Welcome to The Mad House.
I’m Kate Watson-Smyth, a journalist who’s been writing about property, interiors and design in national newspapers for more than 20 years.
I spent about 15 of them at The Independent but have also worked regularly for The Financial Times (where I won Lifestyle/Interiors writer of the year at the 2013 Property Press Awards) and The Daily Mail. Way back in the mists of time (literally the last century) I worked at both The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian as a news reporter where I wrote about everything from Spandau Ballet’s court battle over royalties to rare flowers blooming at Kew Gardens.
My house, which I (I mean “we” if I’m being honest and actually I should probably say “they” as it was mostly the builders) completely renovated was created from two dingy rental flats which we bought in 2010.
It has been featured in Living etc, The Wall Street Journal, Corriere della Sera and Heart Home magazine as well as various product shoots for homewares and fashion.
The blog began as a place to show all the wonderful things and their creators that I couldn’t find room for in my newspaper work, as well as helping to show you how to decorate your own homes with interesting and unusual items.
It has won several awards including, and most recently, the Vuelio No 1 UK Interiors Blog and the Amara Interior Blog Awards Best Design Inspiration Blog. It was also named in the Sunday Times Home top 10 Interiors blogs.
My philosophy? Your home should tell your story. It should make your heart sing when you open the front door. I would sum it up like this: Something old, something new, something black, something gold. And always some natural wood. And when I say gold I mean any metallic. How do I sum that up? Well I like to call it Urban Glamour. You may prefer Modern Rustic.
Think of The Mad House as a sourcebook for modern living.
There’s masses of stuff on here and in my books, from advice on choosing the right shade of grey paint (Shades of Grey) and How to Decorate Your Home, to where to source the perfect copper lampshade and 101 Design Answers. Take a stroll through the regular 10 Beautiful Rooms series and be inspired for your own space. Or check out the pick of the property market and see what’s available to actually buy.
I co-host the podcast The Great indoors with Sophie Robinson – a bi-monthly show on all things interiors and how to make your home really work for you. Guests have included Pearl Lowe, Fearne Cotton, Jay Blades and Rachel Khoo as well as experts on lighting, gardening and disability. Our specially extended diversity episode where we recorded voices from the Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority communities talking of their experiences within the interiors sector was our most downloaded ever (series 7 episode 5 June 11 2020) and gave rise to the Design for Diversity Pledge launched with Rukmini Patel.
I don’t have advertisements and I do very few sponsored posts. Occasionally, I must have shoes (nice ones) and so, if the brand fits… Having said that I enjoy collaborating to create interesting, and unique, projects that I think you will value and appreciate and if the right idea comes along then I’m always up for a discussion.
I also launched the Do Less Harm campaign. It’s almost impossible to do no harm, but what if we all made a conscious effort to Do Less Harm? And crucially, to ask the businesses we buy from how they are doing less harm, so we can decide if they deserve our money and this directory is designed to help you answer those questions?
I hope you will enjoy your visit and do drop by again soon; the Mad door is always open. If you’re not sure where to head for first here are some of the most popular posts:
Contact me using the form below.