10 Beautiful Rooms

Well good morning. I feel like I’ve been saying this a lot over the last year, but if you need a retreat from the outside world and its (I was going to say madness but I’ll just stop there) … a retreat from the outside world, then come on in here where it’s the opposite of mad – despite the name – and where you can take ten minutes to stroll around some beautiful rooms and find a little bit of calm before you have to go back out there and deal again.

black kitchen with shiplap board walls white via shoot factory
black kitchen with shiplap board walls white via shoot factory

First up a couple of kitchens for you to think about. One is a mix of modern black with more rustic shiplap walls. I rather love this but might want to soften with some pots of herbs. The other is lightened with the rather lovely herringbone tiling behind the island. Both of these are available as locations to hire via The Shoot Factory.

metro kitchen via shoot factory
metro kitchen via shoot factory

Sticking with kitchens, I love this modern rustic room below. Firstly, note how the island on legs makes the space look larger as you can see more floor. It’s an indulgence as not everyone has the space to do this – I certainly don’t – but if you do or can find enough storage in other places – then it’s definitely worth thinking about.

modern rustic kitchen via shootfactory
modern rustic kitchen via shootfactory

Secondly, as many of you know I’m a fan of a patterned tile in a kitchen as its adds softness to a space full of hard surfaces. Here the owners have created a sort of tile rug which does exactly that but also, if you have doors that open to to a patio area and you wanted to blur the inside outside thing, the plain tiles round the edge provide the connection.

I often find that having the same inside and outside and result in a rather grey “pavement” sort of look where the kitchen floor is a bit cold and the terrace tiling a bit bleak and this is a good way to make a connection where both sides can win. Despite the book I gave my name to, I don’t love grey floor tiles as it can be a bit “road”. I would rather use grey paint and stick to natural flooring – flagstones or wood or poured resin. If you do want grey I would go for concrete as all the variations in colour and texture can add interest and bring a softness despite the material.

modern rustic brook lodge via the shoot factory
modern rustic brook lodge via the shoot factory

Next we’re looking at some of the gorgeous Devol kitchens as showcased during Clerkenwell Design Week. Again, it’s black but this time with a natural herringbone wooden floor which looks fantastic. Ignore the steel pillars, they look great in the pictures but we can’t all have them. Although, if you’re building an extension and need support then don’t assume you want to hide them in the walls.


This is the Georgian townhouse the company bought in Clerkenwell and is currently doing up as a super showroom. Many of you will have seen the gorgeous pink and green kitchen they have installed downstairs and they have now painted some of the other rooms before putting in more kitchens.


The house has been painted in a series of gorgeous muted colours of blue, green and grey and furnished with a few Devol pieces. The kitchen company often sources vintage tables and chairs for its customers to go with its kitchens.


It’s a great way to integrate a new kitchen with the rest of the house as so often a completely new room looks a little out of sync with everything else as there’s nothing old/used in it and it can be a little be too shiny.

3. The deVOL Townhouse

I think we can take from this a definite move towards dark neutrals – in some quarters at least – and I wonder if white will now lose its dominance. Grey has been strong for a while and I see no reason for that to end but I think the blues and greens will come to the fore over the next couple of years as we get braver with colour in our homes.

6. The deVOL Townhouse

Finally, we will be visiting this house in more detail next week but I wanted to show you this which belongs to a client of mine. I rarely show you clients’ homes but this one is available to hire via The Shoot Factory and the owners were happy for me to show you.

It’s a fantastic modern house in Berkhamsted but they had moved from a Victorian house in west London and felt that all their existing furniture was wrong for this space. We worked together to find a use for all the spaces – it’s quite open plan – the opposite of a terrace house – and to find uses for each space. This became an area to listen to music but also to drink coffee and chat with that fantastic view of the garden and deck. We went for a restrained and monochrome palette keeping in quite Scandinavian and modern in feel but also with lots of personal touches – the photographs on the shelves -and some fun cushions (which you can’t see in the picture) which meant that small people feel just as welcome here as big ones.

modernist house in berkhamsted
modernist house in berkhamsted  

So there you have it. Coffee drunk, rooms visited. Calmness prevails. On you go. Tomorrow I’ll tell you all about my trip to Ikea Town in Sweden, with a little bit of history about the brand that people love to criticise but which approaches design from a good place and a desire to be affordable to all.


Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Lovely start to the week after a crazy saturated media weekend. Wow the Berkhamsted home looks gorgeous. Sorry I couldn’t resist clicking onto shoot factory and taking a look. Looking forward to reading the details next week.

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