A Fun Scottish Apartment in a Former High School

published Sep 24, 2018

A Fun Scottish Apartment in a Former High School

published Sep 24, 2018
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Square feet
Sq ft

Name: Will Harvey, Iona Sangster, and Luna the Cockapoo
Location: Leith — Edinburgh, Scotland
Size: 800 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years, owned

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Will and Iona Harvey’s modernly colorful and whimsically decorated flat in Leith, a district to the north of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, is dotted with references to school: A vintage school desk and chair serve as office furniture in their living room, while a seat meant for a small student sits in the bedroom. It’s no accident—their home of more than three years was likely a classroom decades ago, and the façade of their traditional stone building reminds them of this on a daily basis. Theirs is just one of a number of apartments located in a former high school built by architect George Reid in the 1930s.

Will and Iona bought the flat when it was a shell and were able to completely customize it, from the color and pile of the carpet, to the style of the ceilings. After a hectic move—their landlord said they were selling their old apartment six months before they were ready to move into this new home, forcing them to find temporary digs AND they bought a puppy on move-in day—they began to make it their own, working around the kumquat-colored couch they brought with them. A graphic designer, Iona brings her love for art and color into the space, and Will, an automotive, lifestyle, and event photographer, personalizes every room with beautiful shots of their family. When the move was done, “We had another year of guys in hardhats still hanging around, but once it was all finished, it was definitely worth it!”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Eclectic! We love both the mid-century and loft looks, but with added pattern and color to make it our own.

Inspiration: We both studied design at university so iconic architects/designers like Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright will always be an inspiration. Pinterest and Instagram are great when you’re stuck for ideas.

Favorite Element: The high ceilings and large windows are what drew us to this apartment but our favorite single item is the vintage school desk. The building was once a high school and the desk ties the apartment to its past.

Biggest Challenge: Apart from moving house the same day as getting a puppy (I don’t advise that!) it’s the kitchen cupboard doors. The matte gray finish looks great but with no handles its a constant battle to keep them free of finger prints.

What Friends Say: They love it. The open plan kitchen/living room is a great space for entertaining.

Biggest Embarrassment: Probably the paint finishes…We’re not too precious about our walls as we have a dog and host a steady stream of guests. We know they will get marked, and we’re fine with that, but don’t look too closely at our bedroom walls—masking tape placement is not our strong point!

Proudest DIY: It’s a small thing, but we like our upcycled side table. We painted the legs of cheap IKEA stools and attached a tray to the top.

Biggest Indulgence: Our Donna Wilson Forest throw. We have lots of small pieces by her, but at the time we bought this, we probably should have spent the money on something more sensible (we love it though).

Best Advice: Don’t be afraid to change things. When we moved in, we had nothing. We bought what we could afford and gradually we’ve added pieces we love. There are still things we’d like to change and I think there always will be.

Dream Sources: Gumtree is a great place to buy and sell interesting things.


Coat rack – Etsy
Console table – John Lewis
Mirror – HomeSense

Sofa – Made.com
Ottoman – Made.com
Sidetable/stool – Etsy
Small chair – Vintage ’60s CHIEROWSKI 366 from eBay
Vintage school teacher desk – Drum Farm Antiques
Tray tables – Homemade
Floor lamp – Made.com
Desk lamp – John Lewis
Vintage desk chair – Gumtree
Scotland prints – Curiouser and Curiouser
Pillows, throws, ceramics, and creature – Donna Wilson
Armchair – HomeSense
Rug – IKEA
Polar bear head – The Range

Dining table – Upcycled from old floor boards, eBay
Charles Eames Eiffel Retro Dining Chairs – eBay
Bookshelf – John Lewis
Penguin Vase – Sally Tuffin for Dennis Chinaworks, Ebay
Fruit bowl and cookie jar – Caoba

Bed – John Lewis
Side tables – Made.com
Dressing table – Made.com
Terrarium – Urban Outfitters

Daybed – IKEA
Side table –Upcycled from Charity Shop
Vintage school chair – Gumtree
Leith print – Jenny Proudfoot
Cactus vase – Primark
Small stool – TK Maxx

Thanks, Will and Iona!

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