Tales of the Unexpected


Alison Gibb
Douglas Gibb

Florist and interior stylist Michele Stewart has designed a family home that is far from traditional and a fabulous showcase for her work. 

The house is perfect for entertaining and catering for crowds, but also works well for Michele and her husband now that their children have flown the nest. Spotting an untouched 1930s bungalow in a peaceful area of Edinburgh, a large garden was what was needed to persuade Michele’s husband Jim to give up his much-loved country home for the conveniences of city life. ‘The bungalow had been untouched, so was a blank canvas for us to create a free-flowing contemporary home in a central location. The large garden gave us plenty of scope for an extension and we converted the loft as well.’

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This was ten years ago now, when the Stewarts’ three children were teenagers. ‘The ferrying around to sporting and drama fixtures was just getting too much from our home half an hour outside Edinburgh, Jim was reluctant to move, but he could really see the potential of this house, so we made the move,’ Michele recalls.

I consider the ceiling to be the fifth wall of a room and love experimenting with colour and pattern, it felt right to use a fun geometric pattern up there.

The house was gutted and given a contemporary face-lift, inside and out. The modern kitchen is now open to a stunning living and dining extension, with a glass wall overlooking the garden.

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There is still a more formal living-room at the front of the house and two downstairs bedrooms, each with their own bathroom. Over-sized black slate floor tiles have been laid throughout the ground floor to achieve a seamless flow between all the rooms. Upstairs now houses three further bedrooms and a family bathroom. The bathrooms and tiles throughout are all by Porcelanosa.

When it came to the kitchen, the Stewarts continued with their contemporary approach and selected handleless cabinetry by modernist German manufacturer Leicht, with a bank of built-in appliances almost as a feature in the centre of the wall of sleek white units. Being visible from the living and dining area, Michele wanted the kitchen detailing to be discreet, so chose an induction hob that sits flush with the work surface and an under-mounted sink with a boiling water mixer tap which helps keep clutter to a minimum.

‘We chose Kitchens International to fit the kitchen because of their reputation for precision when installing plumbing and appliances,’ Michele explains. ‘It has really fulfilled all our expectations, their designer really helped bring our ideas to life. The stunning white Silestone work surface, which is so hardwearing, is the icing on the cake.’

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Michele designed one bedroom as a fun space for guests. She saw it as an opportunity to thoroughly indulge her love of funky wallpaper, choosing three geometric designs for two walls and the ceiling, and just to break all the rules has mixed it up with a floral paper on a third wall. The anarchic theme was inspired by her love of the artist Frida Kahlo, whose fearless use of colour has always encouraged Michele to be bold in her design work. Guests adore it and say there is no destination more cheering.

‘Such vibrant choices in a small space was brave, I know, but friends who really did not feel confident love it now, even my mum who is my harshest critic!’ Michele laughs.

The master bedroom’s en suite bathroom was designed as a highly functional wet room with hard-wearing materials. Here Michele’s choices were inspired by trips to South East Asia, particularly Thailand and Bali.  There was no need for storage as there is a capacious dressing-room adjacent. Michele aimed for a stark, simple result, but wanted to ensure that the room was light so chose the light marble ceramic for three of the walls and mirror for the end wall.

My love of natural materials for the bathroom extends to natural fragrances and cosmetics. I absolutely adore aromatherapy oils and rely on them for my health and well-being.

The large garden meant there was plenty of space for a living and dining space extension with a stunning garden view, whilst the loft was converted to provide three more bedrooms plus a family bathroom. 

The garden has been designed as a low-maintenance garden, using a palette of purple, green and white. Since acquiring a delightful cockapoo puppy, Pablo, Michele has installed an artificial lawn; it looks and feels completely realistic.

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The entire house was updated, inside and out, and Michele did most of the styling herself. Having trained as a florist, Michele is now moving into interiors and has set up her own interior accessories and homeware business called QueenB Lifestyle. There is an online store and she has had a pop-up shop in the Radisson Hotel in central Edinburgh all summer. She also offers a home styling service by appointment.

Her dramatic eye and fun, bold use of colour are much appreciated by her clients and her work has been transformative to their homes. ‘I love taking risks!’ she admits. With an adventurous and growing interior accessories collection plus her years of training and experience as a florist, and styling for weddings and events, Michele’s design work is proving to be highly sought-after and very relevant.

Find out more at www.queenblifestyle.co.uk or look for Michele on Instagram @queenbedinburgh

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