Unique, bespoke solutions have maximized the space in Lynsay and Jeff Bell Manson’s apartment, resulting in a luxurious, city-centre home.
The Victorian townhouse where their first floor apartment is located was converted into flats in the 1930s. Lynsay, an architect with her own practice, Studio LBA, and her husband Jeff, a management accountant, bought their home knowing they would radically alter it. ‘I cannot resist a project,’ Lynsay admits.
The front room, which originally would have been a grand drawing-room with two windows, had been divided, creating a bedroom. The kitchen was at the back. Lynsay and Jeff took the whole apartment back to the bare bones. They knocked down the partition, opening up the room to its original proportions. They then brought the kitchen into the spacious living-room and the room at the back has reverted to a second bedroom.
Lynsay knows that you need to spend a bit of time in a property to get to know it. ‘Every room has its own personality,’ she believes. ‘I am so focused on clients’ projects at work; it was quite stressful doing up my own place at the same time. I feel now that we rushed things a bit,’ Lynsay reflects. ‘I always advise clients to take their time, and I did not think I needed to, but of course I did!
I look to the character of the building for inspiration, this is a city centre apartment, so we have made it quite urban.
She and Jeff had both been so busy at work, they hurriedly stripped the floorboards when they moved in and soon realised that this was a mistake. The boards were not in good enough condition for the look they were aiming for. ‘We wanted to retain the original features, of course, but actually, we wanted the overall result to be quite sharp,’ Lynsay explains. So they ended up replacing the floorboards with brand new oak boards for a more flawless look.
They stripped back all the doors as well, to the original warm, Canadian oak, which did work. ‘I love natural materials: wood and stone especially,’ Lynsay shares. She has chosen finishes for their texture as much as their colour. Lynsay wanted her home to embody classic design values. ‘I did not want to take shortcuts or make throwaway choices,’ she states. ‘You have to invest a bit in the details sometimes to get things right.
The highlights of the interior are the contrasts Lynsay has created between the period features that she has deliberately preserved and the bespoke, modern additions that she has installed alongside. She has created clever counterpoints between the historic building and the more urban finishes, such as the concrete surround to the TV cabinet. She has mixed her minimal aesthetic with quirky details, using a knowing eye.
They have loved every moment living here, sharing their home with their two lively cocker spaniels, Nipper and Zunna. Despite being incredibly central, the flat is so peaceful. It is in a quiet cul-de-sac, and there are shared gardens. ‘We have wonderful neighbours and there is a great sense of community,’ Lynsay shares.
The living-room, it is great for entertaining because it is so open, but equally perfect for a quiet night in front of the fire.
Some very choice local interiors shops are an added bonus. ‘I love to drop by PAD Lifestyle, Catalog Interiors, or Life Story for some fresh inspiration,’ Lynsay says. ‘I do need to keep up with trends for our architectural practice and the Edinburgh design community is extremely friendly and supportive.’ However, being so passionate about her work, it can be hard to switch off, but starting the day at the local gym and ending with a dog walk through beautiful local gardens is the perfect balance.