The Househunter back for 2017

It’s Friday and so we’re back with the very first Househunter of the year. Now, I have been reading through your feedback and many of you said you would like more diagnostics and explanations of how and why things work and so this house, which is for sale via The Modern House (for a mere £1.45m) seemed like a good place to start.

It’s a fabulous three/four bedroom house with a south facing garden and I could totally throw my fantasy non-existent budget at it.


So this first room is lovely with its dark cupboards which show off the books so brilliantly. Now by painting up to the picture rail they have a) stopped it from being too dark and b) blurred the distinction between the edge of the ceiling and the top of the walls so that the ceiling appears higher. This is a good way to do dark walls – if you have a picture rail – although to be more up to date I would suggest painting the picture rail to match the wall and then stopping.


The same room from the other end and those old floorboards work beautifully to bring character. Yes they are also dark but it works in this space. You could paint the half wall at the end of the sofa dark too as that would wrap this long narrow space and make it appear shorter and more square.

If you wanted to create a sense of difference between the two rooms you could also put a small armchair in front of the cupboard next to the fireplace. Put it at an angle so that it’s facing the sitting room and has its back to the dining room. If the room was a little wider I would suggest a chaise longue as a way of creating a low divide and zoning the space. If it were mine, I might lose the cupboard and replace it with shelves (26cm is narrow and yet wide enough for copy of Living etc) and then there would be a little more space for the chair.


This kitchen has a plethora of pendant lights and they’re all different. I might have matched the two of the island with the one over the table and left it at that – but hung them all at different heights. Or you could have three different glass pendants that have glass in common but are different shapes and colours.


Finally this gorgeous black and white bathroom. In a modern house this could be a very clinical and clean look but there the exposed brick and vintage mirror bring warmth and character. And the stripped pine door, when open, really perfects this room.

Finally, a wall-mounted basin means you see more floor which, in turn, makes the space look larger. They could have done the same with the loo.


To see the rest of this house – or even buy it (!) visit The Modern House via the link above. Now another fabulous house for us to poke around. This one is also in north London and is also for sale via The Modern House  for £2,650,000 and is a similar sort of property so it’s good to compare and see how it has been done differently.


First up though, this kitchen. Now I’m not a minimalist and I probably wouldn’t put everything behind cupboards but this room (as you will see if you click the link and investigate the floorplan) is open to the living room in which case having everything tucked away is definitely a Good Thing.

Bu the main thing about this room is the island. I love that it’s a table rather than a solid island. Firstly, remembering the basin trick above, you see more floor so the room looks bigger which is good in this instance as it’s quite a narrow room.


The other thing is that, of course, you lose a lot of storage if you have a high table hence the cupboards on the other side of the room. If I were to redo my kitchen I might seriously consider this. You will see below that they have a dining table with chairs round it, so this island is just for stools and perching. I would be here all day if this were my kitchen.


The main difference is that this house, which is also long and narrow is mostly white rather than dark like the one above. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions about which you prefer. But, in terms of layout, I think I might have brought the chairs a bit closer to the sofa to create a cosier chatting zone rather than having all the furniture around the edges which is a great way of saying “look at all this space” but not as user-friendly.


Upstairs and this is a very pretty bedroom isn’t it? It has the controversial feature wall though. What would I do? Well I might paper all the walls and paint the ceiling in the grey. Or, paint the walls and paper the ceiling. I would also have the rug under the bed a little – at least the end feet – you can read about the rules of rug layout here.


So there we have it. Two fantasy houses for you to poke around and possibly even buy – who knows? At the very least hopefully some interior inspiration and ideas for your own homes. I’ll see you back here on Monday for 10 Beautiful Rooms.




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, love the new approach. Had also been looking everywhere for a photo of a room with dark walls and floors to see if it would work. I think it does, and we have a picture rail which will help bring more light / white in. I just love walnut colour flooring but also want to go navy in the living room…

  2. I really like the dark walls in the first house – do you know what the paint colour is? I am considering using a similar colour in my lounge (low ceilings and fairly dark in winter, but one natural granite stone wall) as it is all white at the moment and although white = bright, I find it a little boring and feel like adding some drama to the house. Possibly using a pistachio green on the opposite walls. I suppose I can always change it back if I hate it.

  3. I agree with the previous comments and love your approach that is slightly more explanatory than before. It helps me to better grasp how/why things work/don’t work. Many thanks for caring to share your insight, it is immensely valuable. Congratulations for the many awards you got lately by the way.

  4. Brilliant post this, rather like watching a film with Direcor’s commentary. I like it.

  5. Hardly dare respond but I’ve been reading your stylish commentary for some time and find it so inspirational even for my slightly quirky new life. I moved a few weeks ago into a log cabin…in my son’s back garden!! Hasten to add that I am cleaner and less eccentric than The lady in the Van but am now known to my friends as The Lady in the Lodge. No sumptuous, grand designs for this active, single grandmother on a budget but a great interiors adventure, recycling, revamping, de-cluttering and creating a tiny but very cosy, comfortable independent space. Open plan living suits me perfectly. Your wonderful photographs – I worked in estate agency for many years – and comments are fun, practical and aspirational even for my odd and unexpected curcumstances. I eagerly anticipate my daily drooling over the fabulous houses and I must tackle Instagram…

    1. Dear Lady in the Lodge, your new abode sounds rather fabulous and I hope you are settling in well. Thank you so much for your kind comments. You must indeed tackle instagram it’s great fun and can be very inspirational. XK

  6. Love this approach Kate. The combination of appealing photography with useful How To tips and constructive critique make for not just interesting but also highly informative reads and I’ll be looking out for more of these great pieces. Thank you – they’re the perfect accompaniment (and fittingly for January, zero calories!) for my morning coffee breaks.

  7. I also prefer the Househunter articles like this, thank you. There are lots of reminders about useful tips you’ve mentioned in the past and it’s interesting to see them, or the lack of them, in real homes rather than staged photos.

  8. Thanks Kate, really love the new way you’ve approached this, very helpful for training the eye and gaining a better understanding of what makes a great interior.

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