Small and Beautiful


Mairi MacDonald
Douglas Gibb

If designing a small space, do what David and Diane Johnson did, and choose a theme and colourway that works throughout.

‘Working with beautiful fabrics, wallpapers and furniture every day of the week, as I do, can actually make choosing for my own house extremely difficult,’ says David Johnson, who owns The Interior Collection, a specialist agency that sells interior furnishings to designers around Scotland. ‘With so much choice, it is difficult to know where to start,’ he says.

David and his wife Diane turned to their favourite designer, the 1960’s design icon, David Hicks, as inspiration. ‘Hicks is known for his use of bold colour, pattern and mixing old with new,’ says David. ‘We live in the countryside normally so our aim for this pied-a-terre was to create a home from home where we could both work and play.’

The home that David and Diane were creating had been a tired two-bedroom apartment in a converted townhouse in Edinburgh’s gracious New Town.

‘The entire flat fits into what was once the drawing-room and the morning-room of the original house. The building was converted into flats in the 1960s and this flat had not been properly updated since,’ explains David.

In the original conversion the front room was left untouched with high ceilings, ornate cornicing, marble fireplace and working shutters whilst the morning-room behind accommodated two bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen and the hallway.

‘We replaced the electrics and most of the plumbing throughout and in doing so stripped each room down to its bare bones. This gave us a blank canvas to design the décor from scratch,’ explains David.

Taking into account the scale of each room, the couple, with the help and creativity of an interior designer family friend, sourced fixtures and fittings that would complement the style and grandeur of the building as a whole but in a contemporary and edgy way.

We learned that in an apartment this small it was essential to design it as a whole to increase the feeling of light, space and continuity, and using an inspiration such as David Hicks made it so much easier to do so.

Light was maximised throughout with light grey woodwork, a new glass bannister on the staircase and good contemporary lighting. The floors in the drawing-room were replaced with lime washed herringbone wood whilst pale carpets and tiles covered the rest.

Using David Hicks’s obvious love of symmetry, lighting, colour and pattern as an inspiration, the couple have decorated with bold wallpapers, vibrant fabrics and strong bursts of burnt orange throughout.

‘We have thoroughly enjoyed paying tribute to a great designer and have created what we think is a fun, light and very contemporary city pied-a-terre. A place that we can all enjoy,’ says David.

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