Interiorssneak peeks

The Third Time’s a Charm for Two Scottish Homeowners

by Garrett Fleming

The Third Time's a Charm for Two Scottish Homeowners, Design*Sponge

Years of renovation experience have given Pad Lifestyle’s Anna Atwal that enviable ability to envision a home’s potential within seconds of stepping inside it. And her talent came in handy when she first toured this five-story Georgian in Edinburgh, Scotland. It needed some TLC, but she looked past its dated decorations, dingy paint and retro bathrooms. Instead, while walking its halls she focused on the space’s great bones, stellar view of Edinburgh Castle and the community that enveloped it.

The last of those factors, in particular, could not be more romantic. The neighborhood stands in the heart of town, but the gardens flourishing at its center give it the cozy feeling of a burrow. Here, amongst the greenery, the community hosts summer flings. On these special days, brass bands blow and the sizzle of the barbecue beckons the city to soak up the sun and connect with one another. The pleasantries aren’t just reserved for these special occasions, though. Even regular Mondays and Tuesdays seem charmed in the Scottish enclave as neighbors trade the day’s comings and goings while walking their dogs or watching their children bounce around outdoors.

While what was on the outside of the home couldn’t be beat, the interior needed work — a year’s worth, to be exact. During that time, Anna and her husband Haj had the entire space painted white, a move that immediately freshened up the townhouse. They then replaced all of the bathroom fixtures and installed a crisp kitchen to match the rest of the home’s new, clean aesthetic.

These upgrades and the many pieces she’s sprinkled throughout her home show off Anna’s design chops, but the space’s floors are what truly highlight her expertise. When pulling the kitchen’s wooden slats up, the contractors discovered fantastic, original tile work underneath. The near-pristine geometry of brown and green immediately caught Anna’s eye, but how far did it extend? Less confident designers wouldn’t have risked finding out for fear they’d ruin the floor for nothing. Not Anna. The renovations of her previous homes had taught her to be bold, so she had the floors in the accompanying entryway removed in hopes of finding more gorgeousness underneath. When the wood came up, luckily, the pattern stared back at her.

Based on their track record — this is the third home they’ve renovated in six years — Anna and her husband are clearly not a pair prone to sticking in one place for too long, and they pin it on Anna’s passion. Her love of renovating and bringing homes back to life keeps them from truly settling in. This home, however, may have her changing her tune. Its location and layout so perfectly fit her and Haj’s lives, giving it up simply doesn’t seem to be in the cards. Scroll down to see more, and enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Susie Lowe

Image above: Anna set her sights high when she began decorating her home: “I wanted the house to feel light, fresh, bright and happy. [I didn’t want it] to be too fussy,” she says.

The Third Time's a Charm for Two Scottish Homeowners, Design*Sponge
When new products arrive for her boutique, Anna uses her own home to shoot inventory. The comings and goings of these decorations keep her home from getting stale.
The Third Time's a Charm for Two Scottish Homeowners, Design*Sponge
Speaking of decorations, two of Anna's favorite pieces sit in the drawing room: this daring pink sofa and set of bold portraits.
The Third Time's a Charm for Two Scottish Homeowners, Design*Sponge
The view from the home is lush and green and never short on sunshine.
The Third Time's a Charm for Two Scottish Homeowners, Design*Sponge

This plate display is actually a graphic on the powder room’s Christian Lacroix wallpaper. Anna cleverly used the paper’s color to help visually tie the space to the accompanying drawing room.

The Third Time's a Charm for Two Scottish Homeowners, Design*Sponge
This is the third home Anna and her husband have totally renovated over the last six years. While each project holds a special spot in their hearts, this one works particularly well for their family, and they can't see themselves giving it up.
The Third Time's a Charm for Two Scottish Homeowners, Design*Sponge
While removing some of the kitchen cabinetry and flooring, Anna and her team came upon a fantastic surprise: underneath the wood floors was original tile in near-mint condition. While it didn't fit with her design of the kitchen, it can be seen in the entryway and main hall.
The Third Time's a Charm for Two Scottish Homeowners, Design*Sponge
The entryway's original tile floor...
The Third Time's a Charm for Two Scottish Homeowners, Design*Sponge
... and Christian Lacroix wallpaper.
The Third Time's a Charm for Two Scottish Homeowners, Design*Sponge
This French-inspired console table from Indonesia is one of Anna's all-time-favorite finds.
The Third Time's a Charm for Two Scottish Homeowners, Design*Sponge
Anna added "depth and interest" to the staircase by painting the chair rail a rich grey and using the vertical space to showcase more pieces from her commanding collection of artwork.
The Third Time's a Charm for Two Scottish Homeowners, Design*Sponge

Yes, the view of the living room isn’t bad at all, but it’s the view from the space that Anna truly loves. Gazing out these windows, she and her family can watch the firework show from nearby Edinburgh Castle.

The Third Time's a Charm for Two Scottish Homeowners, Design*Sponge
The home boasts two original fireplaces. All it took was a bit of polishing to make the living room's shine.
The Third Time's a Charm for Two Scottish Homeowners, Design*Sponge
The bedroom Haj and Anna share is a work in progress. Eventually they'll make both the room and its ensuite bathroom larger.
The Third Time's a Charm for Two Scottish Homeowners, Design*Sponge
The couple's son Leo is a huge fan of the Hulk, so it's no surprise his favorite color is green. Anna incorporated the hue into his room through a jungle-themed scheme that helps him "feel like he is sleeping under the palm trees."
The Third Time's a Charm for Two Scottish Homeowners, Design*Sponge
The five-story Georgian home's floor plan.
The Third Time's a Charm for Two Scottish Homeowners, Design*Sponge
"What I love most about my home is... I love the light and open aspect over the gardens and all the original period details in the house." – Anna Atwal

Source List

Drawing Room

Sofa – Muuto

Throw pillows – Christian Lacroix

Rug – The Knots

Coffee table, console, hand sculpture, velvet lounge chairs – Jonathan Adler

Male portrait – Erin Armstrong


Powder Room

Wallpaper – Christian Lacroix

Mirror – The Crystal Chandelier Company



Shelving paint – Designers Guild “Cheviot Flannel”

Floor paint – Designers Guild “Polished Concrete”

Wallpaper – Christian Lacroix

Design – Roundhouse Design



Lamps – Pols Potten

Console – Pad Lifestyle

Wallpaper – Christian Lacroix


Living Room

Paint– Designers Guild “Moonlit Night”

Sofa– John Sankey

Rug – The Knots

Artwork – Arusha Gallery

Shelving – Pad Lifestyle


Anna and Haj’s bedroom

Linens – Kelly Hoppen

Throw Pillows – Jonathan Adler

Artwork – Flaubert Gallery

Grasscloth wallpaper – Designers Guild


Leo’s Bedroom

Wallpaper – Christian Lacroix

Suggested For You


  • What I love most about this stunning home, are:
    The tiles in the entry
    The Lacroix wallpaper
    The pinkish (I’d call it blush) sofa
    Those glorious fireplaces
    The cleverly and beautifully renovated stairs

    A HIT – AND you have the view of the Edinburgh castle – who could ask for more!

    • Wow such gorgeous comments I’m a total sucker for original details too, so lucky to have so many here! Thanks again 😘😘

    • Julie

      Yep- here on the blog we’re posting one original post per day, with a focus on interiors.

      As the way people consume web content changes (things have already changed so much since this post), we’re spreading our original content (and cutting back on archived posts and list-style posts) across all our platforms: blog, social media, and print.

      In order for us to keep doing what we do, we have to make sure each platform we have focuses on the content that’s performing best there. That way we can stay profitable and pay our writers fairly (which isn’t easy these days with the way ad prices have plummeted and demands from advertisers on content producers have sky rocketed). Here on the blog, interiors far out perform everything else, so we’re focusing on interiors here mainly. And those take a looong time to create (from scouting and research to interviews and multiple rounds of photos and editing) so one a day actually takes a long time to produce behind the scenes.

      My heart is with social justice and business work right now, so we’re focusing on turning that content into print projects, where we’ve found that performs best (at least for now). So that will be available in magazine form (yay!) in April in stores (and online) across the US.


      • this is so helpful! Maybe I missed a state of the blog post, I had just noticed less posts (and am missing your longer piece essays), but looking forward to supporting those in print form!

        • Thanks, Julie

          There will be more essays coming, I’ve just been deep in magazine mode so haven’t had time to write them here. I wish I could put all of the content I want on this platform, but with the way the internet is changing, I have to be careful and post content where it’s most likely to actually be seen and received well and for that type of content, print seems to be responding the most strongly right now.

          Grace :)

  • I have noticed a change in tone on DS and fewer of the sort of homes (realistic budgets, creative approaches, non-professional/promotional content) I used to come here for. This is a very slick home but the look is more about money than soul and the stories are also becoming slightly sycophantic and often awkwardly worded. Sorry DS, I’ve been a follower for years but this is not for me

    • DMS

      You’re entitled to your viewpoint about the site and our direction, but I wanted to speak up about the projection that this home is “more about money than soul”. That feels like an unfair judgement to make on real people and their real home.

      I understand if you’d prefer us to focus on homes with a more rustic style, etc. but projecting ideas that someone’s home somehow has less of a soul because it has a perceived higher budget, that’s a type of judgement that feels lacking in compassion. It’s not easy to open up your home and story to a large audience of readers and I hope you’ll keep in mind that while certain styles may not be to your liking, these are real people with feelings and making comments that imply they don’t have soul is hurtful.


  • This is gorgeous – and those beautiful original tiles are just so inspiring! I have to say, I disagree with a previous poster, there are plenty of sites you can visit if you want fast, thrashed out articles on cheap/cheerful interiors, but that’s really not what I’ve been visiting DS all these years for. Beautiful design ideas, that aren’t all just about subway tile and homogenous kitchens, with diverse influences and styles is what I think DS does best and I’ve really enjoyed the slight skew in a more refined direction. Grace, I’ve also really appreciated how much thought and care you’ve put into the site over the years and I believe it really sets you apart from the rest. Best of luck :)

Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, that comment on people's physical appearance, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.