Written by Natalie Osborn

Inside The Pink House, where beige is banned

When Emily Murray, founder of The Pink House blog, and her husband Euan Murray, CEO of a global non-profit organisation found the perfect house on a hidden cul-de-sac in Edinburgh, they set about transforming it into a fun family house…

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Leaving her beloved London behind, Emily Murray relocated to Scotland with her husband and then-six-month-old son Oscar to be close to both of their families. It only took her a day to find their family home – and for good reason.

‘When I told my parents that I was seeing a property on a particular Edinburgh road, they cancelled all of their plans to come with me,’ Emily remembers. ‘Turns out that it was their “secret special street” – a magical hidden cul-de-sac of multicoloured Arts & Crafts houses, each with its own little stained-glass window.’

 

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The charming terrace, which they bought for £675,000 in 2012, stretches along one side of the road, facing a run of mature horse chestnut trees, with a stream running along the bottom of each house’s garden – yet still within touching distance of the city.

For a Londoner looking for the best of both worlds, Emily knew it couldn’t get better than this – leaky roof and draughty windows notwithstanding: ‘It had me at “hallway”. I knew instantly that I would do anything to live here.’

The Pink House hallway

Bold Cole & Son wallpaper in the basement hallway. Photo: Katie Lee

The Pink House renovations began shortly after the Murrays moved in, starting with knocking the wall between the kitchen and living room to make one large open-plan area. ‘The rooms run north to south, so as well as gaining the opportunity to keep an eye on the kids while cooking, the new layout also means the dark kitchen benefits from the daylight streaming through the living room windows.’

A bold and confident decorator, Emily transformed the space into a riot of colour. ‘I hate things to be boring, so beige is banned from our house. There has to be a mix of new old things, too, with plenty of stories to tell.’

The Pink House, Emily Murray at home in Edinburgh

An Ikea emerald sofa, scattered with bright cushions from Halsted Design and Barbara Coupe, is Emily’s favourite find. Photo: Katie Lee

Walls in Manor House Gray by Farrow & Ball unify the two zones and serve to intensify the bright, soft furnishings in the living space. They also lend a modern, industrial feel to the dark cabinetry, which Emily had painted.

‘The units came with the house and are made of inexpensive laminate, but you’d never know that now,’ she says. ‘The brass handles, which I bought from Buster + Punch in a variety of designs, and a beautiful mixer tap from Barber Wilsons pair beautifully with the deep hue.’

dark moody kitchen with flashes of colour in the accessories

Bursts of colourful accessories help lift the kitchen cabinetry, which Emily transformed with black paint. Photo: Katie Lee

The dining room features one of Emily’s most controversial indulgences: Timorous Beasties’ London toile wallpaper. ‘To me, this stunning wallcovering, with its depictions of city life – some savoury; some not – was perfect for the space,’ Emily says with a wry smile. ‘I love the subversive tone paired with the beauty and attention to detail in their patterns.

‘My mum wasn’t entirely convinced, but she soon warmed to my over-the-top theme once I added a large vintage chandelier and accessorised it with technicolour baubles from Paperchase.’

dining room with subversive Timorous Beasties wallpaper in pink

Timorous Beasties wallpaper was a daring choice for the dining room. Photo: Katie Lee

The dingy basement was next on the list of areas to revamp. A major project, the couple renovated the space over the course of six months. Enlisting the help of Jessica Buckley Interiors, Emily created a wow-factor den for The Pink House that doubles up as a home office, third reception room and guest suite.

Although the conversion was a huge undertaking, Emily actually cites the family bathroom as the most tumultuous project. ‘I didn’t project manage it and the work took as long as the basement to finish, as everything was made bespoke,’ Emily explains. ‘However, it was worth it – what was the most disappointing room is now one of the prettiest.’

fun family house basement den with colourful decor and neon lights

Emily created a wow-factor den in the basement. Photo: Katie Lee

Turning her attention to the rest of the upstairs, Emily’s youngest son Zac’s bedroom has its own distinct look. ‘The animal-covered wallpaper was the starting point,’ she says, ‘which led to the Oliver Bonas teal velvet chair – not the most practical buy, but I love it – and the green vintage cupboard, which lends a sense of history.’

Emily and Euan’s own bedroom had a similar beginning. ‘Another Timorous Beasties wallpaper has made its way into our home. This time, it was the butterflies design, and it informed the whole theme,’ she says.

‘What I love about the brand is its subversive tone paired with the beauty and attention to detail in its patterns. If you look closely, you’ll see that as well as the iridescent butterflies, there are little insects ready to bite as you sleep – a nice touch.’

The Pink House bedroom with Timorous Beasties butterfly wallpaper

Pretty, feminine touches add interest, colour and warmth to the master suite. Photo: Katie Lee

Thick moss-green curtains frame a view out on to one of Edinburgh’s many hills, with a bone inlay chest of drawers adding a subtle wash of pattern. ‘I love the idea of the outside world creeping in through the window,’ Emily explains. ‘But my favourite thing is the pink chair. It was probably the first piece of furniture I fell in love with – I bought it when my husband was still only my boyfriend.’

The Murrays grew into a family of four during their time on ‘the secret special street’, completing a transformation that has resulted in blogs, books and a huge Instagram following (and boosting the property’s value to £900,000 in the process).

The Pink House bathroom has white metro tiles but flashes of playfulness elsewhere

Simple metro tiles and vintage-look fittings give the bathroom a sophisticated edge. Photo: Katie Lee

In a surprising move, the family made the decision to move back to London in 2017, meaning that Emily was able to embark on The Pink House MKII (find out more about the move, and the new digs, on her blog).

Word on the street is that Emily is currently working on a new sofa collaboration. Keep an eye out for the April 2022 issue of Good Homes magazine , or follow @goodhomesmag on Instagram, to find out more…

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