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Minimalist and Miniature: A Garage Converted into a Quiet, Compact Apartment

Porteous Studio vacation rental Edinburgh, Izat Arundell design. Zac & Zac photo.

Located in Edinburgh’s Old Town, the rustic stone building originally served as a blacksmith’s shop with a holding pen for horses and carriages on the ground floor. Three centuries later, a young creative couple happened upon the real estate listing for the lower story. Eilidh Izat, 29, is an architect and her boyfriend Jack Arundell, 28, a chef; they were looking for a property to develop outside the city but jumped at the oddball garage.

Thanks to modern glazing, slatted wood dividers, and custom furnishings made from a single oak tree, they transformed the 387-square-foot interior into one of the most well-composed—and Zen—studio apartments we’ve come across. Porteous Studio, as it’s now called, is the first project by Izat Arundell, the couple’s new architecture, design, and event workshop. Small-space dwellers take note of the careful space planning and the duo’s “quiet aesthetics.” Edinburgh bound? The apartment is available as a vacation rental—perfect for minimalists and light packers.

Photography by Zac & Zac, courtesy of Izat Arundell.

Porteous Studio vacation rental Edinburgh, Izat Arundell design. Zac & Zac photo.
Above: The property was one of the last remaining undeveloped spaces in Old Town reports Jack. And no wonder: all of its windows were closed up and it was dark and dank—and used in recent decades as, of all things, a stained glass studio.

The name Porteous comes from its location on Porteous Pend (a “pend” in Scotland is a cobbled lane).

Porteous Studio vacation rental Edinburgh, Izat Arundell design. Zac & Zac photo.
Above: Izat Arundell repurposed the original north-facing entry introducing “deep mullioned glazing units and a screened pivot door to provide both privacy and views of the Grassmarket,” the historic market area just below Edinburgh Castle.

Eilidh, who received her architecture degree from the Edinburgh College of Art, explains that they had hoped to “honor the original floor levels that ran flush between inside and out,” but because of the “archaeological value”of the site, they avoided excavating and instead introduced tiled flooring atop the original slab. That’s Jack shown inside.

Porteous Studio vacation rental Edinburgh, Izat Arundell design. Zac & Zac photo.
Above: The gray limestone tiles—with radiant floor heating—echo the cobblestones outside. In the back of the room, a second slatted wood screen divides the bedroom from the rest of the quarters.
Porteous Studio vacation rental Edinburgh, Izat Arundell design. Zac & Zac photo.
Above: The bedroom’s sliding screen allows in sunlight,

Eilidh and Jack spent months working on a plan that would both celebrate the history of the space and transform it into a place of “peace and calm.” They excavated existing windows and, by drilling through the three-foot thick wall just outside the bedroom, introduced a large new window that overlooks a garden courtyard. Their cabinetmaker friend Namon Gaston was recruited to design and build the furnishings, all made from that single local oak “to achieve consistency of tone and grain, allowing the eye to read the pieces as one.”

Porteous Studio vacation rental Edinburgh, Izat Arundell design. Zac & Zac photo.
Above: Heavy canvas curtains can be pulled across the entrance. The couple finished the walls with clay plaster from Clayworks to enhance the light, regulate humidity levels, and create a surface so nuanced there’s “no need for any artwork.”

(Read about clay plaster and other finishes in Remodeling 101: Modern Plaster Walls, Six Ways.)

Porteous Studio custom dining table, Edinburgh, Izat Arundell design. Zac & Zac photo.
Above: Namon’s refined picnic table and benches sit well in the space.
Porteous Studio custom kitchen, Edinburgh, Izat Arundell design. Zac & Zac photo.
Above: The streamlined window frames are also oak, as is the bespoke kitchen and the slatted screens, a collaboration between Namon and Richard Anstice of 56 North.
Porteous Studio kitchen, Edinburgh, Izat Arundell design. Zac & Zac photo.
Above: An oak screen neatly divides the kitchen from the bedroom.

Guests receive a food hamper containing sourdough bread from Twelve Triangles bakery, eggs, seasonal jam, locally roasted coffee and teas, and milk from “a forward-thinking dairy called Mossgiel Farm,” says Jack. “Sometimes we leave organic bacon, too. We also like to include some local tipple: we have some excellent gins made in Edinburgh and, of course, whiskies.” The couple stage dinners at Porteous Studio and in other locales: go to Fóram for details.

Porteous Studio vacation rental Edinburgh, Izat Arundell design. Zac & Zac photo.
Above: The lines of the screens, the stone tiling, and exposed rafters lend the design the tidiness of a Rubik’s Cube. That’s the bathroom right off the bedroom.
Porteous Studio vacation rental bedroom, Edinburgh, Izat Arundell design. Zac & Zac photo.
Above: The bed is tucked under stairs that once led to the blacksmith’s workshop. “We removed the back wall above the cranked steel beam, which allowed us to push the bed 1.2 meters further back,” says Jack.
Porteous Studio bedroom shelf, Edinburgh, Izat Arundell design. Zac & Zac photo.
Above: Oak shelving in the bedroom.
Porteous Studio bathroom, Edinburgh, Izat Arundell design. Zac and Zac photo.
Above: The limestone tiling continues in the compact open bath.
Porteous Studio vacation rental Edinburgh, Izat Arundell design. Zac & Zac photo.
Above: A former stable across the way—now converted into living quarters—retains its horseshoe on the door. For more information, go to Porteous Studio (@porteous.studio).

For more clever garage conversions, see Private Property: 13 Inspired Garage Conversions.

For more stylish small spaces, see:

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