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Before & after: Listed house refurbishment, Scotland

Alissa Ugolini—homify UK Alissa Ugolini—homify UK
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Your mother would have told you as a child to never judge a book by its cover, and, on the same grain, you would have learnt time and time again never to try and guess what's inside a present simply by looking at the outside. It's strange to think that this notion which irked us so much as little ones applies quite often in everyday adult situations. Even in terms of architecture, you cannot tell by looking solely at the external envelope what is housed inside. This is very much the case for the before and after project we are going to take a look at today. Located on South Crown Street, in Aberdeen, Scotland, we are presented with a heritage listed exterior, and in total stark contrast, modern Scandinavian inspired interiors. This was not always the case however, as before the renovation took place, the internal layout was disorganised and suffering from a terrible case of 1970s décor. Let's take a closer look…

Photography by Nigel Rigden.

External view: A historical front

South Crown Street Listed Exterior:  Houses by Brown + Brown Architects
Brown + Brown Architects

South Crown Street Listed Exterior

Brown + Brown Architects

If you've ever visited Aberdeen, you'll know that it's renowned for two things; oil (petroleum), and grey stone buildings. As a consequence, the city has been nicknamed the Granite city or the Grey city in response to the use of locally quarried grey granite. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that we find ourselves presented with a grey stone listed house. Though the exact era of this home is unknown, we can guess that it was built within the Victorian period. The type of granite in Aberdeen is durable and strong; which has resulted in many buildings requiring little structural upkeep and exterior maintenance over the centuries. This quaint, Scottish home, despite it's stately appearance, tells a totally different story on the inside. In dire need of renovation, Brown + Brown Architects were commissioned to come to the rescue.

Before: An uninviting entrance

The entrance is the area in which you greet your guests, and whether or not they've visited your home before, it is in this very space that first impressions are formed. Staircases are supposed to elicit feelings of curiosity; you should be dying to know what treasures await upstairs. In this case, those emotions are not felt, as we are greeted with a space that has been poorly and haphazardly put together. The junctions between the timberwork and walls are rough; and one can clearly see the minimal amount of effort that was put in when painting. The staircase railing has also been misplaced, and the colour of the timber is an outdated stain of yellow pine.

After: The renovated stairs

South Crown Street Stair:  Corridor & hallway by Brown + Brown Architects
Brown + Brown Architects

South Crown Street Stair

Brown + Brown Architects

You may have to do a double-take to realise that this staircase is actually the same as the one pictured above. Sanded back, repainted and totally refurbished, the original metal balustrade of the staircase has been given a makeover and new lease on life. The stark white wall paint, in conjunction with the pale timber floorboards, allows the metalwork to take centre stage and become the hero of the space. After all, it would be a shame not to take advantage and show off the fine craftsmanship from the yesteryear. 

Before: Cramped & cluttered

There are many home decorating eras that we'd rather forget; the 70s is one of them. For some reason unbeknownst to mankind, brown and yellow were all the rage, with copious amounts of timber used on a whole score of unnecessary surfaces. Then, there was the furry wallpaper, and how can we forget, the dreaded shag pile rugs. Thankfully, those days are now safely behind us, as is this kitchen, with its hodgepodge use of textures and poorly executed spatial layout. Dark and claustrophobic, we cannot imagine that this space would be pleasant to cook in. The placement of the hob is odd, as are the overhead cupboards which do nothing other than loom eerily over your head. 

After: Light filled & spacious

South Crown Street Kitchen:  Kitchen by Brown + Brown Architects
Brown + Brown Architects

South Crown Street Kitchen

Brown + Brown Architects

Unrecognisable from before, the occupants can breathe a sigh of relief as the heart of their home is now an oasis of light and brightness. The spatial layout has been totally redesigned, and in rejection to its former self,  is spacious and well resolved. The kitchen and dining area are now contemporary and open plan, and form a dialogue as interconnecting spaces. Given that the clients requested a Scandinavian style interior theme, the architects chose to use simple lines, a muted colour palette and incorporate two rooms into this open plan setting.

After: An oasis of white

South Crown Street Bathroom:  Bathroom by Brown + Brown Architects
Brown + Brown Architects

South Crown Street Bathroom

Brown + Brown Architects

From this angle, you can see the dining room, and the kitchen peering through in the background. Again, pale timbers and simple furniture shapes have also been adopted into this space, furthering the interior design scheme requested by the client. Although the zones are separated by a kitchen island, the flow of natural light, white-on-white colour palette, and simple use of textures creates a space that is visually stunning and in perfect balance.

We are also treated to a view of the bathroom, which too, continues the same Nordic inspired theme via the use of a pale colour palette, simple fixtures and orientation toward a natural light source. Despite the fact there is no before image of the bathroom, one can only imagine what it would look like given the state of the rest of the house. 

After: An open & contemporary space

South Crown Street Living Room:  Living room by Brown + Brown Architects
Brown + Brown Architects

South Crown Street Living Room

Brown + Brown Architects

Here in the living room, the exisitng fireplace has been restored and modernised by covering the unsightly brickwork inside. The original wood stove, however, has been retained. As well as this, the shape of the recessed bookcases has been updated from circular to square, bringing these nifty storage units into the 21st century. Now, this room is the epitome of elegance and class; filled with contemporary pieces of furniture and chic artwork. The original brown and beige carpet has been removed, and the room now boasts stunning pale timber floorboards that fit in perfectly with the interior design brief provided by the client.

After: Sweet dreams

South Crown Street Bedroom:  Bedroom by Brown + Brown Architects
Brown + Brown Architects

South Crown Street Bedroom

Brown + Brown Architects

Lastly, but definitely not least, we wrap up our tour inside this wonderful Scottish home in the bedroom. Unlike the other rooms, visible elements of the past remain in this space. Though totally different in era, these features blend wonderfully with the newly instated interior theme. In homage to the past, the stunning grey fireplace remains, and to the credit of the architects, ties in nicely with the new, walnut-coloured timber furniture and burgundy Persian floor mat.

If you are interested in seeing more remarkable heritage listed transformations in the United Kingdom, check out the following ideabook: Before & after: Refurbished stone cottage

What are your thoughts on the final result? Do you like the strong contrast between the exterior and interior? Let us know in the comments section ...
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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