An Artist’s Colorful Scottish Home Has Enviable Architecture and Lots of Paint Inspiration

published May 12, 2020

An Artist’s Colorful Scottish Home Has Enviable Architecture and Lots of Paint Inspiration

published May 12, 2020
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Name: Tessa MacGregor
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Size: 1800 square feet
Years lived in: 6 years, owned

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Artist Tessa MacGregor’s love of magical, fantastical imagery is a perfect complement to the gorgeous old Georgian apartment in an Edinburgh building that’s she’s lovingly painted in a palette of soothing and moody colors. She was able to purchase this stunning space after selling a her previous home—a teeny tiny studio in London—for practically the same price! It functions now as both her home and studio, and it also a place to experiment with home decor.

“…I have used it to indulge my love of interior design and to display my paintings,” Tessa explains about her Edinburgh home. “I chose the flat for its original features; I fell in love with the flagstones in the hall and the kitchen for instance and was keen to preserve them. The high ceilings, complete with cornicing and ceiling roses, were perfect for the bohemian, decadent atmosphere that I wanted to create.”

It’s not hard to see a bit of Abigail Ahern’s style in Tessa’s home; as a matter of fact she was heavily inspired by Abigail’s style after attending a day-long workshop at the famed designer’s London home. And the fact that she was able to transform this home despite the limitations of a flat located in a Grade A building–a building of “special architectural or historical interest which are outstanding examples of a particular period, style or building type” according to Historic Environment Scotland’s website–is pretty admirable.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: The beautiful backdrop of this historic apartment, dripping with period features, was a gift and a wonderful starting point. My aim was to mix my love of deep, rich colors with edgy but functional finishes, resulting in a dramatic but I hope, still cozy home.

Inspiration: I love the fashion photographer Tim Walker and refer to his fairytale images in my own paintings. His amazing photography is a huge inspiration to me as I love anything magical and fantastical. Forests and dark landscapes are my first go-to for ideas for paintings and where I get my ideas for my interiors as well.

Favorite Element (and tell us why): My kitchen is great for cooking and entertaining I love serving up tasty Middle Eastern-inspired suppers for friends.

Biggest Challenge: The building is Grade A listed, which made some of the tasks more onerous. I had to check what kind of plaster to use, for example, but my builder, John, rose to the challenge.

Proudest DIY: Finding the fireplace in the bathroom—this would have been a bedroom before indoor plumbing!

Biggest Indulgence: A favourite shop is Graham and Greene, I have been treating myself to pieces from them on and off for many years. Their quirky style combines very well with the vintage pieces I have been given or bought in antique shops and found on eBay.

Best Advice: I had been in an Abigail Ahern master class, a day-long workshop at the designer’s home in London, and she encouraged her students to paint everything one colou\r: the walls, skirting boards, radiators, and fireplaces, for a “cocooning effect.” I have not quite done that, preferring to keep the ceilings and cornicing white in most of the rooms, but it certainly does work. It highlights the furniture and objects and adds a touch of mystery. I think it is a technique that works in both large and small spaces. It pulls large spaces together and in a small space is less fussy. I painted the kitchen ceiling in the same dark colors as the walls, but felt that the sitting room was just too large for this approach, so a white ceiling and cornice breaks it up a bit.”

What’s your best home secret? I am not a perfectionist, so I am quite happy with furniture that is a bit rough around the edges. I think I want my flat to have a bit of “Lower East Side Loft” about it actually, so I don’t get hung up if things have had a bit of life!



  • Walls and ceiling are all painted in ‘Slipper Satin’ Estate Emulsion by Farrow & Ball
  • the floors and woodwork are painted in estate eggshell by Farrow & Ball
  • The chandelier is from Jeffrey’s Interiors


  • Ligne Roset ‘Togo’ corner chair in bright orange velvet, which I rescued from my mum’s attic!
  • Existing shutters
  • Mirror above the mantelpiece is by Graham & Greene.
  • The chandelier is from Abigail Ahern.
  • Walls, woodwork and fireplace are all painted in “Bedford Brown” matte emulsion by Abigail Ahern, from Craig & Rose paints.
  • The sideboard was a gift from a friend who had upcycled it by spray painting it black.
  • The lamps are from charity shops.
  • Tessa MacGregor’s paintings.
  • The sofa is an ex-display from SCP.
  • Emerald vase is from Ampersand.
  • The cushions are also from Ampersand


  • The round table is from a junk shop in Leith.
  • The ceramic sink is from IKEA.
  • The Volieres birdcage lamp is from Graham & Greene.
  • The Italian tiles are the same as the tiles chose for the bathroom from B&Q.
  • The SMEG SUK61MX8 Dual Fuel Cooker in Stainless Steel is from Currys.
  • The walls and ceiling are painted in ‘Mole’ matt emulsion, by Abigail Ahern, from Craig & Rose paints.
  • The fireplace and kitchen cabinet doors are painted in eggshell by Abigail Ahern, from Craig & Rose paints.


  • Walls and celilings are painted in ‘Rivington Blue’ matt emulsion, by Abigail Ahern, from Craig & Rose paints.
  • the fireplace and floor are painted in eggshell by Abigail Ahern, from Craig & Rose paints.
  • The pale salmon linen bedding is Loaf.
  • The black and white rug is from IKEA.
  • The mirror above the fireplace is from Graham & Greene.
  • The chandelier is Abigail Ahern.


  • Atlas Star Anise Pearl tiles by Neisha Crosland are from Fired Earth.
  • Rose pink hand towel is from Jennfer’s Hamam.


  • The super king ‘Margot’ bed is from Loaf.
  • The faux fur throw is from a selection at  Dunelm. 
  • The black and white LAPPLJUNG RUTA rug was from IKEA, but has been discontinued. It is now available on Amazon
  • The Castleton carved wooden mirror is from Wayfair; is similar to the one above the fireplace.
  • The extra large ‘Aurora’ feather pendant light is from Graham & Greene.
  • Fabric stag head was is from A Wooden Tree.
  • The walls are painted in ‘Lulworth Blue’ Estate Emulsion, by Farrow & Ball.
  • Shutters and woodwork are painted in estate eggshell by Farrow & Ball.


  • The organic Turkish hamam towels are from Jennifers Hamam.
  • The Italian tiles are from B&Q.
  • The walls are painted in ‘Ammonite’ Estate Emulsion, by Farrow & Ball.
  • the window is painted in ‘Railings’, estate eggshell by Farrow & Ball.

Thanks Tessa!