The Mackays' Former Billiard Room Home

The Mackays' Former Billiard Room Home

Lizzie Ford
Nov 26, 2013
(Image credit: Lizzie Ford)

Name: Claire and Marcus Mackay
Location: Dennistoun; Glasgow, Scotland
Size: Approx 2000 square feet
Years lived in: 5 years; Owned

You could fill a book with stories about Claire (Butler and Taylor) and Marcus (The Diving Bell Lounge) and their beautiful home. This semi-detached property in the east end of Glasgow, built in the 1840’s, was originally the billiard room (essentially, a place for men to gather and smoke together — I can’t vouch for the amount of billiards played) of a grand home more than twice the size, and it wasn’t until the 1940’s that it was turned into a home in itself.
(Image credit: Lizzie Ford)

After that, it was occupied by the first female graduate of Glasgow University, an eccentric lady who was known for riding her horse around this urban neighborhood right into the 1970’s. Though Marcus and Claire are delighted with the rich history embedded in their family home and have embraced it with open arms, they have drawn the line at a horse.

Whilst opening up the downstairs into a more usable family space, Claire and Marcus have been careful to celebrate the original character of the building, leaving the wood paneling untouched and opening up the magnificent fireplace. Filling it hasn’t been too much bother as Claire, a self-confessed vintage hoarder (something she has since founded her business on), now has the perfect backdrop for her many finds. As a result, the house is full of reclaimed furniture, hand-me-downs, and items made by friends and family. This, combined with a few clean, modern pieces to freshen everything up, Marcus’ impressive collection of music, and little Rubin’s inevitable (not so little) stamp on the place, makes this home the perfect expression of those who live there.

Conveniently, the house is continually adapting over time to accommodate their changing circumstances and growing family. Besides having another baby on the way, Claire and Marcus now both work in the space too, with the porch becoming the bulging storehouse for Butler and Taylor and an old coach house at the bottom of the garden home to The Diving Bell Lounge, Marcus’ recording studio – a place that most certainly warrants a tour all of its own. Hold the phone on that one.

This is a relaxing and calm space full of warmth and creativity. Not a bad deal for the cats, Pokey and Genki, either.

(Image credit: Lizzie Ford)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Eclectic, Relaxed, Refurbished Found Pieces.

Inspiration: Like any home, our house is a story of where we’ve been, where we’d like to go, what we do for a living, and functionality. All of these are always at the heart of everything. With Marcus as a record producer (The Diving Bell Lounge) and me running a vintage event hire business (Butler & Taylor )– our home has a happy mix of electic found items, music related ephemera, and various vintage or old pieces. This said, with my immersion in all things vintage for my business, I crave some more modernist, clean cut styling in newer purchases. But hopefully never too much of one thing.

Favorite Element: This is a tricky one. I’m going to give two: 1) The Old Shop Counter in our upstairs lounge – proudly bartered for at The famous Barras Market, and 2) Our Kitchen Table, handmade by my brother whilst working at the incredible Brick Lane Shop, 'Unto this Last'.

Biggest Challenge: Dare I say it, with such a big house and so many options for what each room does — just getting the flow and feeling right in each space is a constant challenge. Our house started its life as a lodgers' haven, moved to a business at home space to a now family home.

What Friends Say: Wow, that ceiling, those stairs, that fireplace! It doesn’t feel like you’re in the city.

Biggest Embarrassment: The two beautiful houses with massive potential either side of us lying empty, save the pack of squealing foxes in their grounds.

Proudest DIY: A couple are worth a mention — hand building the shed in February 2012 and reviving the old coach house in the back garden from empty brick house into to Marcus’ recording studio.

Biggest Indulgence: 25 Tonnes of trees delivered to our back lane for stocking our fire over winter. It's taken over 6 months to chop it up! This winter better be a cold one!

Best Advice: Second hand is your best friend — be it new items in or old items out. Don’t acquire new items before assessing the relevance of your current possessions. Finish one thing before starting another. Make a place for everything, however small.

Dream Sources: Unto this Last, Rye Markets in West Sussex, Copenhagen and Manhatten Loft Apartments mixed with some Country Living Classics.

(Image credit: Lizzie Ford)

Resources of Note:


  • Sofa – Parents first sofa reupholstered by 1st class Upholstery, Shawlands Glasgow
    Velour Maroon Chair – Habitat
    Matching Lamps Bases– Hand made by Marcus’s Dad
    Matching Lamp Shades- B&Q
    Large Base Arced Lamp – Dwell
    Vinyl storage and Music Station – Hand made by Marcus’ Dad
    Kitchen Table – Unto this Last
    Fridge Freezer – SMEG
    Kitchen Doors – Howdens
    Leather Swivel Chair – Love Salvage, Govan
    Kitchen Dresser Unit – Ebay
    Artwork (gun to nose, stairs collage and dog beach) – Michael Lacey
    Artwork (beach in winter) – New 2 You Retro, Rye Sussex
    Artwork (Moroccon screen prints) – Essouira Port Market, Morocco
    Large Carpet – Barras Antique Market


  • Desk and Storage – Ikea
    Filing Cabinet – Barnardo’s, Great Western Road
    Artwork (screen print field scene) – “Yorkshire Autumn” by Jill Hodge in Amber Arts, Edinburgh
    Desk Chair – Ikea
    Small Print – Rejkavik Art Museum, artist unknown
    Small Print (cylinders) - Linus Kraemer from SMUG on Camden Passage, London
    Singer Sewing Machine – Salvation Army, Dumbarton Road, Glasgow


  • Sofa – Habitat
    Artwork – Michael Lacey
    Large Orange Mirror – IKEA
    Shelving, TV unit – Unto this Last
    Wee Sewing Desk – Second Hand Furniture shop outside Partick Station
    Art Deco Shop Counter Unit – Barrowlands Antique Market
    Gentlemans Closet – Salvation Army, Dumbarton Road
    Artwork (framed objects) – Claires own
    Trunk – Second hand from newspaper classified ads
    Black Lamp – TK Maxx
    Red Swivel Chair – IKEA


  • Bed and Side Tables – IKEA
    Ottoman – Second hand upcycled by Claire
    Cupboards – ebay


  • Cot – My original (found in skip in the 80s!)
    Chests of Drawers and Gentlemens Closet – All second hand, free
    “American Rocker” Rocking Chair – In house when we bought, reupholstered by Claire’s Mum
    Plates on wall - Gift/Design Shop in Rye (sorry forgotten name)
    Blinds – Made bespoke in Mandors, Glasgow


(Image credit: Lizzie Ford)
  • All original with Farrow and Ball paint job
    Prints – Urban Outfitters
    Mirror – Barrowlands
    All unlisted items were either found in the street and polished up or given to us from friends and family or already in the house.

Thanks, Claire, Marcus and Rubin!

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