The Househunter Room by Room

This study remains one of my favourite rooms so far this year. I could have bought this house just for that room alone.

It’s a short working week this week  – first of several at this time of year so I thought I would start with this summery office space in this converted Victorian schoolhouse in south east London. It’s on the market via The Modern House for, deep breath, £2,495,000 but if we can’t buy it we can, at least, take inspiration from it.

study with huge windows via the modern house

First up those windows. I’m a bit over my bifold doors at the back of the kitchen. There are only about six days a year when it’s warm enough to open them fully and then they get a bit stuck from underuse and I panic we will never get them close again. And, I think, they’re a bit too modern for a Victorian house which doesn’t have a modern glazed extension.

Anyway we’re stuck with them now but if I was starting again, or advising clients – which I have done just this week – I would suggest thinking about something a little more in keeping with the period. Everyone wants Crittal at the moment but that’s ruinous. Instead use wood but include panels – the size is up to you – and perhaps have a fixed panel in the middle and two that open either side. Or in any combination you want. I’m sure you will open them more that way.

mezzanine level via the modern house

You could also think about having one of the fixed panels as a large window with a seat along the bottom. Everyone loves a window seat even if it’s mainly the cat that sits there. Then, paint the frames dark – doesn’t have to be black – but that will frame the view better and look more modern although these windows were often traditionally black on the outside anyway.

view from the hall via the modern house

Here endeth the window lesson. This rather charming conversion is set round a cobbled courtyard and has a fabulous double height living space with two mezzanine bedrooms above. I always take the view of the garden for granted when I come into our house – as you see above – but a friend is just coming to the end of a huge renovation precisely because she couldn’t see the garden from the hall and it made such a difference to the way they felt about the house.

bedroom mezzanine via the modern house

How’s that for a room with a view. I have always been fascinated by mezzanine levels. I have no idea why but it’s a secret fantasy that I could remove the youngest’s bedroom and create a double height kitchen with a seating area above. He’s not aware of this plan mind. Perhaps I should focus my attention on creating a gorgeous outdoor space to sit in instead.

courtyard garden via teh modern house

This week we have the rare chance to do a proper comparison as the next property is also a two bedroom conversion with a mezzanine. This time a 1920s warehouse for less than half the price – £675,000 – in east London also via The Modern House.

converted warehouse via the modern house

This one is instantly less cosy than the one above but that’s nothing that couldn’t be rectified with a few more rugs and plants dotted about the place.

glass bricks mezzanine

You can see it better from the front door rather than looking out as in the image above. I have never really been a fan of the glass brick either but I can see that it works here to allow the light to flow while retaining some privacy. Fairly essential in a mezzanine I should have thought and a detail that the first property didn’t have.

modern mezzanine via the modern house

But workspace for workspace which would you choose. If you can’t have a view of a garden then working like this which must feel so open and airy has to be the next best thing? I would paint the ceiling, replace the glass desk for wood and fill it with plants to create an indoor jungle feel. Then I could work away all day quite happily. What do you think?

mezzanine workspace

Mind you, it might be dangerous having the bedroom this close. There would be a constant temptation to take 40 winks. Or to carry the laptop to the bed. I may not be disciplined enough for this house. Which one are you buying this week?

bedroom office



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. One vote for the first choice .. modern and impressed with the nature, very like with the small garden seen from the window

  2. I go every week to the Modern House website and obsessively pinned that first house:D
    Yes to all you wrote about choosing period appropriate windows. If there’s something I really hate about extensions is how usually people buy into the idea of contrast between period & modern. To me it always looks odd and takes away the charm of it and it’s almost like the extension doesn’t belong to the same house. And I have recently noted how so often the windows chosen for big buildings wether hey were converted or new, are totally wrong and cheapen the look of it all (New York is big sinner of this). So much potential lost… *deep sigh*

  3. I loved the top one so much I had to have a proper look on Modern House – it is utterly divine but the kitchen is a bit of a let down!

  4. I will take number 1 – love the space and light. No 2 is also great but more of a city pad … so I would need a place in the country or abroad to compliment it.

  5. Definitely the first. That wall of windows overlooking the garden is heaven.
    I like glass blocks in a modern space. I would love to have a bathroom with an entire wall of them. You can never have too much light in the bathroom.

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