There’s nothing more Natasha and I love than a snoop around someone’s beautiful home. Which is why we were thrilled when PR whizz and former journalist Emily Murray agreed to show us around the stunning house she shares with husband Euan and sons Oscar (5) and Zac (2) in Edinburgh’s picturesque Southside. I first met Emily several moons ago when we were both working at Brides magazine. We both gave up the taffeta and table plans and while I stayed put in London, Emily moved back to Edinburgh, changed careers and had two gorgeous children.
Currently Editorial Director at Stripe Communications, Emily (who you can follow on twitter @emilycasan) describes her home as “city meets country, on acid. Euan and I lived in London for 12 years and I miss it, so Ive tried to bring a bit of the big smoke back to Edinburgh, while reflecting the almost rural setting of our Arts & Crafts house, tucked away behind Blackford Hill.” Want to see more? Come on then….
“We’ve lived here for four years, since Oscar was a baby. We moved to be near family; my parents live in Edinburgh and Euan’s parents have a farm in the Borders. It’s so lovely that the boys are growing up knowing their grandparents.
The house was in pretty good nick when we bought it, with neutral everything, so the main thing was giving it personality. Apart from that, we knocked down the wall between the kitchen and sitting room to create an open plan living/eating/cooking area. Our next project is to transform the downstairs playroom by replacing the windows with French doors leading into the garden, and laying parquet floor.
I look everywhere for my home buys – from online to local shops and finds from further afield. It’s mainly online now, especially with kids making it harder to get to the shops, and many of my favourite stores being in London. Although Edinburgh does have a growing selection of interior shops, including Anthropologie, Oliver Bonas, and Life Story, which I visit when I can.
I didn’t want this room to feel too kitchen-y as it’s open plan with the living room, so I was after a fun, relaxed feel which doesn’t jar with the living area – the book shelf, Anthropologie bird rug and Oliver Bonas ‘Party Hard’ print are all things I would put in a living room, but work in the kitchen too. This is stage one of the room’s transformation. Next, I’d like to include a splashback consisting of metro tiles, and replace the cupboard doors, or at least paint them and replace the handles with something more arty, probably from the selection of ceramic knobs at Anthropologie.
We lived in a flat in Archway before moving to Edinburgh; the sign is an original bus blind that reads ‘Archway Station’, which I got from Rockett St George. I loved living in Archway – it was such a vibrant, fun place with Hampstead Heath down the road and Highgate and Tufnell Park’s lovely boutiques right on our doorstep. I especially miss the beautiful children’s clothes shop Eeny Meeny, where I used to get most of Oscar’s clothes; the retro vibe is spot on. My parents have a place in Tufnell Park so I go back for weekends whenever I can, and pick up a Dandy Star t-shirt or two for the boys.
Bus route signs, £170, Rockett St George; The kitchen and living room walls are painted with Farrow & Ball’s Manor House Gray – I think the grey helps make the colours pop (we used White Tie on the window frames, cornices and skirting boards); Mantadia rug, £68-£398 (depending on size), Anthropologie
The Living Room
This room needed to feel cosy during the dark Edinburgh winters, but still bright and fun in the daytime, with a hint of glamour. I’ve used blue Designers Guild Arkona Velvet for the blinds, and the green velvet sofa is from Ikea – I couldn’t resist the colour, and it’s survived being smeared with biscuits and bananas remarkably well. The Alphabet sideboard is just inside the living room, right next to the kitchen and the children’s drawing table. It’s from Graham & Green and it houses the kids’ art stuff in a way that I don’t find visually offensive.
We don’t used the door any more since we knocked through the wall, but instead of trying to hide it, I wanted to make it into a feature. The door is painted with blackboard paint and I thought the gold frame would create an instant masterpiece of the boys’ scribbles. Problem is, I don’t trust them with the chalks yet – they’d be drawing on the walls in a second. Maybe next year…
The Dining Room
I wanted our dining room to be a grown-up party room for late night, child-free dinners. A room that would make people go ‘wow’ when they walked in, and encourage dinner party guests to have ‘just one more glass of wine’. I love the irreverence and link to London of the Timorous Beasties wallpaper. It’s as close to rock and roll as I get these days, with small kids cramping my style! When Oscar was a toddler we taught him to point at the man holding the gun and say ‘capin’isass’ as a party trick. I think that makes me a bad parent.
The chandelier is from an antique shop in Hampton Court, near the palace. I added the Paperchase multi-coloured baubles a year last Christmas and loved them so much that I not only kept them up, but bought a velvet stripy Designers Guild blind to match.
Wallpaper brings a bit of magic to the room – a bit like a stage set; perfect for domestic dramas. And I like the way it adds depth and interest. The wallpaper in this room, the playroom, is from Harlequin.
The ‘Owl’ Room
This stained glass is original – apparently it’s been there since the house was built, in the 1890s. It’s next to the front door, in the tiny coat/shoe room that we’ve named The Owl Room (standard conversation: Oscar: ‘Where are my shooooooes?’ Me: ‘They’re in The Owl Room’
Each of the 15 houses on the street have a stained glass panel, featuring animals or plants (all very Arts and Crafts). Some of the originals are now missing but we’re lucky that ours is intact. Funnily enough, there are owls in the trees around our house so we hear them from time to time. I’ve taken owls and birds as a bit of a theme for our house – we have an owl vase, bird lamps in the bedroom and I favour Green & Spring handwash from Cowley Manor because of the bird designs.
Emily and Euan’s Bedroom
Yes. I let Euan sleep here too. He says his favourite place in the house is sitting on the pink chair, because then he doesn’t have to look at it. I think he’s joking. It’s from Tann Rokka in Primrose Hill – I walked into the shop 8 years ago and just fell in love – I’d never felt that way about a piece of furniture before. I wanted our bedroom to feel romantic, fanciful, a bit Midsummers Night Dream and a bit boudoir (well, I do live with 3 blokes), but with an edge, the edge being the wallpaper with its evil looking insects nestled next to the pretty butterflies.
I got the sequinned jacket for a song from an online shop when I was working for more! magazine – the fashion team were genius at hunting down fabulous bargains. I’ve got so many shiny, gold or sequinned clothes which I try to wear on an everyday basis. I reckon life should be one long party!
‘Butterflies’ wallpaper, £240 per roll, Timorous Beasties; Mother of pearl inlay drawers, £995, Atkin and Thyme; I love the mossy green Designers Guild ‘Brescia’ heavy velvet curtains – pink and green is my favourite colour combination and it reminds me of my and Euan’s riverside wedding, where we married on the grass under an arch of Candy Bianca roses.
There’s something magical and mysterious about woods, and I think magic and mystery is an important part of being a child. I also wanted the room to have an ‘outside in’ feel, hence the green carpet which is supposed to look like grass, and the flat badger rug, which Euan hates, but maybe that’s because he grew up on a farm where squashed animals aren’t cute.
Zac’s room is a whimsical, gender-neutral kids room that is as much fun for the boys as it is for Euan and I. Scandinavian style was a big influence.