A Colsie Moment with Wynne McLeish, Edinburgh Architect


colsie (kol-zee) / origin: Old Scots for ‘cosy

1. The feeling that comes with being present, inviting closeness, and appreciating the things that last

2. The act of slow living and making time for the people and things that soothe our souls


 Welcome to A Colsie Moment, our blog series that features questions and answers with inspiring people about what slow living can look like in all aspects of life. From career to family to cooking to designing to mental health, we're dedicated to exploring what it means to live an intentional life.


When we walked into Wynne’s flat, we were greeted by jars of propagating plants, a large window overlooking a quiet garden of lush trees, unsupervised biscuits and hot tea. Pretty much the definition of colsie, if you ask us. Local Edinburgh-based architect, Wynne McLeish, was kind enough to let us use her light-filled flat as the location for our summer interior shoot, and it turns out she’s even more lovely than her home. She chatted with us about renovation project, what colsie means to her and what concepts influence her design!

A Colsie Moment with Wynne McLeish

What’s the story behind your home?

I bought this place just over 2 and a half years ago. I hadn’t been searching long when it first came on the market, but on first viewing I knew this was the one. Despite the existing colour scheme, I immediately fell in love with the room proportions, traditional features and the large west facing windows.

What inspired you to renovate it?

The original colour scheme of the bright yellow and blue kitchen/living room along with the tired existing fittings inspired me to tackle this room first. I wanted to create a neutral space that I could accent with colour through objects such as plants, artwork and furniture. However, restricted by budget, I took some time to decide on what I wanted to do. I sketched up plans of different layouts before I was happy with how I wanted it to look.

What’s gone better than expected?

Painting out the yellow walls immediately brought out the natural colour of the doors and mantel piece. The changing light during the day from the west facing windows also takes on a number of different shades and can make the room feel bright and fresh in the morning and cosy and soft in the evenings.
I had originally wanted to relocate the kitchen to the back of the room, however, after living with the original layout for a number of months I realised I enjoyed having it be a focal point of the room. I wanted the kitchen to become a central part of the room and not tucked away in a corner.  

How do you want to feel when you come into your home?

I have always been fascinated by how the layout, space and light of a certain room can affect your mood. Having grown up in a Victorian terraced house, I have always associated the feeling of ‘home’ with being able to relax in a space with high ceilings and the soft edges of a traditional property.

How do the spaces you’re creating help you accomplish that?

This is what immediately made me fall in love with this flat upon first viewing. Despite its previous bold palette choice, its proportions and untouched traditional features allowed me to realise that I could really see myself living here once I got my hands on it. The moment I step through the door, I feel proud because I single handedly painted and designed the room exactly how I wanted it to work for me.

We’re all about Colsie. What does Colsie look like in your home life?

The term ‘Colsie’ to me is sitting on my corner sofa with a cup of tea and listening to the rain softly patter against the window panes. Despite being in the centre of town, by facing onto the garden my flat can often be so quiet it often feels like you are in the middle of nowhere. Having my kitchen as a centre piece to the room also allows me to be a part of the conversation when I have friends round for dinner.

How do seasons affect your home décor?

Painting the room white allowed me to create a blank canvas, and whilst I often default to natural colours when picking finishes, it also means I can bring in accents of colour and texture depending on my style that time of year. I have found my tastes tend to be fresh, bold colours in spring/summer and moving to warmer terracotta shades in autumn/winter.  

The west facing windows also play a huge part of creating different moods throughout the time of day as well as the year. Being second floor, and facing onto the garden, it feels like you are in amongst the trees when the leaves grow back in spring but in the winter, the short days allows the space to instantly feel warm and cosy.

Tips for someone wanting to renovate?

If you have the time, it’s great to be able to see how the existing layout works for you and your daily routine. Note down a list of what does and doesn’t and see how your budget can accommodate this. Before making drastic (and often very expensive) changes like knocking down walls, it’s always good to see how the space can accommodate various schemes.

Conduct a quick measurement survey that will allow you to draw up rough plans or using a 3D modelling programme, such as Sketch Up, build a virtual model of the space allowing you to play about with the existing layout and see what works for you. It might be even as simple as painting the existing kitchen units that can immediately lift the space or allow you to see what colour schemes work.
Platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram are also great for being able to create digital mood boards and also investigate other styles or trends you didn’t know about.

If you have a number of rooms you plan on renovating, I recommend creating different folders, which will categorise your images and keep track of ideas for each specific room something I found especially useful in doing as the more you do it, the more your style will refine. Certain colour schemes or styles you originally thought you liked may be replaced over time and also it gives you a chance to see what elements keep recurring so you know this is an aspect you want to carry forward.

Buying pieces for your home can be expensive so it’s worth seeing what remains characteristic to your tastes. These will no doubt be investment pieces that you will be living with for years to come and you want to ensure you don’t quickly tire of them.

Buying second hand can also be very rewarding. When first moving in I was constantly on sites such as Gumtree or Ebay trawling for local mid-century bargains - probably why today my flat resembles a mini G-Plan showroom. Rarer pieces feel a lot more special than something mass produced as they often come at a more reasonable price for their quality and sometimes with an interesting backstory thrown in for free.


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