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Mad About . . .

Happy New Year

5th January 2022
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Hello and Happy New Year. It may be too late to say that but, since I haven’t spoken to you for a couple of weeks I’m going with it as a first greeting. And, on that note (firsts) can I say first of all thank you so much for all your Christmas comments. It brings me joy every day that so many of you take time out of day to drop in and read my postings and musings and I’m well aware (given that I am a ruthless manager of my own inbox) what a privilege it is to be allowed to drop into yours three or four times a week so thank you. I hope you will continue to visit and comment for as long as I continue to post.

So here we are again; a new year and a new start and this year the blog will mark its 10 year anniversary. It seems incredible that it has been going for so long – that’s practically Medieval in internet years. I started in January 2012 but didn’t know how to count the numbers until the following month so the official launch has always been 6 February 2012 when I began the design classics series with the history of the Lava Lamp and carried on with 50 more secrets behind the classic design pieces of our time.

Then I launched 365 Objects of Design, mainly to ensure I posted every day and didn’t give up when I was still trying to find an audience. Somewhere along the way it felt wrong to encourage you to shop for new stuff all the time so that feature folded although it was a lovely way to show you a cool new thing in the form of a digital postcard. That was followed by the How To series, which continues to this day and the Househunter, a way of looking round real homes and seeing what they can teach us as opposed to the professionally styled and photographed versions that I write about on Mondays.

bathroom of openhouse10 painted in farrow and ball duck green

bathroom of openhousen10 painted in farrow and ball duck green

And that brings me to my next point. After thousands of posts, three books, a podcast and an online course, I feel it’s time to ask you what you want from this blog now. I feel I have covered many subjects – although I grant you the search engine on here isn’t what it might be – as well as all the rooms. We have looked at floors and furniture, window dressings and wall decoration, sleeping and sitting.

design by Yunona Yezvankina render by Tanya Shevchenko

design by Yunona Yezvankina render by Tanya Shevchenko

But I have never really asked you what you want to read so now I’m going to do just that. I feel that the Househunter is popular so I will continue with that and I do always try to find a variety of spaces but I can only go with what’s on the market. I sense you like the Monday beautiful rooms too so again – unless you tell me otherwise it will stay. Twice a month there is a post linked to the podcast and that leaves Wednesdays. Traditionally that is my sponsored ad break but when I don’t have something for that spot (and I have a couple of interesting products coming up) this is wide open for you. If you want me to revisit the How To slot then hit me with suggestions – remember not to make them too specific. We can also look at the best items of furniture – 10 best armchairs, 8 best side tables etc as well as news of new launches and products. I am working on two interior design projects as well this year (and a new book) and I will, I promise, get back to my Design Storey Shop which suffered from pandemic burn out last year. And, for anyone who likes print, my monthly column Mad About The House continues in Red magazine – it was first published in May 2020 (although written several months before that) so it’s another pandemic project and is about to go into its third year.

hotel design by owldesignlondon photo by rachael smith styled by stylingalifelessordinary

hotel design by owldesignlondon photo by rachael smith styled by stylingalifelessordinary

Finally, I am hoping to look more into product collaborations this year. My eco sofa with Love Your Home was the first and I am deep in discussions with another company about another idea which we hope to launch in the Autumn.

design by katrin mood

design by katrin mood

But this space is for you. I’m always happy to muse on all things to do with home and while this first post of the year is traditionally about interiors trends I feel that we are post-trend now. After two years at home we are beginning to understand that we must furnish our homes as we want and in a way that supports us and makes us happy. Plus the relentless treadmill of trends has slowed down a little (good) so if you want to know what will be fashionable this year then you can read last year’s post. I’m pretty certain, without going back to it, that the same things apply – pink and green, curves, rattan as well as vintage and pre-loved – buy once because you love it not twice because the neighbours don’t.

pantry by humphrey munson image by paul craig

pantry by humphrey munson image by paul craig

I’m looking forward to reading your answers, questions and dilemmas. Shall we look at wallpaper and paint, or layout and flooring, moving walls or kitchen design? I’m here for all of it and I hope you are too. And, for anyone who has Apple TV then do watch the series on Home. It’s fascinating and I like the way they have just allowed the owners, designers and builders to speak about their homes rather than having a presenter impose their views.

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58 Comments

  • Reply Amy 10th January 2022 at 2:02 am

    Thank you for your wonderful blog–I enjoy it immensely. As for what I’d like to see in the future:

    * a greater diversity of the types of homes shown. I would especially love to see character added to buildings/rooms that don’t come with it built into their architecture.
    * related to the above, I’d like to see ingenious uses of smaller spaces that do not sacrifice style and character.
    * I’m a non-UK reader, and I know I’m not alone–so I guess some international houses/rooms, plus some international sources for furnishings/paint/wallpaper would be lovely. I understand if that’s outside of what you have time and wherewithal to offer.

  • Reply Liz 9th January 2022 at 8:42 am

    I’ve been reading for years and thoroughly enjoy your writing and advice – I don’t know how you keep coming up with new ideas! How about readers sending in before/after pics of favourite areas of their homes which they’ve transformed, possibly using some of your advice? I do love a good before/after and readers might show their own solutions in ‘real’ homes.

  • Reply Viktoria 8th January 2022 at 8:16 pm

    I love your blog and read every article! But I’m from Germany and we don’t have any victorian terraces here. It would be great if you could also write about housetypes in other countries like old timber framed houses (in which we live for example) or simple newbuilds without any period features.
    I also would love to read some how to posts for nurseries, kids rooms and rooms for teenager!

    • Reply Kate Watson-Smyth 10th January 2022 at 10:55 am

      This would be great – it’s how I find them is the key – if you see anything on the estate agency websites that I could use let me know. I’d love to share some different sorts of houses.

      • Reply Pia 11th January 2022 at 12:37 pm

        If you want to use any homes for sale in Sweden we have hemnet.se which is basically every house for sale in Sweden. (All housing agencies publish there) I don’t know if it translates to English but it does have a lot of different houses and apartments and cabins or estates.
        If it doesn´t translate then just type Stockholm in the “Område” area and you will get everything for sale in Stockholm.

  • Reply Jenny 8th January 2022 at 10:00 am

    Hi Kate. Discovered The Great Outdoors podcast a few weeks and and I’ve been binge listening, starting from the first episode. I love how informative, but most of all fun it is. As I listen with my ear buds in my husband often wonders why I suddenly laugh out loud. You and Sophie really brighten my day so thanks. Tell Sophie to ignore those negative comments about her laugh, it’s fab! What I really need is the name of a good hypnotist to make me believe that my boring, featureless 1980 built house is actually a beautiful period property with a big garden. Problem sorted then! From a lot of the comments above I can see I am not alone in wanting to see more featureless properties featured. Keep up the good work.

  • Reply Katherine Murray 7th January 2022 at 9:01 am

    Morning Kate,
    I would love a guide on fireplaces please – including working fireplaces and what materials are appropriate.
    Also, I would really like to understand more about the different property periods and the features to expect / restore in properties from Georgian, Regency and Victorian properties. Much googling online hasn’t been very successful.
    Love the househunter posts so please do continue with those.
    Many thanks,
    Katherine

  • Reply Laura 6th January 2022 at 9:00 pm

    Hi Kate —
    I’m a reader from Brooklyn and I also listen to your podcast — hilarious and informative! I’d love to know more about how to purchase things that don’t just look good, but will last and work for the long term. For instance, kitchen faucets can vary from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand. Why?! Is it material, design, something on the inside, marketing? I’d love someone to walk me through what to look for when things need to be replaced from the big (windows!) to the small (a pendant light fixture). When can I or should I buy vintage and what items are made to last decades not minutes. I think you do an excellent job with furnishings, but I have so many questions about a house’s working parts — not the furnaces or hot water heaters (boring)— but the things that we look at every day and that also need to perform.

    Congratulations on 10 years!

    p.s. I also love your books. Got the planner for Christmas and I’m looking forward to diving into it.

  • Reply Aida 6th January 2022 at 6:54 pm

    Hello Kate,

    I too love this blog and it has been a necessary tonic through the pandemic, for which, heartfelt thanks. I would be interested in walls – what to put on them that isn’t paint. I think you’ve done one post about art but would love more. Tips about mirrors, for instance, and framing. Unexpected places to look for art. A very specific request about mantelpieces and fireplaces and how to deal with them in stylish ways, esp if they are non-working and small – too small, really, to display anything much. I echo the requests about small spaces, too – I often end up searching for things by measurement rather than style! Swiftly discovering that a 25cm bedside table is a rare thing indeed … and yes, children’s rooms, as above …

  • Reply Catherine 6th January 2022 at 5:46 pm

    Happy new year Kate!
    Thank you for this post. I love your blog, podcast, books and collaborations. I don’t think I have anything interesting to add or suggest, I am just so appreciative and grateful for your brilliant eye, chatty tone and endless inspiration that you share with us for free on an almost daily basis. Thank you!
    I am aware that apart from buying your books, I don’t pay for any of your professional insight. If you ever did create a subscription for a monthly fee, I would have no hesitation paying!

  • Reply Claire F 6th January 2022 at 5:32 pm

    First up, thank you for your blogs. I love reading your messages and drinking in the photos, always thought-provoking and often delicious (here I’m thinking especially of Beautiful Rooms). It’s like listening to a really interesting friend with news of the outside world. The elements I find here and can’t find elsewhere include
    * Househunter – commentary on real houses, albeit staged by the agent
    * your podcast articles – I don’t have time to listen to all the podcasts I want to, and the pictures add real value to the discussion. If I have listened to the podcast I may well read the notes too, for this reason.
    * The 3rd brilliant thing is how you identify materials, you have made my searches much more informed and broader.
    * Same goes for sources – I want to find good UK suppliers and buy from local businesses, your generous sharing is invaluable for lovely paint designers, wallpaper to swoon over, even artists whose work has been credited in a pic.

    What I would love to find more of includes (in random order);
    1, priceless details
    * when possible please please the [likely] orientation of a room so I understand if I am looking at a colour in North/ South or even better cool/warm light.
    * realism whether something requires maintenance/ what it will look like without it – I have never polished the brass of my kitchen scales (life’s too short and I have more interesting things to do…)
    2. new themes
    * translating the essence of a look into different situations and kinds of houses – it’s hard to find musing/thinking about this. An example – I think Crittall-style doors to divide a room look fab in lofty houses, but are ruinously expensive and would be incongruous in our 1990s “large” 4-bed (it’s a relative term… actually “does fit a family of 4 with a small dog and hobby-stuff, but without an inch to spare”). We want to link south-facing and north-facing rooms to share light and create a new route while keeping 2 rooms. We eventually found the holy grail of graceful lines like Crittall in narrow-framed, square-beaded wooden internal doors with horizontal beading – in multiple sizes made in UK at a good price. We will use them as double sliding pocket doors, (hinged door would take someone’s knees off), with horizontal beads only and painted in our palette (not ‘Add to Basket’ black squares). To follow your example of sharing, door names include ‘Soho’ and ‘Camden’.
    * I too am always hungry for ‘ordinary’ houses inspiration that gets beyond colour-by-numbers-and-buy-stuff of some magazines.
    * more to look at flexible living spaces would be fab – a palette for the home helps (thanks to you I have that now :)), as does furniture that can be lifted/ disassembled/ moved to re-purpose a room. IRL our needs change fast, one room in our house is just known as The Quiet Room as it has to shape-shift so often, between home office, hobby room, games room in winter, hideaway snug, extra bedroom (1 night or for months at a time), dining room for a crowd, or storage while we knock about/redecorate another room. It was originally a garage.
    * small spaces – I have 2 children in their late 20s saving to buy postage stamps in the south-east. I daydream about down-sizing when cleaning this lot feels like a hideously long job.

    Finally, I see Remodelista is going to subscription, I think that will leave a big gap even though it is so focussed on USA.

    I hope this rambling is food for thought!

  • Reply Sarah 6th January 2022 at 8:53 am

    I discovered your blog in the last year and absolutely love it. As a serial renovator of smaller and more average sized homes, I’d echo what many others have said above and would love to see more design based around these kinds of spaces. The gorgeous homes you showcase in your househunter series are brilliant for inspiration (their being out of reach of us mere mortals being the point) but any ideas on how to translate these design ideas to a 4m wide Victorian terrace or mid-century council house would be helpful. Also, any tips on how more expensive looks can be achieved on a budget, such as what’s really worth splurging on and what can be ‘faked’ (and how).

  • Reply Tina 6th January 2022 at 8:27 am

    Happy New Year, Kate!
    Your blog is the only one I religiously read every day. I love the way you write and the variety of posts, especially when you analyse why a particular room “works”. I have the same love as you, for brown furniture and Persian rugs. Last year, after 25 years living in our current house, we refurbished our bathroom. I chose to paint it Hague Blue including the ceiling and skirting, after reading your articles about enveloping colour. The decorator kept making faces, but he and my husband were pleasantly surprised at how good it now looks! Like other readers, I really enjoy posts on how to improve and make the most of our current homes. I think that people underestimate how important the environment we live in, is for our mental health. And quite often all it needs, is small and relatively inexpensive changes to improve it. Keep doing what you so brilliantly do!
    Thank you for brightening up my mornings! Best wishes!

  • Reply Sara 5th January 2022 at 8:55 pm

    Happy new year, Kate (and all). Love your blog, I feel I’ve learned lots and the chatty tone always makes me smile. So, I love the interior design how-to tips, like the red thread idea and why certain rooms work, would love more of that. I’d also echo others’ comments that I’d like to know more about eco renovations, which seems an expensive and technical minefield, and hence a bit scary. And for the Househunter slot I’d love to see some more modern/mid century/Danish design type stuff to dream about, if some can be found!

  • Reply Coakley 5th January 2022 at 8:50 pm

    Happy New Year Kate and all your readers,
    I like the real homes glimpses but sometimes looking at million pound London townhouses can make one feel a little wistful…the colours, fabrics, paints, materials, textiles etc., are what I prefer. I read your blogs for inspiration and ideas and would like to say thank you because they’re interesting, well written and a little day brightener.

  • Reply Karin 5th January 2022 at 7:14 pm

    Happy New Year! I would like to read about how to decorate small rooms, best layouts, how to choose the furniture etc. Most pages that feature how to-s for small spaces usually feature furniture that’s too big for an actual small space ( 250 cm wide sofa, when my living rooms with is 300cm). My whole house is 35 sq meters, so tiny tiny tiny 🙂 It was my dream for years to have a small home and now that it is real, I’m having trouble with the layout and how to find the best solutions for everything so it doesn’t feel cluttered and pokey (open kitchen vs galley kitchen, tiny bathroom etc). Thank you for your interesting features and warm writing style – MATH is one of the few places I still visit on the web.

    • Reply Monika Lee 6th January 2022 at 7:38 am

      Happy New Year, Kate! Your blog brightens my week and I look forward to reading it every Monday. Would love more on layout and paint, as you were suggesting. Also on how to work with an interior designer – not necessarily for a full project, which possibly many of us could not afford, but for instance what smaller packaged designers offer and what difference a single consultation could make, what to expect etc.

    • Reply vinaya 6th January 2022 at 8:30 am

      I love your posts, your books and I can see myself doing your on line course later this year…… I find them inspirational, we are planning a renovation this year, our flat is small ..
      I would be interested to hear your ideas on stairs….spiral, straight , glass etc

  • Reply Kps 5th January 2022 at 6:14 pm

    Happy new year! Love reading your blog, especially Mondays and Fridays. I agree with other comments that some sort of help with reader dilemmas. Maybe a “tweaks” series, so small tweaks/inexpensive solutions to improve a space. I live in a 1960s ex-council house so would echo what others have said in terms of more content on how to decorate spaces that aren’t inherently lovely!

  • Reply Rachael Hare 5th January 2022 at 5:41 pm

    Happy New Year to you too Kate!
    I love your blog, I love the aspirational design elements you share, I love looking at the beautiful items and homes.

    The reality is I live in a small cottage (which I adore) and have an average income, but I still covet the beautiful things!!

    I would love to see great items and inspirational design but at a truly affordable price.

    Maybe we can have a Fantasy Friday and a Faking it Friday? Featuring an ‘average’ home, but decorated beautifully and in an attainable way?

  • Reply Lea 5th January 2022 at 4:39 pm

    Greetings from Chicago and best wishes for the New Year! Love this blog, a great way to start one’s day. Wishes for posts: more about sustainability, ecological design, re-use, re-purposing, home-based maker-spaces, practicality, and inspiration for living in small spaces. (You do much of this already, but there’s always room for more.)

  • Reply Glyn 5th January 2022 at 3:26 pm

    Wow so many responses! All the best for 2022 Kate. I’m responding to your blog from South Africa where I can finally see my son and his family. The interiors here are lovely and offer a different eclectic to ponder. I was wondering about a series on mood boards as I know how overwhelming it can be to get going with a project. Just a thought!

  • Reply Bonnie Foster Abel 5th January 2022 at 3:18 pm

    Hi Kate,
    You had mentioned that you have a wooden folding Christmas tree. I loved this idea so much I found one on etsy, from Italy and this was my tree this year. An added bonus is that my tree has been made from off cuts of wood (ash) that would otherwise have gone into a dumpster.

    So, Happy New Year to you and to all of your readers! I love the House Hunter on Fridays. I also enjoyed your articles on Charlotte Perriand and Florence Broadhurst. I look forward to a continuation of this feature.

    So many of the fabulous looking rooms online have been completely renovated and remade. Professional interior designers can teach us much about the elements of design through these images. For many, the reality of interior design in the home must be more affordable with an emphasis upon practicality. Working with what one has, and what one can spend to create a comfortable, inviting and relaxed space in which to rest and to live invites individuality, and perhaps some innovative design too.

  • Reply Jo 5th January 2022 at 2:17 pm

    Happy New Year Kate and fellow readers! Greetings from Ireland. I am fairly new to your blog (last year or so) and agree with all those who have said it is the only blog that I religiously read, saving it for a mid-morning break from work with a cuppa at my desk. I’m delighted you intend to continue the slots you mention above, so just “more of the same” in that respect. I love it when you go into detail about how a room works because the mustard yellow of the woodwork pain is picked out in the picture and bedside lamp – so instructive. Other readers have made great suggestions, including real-life reader dilemmas with photos/floorplans and suggested solutions. Ditto ‘real homes’ to balance fantasy Mondays (although living in a Victorian semi, please don’t go exclusively modern/new build). An occasional slot on how to upgrade/revive existing pieces would be good (for example, the various options and cost of upgrading a structurally-sound but stained sofa, such as loose covers, re-covering, re-upholstering etc). A previous poster said we don’t need you to stick firmly to an allotted themes for a given day (unless that’s your preference) you ideas and writing are so good I’ll happily lap up anything you post on. Thanks again for your wonderful blog.

    • Reply Jo 5th January 2022 at 2:20 pm

      Sorry for all the typos above. Just to add, I appreciate how easy you make it is to add your pictures to Pinterest. Some other websites/blogs make this so maddening difficult. Thanks!

    • Reply suzanne 5th January 2022 at 4:45 pm

      I would love some real life readers dilemmas as well. There are so many talented readers of this blog who I’m sure could be very (respectfully) helpful.

  • Reply Sheri Feitshans 5th January 2022 at 1:40 pm

    I do love your posts! As I approach my 68th this year, I’m planning for the future, I am interested in modification that we can do to our homes to age in place. We want to live in our home as long as possible, and we want it to be be safe and look beautiful.

    • Reply Leslie-Anne 6th January 2022 at 12:06 pm

      I am also interested in this subject. I want to be a granny whose house is chic.

  • Reply Dave Cuffe 5th January 2022 at 1:36 pm

    Happy new year to everyone. Thank you Kate for all the wonderful writing and advice.. I hesitate to sugest changes. One point of interest for the future may be with what will we replace piped radiators and gas boilers? I have experience of air source heat pumps and will never try them again. Will electricity become cheap enough to the consumer to solve all our problems?

  • Reply Jade 5th January 2022 at 1:02 pm

    Hi Kate, Happy New Year! Like many readers I just want you to carry on doing what you’re doing. I love your current setup and your style of writing.

    If I had to come up with something, I’d like a focus on eco products or new environmentally friendly ways of doing things. And something like a ‘readers problems’ question, where a reader could send in a photo of an area they’re struggling with in a bog standard house and you could come up with some suggestions.. Perhaps ideas for a smaller budget and then bigger ideas for a bigger budget? And if it included a floorplan, even better. I love looking at floorplans 😀

  • Reply Mary 5th January 2022 at 12:50 pm

    No more kitchens! and agree re trends
    Wallpaper and paint always good
    I am a professional interior designer (for 27 years) but always good to read

  • Reply Mary Doria Russell 5th January 2022 at 12:28 pm

    I discovered your blog just as the plague descended upon us and in a time of political chaos. Every morning, with humor and grace, you have refocused my attention onto beauty. I read the news but keep your blog as a reward at the end of my time online.

    US reader here, which makes reading recommendations about specific stores and products a little wistful, but I love every word. Thank you.

  • Reply Sally 5th January 2022 at 12:17 pm

    I loved Objects of Desire.
    I hate shopping and loved a few things that you posted. It enabled me to put a few room making items in our house. The series actually transformed our living environment! Bring it back pleeease …

    Sally

  • Reply Helen 5th January 2022 at 12:01 pm

    Happy New Year Kate. Having followed you for many years can I just say I love reading your blog still. My favourite segment is 10 of the best and I wonder could you adapt/expand it slightly to split it into various budgets. So 3 weeks of 10 of the best coffee tables for example split weekly into luxury, mid price and budget. Or maybe split by style-contemporary, traditional etc. All the best for 2022.

  • Reply teal 5th January 2022 at 11:56 am

    Happy New Year from across the pond! I really enjoy reading your blog for home tours and interior design tips (I keep coming back to your red thread posts!). Being American, it’s great to get a different perspective about interior design, and I feel that what you write about fills a gap that many American interior design bloggers have yet to fill.

  • Reply Gude at Synsera Homes 5th January 2022 at 11:32 am

    More of the same please! I love just about everything you share here, especially having a nosey around real homes. I find that so much more inspiring than show homes/retail spaces.

  • Reply Jilly 5th January 2022 at 10:52 am

    Another vote for getting interest out of modern boxes! Particularly working with the constraints they often bring: concrete ceilings in flats, dark hallways, galley kitchens, lower ceilings, windowless bathrooms…. can you tell which of these I have?

    Hint: 5.

  • Reply Verena 5th January 2022 at 10:20 am

    Happy new year, Kate!
    We just moved into our new home, which has been slightly altered and renovated over the last year. I took a lot of advice, inspiration and ideas from your blog and your books and feeling very happy in the new environment.
    Since I am following your blog only for the last 2 years, I just ask you to continue what you are doing – it’s great, inspirational and always interesting. Thank you.

  • Reply Ann Wall 5th January 2022 at 9:57 am

    I agree with JB. I’d live to see ideas on what to do with smaller houses – bog-standard houses like ex-military, ex-council or new development houses rather than cute little cottages; featureless houses rather than beamed, inglenooked places and what can be done to give them features (I have a new “box” on a new development and added a false chimney breast with an electric log fire that looks like a fish tank, and pocket doors). I’d also love to see some before and after features.
    I take inspiration from your books and blogs so please don’t stop.

    • Reply Susan Moreau 5th January 2022 at 10:47 am

      Something of a theme here…..I adore the beautiful rooms and fantasy house-hunting, but I also found myself thinking about how to make the most of the houses and flats we actually live in. Appreciate you have readers from all over the world, but there is something very specific about the British housing stock, which says a lot about our history and culture, unfortunately not necessarily in a good or sustainable way. For what it’s worth mine’s a less-than-lovely Victorian semi!

      Happy new year one and all xx

      • Reply Tracey 5th January 2022 at 12:54 pm

        Happy New Year Kate,
        Would love to see the addition of colour room by room into a modern new build that currently has all white walls

  • Reply Bernadette Colley 5th January 2022 at 9:53 am

    Happy New Year Kate! I hadn’t heard of Perriand or Broadhurst before your posts, would it be possible to include more regular spotlight posts on designers past as well as present? Thanks so much.

    • Reply Jayne 5th January 2022 at 2:15 pm

      Ah yes, I was going to say this, particularly as I, like many people, want to reuse and re-find objects rather than rely on something new. Discovering designers from the past would definitely be good!

  • Reply Kathryn D-S 5th January 2022 at 9:13 am

    Good morning and happy new year! Thank you for a brilliant read and also an excellent podcast with Sophie. I can’t quote you enough when we tell people what has inspired our home decor, haha. I think some practical advice occasionally would be great- as another reader has commented, looking at smaller run-of-the-mill houses and how to make them beautiful whilst also working with the confines of space and budget. I also think maybe looking at shells of houses- ie when they are pre-beautiful and just a building site might help when envisioning how to redecorate- where to knock out walls, change layouts, put plug sockets, light fittings, create storage space in a room with no alcoves etc etc as I feel this is really inspiring, especially for someone who lives in an ‘older new-build’ that is slightly lacking in character.
    Keep up the good work!

  • Reply Sally Pip 5th January 2022 at 9:06 am

    Hi Kate, Happy New Year and thank you for the blog. Greetings from France. I am renovating a home for our later years and would really love design ideas for future-proof homes. So much of the furniture and “aids” for older people is so ugly. I want some really comfortable furniture that it not too low to sit on. I want a beautiful, safe, bathroom. But finding these objects is problematic, especially with mainstream names & designs. Thanks for the joy you bring.

  • Reply Carrie 5th January 2022 at 9:02 am

    First-time commentator, but long-term lurker to this blog!

    How about a ‘Reader’s Dilemma’ feature? This could focus on the best way to lay out a particular room, and/or how to reuse/relocate/repurpose or otherwise adapt an existing piece of furniture or other item. To make the admin of something like this more manageable, maybe this could be done on a themed competition basis, with the ‘winner(s)’ randomly selected by software? So there could be a weekly/monthly ‘theme’, with readers invited to submit their photographs.

  • Reply Henny Swan 5th January 2022 at 8:51 am

    Thanks for asking. I have some questions rattling around…

    I just want to find a way to shut the trend noise out! With with algorithms working against us on instagram and having followed a couple of the ‘dark living room pop of colour’ then ‘Nordic rattan’ feeds I am DONE! I am currently culling the lot starting again…also see next question…

    I’d be interested in your take on interior design styles from overseas, how they are influenced by culture, climate, available materials etc. Which reminds me of the Morocco podcast. I see so much incredible embedded beauty in the everyday when I travel but much like a good holiday it gets sucked out of us when we get home.

    Also outside in. How to connect our homes to what we see outside from our windows. I have a view over the park on one side and the garden the other. The house tells me this is what it needs so am trying to understand how I can achieve that (and tidy the garden…).

    Also new builds. Or newish builds. I moved into a 1950s white box and threw paint on the walls to make it go away but am now slowly trying to understand how to make it work and repaint it so I don’t want to paint again, immediately.

    And then flexibility. Iunderstand now that my space needs to change as we do (at this point I think of my mums house which has remained unchanged for decades). For example my kid wanted to move out of her bigish room to my tiny office so she now just has her bed and a desk for art. She’s much happier. Now I have a square room with a chimney breast which will be an offfice, spare room and chill out room with friends for an 11 yr old. Eventually she will want it back again. Who knows. But for now I want to have fun with how I do it and make furniture multi-use (dressing table as desk, bed to sofa bed etc).

    Am embarking on a kitchen extension and my entire brief is ‘outside in and flexibility’ which is not the most helpful for the architect. This has to be a communal space (obviously) but we might all be doing different things: cooking, watching, drawing, homework etc. but all chatting, interacting.

    Also, and I know you did bathrooms, but a particular bug bear is that when you search ‘small bathroom ideas’ they are all bigger showy spaces. Not actually small bathrooms at all. You know, literally a bath, sink and loo.

    I’m doing your course which I’m really enjoying. Although we stayed in a very disappointing hotel when we went on a fact finding mission to the furniture shops on Tottenham Court Road 😂. Most of all I wanted to road test really good sheets! So any recommendations. We have our dream bed now.

    Thank you!

  • Reply Carolyn 5th January 2022 at 8:45 am

    Happy New Year to you too. I get really excited when I see an email from you. I love everything, especially the How To series. The 10 best sofas/colour schemes/lamps also great.

    I’d love to see a series on dealing with the issues of a new build. There are so many new homes being built without character or high ceilings or large rooms, that how to transform a typical new build on the inevitable budget that most people will have after having just purchased a house would be really interesting, It like starting with a blank piece of paper all perfectly finished and all rather bland. The flooring, the kitchen and the bathrooms fitted out to the builders choice. The old furnitures just doesn’t fit . So way to go from new build boring to fabulous home,

    I have bought houses just like this for the location and for the energy efficiency, when my heart lies somewhere completely different architecturally. I know I am not alone in this. . Typical new builds never have kitchen cupboards to the ceiling, tiny ensuites and so many have sloping ceilings in the bedrooms making windows tricky to dress without compromising lights, TV points in corners etc, All I see are decorating problems once I move in. All my partner sees is perfectly finished plasterwork/kitchen not to be meddled with on a whim,

  • Reply Lisa Anne Philson 5th January 2022 at 8:32 am

    So glad to see this email drop into my inbox again!
    I always find the posts relevant or insightful or thought provoking, even when the topic doesn’t seem to immediately apply to my home or design quandary.
    We are finally moving forward with taking down a wall this month to create a large kitchen/diner and rid ourselves of the dining room come hallway issue. Problem is, this means the kitchen entrance will come from the living room and will result in 2 adjacent doors (entry from hall – entry to kitchen). It’s giving me nightmares but despite lots of attempts we can’t find a solution (layout wise). The best solution is probably to have no door from the hall to lounge and but we live up north and it wouldn’t be cosy (and OH will not have it). Pocket door? Paint one door to conceal it in the wall and have the other door with reeded glass panels? Very niche issue but it’s my design dilemma!

  • Reply jb 5th January 2022 at 8:31 am

    Happy New Year! I know we can learn from big house designs but could we look at smaller houses – more like those that were built early 1950’s, ex local authority, etc. These are not ‘quirky/cute or ‘interesting’ but just solid, bog standard houses.

    • Reply Emma 5th January 2022 at 8:56 am

      Yes: looking at how to make the best of not very promising/glamorous material would be really interesting. I’m going to have to do something with a really badly designed house and a very modest budget in a year or two and seeing how other people have risen above these sorts of challenge would be really encouraging.

      Don’t get me wrong: I love Fantasy Friday and re are always thing to learn from the end of the process, but getting started when you are stuck with a bad layout: that’s a challenge.

      Thank you and Happy New Year

      • Reply Emma 5th January 2022 at 12:06 pm

        *there* are always…. Grr

  • Reply Kaz 5th January 2022 at 8:27 am

    Happy new year Kate
    I read your planner book over Christmas and it was fab. I have just passed it to my daughter who was about to embark on a major refurb but because her other half decided he was not happy in his chosen career and resigned from his job they are having a rethink as they need to scale it back so I know they will find your book invaluable. Btw he is a much happier person now. I would like to see real homes and affordable design for smaller spaces. I have a loft style house in Portugal and would love tips on zoning space. A bit more design and tips for downsizing too. Absolutely love everything you publish.

  • Reply Tracy Kelly 5th January 2022 at 8:22 am

    I love it all. You could write about the weather and I would still rush to read it.
    Could the Wed not have a fixed theme and be a ‘what I feel like today’ list of topics?
    Or a readers dilemma answered?
    Your articles and Gill’s Saturday morning from Victoria Health are my moments of pleasure each week. Xx

  • Reply Caroline 5th January 2022 at 8:06 am

    Hi Kate, I’m happy to read whatever you put out! But in particular I guess I’m more interested in affordable, colourful items and just ideas on how to make the most of what we already have. Thank you and best wishes for 2022.

  • Reply Joanna 5th January 2022 at 8:02 am

    So pleased to have your blog arriving several mornings a week in my inbox – it’s a lovely way to start the day and one of the few emails I religiously read! I moved 18 months ago and just about to do some building work so been holding off any major decorating/furniture purchases until that’s completed; in the meantime I have gathered so much inspiration, tips and ideas from you. Thank you! As for ideas, how about a series on furniture sizes, placement etc for poky UK terraced houses: options for different life stages? I see some beautiful, spacious living rooms in terraced houses for example but the reality is I have a ten year old hogging the TV with his Xbox half the time. Just about to do a loft conversion so my kids have a bedroom each – the rooms will be small so I’ve given consideration to what they really need: a bed, a desk and a relatively small amount of clothing storage. How do we evolve our furnishings and decor as our families grow in size and age – and then shrink – without it wasting money or creating landfill?

  • Reply Jodie 5th January 2022 at 7:57 am

    Good morning and a Happy New Year to you too! I loved the Christmas decor podcast. My tree is filled with decorations that my mother bought us each year growing up and then passed on to us when we moved out. I’ve started doing the same for my two as each time I decorate the tree I am transported back to a childhood time when Christmas was truly magical! Anywhoo! the blog…right…more of the same please! I sit down with you as soon as as you pop in to my inbox, with a cup of tea whilst everyone else is still asleep! What I am struggling with at the moment – well in interior terms anyway!
    1) Layouts like a pro!
    2) Pulling eclectic styles together to make it look purposeful! e.g. I have a lovely regency curved sofa and an antique French chandelier in my lounge room which is also my office but the desk I would like is mid century. Is there a way to pull off different eras to make it look ‘put together’?
    I also can’t wait for Design Storey to take off again – I LOVE that there are a manageable number of choices and always things I like! Here’s to another great year with my lovely MATH friend!

  • Reply marie 5th January 2022 at 7:14 am

    happy new year ! love your blog, love your books ! One thing I’m wondering… I’m loving all the wallpaper we see everywhere but… Is it not going to fade away ? Have we not removed all of the old wallpapers in our home ? I know I did, it was not pretty, not at all historical and it was such a pain to do that I refuse at the moment to make that effort… How to do it so it look timeless ? Also, I would really like some stuff about purging (how to really do it purposefully), and I really loved the interview you did about transforming part of our home into home offices, but like, with our good health in mind (really good – and pretty – chair, stand-up desk and all)… I mean, we’re going to be remote working for quite a long time, I believe… Finally, I really like posts on how to make the most of our homes as they are, not always dreaming of buying bigger but “making do”… Thanks again for all that you offer ! Cheers

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