The White Stuff

A monochrome palette has given this family home a peaceful feeling of light and space.

‘We moved here from a flat in the centre of Edinburgh when our eldest son, Alexander, was a year old’ Catherine explains. ‘We were looking for a house with a garden and considered moving to the countryside, but in the end decided against because of the inevitable commute for work. This pretty terrace in a steading development on the leafy outskirts of the city offered us the best of both worlds.’

The previous owner had decorated in dramatic colours: deep reds and ochres, which was cosy and suited the edge of the countryside location, but Catherine suspects other buyers were put off by the slightly tired and dated decor, enabling her and Cameron to snap up their desirable home with less competition than is usual in the area. Otherwise, the previous owner had made some good alterations to the house and they are delighted with the open plan layout downstairs. Two walls had been removed to create a super open plan living, kitchen, dining room. The layout really works, because when you first enter the house you initially come across the living room: the kitchen is tucked away around the corner and overlooks the back garden.

‘Our last property we did up to sell and never enjoyed the fruits of our labour, this time round I was determined to start more promptly and improve it sooner rather than later and enjoy the benefits for longer’ Catherine shares. ‘We were in a rented property when we first moved in and had the luxury of staying there for the first month while builders completed the first phase. They plastered and painted throughout and replaced the bathroom and cloakroom and laid fresh carpet upstairs. We moved in, very happily, to a blank, white canvas.’ A year later Catherine and Cameron replaced the kitchen, phase two of the renovation; the third and final phase took place another year on, when they replaced the existing laminate flooring with gorgeous pale oak floorboards downstairs and installed the living room wood-burning stove and fireplace. ‘We also addressed the 1980s style staircase, creating a safer, solid balustrade and reduced the size of the hall to increase the hall cupboard to solve our storage needs’ Catherine explains.

Their rented property was a large Georgian apartment and although they loved the scale and period details, they have quickly taken to the manageability of their cottage style home. ‘It is so easy to heat and keep clean’ Catherine notes. The local schooling is excellent, which is a wonderful bonus and the steading development is surrounded by communal green spaces, giving their two little boys an idyllic start.

Catherine worked in property management before she had children, but the costs of childcare were so high, it simply didn’t make financial sense to go back to work. Luckily it presented her with the opportunity to start her online business, collaborating with her mother, interior designer, Fiona Denholm. Fiona is on board as a consultant, helping with the research. ‘My father is an architect and mum has always worked alongside him in their practice in Perthshire, the James Denholm Partnership’ Catherine explains. ‘I wanted to set up an online store, selling a range of beautiful products, designed to last. My collection symbolize the main elements of nature: fire is represented by lighting and candles; air by storage; earth by textiles and water by soaps and beauty products.’

Catherine’s soothing, relaxing home reflects her business perfectly. ‘I do not specifically live a minimalist lifestyle but I do enjoy a simple, natural approach to design and decoration, with an emphasis on organic materials with ethical values. A lot of our furniture is from Ikea, mainly to do with practicalities at the moment. I don’t want to be worrying about the children damaging things, I want them to run around freely, without me worrying. But we have enriched the scheme with designer details: our wedding list was with the Conran shop so we have some treasured pieces from that and we have been able to add further, choice pieces from 2 More Heads enhancing our home even further.

The results are stylish and impressive, without being precious. ‘With two little boys we knew that we needed to make allowances for indoor football to take place on a rainy day. So the furniture is sturdy and practical. The colours and materials we have chosen are all very forgiving and the artworks affordable and personal. I have bought collectable pieces on from antique dealers on Gumtree and framed reproduction prints. I love maps: you can buy prints of old maps from the Map Library in Edinburgh. They make fantastic artworks framed up, you could wallpaper a room with them if you wanted!’

Our house is first and foremost our family home. We love our light and airy house and it works as a home for all of us with great adult spaces and kids spaces. TC
Published: February 2018