Tour a luxury Georgian garden 'cottage' flat available to rent in the capital

Wednesday, 25th July 2018, 5:10 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th July 2018, 6:15 pm

An idyllic cottage in the heart of Edinburgh? No wonder Robin Jack snapped it up.

Robin Jack bought The Merchant’s House in Edinburgh’s Gayfield Square in 2006. “I was very lucky to find it,” he says. “I saw it online, viewed it the next day and put in an offer straight away.

“What attracted me to it was that it was so unusual. There are very few garden properties in the New Town and most of them tend to be basement ones.

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Picture: Cool Stays

"This apartment is a ground floor in a standalone Georgian building and the only one on the square. We have the entire ground floor, a private front garden and, at the rear, a small private terrace.”

Robin contemplated moving into the house, but as he owned and ran a guest house on nearby Pilrig Street, it wasn’t practical.

However, with hindsight, that gave him valuable experience in renovating and maintaining a holiday property.

“Since I was a child I’ve always had a project on the go,” he says. “Whether it was a painting or a craft project, and as an adult it’s morphed into DIY and renovation.”

While the property was in good repair, Robin was still keen to imprint his personality on it. “The decor is very much my doing and my taste.

Picture: Cool Stays

The previous owner favoured dark colours but at the time they weren’t really the thing. I’ve opted for cool greys which suit the property well.

It’s maintainable and it keeps everything very light and airy.

“In the master bedroom there was plenty of cupboard space, but it was rather unremarkable with plain, flat doors.

"I refronted them to make them more reminiscent of the Georgian style. It’s a simple technique: you fix a piece of MDF to the door to create a panel effect and then paint it. I chose a lovely bone colour to give a classic look and fitted new crystal handles.”

The chandelier was a bargain find in a junk shop in Leith Walk. “It was at the back of the shop on a chair in bits, but I thought I might be able to do something with it,” says Robin.

Picture: Cool Stays

“The parts were all there albeit in a bit of a pile, so I took it completely apart, cleaned every element and reconstructed it and it worked fine – it just needed TLC. It was tricky, but it worked.”

The quirky bedside bird lamps were chosen as a talking point. “I just thought the room could do with something a bit odd, a bit bolder, and they were it.

"I then brought in the duck egg blue damask velvet curtains and took that colour through to the cushions.

“I often think the best way to decorate a room is to add your colour to things that are movable. If you choose subtle colours for your walls and fixtures you can add splashes of colour and easily transform the room.”

Picture: Cool Stays

In the drawing room, it’s a much more dramatic affair with a monochrome base palette lightened up with touches of lime and yellow.

“I’ve added luxurious grey blankets for texture and comfort and to soften the appearance of the sofa and Barcelona chair which are in white leather.

"I had the gilded antique chairs re-upholstered in a bold pattern. A friend of mine is Pete Holmes who owns Be Seated and he took the chairs right back to the frame to restore them.

"I love the contrast of the old and new. The drawing room is one of my favourite spaces. It’s a cottage-sized, Georgian drawing room which is slightly smaller but still very symmetrical, which I appreciate.”

The shower room and bathroom are contemporary but individual. “The shower room is quite masculine and dark with brown mosaic tiles.

"They have a slight feel of leather about them which is really nice.”

Picture: Cool Stays

In the main bathroom, bold birds make another appearance in the form of Cole & Son wallpaper.

“It’s a good square bathroom so it can take a bold pop and I thought rather than hang a large picture, I’d just wallpaper the entire wall.

"I toned the woodwork and flooring in with the paper as well. The flooring is Marmoleum which is incredibly practical but looks good too. I also like playing about with mirrors and where better to do that than in the bathroom?”

At the rear of the property, the second bedroom doesn’t benefit from as much natural light as the master, so Robin chose a darker scheme to complement this.

“I’ve used a cappuccino shade on the walls and fitted burgundy velvet curtains along the entire window wall.

"I thought that rather than treat it just as a window, I’d frame the whole space. It’s a bit like a theatre curtain and it also makes the window look wider.”

Picture: Cool Stays

One room that Robin hasn’t done much to is the kitchen. “I bought the house from a lady who had run a kitchen design company and unsurprisingly she designed the kitchen really well.

"It’s a great layout, it’s comfortable to sit in, it’s sociable and there’s a nice central island to cook at.

"The only thing I thought was a bit odd was that there were two different colours of worktop – a mix of solid, black granite and blue Corian – but it’s really grown on me.

Picture: Cool Stays

"The French doors in the kitchen lead out to the back terrace where there’s a seating area, which is great for catching the afternoon sun.

“The most important thing to me is that this feels very much like being in a house, not an apartment.

"I love all the original features. Another bonus is that we have our own private entrance. We have two neighbours – first floor and attic – but they access at the back of the property.

Picture: Cool Stays

"Externally, I love the stonework and when you come through the gate you feel you’re looking at a Georgian cottage in the middle of the country.

"It’s so quiet here even though you’re in Edinburgh city centre – it really is a cottage in the city and one of a kind.”

Picture: Cool Stays

The Merchant’s House is available to let through Cool Stays and Luxury Edinburgh Apartments.

Words: Nichola Hunter