Adjustment bureau: Renovated 1900s first-floor flat

A collaboration between two architects and an interior designer has created a chic, stylish home from the bones of a dated and dysfunctional flat

Architects like a brief. They’ll spend hours trying to get an idea of what the client likes and dislikes, opening eyes and minds to a huge range of possibilities – and at the same time quashing grandiose pipe dreams. This expansion and then narrowing of the options makes it so much easier to arrive at a scheme that works.
But when the architect is also the client, things get a lot more complicated. Here you have a client who already knows that anything is possible, who has a million and one competing ideas in mind, and who has no one (save the bank manager) to rein in the flights of fancy.
This was the situation facing Hugh Hesketh and Lindsey Strachan, partners at ABN7 Architects, when they bought a flat in need of renovation in the west end of Aberdeen. The pair, who met as students at the city’s Scott Sutherland School of Architecture, work mainly out of London but needed a base in Scotland for their projects in the Granite City. The property, an early-1900s purpose-built first-floor flat, had three bedrooms and lots of potential but was tired and dated and in need of a thorough overhaul.
“We liked the location, the propor­tions and the tra­di­tional details,” explains Lindsey, “but the layout was all wrong. The way things were didn’t make the best use of the space or the natural light.” There was an interes­ting turret room to the front, overlooking a busy street, but this was being used as the master bedroom, meaning it was noisy and lacking in privacy. The kitchen, meanwhile, was disconnected from the heart of the flat and was badly in need of renovation.
The question for Lindsey and Hugh was what to keep and what to lose. Should they make wholesale changes, knock down walls, erase the remaining original features? Or should they salvage what was left and try to restore the flat to how it would have looked in its Edwardian heyday?
In the end, they found an altogether more harmonious solution, building a brand new kitchen and dining room in the turret and creating a mini-guest wing out of the original kitchen by adding an en-suite bathroom and built-in wardrobes – “A much more appropriate use for the qualities offered by these spaces,” says Lindsey.
What really helped, though, was bringing in Claire Canning, an interior designer who’d collaborated with ABN7 on several projects, to assist with the overall look and feel of the place. She took charge of colours, fabrics, furniture, lighting and art – and, says Lindsey, “helped me convince Hugh not the paint all the walls white!”
The colours and materials were carefully considered to complement the qualities of each room. “Claire created mood boards and visualisations showing how all the elements could work together with possible options for different rooms,” explains Lindsey. “Once we’d decided on a look, we visited various showrooms to source furniture, lighting, fabrics and tiles.”

This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 184-192, issue 95.

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Words Judy Diamond
Photography Neale Smith
What A renovated 1900s first-floor flat with three bedrooms
Where Aberdeen
Timescale Six months