The Househunter: Real Rooms

green walls via domus nova

For today’s Real Rooms analysis we are off to West London to this five bedroom house which wass on the market for a shade under £3m via Domus Nova (since I wrote this – yesterday – it is no longer available but this site is rammed with gorgeous luxury property so do visit if you want to see more). The owners have done lots of things right so, in the absence of three million quid burning a hole in our pockets, I thought we’d have a good old poke around and see what’s what.

First up this rather lovely large sitting room. If you’re reading the interiors magazines and keeping your eye on social media, you will know that everyone is banging on about green being the colour of the moment. And it is. At least it isn’t quite of this moment right now but it’s coming.

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Which makes this room ahead of the curve and, dare I say this, a rather refreshing change from all that grey. I know – I can’t believe I said that. Anyway, this is lovely – both calm and refreshing, but those olive green chairs are vital to give this room its unexpected edge. Otherwise it might just be a monument to English country good taste which can be a little bit dull.

I’m going to say only two things – I would have stopped the green paint on the picture rail to bring the ceiling down over the edges and make it look larger. And a rug. This room needs a large rug with all the furniture sitting on it. Otherwise, everything is just a little disjointed. Oh and a bigger coffee table. That’s vital to a room of this size.

perfect rug layout via domus nova

Mind you in this room they have laid the rug perfectly. All the furniture sits on it and it looks cohesive and comfortable. The leather chair in the corner then sits in its own space and is perfect for someone who perhaps doesn’t want to join the conversation but to read a book in their own space instead. So, I would add a floor lamp by that chair to finish off that little area as well as painting the radiator to match the walls so that it disappears. The chair currently looks as it it has been put there for the sole purpose of hiding it and it’s failing.

Note also the arrangement of pictures – is four a gallery? Either way, they are different sizes, different shapes and with different frames – you don’t need to obsess about getting everything the same. Got some pictures? Hang ’em up.

home office via domus nov

This home office is great with its vintage, slightly industrial, vibe. I might be tempted to hang all six pictures on the same wall, as this current arrangement is creating a sort of stripe that draws attention to the fact that there’s just blank wall below and  that wide radiator would make it hard to add more furniture. So put a second row of pictures between radiator and top row and then you could have more storage on that long wall.

The wall mounted boxes are lovely but I think they are too high – which is also adding to the stripe effect. I would be tempted to bring them down so I could reach their contents from my desk chair. Then I might bring the shelving unit closer to the desk for the same reason, which would fill the space left by the pictures. Then plants. Perhaps some trailing ones sitting on top of the shelves to frame the window and its view. And something tall on the floor. I’m not a fan of spotlights but everyone likes their lighting just so in their workspace, so while I might add more task and table lamps I can see that might not be right for everyone.

blue kitchen via domus nova

More bold choices with the kitchen. I probably would have grey or even a dark green to echo the green used elsewhere in the house but the short point is – don’t just choose boring white. Bring in some personality. Something to spark a little joy when you come in. If you must have white then think about choosing a bold colour for the insides of the cupboards – yes it’s more work but wouldn’t it be lovely every time you opened them?

Now I wanted to show you this bedroom as it’s so restful and lovely. But also to suggest a walk-in wardrobe idea that I have written about before and which would work perfectly in this room. Given that this is a five bedroom house it’s possible that the owners have entire other places to store their gear, but if you have a big master bedroom and aren’t sure if the classic wardrobes in the alcove will work for you there are other options. There is, of course, the wardrobes all along one wall option too – which is great if you have them made well and painted to match the walls and then add cool handles etc.

large grey bedroom via domus nova

But in this room you could build a false wall reaching two thirds of the way across between the small window and the bay and use it as a large walk through corridor hanging space. Then put the bed in front – there is plenty of room and you have hidden all the clothes away. If you’re not sure check my post from the link above, which includes measurements.

Finally the bathroom. This is a lesson in why every room needs a bit of wood. Without that vintage crate on the wall this bathroom might be bit soulless – a bit hotel. That crate gives it both character and warmth and brings in some personality. I think it might be slightly too high again – looks as if it’s perfect for banging your head every time you turn round but perhaps not. I might add a little wooden stool underneath for towel draping purposes etc.

modern bathroom with rustic accents via domus nova

That was quite a long tour so I hope that has given you some ideas for your own spaces and some tips on what you can do to improve awkward spaces. Do stick in any questions below. And while I have you here: I am pondering the idea of running a series of masterclasses. At The Mad House. Saturdays from 10am to 4pm. Design tips, help with room layout, choosing paint colours and question time. Lunch included. What do you think? I reckon we could fit six people at a time in the loft/studio. Let me know what you think in the comments below and if it seems like a good idea then I’ll work up a proper schedule and price list. For those of you who don’t know – it would be in North London – easy access from Kings Cross and Euston stations.

I hope to hear from you. Have lovely weekends and I’ll see you back here on Monday.

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 think the masterclasses would be hugely popular!I think many of us have an eye for objects and furniture that we like but we don’t always know how best to arrange them. From the pointers you have given in this article about the size of the coffee table required and the rug and the pictures in the office i think your class would be of great value. COuld we bring pictures of our homes and ask for advice too?

  2. I have recently discovered your blog and I love it! So many great ideas combined with a tongue in cheek style that always makes me smile, and not taking it all too Terribly Seriously. I’ve been doing up my house and merrily making great decisions and awful ones in more or less equal measure. I’d love to attend a masterclass and am lazily delighted at the idea of it being at the Mad House because I am North London based.

  3. Love to do the class. And I find so much of interest and value in your analysis of real rooms; it helps me to put my finger on what doesn’t feel quite right (the ‘stripe’ in the study, for example) and gives me confidence in my perspective, so thank you!

  4. Definitely interested in your lunch/class idea and happy to commute up from SW London. I have already been in touch for a consultation but our building work is still a way off; hard to envisage colours and space when there are no walls – just steels and sky at the moment.

  5. Definitely interested in your class/lunch idea – commuting up from SW London is feasible. I have already made contact about a consultation but our building work isn’t quite there yet: without walls on which to envisage colours, its a bit hard, steels and sky at the moment

  6. An online tutorial would be grateful as I think I’d struggle to get there from Yorkshire for a 10am start on a Saturday. Glad to know it’s not just me that mentally re-does rooms in houses for sale – often feel like going round and tidying up for the sellers, making their beds properly and moving furniture round. Can’t understand how sellers can sign off iffy looking photos. And don’t get me started on photos of holiday cottages!

  7. Kate, what are your thoughts on coving in a 30’s house. We have a lovely picture rail but not coving in the hall. In the living room, no picture rail and coving. I can’t figure out if they should be together or not. The whole house is being replastered so I can do both, one or neither. The ceilings are around 2.5m, a decent height but not too lofty.

    1. Hi Hannah, I’m not a historian and I have to confess I don’t know the answer to that. I would definitely have gone for coving. Some 1930s houses are more traditional so would have had a picture rail as well and then there are the modernist/art deco style which probably wouldn’t. I think I would err on the side of coving where you have neither and leave what you have where you have it. If that makes sense. I might just check some history sites first though to be sure. Also – as the ceilings aren’t “lofty” I think you might be better with coving rather than a picture rail but any architecture historians feel free to help us out here…..

  8. Hi Kate
    Please think about doing some online tutorials – I would be willing to pay for this and I be lots of people who don’t live in London would too!!!

  9. Great idea re the masterclass. Though I will not be able to join. 🙁 Am abroad a lot. However just of note in the bathroom. The hand wash basin seems to be a bit sad on its own. Am I the only one to feel this way? It appears to be a big bathroom and then to have such a tiny wall-hung with a tiny oval mirror does seem a bit inappropriate?

  10. Great tips again, I love this weekly post. I’ve even started playing it myself.
    Masterclass is a fab idea, I’d be first in the queue if you ever re-located to sunny CF64. Think you need a week-end pad down the M4….

  11. That sounds fab – I’d be interested in attending a Saturday class (depending on affordability and dates). I’m in Sarf London.

  12. Great idea, also count me in for your masterclass. I live in Canterbury and we have fast trains to St Pancras!

  13. Hi KAte, yes, I would definitely be interested in a master class on a Saturday, suggested timings sound good. Keep me posted!

  14. There are definitely some high points here, but one odd thing I see often is the art frames hung too high as shown in the first two photos of the sitting room…. unless these home owners are extremely tall, and even if that is so, their visitors have to look up. One common mistake.

  15. Another beautiful old house. I love bay windows. My parents had a sitting room that was a soft green and that room was always restful.

  16. Hi Kate so… What did you think of the Great Interior Design Challenge? Obviously I have my own views but I’d love to hear yours! It seemed to be that the judges were being leant on to be v diplomatic with their comments. What did you think?

  17. Only last night I was googling interior design courses for the homemaker rather than the career changer and there isn’t much around. Good luck with your idea but I live on the south coast so it does depend on the trains! (I was going to say that sometimes we feel marooned, but that’s not really true. It’s more like…England’s cut off from Brighton.)

  18. I would be keen on the masterclass. I live just up the road. It’s a great time of year to start planning works/changes at home and I could see the masterclass really helping to land my ideas…..or not.

    Great end to the week- with a real fab home. Again, just a few changes here makes such a big difference.

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