Beautiful Rooms: Inspiration for your own places and spaces

Today’s post is brought to you from the sick bed as I appear to have succumbed to the so-called supercold. Or perhaps it’s just that I haven’t had a cold for three years so have forgotten how wretched they are. Or perhaps it’s because the bedroom is currently the nicest room in the house as it’s so nearly completed (we can’t count the 21yo’s, which is fully done, as he’s in it with the door firmly closed) so I’m finding excuses to stay in here. So what I have found for you today?

design by artichoke interiors
design by artichoke interiors

Let’s start with the sunshine – sadly far away this January. This “housekeeper’s kitchen” by one of my favourite companies, Artichoke Ltd, is a shade of yellow just dirty enough to not count as yellow. So; points to take away and consider if you feel inspired by this room. Firstly the panelling runs tall and incorporates that little window. This makes the ceiling feeling higher and also stops the room being disjointed. If you are going add panelling then deciding the height is one of the key issues. It might feel tempted to stop at worktop height but that’s probably lower than half way and can make the room feel unbalanced.

It would also create more dividing lines with the windows which don’t tend to come as low down as the counter. Dividing the wall roughly two thirds for panelling with the top third painted to match the ceiling will add colour and texture and create a more streamlined finish. That way the windows – which are half in each bring the two parts of the room together.

The black and white blinds add a bit of drama and stop the room feeling too clean and spring (fine if that’s your thing it’s not mine – in which case you might want to add green window dressings for example) and natural dark wood is layered in as well. I’ve said for some years I’m a fan of dark wood rather than that pale modern oak which has been ubiqutious for the last few years.

design by carlos garcia interiors
design by carlos garcia interiors

Another splash of yellow in the form of this kitchen island. Now while I’m not sure it’s particularly useful to talk about trends as my mission has always been to help you to find your own likes and dislikes regardless of fashion, it’s also true that it can be useful, and interesting, to be aware of the conversations that are going on i the world of interiors and this is one of them. Kitchen islands seem to be undergoing something of a backlash at the moment and rather than being a sought after fashion item it has become fashionable to slate them and decry their usefulness.

I was very fond of mine when I had it and I may yet add one to the kitchen in the house in Italy (if it all goes ahead) so I’m not going to get drawn into that particular argument – you do you as the saying goes – but I will say that if you are planning on when then it’s worth considering the design. Mine was solid and while that afforded a lot of storage it did rather look like a giant tanker had parked in the middle of the room. If you can leave a side open – like the one above – you still have storage but the whole piece is less dominant. Likewise the fashion is moving towards the butler’s table which is like a table with super deep drawers so you can see the floor underneath but there is still storage. No good for ovens or sinks though which is what many of us choose to house in our islands.

mink walls with scarlet n rust cupboards all by paint and paper library
mink walls with scarlet n rust cupboards all by paint and paper library

Staying in the kitchen and sharing a little bit of inspiration for the new house. This week is mostly about the bookshelves (as I said on Friday) and choosing the colour for them proved harder than I thought. We had chocolate brown in the last house and I didn’t want to repeat. We also have dark wooden floors newly installed here (Hatters from Broadleaf Timber) so I didn’t want a brown that would clash with that. Then I found this new colour from Paint and Paper Library which is called Scarlet N Rust – a sort of mix of red and rust brown and it’s perfect. The walls of this room will also be a very pale pink although not as dark as pictured here which is PPL Mink.

The point to note here is that the window and shelf are all painted to match the wall which means no distractions from the things on the shelf – and if you have open shelves then I’m going to assume you are filling them with beautiful things – or from the view out of the window. Yes you could have painted both of them dark to match the cupboards but the overall effect would have been more disjointed and bitty. Far better to leave it like this and add a disrupter colour in the form of a yellow fruit bowl or cobalt blue vase on the shelf.

decor by charlotte boundy
decor by charlotte boundy

Another image that inspired the current house renovation or rather, the image that summed up what I had been trying to tell the joiner for months until last week when we decided it would block the space too much. These are old shutters in the designer Charlotte Boundy’s house. I have spent months looking for something similar to divide the front half of the sitting room from the back before conceding that the size I needed would mean they would have to be made to measure. I had just found the person to do it (expensive) when we decided that because of the architecture of the room – the doorway is angled – it would make the entrance feel pinched so we have decided against it. I have, instead, had another idea. One which I will be putting to the joiner as you read this post. I’m not sure he’s going to like it but it’s cheaper and easier than 3m wide folding shutters. I will, of course, keep you posted.

room design by joanna plant at wow house chelsea design harbour summer 2022 sisal bubble desert weave by alternative flooring
room design by joanna plant at wow house chelsea design harbour summer 2022 sisal bubble desert weave by alternative flooring 

Finally, while we’re on the subject of inspiration a couple of images from last summer’s visit to the Wow House at Chelsea which many of you found a terrifying onslaught of colour and pattern when I wrote about it. It was, needed full on, but it was also designed to show you a lot of product at once. I have been marinating on these two images and while I’m not having a four poster bed or any canopies, the thing I took away from this room by the designer Joanne Plant was the sisal flooring, which will be installed in our bedroom next week. I like the rather utilitarian flooring contrasting with the layers of fabric and colour and, if you have been following, you will know that I have also added wallpaper to our bedroom.

And, this bedroom, by Morris and Co, inspired me to add wallpaper to the bathroom which starts next week. Not this wallpaper, sadly this design – Bamboo – only comes in fabric, but a different William Morris design. This house, unlike the last one which was a tall London town house, is more of a terrace worker’s cottage and the interior design will reflect that.

I hope these rooms and musings give you some ideas and inspiration for your own.

the william morris room from wow house at Chelsea Design Harbour summer 2022
the william morris room from wow house at Chelsea Design Harbour summer 2022


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. I love the look of the Joanna Plant bedroom, and the blind over the mirror works for me, but the ergonomics of the bedside table being two feet from the bed would drive me mad!

  2. I really love the stone floor in the second picture, It reminds me of the kitchen floor of my parents’ house in Ibiza (Spain). I hope by now you are totally recovered from your cold. Thank you for sharing such beautiful homes in your blog.

  3. Scarlet N Rust stunning choice of paint colour Kate. Hope your poor nose isn’t scarlet n sore!
    Rough sisal in the bedroom seems inappropriate to me, unless it’s to be used as a daily pummace stone on the soles of your feet?
    BBC iPlayer Amanda and Alan’s Italian Job in Salemi Sicily is fun to follow. They must have had a cracking team helping them achieve a beautiful result, (including finding an English guy on holiday there who could hang wallpaper!!) Much to approve with their choices but no underfloor heating for winter….needed or house will feel uncomfortably damp, or airconditioning, essential to survive the summer temperatures. Please note this Kate and wish you better soon.

  4. I love the sisal flooring and we currently have it on our hallway, up the stairs and on the landing. This had already been down over ten years when we moved in eight years ago and it is now very worn in places. I also managed to throw a mug of peppermint tea over the stairs and we now have a huge watermark which has put me off replacing with more sisal. What would you suggest for these heavy use areas as an alternative?
    Get well soon – it floored me for two weeks!!

    1. I have always understood that sisal isn’t good on stairs for those reasons – and also it can be slippy so I would say carpet. I had a wool carpet on my stairs and landings for 12 years and it looked good despite teenage boys, builders, a cat and spills. When it comes to cleaning you must dab not rub and yes, you do have to be careful of soaking with water or you will replace one stain with another.

  5. Your new house is going to look very much like your old house – you know what you like. I’m curious. Is the Italian house going to be the same or something entirely different for you?

  6. Get well soon, Kate, having a very bad cold is awful. Loved the post and found the colours and patterns delightful

  7. Wishing you well Kate. So glad you’re head is clear enough to write another insightful post. My takeaway from today’s post is to nail down what really resonates in an image – even if it is just the merest glimpse of a sisal carpet!

    1. We’re both right – this design was indeed by E.W Godwin and then adapted, from that original sample in the V&A and is now sold by William Morris & Co. Samples of the wallpaper are in the Morris & Co archive but now, for some reason it’s only available as a fabric.

  8. Fantastic post Kate. Thank you.
    And I Hope you get better soon! Pretty grim being ill anytime, but especially when you have work going on in the house.

  9. All these kitchens with grooves, panels, fussy handles, little gaps between the top of cupboards and ceilings, are going to be magnets for grease and dust and a horror to clean. I like the Paint and Paper Library colour continued over wall and window sill though. The tall shutters added to a perfectly good door between the two rooms are perplexing. They’re too high for the space and add awkward bulk.

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