I first visited this Victorian house in Lasswade back in 2009 when I wrote about Wester Riggs for a UK interiors magazine. I was sold as soon as I arrived. After all, it's such a handsome looking house.
RETTIE & CO
The owners, Lisa and Neil McMyn, had relocated to Scotland from Australia, having lived in Sydney for 5 years. With two young daughters, they decided to return to their Scottish roots. I caught up with Lisa to chat about the refurbishment process and her approach to the interior design.
Why did you choose Wester Riggs?
"Our idea was to come back to Scotland and create a real family base, designing a house that was absolutely about our family," says Lisa, who recently launched the jewellery company I Love a Lassie with jewellery designer Arlene Katorza. "Two of our good friends came and viewed house for us when we were still in Sydney and took photos, and we initially offered on the house having only seen those photos. The owners wanted to wait and see how the house fared on the open market, but when we visited Scotland a month later, we discovered that the house hadn’t sold so we came to see it and made an offer. It felt like it was meant to be. The bones of the house were fantastic, but the interior needed a complete overhaul. All the walls were stripped back to the plaster and we installed a new heating system and completely rewired the house. Quite a few of the ceiling roses were taken down and refurbished, and the corkscrew balustrade on the staircase was all plain wood so we painted that dark to make the whole space feel richer, with a black staircase."
What was the inspiration behind the design?
“One of the main things I learned living in Australia was that designers there tend to take a more holistic approach to a property. Our house in Sydney felt like a home in the way it flowed, rather than a series of rooms, and that was the feeling I wanted here, where the spaces would hang together as one big house but with points of interest. "We lived within the house as it was for the first six months while I worked through design ideas. I’m quite a methodical person. I kept a giant scrap book of pages and ideas torn from magazines, and then tried to link the colour themes through between the spaces. Maybe it was the lines of a kitchen or the style of a staircase; nothing’s identical here but it gave me a structure to work to.”
The drawing and sitting rooms have very different styles. What inspired this?
"The drawing room is very homely and warm; I wanted to create that tweedy warmth to the space, and this room has the most fabulous original cornicing. It was delightful to come back to a Scottish house and have all these features. I designed the sofas and had them made by Be Seated in Edinburgh, and then added in textiles from Melin Tregwynt with a shaggy rug and lighting from Habitat. The sitting room is more sexy and dramatic. It was about not being scared of using dark hues, especially when the palette is warmed up by the chandelier and with a roaring fire lit at night time. When I was making my scrapbook, these were the two styles I kept coming back to. I knew the darkness and moodiness wasn’t right for a family home, but it works in a room for entertaining.”
How did you go about creating the new kitchen area?
"The open plan dining-kitchen was previously two spaces, which we opened up. We toyed with the idea of keeping the existing Aga, but it didn’t fit with the concept of what we wanted to do. The streamlined Hacker kitchen is combined with Silestone worktops. There was a lot of discussion about the depth of the worktop: I either wanted it to be wafer thin – I'd looked at a Bulthaup kitchen I loved with a really thin sliver of a worktop – or really solid, and we went for the latter. We specified slate floor tiles from Fired Earth with underfloor heating as I needed something robust and easy to clean with dogs and children running around. I worked through the project with Paul Rogers of Gloss, and Paul was fantastic as he completely shared my attention to detail and he was great at sourcing product. I’d show him photos of what I wanted and he’d suggest a specific brand that worked for that style. Paul really helped in terms of the affordability of the overall project."
How did you create the new master bedroom suite?
"On the first floor, the original configuration of bathroom, shower room and single bedroom was rearranged to create the en-suite dressing room and the bathroom for the master bedroom, along with a family bathroom. In Australia we had a lovely big bedroom opening out onto a roof garden but we only had a very small shower room and toilet, so I always thought it would be nice to have a master bedroom suite – and this was a chance to do phenomenal bathroom suite. The freestanding Imperial bath makes a great centerpiece to the space. The basin unit and taps are from Fired Earth, with a gilt mirror from The Crystal Chandelier Company, and the damask tiles are by Porcelanosa."
"Start the design by choosing a few base colours that will work throughout the house, creating a canvas that you won’t get tired of, and then add wallpapers and accents from there." ~ Lisa McMyn
ALL PHOTOGRAPHY BY EXPOSURE
Wester Riggs is on the market with Rettie & Co: rettie.co.uk/property-for-sale/midlothian/lasswade/EDI111277-5-bed-house-broomieknowe Follow Rettie & Co on Twitter: twitter.com/RettieandCo I Love a Lassie: ilovealassie.uk.com/ Follow I Love a Lassie on Twitter: twitter.com/LoveaLassie Exposure: photographyandfloorplans.co.uk/ Gloss: glossprojects.co.uk/