There was much to like about this unusual 1950s two-storey villa when Daniela and Duncan Forbes bought it in 2018. It’s in Cramond, one of the most sought-after suburbs of Edinburgh, close to the couple’s family, handy for the city centre, and blessed with a large garden. But it also had some very obvious drawbacks, particularly in the way the ground-floor living spaces were arranged, and the new owners realised from the start that they’d be facing a major renovation and extension project before long.
“We bought the house because it was detached and had a beautiful south-facing garden,” recalls Daniela Forbes. “But it had no connection to the garden. We should have had lovely views at the back but, apart from getting the odd glimpse in the badly constructed, draughty sunroom, the only part of the house where you could actually see the garden was the utility room.”
The couple and their two young children lived in the house for around eight months to get a feel for it and a sense of the changes they’d like to make, before they approached a friend, Neil Taylor of Edinburgh-based TAP Architecture. They asked him to renovate and extend the ground floor, focusing on creating a large kitchen, dining and living space that would be connected to the garden, and forming an en-suite bedroom and a cosy living space in the existing house.
“The internal layout was awkward,” recalls Taylor. “It had a constricted entrance space, under a porch and into a narrow hall, with a dark kitchen on the north-east corner of the house. There was an L-shaped living room which went into an uninsulated sunroom and another conservatory on the back of the house that was similarly cold and unattractive.
“It was clear that we’d have to take away the sunroom and conservatory and find a different way of configuring the ground floor to give the owners the open-plan spaces and garden link they wanted.”
The villa’s quirky character and its unusual stone-effect façade in ochre precast concrete, grafted onto the building in an attempt to create a grander, more substantial street frontage, informed the thinking behind the design of the new extension.
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