WHAT: 10-bedroomed mansion
PRICE: Offers over £1.5m
CONTACT: Coulters 0131 603 7333
IT MAY seem hard to believe there is a magnificent 18th century mansion tucked away in secluded gardens, just 10 minutes’ drive from Edinburgh city centre.
But Drylaw House, this week’s outstanding Hot Property, is no fairytale.
The spectacular 10-bedroomed home is surrounded by three acres of beautiful, lush green lawns, mature trees, flowering shrubs and greenhouses, lovingly created and looked after by current owner John McAreavey.
"I like gardening," he smiles. "It was nothing but lawn when I came here, around 20 years ago, but I saw the potential.
"And I fell in love with the house as soon as I saw it. It is in such a fantastic location, so close to Edinburgh city centre, the airport, the motorway network and yet, because of the huge garden, it feels like you are in the middle of the countryside."
The earliest part of Drylaw House, built by local quarry owners the Loch family using their own sandstone, dates back to 1718.
"The stone from that quarry was also used to build Edinburgh’s New Town but sadly for the Loch family, that happened just after they had sold the business and the house," says Mr McAreavey.
"Very bad timing ..."
The house was renovated after the new owners took it on, the entrance was moved and a two- storey extension added. The rear of Drylaw House was originally the front – now, you approach the house up a beautiful, tree-lined driveway which instantly transports you from busy, bustling Edinburgh to a quieter, more rural setting.
The house is beautiful and grand from the outside; stylish and comfortable inside. The accommodation is spread over four floors, cleverly laid out to allow the basement to be used as a self-contained, four-bedroom apartment if the new owners wish to do so. The ground floor includes the elegant drawing room, with its large windows on three sides, a comfortable, more informal sitting room, a formal dining room with French doors leading into the garden, and a spacious kitchen, all tastefully decorated and flooded with natural light.
The kitchen, in particular, with its mint-green and walnut colour scheme, central island seating and modern appliances, successfully blends the traditional and the contemporary.
"It is a very bright house, which is lovely on a summer’s day," says Mr McAreavey.
Period features have been carefully preserved, from the unusual, intricately decorated balustrade and stone staircase, to the wood panelling and original, working shutters.
Hidden cupboards, attractive fireplaces and ornate plasterwork all add to the period charm, which is a gentle reminder that this house has been here much longer than the more modern housing nearby. There are three frescos, too, on the walls of the receptions rooms, including one credited to the French artist William Delacour, who lived in Edinburgh in the mid-18th century.
"It was important to me to retain the period character, and I think if you took all the furniture out of the house, it would still be beautiful in its own right," adds Mr McAreavey.
"But some areas of a home have to be modern – such as the bathrooms, for example, and the kitchen."
The aforementioned basement, which can be used as a self-contained apartment, comprises four bedrooms, a small kitchen, a comfortable sitting room, useful study and modern bathroom. The rest of the bedrooms are to be found on the first and second floors which also include a studio and work space and Mr McAreavey’s favourite room – the wonderful, warm oak-panelled study.
"This is a lovely spot, with its panelling and oak window seats and shutters, and I have often thought about the history of this room – I wonder what deals have been done here?" he smiles.
"The whole house is full of history, in fact, and it is lovely to be connected to that. It is architecturally very interesting too, which I think may appeal to some buyers, and it is a perfect family home." The number and size of rooms allow for considerable flexibility for the new owners – it is a substantial family home, perfect for entertaining and ideally situated for well-regarded schools, leisure and cultural pursuits and outdoor activities.
But it is likely to be its location, tucked away from nearby residential areas in glorious, green seclusion, that will appeal most to prospective buyers.
"The valuer who came to view the property said he couldn’t believe he was just a 10-minute drive away from the centre of Edinburgh, and yet all he could hear were birds," smiles Mr McAreavey, who is moving to take on a whole new project, the building of his own home.
"Drylaw House is perfect for those who like tranquillity, and yet do not want to be too far away from the hubbub."