The risks of doing something different have paid off handsomely in this Edinburgh home
Most people hire an interior designer because they feel it’s a risk to do the job themselves. For Chris Smith, the opposite was true. Risk was what he wanted. He was curious to see what would happen if he let a designer loose on his Edinburgh home. And not just any designer: he chose John Amabile, a man not known for tiptoeing quietly through shades of magnolia. “I wanted something new – something I hadn’t seen before,” he says with a smile.
This sense of daring is linked to his self-confessed desire to try out all the latest interiors products and processes. “I’ve only been in this house for three years,” he says, “but the décor is already on its third incarnation.”
As the director of Ceej, a construction company that builds new houses and renovates old ones, Chris is perhaps less perturbed than most of us by the upheaval, mess, stress and cost of decorating. “We can’t experiment with all the wonderful new products out there in the houses we’re creating for other people, so I’ve got used to volunteering the walls of my own home,” he explains.
The first incarnation of his New Town home was white on every surface, to cover up what had been there when he moved in. The second was a chance to personalise the place and make it his own. Now, having settled in, he was ready for a change – something that John Amabile was only too happy to supply.
In many respects, however, this was no gamble. The Glasgow-based designer has been a much-admired figure in the interiors business for many years and has won several awards for his work. On top of that, the pair had been friends for a long time and Chris had complete confidence that John would make a success of this project.
Nevertheless, the briefing was unconventional to say the least: “We had a 15-minute meeting during which we discussed what needed doing, then we headed to a bar for a couple of bottles of champagne to seal the deal,” he laughs.
What sort of instructions did he give John? ‘None – there were no instructions. It was a meeting of minds. He knows what I like and I know what he can do. I was certain it would work out.”
This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 204-218, issue 105.
Photography Neale Smith
Words Judy Diamond
Art direction Gillian Welsh
What What A conversion in a Georgian terrace