Grainne and Ian’s Characterful Collection in Edinburgh

published Sep 24, 2013
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Lizzie Ford)

Name: Grainne, Ian, Tait, and Otto
Location: Edinburgh; Scotland
Size: 4 Bedroom Edwardian Terrace
Years lived in: 8 years; Owned

The moment Grainne and Ian clapped eyes on this 1910 Edwardian terraced house, they knew it was the family home they had been waiting for. Though they have since made a few big changes to the interior — like knocking two rooms into one to make that glorious kitchen diner that opens up onto the garden — the house in its original state was already full of magnificent period features: fireplaces, stripped wooden floors, doors and tiles. The high ceilings and generous proportions of the period, combined with that sense of history, create an ideal space for their two growing boys, Tait and Otto, to run wild, and the perfect canvas for Grainne and Ian’s extensive and colourful collections.

1 / 46
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Grainne was raised to appreciate the value of other people’s old knick knacks, immersed in them at her parents’ antique shop, Fountain Antiques, in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. She was fascinated by miniature everything as a child and her started collecting at a young age. Many of those early finds are still displayed in her home today. Her creative flair grew with time, and her obsession with little things lead her into jewelry design. Grainne’s studio is now located in a light-filled room off the kitchen, and there’s a striking similarity between the ideas underpinning the design of the home and her jewellery collections – indeed, the first piece of jewelry she ever made was a brooch inspired by a printing tray.

Every nook of this house holds something beautiful and interesting to look at. I could have taken a thousand photographs and still not quite captured it all. From the tiny toilet under the stairs which was like being transported into a scene from a fairy tale, to the amazing collections of artwork and paraphernalia displayed creatively in back-lit frames, to the beautiful pieces of unusual antique furniture — there is wonder and creativity at every turn. Luckily Ian shares his wife’s in design, and enjoys the collector’s life too. She’s already planning her next assault, a nautical themed installation – think buoys, life rings, ropes – to be displayed on the kitchen ceiling. There is nothing dull about life in this wonderful family home.
(Image credit: Lizzie Ford)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Eclectic, Old, Industrial, Handmade, Crafted, Traditional materials.

Inspiration: We love old and salvaged. We get our inspiration from cities we love: London, New York, Paris, and of course Edinburgh. Whether it be a new independent store, or a cafe restaurant, or museum, we soak it all in.

Favourite Element: The original features in the house. The glazed panels separating the vestibule from the hall and the original patio doors out to the garden are what sold this house to us. We fell in love immediately.

Biggest Challenge: Designing the kitchen. When we bought the house we knew the kitchen had to go, and living in it for a few years we realized that we wanted the downstairs of the house to be more open plan, so the wall between the kitchen and dining room (which used to be my workshop) was knocked down and the wall between the hall, kitchen and dining room opened up. We had to move out during renovation.

What Friends Say: Friends have always made lovely comments about the style of the house. Our kitchen is the real heart of our home now, and we have had many wonderful social times there.

Biggest Embarrassment: The kitchen before. It was fitted and just not our taste. We lived with it for 5 years, and it was impossible to put our individual stamp on, as it was a mass of cupboards and fake marble worktops

Proudest DIY: Ian does most of the DIY, I’m the cheat that waits in the wings to do the styling (much to Ian’s annoyance – he loves a bit of styling too).

Biggest Indulgence: The Aga. I grew up with one and have coveted one ever since. It’s our only cooking appliance – we got rid of our electric kettle, toaster and microwave and have never looked back.

Best Advice: To live in a place before decorating.

Dream Sources: Newark or Ardingly Antiques Fair, any French Flea market, or Brimfield.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Resources of Note:


  • Farrow and Ball – All White, Hardwick White, Railings, Old White


  • Map – Antique Fair
  • Wooden Boxes – Antique Fairs
  • Curtain – William Morris Fabric
  • Carpet on Stairs – Cath Kidson bought from Ulster Carpets
  • Morton Cabinet – found by a friend
  • Gilt Shelved Frame – Specially made for a show to display my Jewellery
  • Stag – Auction
  • Weather Houses – Re – Found objects
  • Table – Lovage and Lace
  • Tea light Holder – Kathleen Hills


  • Shelved Frame – Made for a show to display my Jewellery
  • Boy and Dog Ornament – Drum Farm
  • Girl in Glasses Drawing – Sarah McNeil
  • Dog Drawing – Sarah McNeil
  • Boy and Girl Dancing Print – Paris Flea
  • Wooden Tray – Paris Flea
  • Small Chest of drawers – Ian’s Grandad’s
  • Tall Narrow Drawers – Ian’s Grandad’s
  • Flora Mcdonald Case – 21st Birthday Present
  • Crow – Mounted by me as Jewellery Display for a show
  • Sofa – Antique covered in Swedish Gocken Jobs Fabric
  • Fabric Dress on Hanger – Julie Arkell
  • Lion – Ian’s from Childhood
  • Paper Dress – Julie Arkell
  • Armchairs – Fountain Antiques
  • Wooden Chair – Auction


BEDROOM (main)

BEDROOM (Tait’s room)


(Image credit: Lizzie Ford)

Thanks, Grainne and Ian!

(Images: Lizzie Ford)

• HOUSE TOUR ARCHIVE: Check out past house tours here.
• Interested in sharing your home with Apartment Therapy? Contact the editors through our House Tour Submission Form.
• Are you a designer/architect/decorator interested in sharing a residential project with Apartment Therapy readers? Contact the editors through our Professional Submission Form.

Re-edited from a tour originally published September 2013 — AB