Delighted to see our beautiful Xmas feature in the the latest, December 2021 edition of 25 Beautiful Homes. We shot the Edinburgh home of interior designer, Mary-Anne Gallo this time last year, knowing it was going to be published this Xmas.
We arrived and Mary-Anne was perfectly prepared with stockings on the mantelpiece, her tree, beautifully wrapped gifts underneath, that I know her family were under strict instructions NOT to touch!
‘Normally decorating the tree is a fun, family activity’ Mary-Anne shares, ‘but knowing we were doing this shoot, I am afraid I had to get my husband to take our children out for the afternoon’ she laughs, ‘it was a case of interior design versus the real meaning of Christmas and interior design won this time!’
Mary-Anne and her husband, Riccardo, run Edinburgh based design and development company Gallo & Gallo together and they are both self confessed perfectionists. Their schemes are highly original, ambitious and every corner of every project is always beautifully detailed.
Mary-Anne cites French architect Joseph Dirand, a master of minimalism, who routinely uses rich, sumptuous materials, such as marble and wood, to bring an interior to life, as her main inspiration.
They had been looking for their next home and possible project for a while, when they spotted a run-down doctors’ surgery. The large town house was ripe for dividing into two spacious homes and they purchased it with a view to converting it. ‘The generous garden confirmed that our plans were realistic’ Mary-Anne explains. ‘We could see that the basement would make a lovely lower ground apartment and that with the addition of an elevated sunroom, with stairs down to the back half of the garden, the main part of the house on the ground floor and upper floors could also benefit from a section of outside space’.
The building was B listed, in a conservation area and needed a full re-modelling so there were a few challenges. They wanted to honour the heritage of both the building and the area, so aimed to create a lavish interior that offered the best of contemporary design and to preserve the beauty of the period details and the architecture.
The whole family are delighted with the results and really happy living in this beautiful spot, near the Botanics. ‘My taste has evolved over the years and I feel like I’m gravitating towards a calmer, more minimalistic interior,’ Mary-Anne explains. ‘I have loved researching for this project and using harmonious undertones to create serenity and balance in a room.’
Because of Riccardo’s Italian heritage, Christmas traditions are a little bit different for the Gallos. ‘Their food heritage is firmly part of the city and has been for a long time’ Mary-Anne says.
‘On Christmas Day, ‘il Giorno di Natale’, we start cooking a large lunch called ‘Cerone’ of roasted meats, ‘Pasta in Brodo’, grilled vegetables and all the desserts. The traditional ‘Panettones’ are filled with nuts and candied fruits to symbolize the fertility of the new year ahead. We prepare a chocolate version for the children as well. Eating and merrymaking lasts the entire day’ Mary-Anne explains.
‘Wrapped presents are not the only items exchanged on Christmas Day. Our children write love letters and wrap them like gifts. Family would then unwrap them along with the other presents and read them aloud at the table’ Mary-Anne shares, ‘after a long year of building work it is a wonderful chance to regroup and regenerate’.
Their alternative menu sounds absolutely delicious – I would love to copy this and their storytelling tradition is wonderful – I love the fact that the children might be really sincere one year and maybe a little tongue in cheek another – you wouldn’t know what to expect – it sounds really fun!
Mary-Anne is happy to help with projects large or small, please get in touch through her website. We were delighted, on the day, to discover a long standing connection between her and Douglas’s families, which made the shoot seem even more special. Her calm nature and extensive experience in property make her a very useful ally on a renovation. You can get to know her and enjoy further interior inspiration by following her on Instagram
We are always on the look out for extra special homes to shoot at Xmas. If you know a property that you feel might work – it could be you own of course, please get in touch!