Beautiful Rooms To Inspire

Well here we are again on a Monday and I thought it would be appropriate to start with an inspiring little home office as some of us will be heading deskwards shortly. Now many people talk about creating a working space under the stairs and it’s definitely cheaper and takes up less space than a loo but do be realistic about how much working space you need.

understairs desk image by astrid templier 

This is a brilliant example as there is a cupboard next to the desk which might be for household coats and shoes or could work for office filing. Even if you can work in small space there is inevitably a mass of stuff that needs filing or storing. Now without seeing the rest of the space it’s hard to know if that bench is part of the main room or a space that could have been used to extend the desk.

In my own house there are steps down to the kitchen which massively restricts the amount of space I could have as a desk and also makes it very dark.

But if you can make it work for you there are tips to make both it and you function better and be more productive. Firstly if you want to hide your office at the end of the day and there’s no room for a door then a curtain will add decor and privacy. I’m massively into curtains as doors at the moment and have bought material from the Haines Collection to make one between the hall and the kitchen.

Secondly, if natural light is in short supply then do add a good spotlight over the desk as well as a desk/task lamp so you can vary your sources. It has also been proven that gazing into the middle distance is not only good for resting your eyes but can provide inspiration as well. If you have no window and therefore no view then hang a picture – preferably a landscape – beach, mountain, countryside or whatever takes you fancy to allow the eye to travel.

And when you’ve done all that you should, in most cases, be near the kitchen for a cup of coffee. Which tenuous link brings me onto this lovely space above. If you were in any doubt about the joy of a disrupter colour just look at that AGA above. Cobalt blue may not have been the instinctive choice in this colour scheme but it brings a flash of modernity and colour to this vintage looking space. Cream would also be lovely but classic. Mint or pale blue would also work well.

I’m also a fan of tiling walls as high as you can. It’s perfect for the Victorian period feel but if you use dark grout it’s not only more practical but also modernises the look.

Leaving the kitchen to head to the pantry. Fifteen years ago an en suite bathroom was regarded as the height of luxury and the middle-class must have. Now that we all expect houses to have more than one bathroom, the new must-have is the pantry. Sometimes this is a whole room, sometimes just a fancy cupboard. Mine is what we used to call the utility room but rebranded. This is small, but as they say, mighty. That curtain hides a multitude of storage and the worktop is big enough to create the perfect breakfast corner. The colours echo the understairs desk space as well while the check floor and gingham curtain work together beautifully.

Moving to the aforementioned bathrooms and this is a fabulous shower created by Leanne Kilory of Good Bones London. Rather than a glass shower screen she has opted for micro cement. I too have ditched the glass screen – they are expensive and hard to clean. I have a wall on my shower and, like Leanne, this has created space for a heated towel rail on the outside. I did this as space was at a premium in my bathroom. Leanne has more room and has been able to create a shower large enough that she doesn’t need a curtain. Do ask you plumber for splash zones in relation to your shower head as you may be able to do the same thing.

We have a shower curtain and for those who are concerned about the infamous “billow” where the curtain is magically sucked into the shower and wraps itself around your body, I can confirm that a) a weighted curtain helps and b) if you add a decorative fabric curtain to the outside this adds more weight and prevents the billow.

Finally, and it’s a small thing but solid shower walls are more private and if you have a busy family bathroom/small children running in and out, then you may prefer an arrangement like this which is also easier to clean.

Finally, this blog is a huge fan of Sophie Rowell of Cote de Folk and I wanted to show you this gorgeous fabric covered table – the Chubby –  that she has made. Details aren’t yet on her website but do contact her via instagram if you want to know more and I’m sure she will be happy to tell you.

I wish you all a happy and inspiring week. Do let us know in the comments – are you glass shower or wall? Pantry or utility? Understairs office or loo?



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. Thanks Kate for this lovely piece. So inspiring!

    I’d opt for a bookcase under the stairs, always wanted a pantry and a glass shower just screams “come and live in me”. Had a walled-in shower but our one bathroom is just so small that glass was needed to brighten and enlarge the room (if only as an illusion).

  2. Shower curtain every time. I gave a lovely one from H&M and just throw it in the washing machine to clean. Much better than a glass screen/door

  3. A wall is much more practcal for a shower, I too hate the glass screens and the cleaning. Love all the pics except for the kitchen which I find quite’s too dark and too matt even with the disprupter aga.

    1. This is what is wonderful about interiors – to me the kitchen gives off ‘cosy’, rather than depressing, but I’m not in love with the shower! I adore the rest of Leanne’s work but the shower somehow seemed to jar with the more traditional elegance of the rest of the room and reminded me (dare I say it!) of French loos! Each to their own but thanks to Kate we always have lovely inspiration served up! x

  4. Hard water + glass shower panel = nightmare – no amount of squeegeeing will keep it clean. LOVE the shower here and wish I could change my glass for a wall….., so wall, loo and utility!

  5. I also grew to hate cleaning my glass shower door. So I mounted a spring loaded shower pole inside the stall and hung a plastic curtain on it. Cheers from Canada!

  6. The fabric covered table looks lovely but would be ruined within a week in my house 🙂

  7. Shower curtain for us ever since our glass door came off its hinges and shattered into a million pieces – covering me in shards of glass! We’ve a selection of curtains and they’re easy to change and wash.

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