining.’

The extension

The new redesign also included a ground floor extension to house the garden room, which is virtually all glass.

‘It faces north, so it enjoys lovely soft light but never gets too hot in there and it offers beautiful views of the garden all year round,’ smiles Gil.

The downstairs sitting room, kitchen, bathrooms, including the en suites, and the three original bedrooms didn’t undergo many changes as the couple felt they were perfectly functional and suited their style.

Improving insulation

They were keen, however, on a better insulated house, which would not only make it more eco-friendly but also help to reduce their energy bills.

‘We had external wall insulation applied to the exterior,’ says Gil. ‘It works brilliantly – the house is really warm now and we are paying a lot less to heat it than before.’

Maximising light

Gil and Peter’s dream of a contemporary, light-filled space has been achieved with a series of Velux windows in the loft space, plus floor-to-ceiling windows in the garden room. They have kept the interior schemes simple, with Scandinavian-style clean lines and accents of bold colour in the furniture.

‘I love the modernist Scandinavian look, and it works perfectly here,’ says Gil.

Now that the build project is complete, the couple can relax in the calm, rural environment of their Edinburgh home. It wasn’t without its pitfalls, however.

Remodelled bungalow monochrome bathroom

The build

When work started, in late 2009, it was one of the worst winters on record. The houses in the hamlet where they live are in a high spot, which was badly affected by snow, making it impossible to access for weeks at a time.

‘Our builders, LPS Contracts, were marvellous during all that awful weather,’ says Gil. ‘They dealt with the inevitable delays by simply working harder when the weather allowed for it.’

Gil and Peter rented a house nearby as they were project-managing the build. They didn’t move back into their home until August 2010, and the finishing touches were eventually completed by November that year.

‘Our builder, Mark Dimmock, took any problems in his stride – he managed to find solutions to everything,’ Gil remembers. ‘He particularly enjoyed installing the sound system in the cinema room in our new loft space.’

She admits that she and Peter didn’t work to a tight budget and were interested only in achieving their dream home.

‘If Peter and I had known what it would all cost, we would have been quite horrified,’ says Gil. ‘We have no complaints, however, because we were given plenty of choices throughout the project and could easily have gone for more budget-friendly options, but we chose the more expensive, high quality solutions.’

She says it was important to have a good relationship with the architect and builder, believing it brought long-term value to the project as they’re thrilled with the results. ‘We wouldn’t change anything here,’ says Gil. ‘Our home has been transformed – it is both contemporary and comfortable, but most of all it suits our needs.’


Building work, including extension£370,000
Professional fees£24,000
Sound system£12,500
Flooring, tiles and slates£11,000
Home cinema£9,000
Alarm system£5,000