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Home: Bringing love to a forlorn Edinburgh tenement in this beautiful renovation

© SYSTEMRani Bolam's tenement kitchen, Edinburgh.
Rani Bolam's tenement kitchen, Edinburgh.


NHS nurse and health visitor Rani, 32, her cat Dolly and her dog Vinnie


A two-bedroom Victorian tenement


Edinburgh city centre

I bought the property in 2015.

At the time of purchase there was a lot of renovation work to be done to make it liveable, including a damp proof course and removing a rotten floor in the en suite.

This was done on a really tight budget as a first-time home owner. During the pandemic, I have then upgraded the kitchen by painting the units and adding extra units and replacing the worktop, and slowly, every room has been redecorated.

The property is bi-level.

You enter on the street through a hallway to a kitchen/living space, and there is also a bathroom on this level. Downstairs on the basement/garden level is a hallway, two bedrooms and an en-suite shower room.

I was living in a rented tenement before I bought the property.

I am a tenement girl and cannot imagine living in a new-build. I love the character that comes with period properties – enough to put up with the draughty windows and uneven walls! When I viewed the flat it was in serious disarray. Luckily, I managed to see past a lot of the cosmetic stuff (including three sofas in the bedroom!) to a good shell underneath.

The property had not been updated in quite some time.

When putting in my offer I knew it needed a damp proof course, which is why I was really glad it was fixed price as I could budget this. Once I got the keys, I realised the en suite floor was rotten and would need addressed fairly urgently.

When I bought the property I thought I would be living in a lovely decorated flat by about three months, but it actually took about 10 months until everything was complete and it felt like home.

I lived in the flat throughout all the work going on. I have slept in every room – including the kitchen!

I have always been very conscious of my budget.

I like to keep it tight and reuse where I can. I’m a big fan of scrolling Gumtree, Facebook Market Place and secondhand shops for furniture and household parts.

In terms of labour, I have tried to reduce costs where able. YouTube taught me to tile, wallpapering the hall was a first for me, and my friend and I have just embarked on building built-in bookcases from scratch.

This has been a massive challenge but it’s been so enjoyable teaching myself new skills, feeling confident with power tools and seeing the end result.

Throughout the flat I have added bits of art I have picked up in some of my favourite Edinburgh shops.

Places such as Curiouser And Curiousier, and illustrators such as Laura Jones (@skeletondraws), Stay Home Club and Emily Hogarth, as well as bits I’ve brought back from holidays. The gallery wall in the guest room is a homage to travels. I enjoy decorating but worry I am too much of a control freak for an interior designer.

I love how welcoming my home feels.

This is my first home I have owned and I have such a strong emotional attachment to it. It has also seen through many stages of my life, love, heartbreak, losing loved pets, and a pandemic.

I am good at closing a chapter and moving on, however, and I often dream about my next home. Although I am not ready for another massive project – yet!

Follow Rani on Instagram: @theedinburghtenement