Using coastal colours as part of a subtle seaside theme helped Anna Baltzer brighten up her East Lothian home.
Located in an idyllic village just outside Edinburgh, Anna Baltzer and her partner Stuart Bayne bought their home from friends after falling for the local beach and its view of an island that inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to write Treasure Island. When visiting the house previously, the couple found it a little dark, but they could see plenty of potential. ‘When we heard it was for sale, we snapped it up,’ explains Anna. ‘We loved the open-plan living layout and the generous garden. Stuart and I enjoy being outside, and with two small dogs and two little boys, we really appreciate the space.’
The couple began to radically update the property two years ago, pulling up the carpets and painting every surface white. ‘It’s probably not the most practical colour when you have small children and animals, but I crave light,’ she says. ‘Stuart and I met while we were both living in Spain. He’s English and I’m Swedish. We adore Scotland, but we do miss the sunshine, so brightening our home was an obvious thing to do.’
They also updated the bathrooms and laid fresh wooden flooring in some of the rooms, doing a lot of the work themselves as they both have plenty of practical skills. ‘I really enjoy crafting and upcycling furniture and am always looking for bargains that I can update by distressing or painting,’ says Anna. The results are crisp, light and fresh with a subtle seaside theme. ‘I love stripes, stars and simple graphic patterns. New England style has always appealed to me. I adore coastal shades of grey, blue and sandy taupe,’ she adds.
‘Scandinavian people value art and design,’ Anna explains. ‘Sometimes, my British friends are surprised at how much I am willing to spend on artwork or a good piece of furniture, but it’s normal at home: in Sweden, we see it as an investment.’ They are equally surprised at how much she buys from Ikea as well. ‘I’m there every week,’ she laughs. ‘Ninety per cent is from Ikea and the rest are more expensive statement pieces that lift the scheme and make great accents.’
To add extra interest and personality, Anna has decorated her home in layers. First, a matt white background to create a soothing and restful base, boosted by beautifully co-ordinated furniture and carefully chosen accessories; next, pretty artwork and family photographs, mainly taken by Anna herself; and finally, a few rolls of designer, striped wallpaper from Ralph Lauren. This combination has transformed this Scandi-inspired interior into a smart and stylish family home. There are still a few things remaining on Anna’s wishlist, however. ‘Because the previous owners converted the loft, the house is spacious but lacks storage,’ she explains, ‘so we’re hoping to add a utility room and a garage. We would also like to landscape the garden further and restructure the driveway. If I could start again, I would place the kitchen where the dining room is and the living space where the kitchen is. The wood-burning stove would normally be in the living area, but there were planning and building regulations that prevented that. Actually, the wood burner keeps the kitchen very cosy, and we don’t sit down much, so it suits us perfectly – it is definitely the heart of our home.’
Anna is looking forward to relaunching her career as a photographer when the boys start school – she specialises in child and family portraits and hopes to combine this work with her design skills in the future. But for now, she’s enjoying the fruits of her labour in her beautiful home. ‘It’s amazing what you can achieve, even when you’re on a budget,’ she smiles.
Photography: Douglas Gibb