Chop and Changes

It has to be said that, quite simply, the layout in Andrew MacKenzie’s Edinburgh home works exceptionally well. An adjoining kitchen and lounge at the front of the property are perfect for entertaining and at the back, two double bedrooms (one with en suite) and a master bathroom complete the spacious living accommodation. This all seems perfectly straightforward but when Andrew viewed the property at Learmonth Gardens in July last year, it wasn’t quite the same story. 

Andrew had been searching for a property for a while and whilst working as a chartered surveyor for Graham & Sibbald many had crossed his path but nothing had sparked his interest until this one.

“I really liked the street and I’d always liked this area,” he recalls.  “My only reservation was that it was a top floor flat and I thought it might be a bit small.  “However, as soon as I walked in I saw the potential.  The room in which the original kitchen was located was far too big for a kitchen and would work better as a bedroom.  I could see we could steal from the cupboard in the kitchen and the hall to create an en suite wet room and a kitchen off the lounge would work far better instead of the existing bedroom.”

Layout Changes
These were major layout changes effectively swapping a bedroom and kitchen from the back of the property to the front but Andrew wasn’t concerned.  “Trying to explain to friends what I was going to do was difficult but to me it was just the logical layout for the flat.  Planning was a bit of an afterthought but one of my friends is an architect and I spoke to him straight away.  He agreed with my vision and thought it would work.

“The biggest problem was the drainage because of the way the joists run in the property which obviously isn’t something you normally find out before you buy.  The drainage couldn’t be taken out of the front of the building so it’s had to be pumped but that was the only issue that had to be sorted.  There were no structural alterations so it was quite straightforward really.”

Andrew’s original intention was to do much of the work himself, and he and his father started stripping the flat in September last year.  After six weeks, Andrew still harboured intentions of doing the refit himself but with his busy work commitments it just wasn’t going to plan.  “I’ve seen so many people get so far but never quite finish and I didn’t want this to happen with the flat,” says Andrew.  “So, I contacted Becki Linley at Trendenza and she offered to hold my hand through the project.”

Trendenza are project mangers, interiors and design specifiers and handle all build aspects with their own in-house teams and Andrew knew he was in good hands as he explains: “I kept out of the big stuff, all the construction work – that’s why you employ professionals but on the design side, I enjoyed getting involved.  At the end of the day, Christmas was coming and I wanted to be able to put up a tree in my finished flat!”

Same Wavelength
Andrew had met Becki through her husband, Brian, and already knew she would be on his wavelength.  “Although I had a vision of how the layout would look, I didn’t know how each room would be finished,” Andrew explains.  “For example, I thought a cream or white kitchen would be good because it would be bright but I would never have thought of adding metallic tiles.”

In the bedroom, Andrew’s first preference was for black wallpaper.  However, after a meeting with Andrew’s girlfriend, she and Becki worked together to create a style that was compatible with both of the couple’s personalities and reflected their need for a glamorous but textural setting. The black wallpaper was rejected and a softer purple design was agreed on.

“We never went down the line of having storyboards or anything like that,” Andrew continues.  “We didn’t need to,” interjects Becki.  “I tended to take Andrew with me when I was looking at things for him, it was very much a reciprocal arrangement, he was very hands on.  That doesn’t suit every client but Andrew was constantly on the email sending me pictures of things that he’d seen and liked.

“Also, as I already knew Andrew, I was aware that he was quite bold and ambitious in his design ideas and it wasn’t a question of pushing him to try something new, I just helped to guide his choices.  He had a few basics he wanted me to work around such as his chocolate leather sofas and the chandelier.  It’s an original, rather old chandelier and a contemporary sofa but we built a theme around it.”

“When Becki showed me this green paper with the bronze swirls I thought it would tie in perfectly with my chandelier,” Andrew remembers.  “A lot of people sniggered when they saw the samples but I think it really works.”  Becki continues, “There’s an indoors/outdoors feel with this paper, it complements the views outside and as Andrew’s not particularly into artwork, this wallpaper is the art feature.”

Keeping Warm
This project has been a real team effort but there was one occasion when Andrew decided to ignore Becki’s suggestion as he recalls a little sheepishly. “Becki suggested a red wall in the kitchen right from the start but I decided against it.  I thought I’d keep the look clean and simple with one colour.  However, after living with it for a few months the room felt cold.  I changed my mind about six weeks ago and I now have a red wall.  Becki said it, my girlfriend said it and they’ve been proved right!  The red definitely works!”

Finished in time for the Christmas deadline, Andrew’s flat is a far cry from the dingy and dark property he took on in September.  “I don’t think my friends and family were surprised at the end result,” says Andrew.  “They know I like to do something different as I see so much of the same every day at work.  However, on the flip side of the coin I didn’t want a show home, I wanted a home I could relax in as well, but I think I’ve demonstrated here that you can have both.”

For more information about the services that Trendenza can offer tel: 0131 622 2238 or 07717 767972.

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