American idyll: Two San Francisco artists settle in Edinburgh’s Trinity area

A transatlantic move spelled new beginnings for a couple of artists and their young family – and for the layout of their new home in Edinburgh

When circumstances forced Debbie Ladas and Suzanne Taylor to leave San Francisco and return to the UK last year with their young sons Finn and Moss, the couple’s first concern was finding a home for their family. It so happened that Suzanne’s father and his wife were looking to downsize from their home in Edinburgh’s Trinity area – a property they had lived in for thirty years. Debbie and Suzanne knew the house well and liked the idea of another generation of the family growing up here. “The fact that we knew where we would be living and could start visualising the transformation made things a lot easier,” says Debbie.
But they quickly realised that the existing layout of the property wouldn’t work with a young family. The galley kitchen in particular was cramped, and the house (which occupies the ground floor of a Georgian villa that was extended in Victorian times) didn’t have a strong connection with the rear garden – in itself a must with their two dogs, Louis and Maisie, and two energetic boys.
Also, the house was cold. “These old houses are just built onto the dirt, so it was damp,” Suzanne says. On top of that, the insular layout made the interior feel dark, so they were desperate to bring light into the rooms.
Having researched architects online while still in the States, the couple were drawn to the aesthetic style and approach of Helen Lucas Architects. Suzanne returned to Scotland a few weeks early and met with Helen Lucas and project architect Claire Metivier. The initial plan was for a relatively simple extension, but, as Debbie says: “We kept raising the bar of excellence until we got this!”
While the bones of the original house remain, the layout, flow, light, functionality and feel of the place have all been completely transformed. The house is now oriented towards the rear garden, which is accessed from the expansive kitchen, dining and living space that spills out onto a wide decked terrace – a terrace that essentially forms an outdoor room. On colder days, this living space is snug thanks to a Rais wood­burning stove. Indeed, the extension, which is clad in western red cedar from Russwood, with NorDan doors, was extended slightly further than initially planned to ensure there was enough space for the seating area.

This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 96-102, issue 91.

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What Extension and internal configuration of the ground level of a period property
Where Edinburgh
Architect Helen Lucas Architects
Construction Time Started October 2012, moved in June 2013
Budget £158,000
Words Fiona Reid
Photography Angus Bremner