The richly coloured stained-glass front door of Ann Robertson’s Edwardian home is just the starter to the menu of vibrant rooms, paintings and artefacts within. ‘This is not a minimalist or neutral style of house,’ she says, opening the door to a wide, tiled hallway. ‘When we bought it, we were incredibly lucky that all the original features were intact: the pediments over the doors, the fireplaces and even this floor, which was only discovered when we lifted up the old brown carpet a week after moving in.’
Ann moved here from a smaller house round the corner when her daughters Kate and Emily were toddlers. ‘We needed more space and I wanted a period house with a large loft that we could expand into when the girls grew older,’ says Ann.
Then, when her girls reached their teens, Ann decided the time had come to extend into the loft to gain two extra bedrooms. A Gothic-style conservatory was also added to enlarge the downstairs space. ‘We had a dream team of builders who did everything in 15 weeks, which was a record — well, a miracle really,’ says Ann. ‘I recall saying to the foreman that I should talk to the electrician about plug sockets, and he replied, “Don’t worry, my wife has me well trained”. Sure enough, he knew exactly where I’d need them and how many.’ For colour schemes, Ann took her cue from the art collection, which she and her then husband John began in the early days of their marriage. ‘We took care to hang each work in the right position. Paintings are a bit like plants; they thrive in good light. Some sparkle even in a dark corner and others need a bright wall. I believe paintings make a home, which I suppose is a typical view for a passionate collector.’
Second only in visual appeal to Ann’s art collection are the artefacts she has acquired on holidays in the Far and Middle East. If it existed, Ann would qualify for a degree in international shopping. She has also mastered a winsome way with airline staff. The last large bowl she brought back from Marrakech came as hand luggage and three rugs also made the return trip in the overhead lockers. ‘I love bringing things back from my travels. They add character and ensure that all the rooms in my home change regularly,’ says Ann.
Never content to remain static, Ann has fresh plans for improving the house, even though her youngest daughter, Emily, is about to move out. ‘I’m planning to take down the wall between the kitchen and the conservatory, which currently has French windows,’ she explains.’