Shades of Grey goes International

shades of grey

It’s the last day of the August updates and I hope you will forgive me if I indulge myself a little and revisit this post about my book. There is a small update as you will see from the picture above. At the beginning of the month, I received the above copies; it has been translated into French, German and Italian. The latter of which, said my publisher, sounds like a rather fine wine.

shades of grey international editions

The German one has a lovely new cover although, for some inexplicable reason, the spine is bright green. Go figure as they say.

Since it was published, way back in February, it has featured in dozens of local newspapers, The Mail on Sunday, The Lady, Hello!, The Sunday Mirror and Homes and Antiques. It was also mentioned in Grazia, Marie Claire (both the English and Italian versions) as well as the online version of Brazil Homes and Gardens. It has been a wonderful experience and, just so this post isn’t all about the past, I can tell you that I am discussing my second book AS WE SPEAK. Oh yes, look out for details of that one….


Now I’m not going to wang on and on about it. Actually I am, a little bit. But, hell, you know, it’s a little bit exciting. Before I tell you about how this book came about (for those of you who read this post when it was first published in February you can bow out in one sentence) I would also like to say – since this post is all about me (!) that the blog has been nominated for an award. I won last year so perhaps it’s not my turn this time, but, if you have enjoyed it as much this year and have a spare second to click a link, then that would be very kind. You can vote here it’s an enormously crowded category and I would be thrilled if you wanted to vote. If not, then that’s fine too. Now on with the story…

It’s been a long time coming this book and this post is a little bit about not giving up on stuff. Only not that preachy because God knows I give up on stuff all the time. Especially the dream of holding the plank position for more than 20 seconds.

Like many journalists we all want to write a book. It’s something to do with the external validation. And, possibly, something to do with the idea of writing something longer than 800 words. Anyway, an early foray into fiction made me realise that that wasn’t for me. I actually can’t make it up. Not with any degree of conviction.

image ©Ryland Peters & Small

That meant I had to draw on real- life experiences. And people. Which looked like a pretty fast route to the libel courts. So the fiction was out.

The next attempt came during my early freelance career when I signed up to an agency writing health features. I was approached by an agent who had found a surgeon who needed a ghost writer. Yes, I though. Ghost writing, that could work.

“What is his speciality,” I enquired casually.

“Vaginal plastic surgery,” came the reply.

image ©Ryland Peters & Small

I kid you not. Reader, I interviewed five thousand words out of this surgeon before admitting defeat and fleeing headlong over to the property department. I haven’t written a health feature since. And I’m not aware of that book being on any best seller list either.

It was a while before I re-entered the book proposal market. A few years later another idea was warmly received about two weeks before the financial crash of 2007 when anyone who wasn’t either a celebrity or an established author was considered to be a high risk and politely rejected.

image ©Ryland Peters & Small

I carried on plugging away at my job. In 2012 The Mad House opened its doors. I wrote in my diary: Blog. Business. Book. In 2014 I launched my interior consulting business. And today, two years later, the book Shades of Grey is in all good bookshops (to coin a phrase).

I hope you will enjoy it and find it useful. There will no doubt be some of you who might have preferred the other book. You’ll have to track that down on your own.

image ©Ryland Peters & Small

As ever, I thank all of you for reading my blog and anyone who does buy the book. I enjoyed writing it. I hope you will enjoy reading it. Or at least looking at the pictures.


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. Well done and well deserved! You’ve a great wit and way with writing about property, design, and much more. Thanks Kate.

  2. Many congratulations to you, Kate, it is a truly fantastic achievement for Shades of Grey to be translated into three languages! I love the blog and will certainly be voting for you. Best wishes, Lucy.

  3. Congratulations! As you said, all journalists have a book in them. Glad you got (one of) yours out. And translated!!!! Bravo!
    I truly enjoy your blog and can’t wait to pick up the book.

  4. Just a short note of thanks Kate. I bought it earlier this year and it is undoubtedly one of my favorite design books. I like everything about it, starting with your writing (and your humor) to the layout. Soon I will be delving back into it to glean some advice about the color of my soon-to-be repainted bedroom. “Bon courage” for the next one!

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