Beautiful Rooms: Inspiration for Your Places and Spaces

Sometimes the joy of a collection of inspiration images is that precisely that there is no theme – it is just that: a seemingly random group of pictures that have caught my eye during the week and that I feel you will like or be similarly interested in. But then is anything really ever random? And before we get too existential about it, I will also say that when there is no particular link that jumps out I do try and arrange them in a sort of logical order (I’m well aware that, according to The Mad Husband at least, my logic is particular to me), but anyway, this week we have kitchens (mostly light and airy) leading to dark dining rooms followed by a quick bath and then bed. Perhaps the logic is best left… come with me instead.

The kitchen of @sarahbrowninteriors as seen @countrylifemagazine. by plain english kitchens painted in silver polish inspired by goddards
The kitchen of interior designer @sarahbrowninteriors by plain english kitchens  in silver polish inspired by goddards

We start in one of my favourite kitchens by the super talented interior designer Sarah Brown (and if you don’t follow her on instagram you should as she has one of the nicest houses on there and obviously you can hire her to help you out as well). I have long loved the idea of colour drenching a kitchen – another term for colour blocking or wrapping walls and woodwork in the same colour – and to do it in pink feels like a daring and stunning move.

But which pink? Well this, it turns out, is part of the Plain English Kitchens paint range in collaboration with Rita Konig and is called Silver Polish. It was inspired by Goddards Liquid Silver polish, which is not only a gorgeous cool shade of pink, but is a smell of my childhood. I can instantly conjure up the smell along with the colour as soon as I type the words. And who remembers Brasso? Another distinctive smell and, if memory serves me right, a sort of pale orange colour?

Created as part of the showroom kitchen for a new Los Angeles space, Gabrielle of @akerinteriors via Livingetc
Created as part of the showroom kitchen for a new Los Angeles space by Gabrielle of @akerinteriors via Livingetc

Moving across to LA now and what do you think of this kitchen with its very clever arched shelves that hide lights designed to illuminate the workspace as well as the items on the shelves. I’m not sure how you would easily recreate this,  but in many ways it’s not about copying an idea so much as seeing something unusual and different and giving yourself permission to also be daring in your design ideas. You don’t have to use LED tape in a straight line under your straight shelves, you might have a much better idea that you hadn’t dared dream of and this picture in this post might fire it up and inspire you to have a go.

I think it’s great and, because we are examining this image, note also how the boucle covered chairs echo that shape and, in turn, how those chairs provide a soft textural contrast to all the straight lines and hard metal and marble edges in this room. There is very little colour in here but you know you could touch the wood, stroke the chairs and run your hand along the smooth stone counter. There’s lots going on within a very narrow palette and yet the space feels warm and tactile despite all that metal and marble.

design by amelia handegan in south carolina
design by amelia handegan in south carolina

Final kitchen of the day and I just can’t seem to leave these checked floors alone. I have ordered tile samples with a view to replacing ours. I have ordered a checked rug to sit under the table and now I wonder if a weekend on hands and knees with a large supply. of masking tape might be the solution. I fear The Mad Husband will never agree. Might have to buy a new house.

So let’s leave and move into the dark and glamorous dining spaces.

styling by sarita sharma Work for @johnlewis mixing vintage pieces with new 📷 @dominicblackmorephotography
styling by sarita sharma Work for @johnlewis mixing vintage pieces shot by @dominicblackmorephotography

This, above, styled by Sarita Sharma is designed to show a mix of modern and vintage furniture and I wonder if its the dark background that sets it off so well. Does dark paint bring out the grain of wood and make it feel richer and more interesting? Again, there is a wide range of texture – cane and metal chair and wooden table and the chair is gently curved as is the table. It’s a beautiful image and dining rooms, if anyone still has one, work well in dark spaces, especially if you have space to breakfast in your kitchen and need only use this space at night.

Anyone who was here last week will have seen my post on window dressings and the image below is timely as, after 10 years, I have finally found the fabric for the sitting room blinds. It hasn’t been an active 10 year search (I’m not that indecisive) but it’s been a sort of playing in the background for a long time. I’ll talk to you more about that when I’ve finalised the details but it has raised (again) the issue of privacy.

net curtains at the ned
net curtains at the ned

Our terrace house is street-facing and we need something. For years we have had a plain Ikea roller blind fixed across the middle bar of the sash window and this works perfectly as it opens with the window and sits within the wider frame so it’s discreet. However, it’s been 10 years (they could do with a clean) and the plastic (not lovely) fittings stick out quite far which will make the rolling down of the new Roman blinds from the top harder. So what to replace them with?

We have looked at bottom up blinds (more common in the US) but we almost never open them so is there any need for the expense? We could attach new roller blinds on smaller fittings or we could look at the current fashion for cafe curtains. Made from linen these provide privacy and prettiness and could be fixed on a net curtain wire both top and bottom (as seen in The Ned above) which stops them flapping about and makes for a neater finish. The luxe can be provided by the choice of the linen or voile.

design by berrow projects in mallorca
design by berrow projects in mallorca

Now what about this for a bath? Trade shows and trend forecasters have been talking up the return of the coloured bathroom suite for several years now but it’s a look that just doesn’t seem to be catching on. Indeed, on the rare occasions when I have written about it here, there is invariably a slew of comments which can be summed up in one word: No. Or sometimes Yuk. But what about when it’s a single piece? I would hazard a guess that coloured basins are creeping in – especially in downstairs cloakrooms. And we’ve seen free-standing baths with their outsides painted in a joyful collection of Farrow & Ball type shades. So are we now ready to look at a fully coloured bath – inside and out? Like this Arsenic green one in a project in Mallorca by Berrow Projects. I love it on the traditional tiles with the simple natural wooden doors and shutters and I think you could adapt it to suit a house of any period – it’s the tiles that I would change depending on the age of the property rather than the bath.

Finally, a pretty bedroom by designer Ben Pentreath. It’s hard to see how the room actually works – does that hidden door lead to a bathroom? Why is there a chair in front of it? But the idea of wallpapering over walls and doors to create a more cohesive look is a good’un. I’ve done it myself with the door at the top of the stairs so that when you enter you see a wall of book wallpaper rather than a small door. The paper, by the way, is Marigold by William Morris and it comes in a range of delicious colourways. So there we have it – I hope you have found ideas to spark your creative synapses.

design by ben pentreath via sam villiers design
design by ben pentreath via sam villiers design

And here is my hidden door for those who may not have seen it before. We added some skirting board along the bottom to match to the walls either side and papered over an area larger than the door to make it look like either a giant door or part of the wall. We added an architrave and painted it dark brown to add to the feeling of shelves. See below for a close up.

book wallpapered hidden door at shot by mark anthony fox
book wallpapered hidden door at shot by mark anthony fox

Here you can see – not just how crooked the door opening is – but how it looks close up.

hidden office door at by mark anthony fox
hidden office door at by mark anthony fox
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 was disappointed to read that those curved shelves hide light fittings – although it does explain why they are not artfully displaying some bottles of wine – and explains why a couple of them were the wrong way up (for storing wine).

  2. The Ben Pentreath idea of building “invisible” but beautiful storage around the bed is fantastic. I love this blog it really is inspirational.

  3. I’ve just bought some beautiful Ellie Cashman wallpaper for my bedroom and I was really unsure what to do about the door and the decorator starts tomorrow! This was perfect timing so thank you so much!

  4. Your hidden door is so beautiful and clever. Love the view into your office – or is it still Enid cat’s exclusive domain? – beyond.

  5. I’ve been intending to paint my kitchen pink for a long time but I cannot decide which shade (I am that indecisive!!). I was wondering what the brass tap like things are above the cooker in the second picture and would anyone really have white boucle chairs in a working kitchen??

    1. The tap over the hob is a pot filler. means you can fill your pan with water without lugging it back from the sink!

      1. And yet you still have to lug that now-very-hot pot of water back to the sink to drain the pasta or whatever. I’ve never seen the point of these things!

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