This Live Home 3D model was the first structure we built to help Lori with her novel. Her story centers around a couple who inherit property in Scotland and decide to open a school for students interested in creating operas.
The real Gladstone’s Land – Courtesy of Wikipedia
The building used for the school is based on Gladstone’s Land, a National Trust building from the 1500s in Edinburgh that we visited on our second trip to the UK. Like most really old buildings in the UK, it is quite wonky, with walls rarely joining at right angles. We started with floorplans that Lori received from the museum, but we found it hard to be that inaccurate with a program that wants to join things at right angles. We finally gave up and approximated the layout with rooms that were actually rectangular for the most part.
Although our model stands alone, in reality Gladstone’s Land is a row house,surrounded on both sides by other structures. It is also surrounded in the back, with a courtyard that only provides pedestrian access. There is nowhere to park a car and it’s unclear how one would even deliver goods.
Since we’re in the UK with this building, we followed their custom of naming the floors, which caused constant confusion during the build process. Unlike the US where the first floor is called the first floor, in the UK, the first floor is called the ground floor, the second floor is the first floor, the third floor is second floor, etc.
So let’s start our tour with the ground floor.
Entering the building from the front at street level, we find ourselves in a whisky bar (since we’re in Scotland, it is a whisky bar, not a whiskey bar). In addition to inheriting the building, the couple in Lori’s book also inherit a distillery, and they use the storefront as a tasting room.
In addition to sampling and purchasing some of their fine Scotch, you can also purchase some of the souvenir items displayed in the cabinets. A nice set of tumblers perhaps? At the end of our tour we will not be exiting through the gift shop, so make your purchases now. We’ll wait.
Exit that room from the back and head down the staircase into the cellar, and you’ll find several rooms storing casks and casks of Scotch.
If we take a long walk around the block and enter the courtyard through a gap between two buildings, we find another way into the building, and this one leads into the apartment used by the new owners when they stay in Edinburgh. As we enter we see one of the two circular staircases. This one leads all the way up to the fourth floor.
Compact, the apartment includes a small kitchen, living room and dining room. In the living room you’ll notice there’s a photo of their country house, Pemberley, where they and the students spend their weekends. (We’ll be posting a tour of Pemberley soon.)
In the apartment there is of course also a bedroom, complete with a fireplace and Chippendale mirror. The bedroom is in the wing of the building that was added in the 1700s.
Back to the front, we find a stone staircase that bends it’s way up to the front door of the first floor. Entering we find another circular staircase that we will skip right now, and instead proceed into the parlor. Here we find a huge stone fireplace, and a frieze featuring arches that circles the room. Furnishings are primarily of the Gothic revival style.
As we proceed to the next room, be sure to duck if you’re of average height, as the doors are only 5’7″ high. As I’m 6’0″ and Lori is 5’10”, this is one thing we had to keep in mind while visiting really hold houses in England, Scotland and Wales.
Depending on whether we take the left or right door, we’ll either end up in the kitchen or the dining room. Let’s visit the dining room first.
The dining room is also in the ‘new’ addition from the 1700s. Batten paneling painted in green lines the walls. Notice that in the addition, the ceiling is not beamed as they are in the rest of the house. A built in shelf displays some of their fine china.
Family portraits and an oil painting of the countryside decorate the walls.
Exiting the dining room from the door across from the one we entered with, we find ourselves in the kitchen. The room is dominated by the huge cast iron cooking stove built into the wall. A table in the middle provides a working area for baking some delicious desserts. A niche next to the stove provides an area to store a small assortment of food necessities.
The refrigerator is of a compact size as food shopping is done almost daily for the freshest items. Like all our other designs, there is of course room for a coffee maker. Some things you just can’t go without, even in a primitive kitchen.
Proceeding towards the back of the house from the kitchen we come upon a small cloak room. Here you can hang your coat and hat, and enjoy the smell of fresh pies cooling in the pie safe. Pass through the next door and we’ll take the circular stairway up to the second floor.
As we’re now traversing the house from back to front, the first room we happen on is a design and sewing room, where the students can work on costumes for their opera. Posters of various operas line the walls for inspiration. Hey, what’s that poster for The Who’s Tommy doing there? Well, I guess that’s an opera right?
Off of the design room we head into the greenhouse. This is the most major deviation we did from the original structure. Again we’re in the wing that was added on in the 1700s. Maybe because they didn’t use beamed ceilings, the second floor of the addition (third floor to us Yanks) collapsed and was removed. Currently Gladstone’s Land only has three floors (cellar, ground floor and first floor) of the wing intact. We decided to replace the fourth level with a greenhouse. Due to being surrounded by other taller buildings it doesn’t get much light, but it’s still a nice place to sit when the sun is directly overhead.
The front room of the the second floor is the student’s classroom. A table for studying, a library for researching, and musical instruments for composing are all crammed into the room. An electric piano is the only option, as it would be impossible to get even a console piano up either of two circular staircases. I think that big bookcase must have been built on site.
At the front of the house we’ll use the other circular staircase to go up to the third floor.
The opera school is very specialized and only admits 6 students, three men and three women. The men get the third floor, with the front room serving as their dormitory. The hosts have provided photos above each bed to reflect that student’s nationality. The school tries to be very diverse, accepting one student from each continent.
Ducking again, we pass into the back room on this level, which provides a place for the men to study and relax. They each get a MacBook at their workstation, which allows them to learn and study offsite as well. In this room, the students have decorated the walls with posters that highlight their musical and sports interests.
We’re back in the circular staircase at the back of the house, winding our way up to the fourth floor. Once again we find ourselves traversing the floor from back to front, so the first room we come to is the women’s study room. The arrangement here is similar to that of the floor below, but since they have the staircase to the fifth floor in their room, it’s not an exact duplicate.
Ducking into the front room (literally), we see that it is also similar to the men’s room below.
We have one more floor to explore, but the front circular staircase only goes down from here. To get up to the top floor which uses the attic space, we need to back track to the stairway in the previous room.
Climbing that L-shaped stairway we arrive at their conference room, where all the students and teachers can meet and brainstorm ideas for their opera.They can also borrow the media equipment for joint movie nights.
The other section of the attic is used mainly for storing props and costumes, but it also serves as a game room with a ping pong table and an air hockey table for the students to enjoy when they’re not busy with schoolwork.
Well that’s it for our tour of Lori’s fictional opera school in Edinburgh, Scotland. In the video below, we take a slightly different path through the house, saving the owner’s apartment for last. Going up and down all those stairs can take a toll as you’ll see at the end.