15th July 2014

Goodness knows how many times I’ve walked past the ornate door at number 30 Raeburn Place in the heart of Stockbridge in Edinburgh. I’ve lived in this area – not in Stockbridge, but within walking distance – for almost twenty years, so I must have made a good few hundred trips along Raeburn Place while heading to or from Inverleith Park or the Royal Botanic Garden.


Raeburn Place is a thriving hub of independent shops and cafés and bars, so you tend to forget that there are residential properties set above or in this case above and behind the shops. Never once did I expect to find a townhouse here. A flat, yes. But a Georgian townhouse arranged over four floors? Definitely not.


Which makes 30/2 Raeburn Place something of a revelation. The main door on the street leads to an entrance shared with the neighbouring property, and once through the inner door, it really does feel as if you’ve left the bustle of Raeburn Place, and indeed Stockbridge, far behind. The shops act as a buffer from the street noise, so this house is surprisingly quiet.


It’s also surprisingly big. The depth of the floor plan is quite staggering, as is the height of the building, which becomes evident when you gaze up the curved staircase to the glazed cupola high above. The main accommodation is on the ground, first and second floors, while the lower ground level has a utility room and wine cellar and leads to the enclosed rear garden. “When you look out to the garden, it’s like a rural village,” reflects Vanessa Glynn, who bought this B listed property with her husband Colin Imrie eight years ago.


“This house was built back in 1815 on land originally sold by the artist Henry Raeburn, and the eight villas on this side of the street were built to a Georgian plan but were expanded as people had started wanting a bit more space,” Vanessa says, explaining the generous proportions. “The previous owners put a huge amount of work into the house in the 1980s to almost rescue it as a home.” The couple inherited an interior with an exuberant and quite theatrical style. “I enjoyed living in the house as it was, but ultimately it didn’t suit family life as much as it did by paring the interior back and lightening it up.”


One of the crucial changes the couple made was in moving the kitchen from a smaller room on the first floor – now bedroom 4, which Vanessa uses as a study – to the rear of the ground level, where double doors open between the new kitchen and the dramatic bow-ended living and dining room. When specifying the new kitchen, as Vanessa says: “I wanted simple, functional and timeless.” She chose a timber design combined with pale quartz worktops, with glass pendants suspended over the island, and with a window seat giving a view down onto the garden.


The adjoining living and dining room is really stunning. The mellow palette of wall colours from Farrow & Ball (which feature throughout) draws your eye to the period detailing. “The fabric of the house is so solid and everything is beautifully made – the cornice is gorgeous, the shutters still work,” Vanessa says. “I designed this to be a really fun family home rather than a formal entertaining space, but equally it’s a very good entertaining space with the doors open into the kitchen.”


This elegant backdrop has been combined with an eclectic array of pieces as contemporary and vintage furniture, lighting and accessories are mixed together. “I’ve really enjoyed doing my own thing here,” Vanessa says of the interior. She has a love of mid-century design and vintage textiles, which crop up in cushions and as upholstery, and there are modern pieces that have a resonance of mid-century design, like the textural-looking Scion Khadi wallpaper in the master bedroom that has a hint of ’70s styling. A recent addition – a vintage G-Plan wardrobe Vanessa sourced by Andrew Fletcher of Twentieth Century Antiques (whose own home was featured here back in March) – has the perfect proportions for this room. As she says: “I really like this ’50s and ’60s look, and that seems to work with Georgian architecture.”


For me, the combined living, dining and kitchen space on the ground level is the highlight of this house. I can imagine living here. But special mention has to go to the drawing room on the first floor. The house faces south and Vanessa has created a lovely diffused light with the sheer blinds on the three tall windows, allowing your eye to appreciate period details like the working shutters and the cornice – the parquet flooring was laid by the previous owners. The couple collects contemporary Scottish art, and these large expanses of wall space provide a great backdrop for the groupings of artworks. Once again, standing in the drawing room, it’s hard to believe that Raeburn Place is out there.


And Vanessa has made the most of the location when designing this interior. “I’m a scavenger,” she says. “All my blue pots in the drawing room are from Stockbridge charity shops and I don’t pay more than a tenner for them. It’s about how you put things together.”


The lush and mature urban garden is a find in itself. “The garden had lovely bones when we arrived; I’ve just developed it further to bring in more flowers and colour,” Vanessa says. There are two seating areas: a bench for morning coffee and a table and chairs for evening drinks below the tumbling roses from the neighbouring garden.


Why sell? With their family now grown up, the couple are only moving in order to downsize, but are planning to stay in the area. “I’ll find it exciting to take on a new project, a smaller project, but something I could love just as much as this,” Vanessa says. “It’s probably unique to have a Georgian property of this size, with a garden, for this price.”

30/2 Raeburn Place was marketed by Rettie & Co – estate agents in Edinburgh.

Photography by Square Foot Media.