Beautiful Rooms to Inspire

Greetings from the building site. The sitting room is now finished and about to be filled with the kitchen which is the next room to be tackled once the upstairs bathroom is finished. It’s exciting to see each room shrug off its grey coat and emerge from the dust, but oh, the dust. It’s relentless. Of course I knew this. You know this but we all forget when we are between projects. I dusted and mopped the sitting room on Friday night and by Saturday morning I could write my name on the coffee table again. Anyway, let’s move away from that and have a look at some beautiful rooms which have caught my eye this week.

image by paul massey for house and garden of the east sussex home belonging to @madeauxhome
image by paul massey for house and garden of the east sussex home belonging to @madeauxhome

It’s perhaps no surprise that I have been drawn to bathrooms. We are lucky enough to have one upstairs and one shower room downstairs, which is currently the one we are using complete with stone cold floors and mould on the tiles. It’s a long way in the night, but it’s better than a bucket, which has been the case in previous renovations. Upstairs, the shower cubicle has been constructed, the pipework completed and the floor levelled ready for tiling.

And since I am wallpapering this bathroom it’s perhaps no surprise that I have picked these two to feature this week. Both have gone full paper embracing the ceiling as well. I’m not doing that as it’s a very small room and I don’t think having wallpaper directly over the shower will work (despite having two windows and an extractor fan). But this shows you how wonderful it can look if you are feeling bold. Below is a brilliant example of what to do when you have a sloping ceiling. Rather than stop at the top of the straight bit just carry on and make a feature of it.

striped bathroom by the @1818collective shot by @nicole_franzen e
striped bathroom by the @1818collective shot by @nicole_franzen 

I note also, now that all these pictures are laid out together how the colours are similar in several of them and then realise that I bought a new notebook yesterday in a very uncharacteristic shade of dirty duck egg with a burnt orange/tan pen loop. Coincidence? Is a new colour coming to Mad House II? There’s no doubt that this shade would work well as a disrupter among all the muddy pinks and terracottas. I’m about to spray an old grey metal floor lamp and I had assumed it was going olive green but perhaps the universe (or the stationery shop) is trying to tell me something.

bath at projectglengrove via ashleymontgomery interiordesign Photographer: @lomillerphoto Styling: @_meandmo_ Homeowner: @rivkirabinowitz
bath at projectglengrove via ashleymontgomerydesign Photographer: @lomillerphoto Styling: @_meandmo_ Homeowner: @rivkirabinowitz

And here the blue makes its first appearance – together with wallpaper. Now I appreciate most of us don’t have features like this to accentuate but I like the mix of tile and paper even without the arch. And, of course, you can always adapt what you have so you could tile round a doorway or inside an alcove. Like paint, which we talked about on Friday, you can use these materials how you want. Tiles aren’t just for waterproofing, they are decorative tools as well.

kitchen design by charlotte boundy
kitchen design by one of my favourite designers charlotte boundy

Leaving the bathroom and heading for the kitchen (next on my decor hit list) and this is a dirtier version of the blue tiles above. It’s more versatile than you might think as it loves cream and natural wood but sits opposite orange on the colour wheel so would work with tan as well as we shall see below. And, of course the key point here, which regular readers will know we have talked about before is that, you don’t have to match your wall units to your base cupboards. This is particularly important in a small room where you want to create a sense of space. There are three basic ways to do this:

Dark base units, toning but paler wall units

Dark base units, contrasting but paler wall units

Base units in any colour you fancy but match the wall units to the wall to make them disappear.

image via farrow and ball of @1894home dropcloth, schoolhouse white and inchyra blue
image via farrow and ball of @1894home dropcloth, schoolhouse white and inchyra blue

From the kitchen we come to this colour scheme in a sitting room where the blue (in this case Inchyra) is a highlight round the opening and used in the back room which is only visible when the doors are open. It’s a detail (join in with the chorus when you’re ready – small idea big impact) but it makes a huge difference and wakes up the tasteful cream and caramel.

Lastly more colour drenching (as opposed to the wallpaper drenching we came in on) with this stunning hallway from Kismet House. Again the grey blue colour is lifted by the use of mirrors and metallics (remember another of my old adages: something old, something new, something black and something gold) as well as that checkerboard floor.

The hall was checked tiles when we move in here but small ones with a black border which served only to the highlight the wonkiness of the walls. Go as big as you dare with checks it will make the space look bigger and more confident. And doesn’t every floor love a vintage Persian rug.

design by @kismethouse
design by @kismethouse 

I hope that has inspired you for your own places and spaces. I’m off to look at shades of dirty duck for my kitchen. I feel a change of plan coming on….

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. Some super photos here – and your commentary is always key to looking at the schemes. However, comma, I don’t know what the tiles add to the colour scheme in the second photo. Or, alternatively what that paper is doing with those particular tiles? Neither do anything for each other IMO. Each has its own merit, but … together? The Inchyra in the sitting room doorway (and beyond) is a lovely colour – and with the seat, the woods, fireplace tiles as well. I have a version of Inchyra blue going on in our Portuguese quinta (RAL 5020 – exterior doors and windows) and am looking at decorating palettes at this point. Loving the burnt orange/tan – with golden yellows – and some pastel/mint turquoise is creeping in … RAL 6034 / 6033. So exciting.

  2. I always apply your “something black something gold………..” to every scheme i do! Work every time xx

  3. Crikey Kate, your new house is coming on a pace! Fabulous.

    We’ve been in ours 12 years and about to rip out the ugly kitchen. I was adamant I didn’t want blue…anyhow it’s too late now I chose my colours last week. (Olive and taupe) Love that striped bathroom but the trellis feels a little suffocating for me. Happy Monday

  4. Some great inspiration, esp for me that last picture which I searched for and it’s actually a bathroom not a hallway !! (I think the loo is hidden at the far end) tho I’d love it as either.

  5. Good luck with your dirty duck hunt Kate. I’ve always been an F&B pigeon fancier; with a side helping of olives, oranges and mustards 🧡

  6. Absolutely love the hallway by Kismet House. This would be another reason to keep going out, just so I could come back in and feel uplifted by this perfection! The stripey papered bathroom is also wonderful.

Comments are closed.