Scotsman property editor gives star treatment to one of our homes for sale

It wasn’t just their dog who made Paul Waldron and his wife Arleen Buy their flat in Southefield House in Liberton, but Bailey the cocker spaniel certainly had her say.

The couple moved here from Belhaven Terrace two years ago and Paul says: “We were looking for a garden for Bailey at the time something like a ground and basement with a patch of land but I think we out did ourselves by finding this place.”

Coming from the city, Bailey must have thought he was in do heaven as the apartment, one of four in the stately Southfield House, built in 1875, has its own private entrance, a large private terrace and a share in the extensive landscaped gardens that surround the place. The grounds are shared between ten households, the four in the house and six homes at the rear of the former hospital, converted from outbuildings and grouped round a courtyard.

All the owners here employ a gardening firm to do the hard work, so that they can enjoy the grounds. It’s an arrangement which comes into its own when the country is bathed in sunshine as it was this week.

For the human members of the family, it wasn’t just the lawns and shrubs that impressed. The internal dimensions of the rooms, and particularly the huge windows, could take anyone’s breath away.

Paul says: “?They are incredibly high ceilings, about 14ft high and the windows in the sitting room almost fill two walls.”

At the time that they saw it the flat was conservatively decorated with muted colours throughout, but Arleen and Paul couldn’t wait to stamp their own style on what they saw as a blank canvas. And such a large blank canvas called for boldness, according to Arleen, who is something of an interiors expert in her spare time.

The couple, who by day work in the finance industry, were so keen to get the look of this flat right that the put all the furniture which had graced their previous flat into storage and called in friend and interior designer, Jane Randall, from Edinburgh’s Bay Interiors for advice.

They agreed that the rooms could take large prints for the wallpaper which would have swamped smaller wall spaces. The wallpaper is manly from Osbourne and Little and the black silk curtains which grave the living space are from New Town Curtains.

Paul says: “I think we were a little shocked at how much curtain material was needed to cover these windows but the same is true of the wallpaper.”

Little structural work was needed, a new kitchen had just been installed and the bathrooms were all by Villeroy and Boche and so the couple were happy to leave them in and direct their energies towards decor and furnishings.

Arleen spent her evenings and weekends shopping for the house or pouring over design magazines but she says it wasn’t hardship. “I was definitely having fun, I’m into all elements of design and I really found it a good way to relax.”

Paul points to a couple of great ideas that they incorporated into the house. “I love the sprayed black fireplace and the mood lighting in the floor around the windows, they are really amazing touches and I thin this really moderns style goes so well with the traditional backdrop.”

With both Paul and Arleen so keen on revamping older houses, it was obvious that Bailey the dog shouldn’t get too used to the garden. They are now looking for a new project but hope that potential buyers here will appreciate the modern twist they’ve given a home with huge amount of natural quality.

Flat 1, Sputhfiled House, is a ground floor conversion with a drawing room, dining kitchen, master bedroom with en suit shower room, two other bedrooms, bathroom , study and private south facing terrace. Offers over £445,000, contact D J Alexander on 0131-6527313.

THE SCOTSMAN, 4 June 2009