The Househunter: Room by Room

I am indebted to reader Annie Keddie for this first property as she found it and suggested it might be suitable, and she was right as I think you might agree when you come inside. I should also add that if any of you spot anything suitable on your travels then do let me know as you have no idea how hard it is to find suitable houses for this slot.

Sometimes I think I will discontinue it and then someone always pops up and says how much they enjoy it and I understand. There’s nothing I love more than poking round other people’s houses but finding properties that are good enough to tour and on the market can be tough. I’m not complaining by the way just saying that if you spot anything that might work then let me know. Right…. onwards.


This is a five bedroom house near Brixton, in south east London and is on the market for £1,495,000 with Marsh & Parsons. It’s spread over four floors and has been fully refurbished throughout.

There’s a basement area with its own entrance, the family kitchen diner, a bedroom and en suite bathroom which is described by the agent as being perfect for anyone requiring some independent space. To which I say – isn’t that everyone? But then again – is it perhaps better that you are dimly aware what time your teenager staggered home on Saturday night even if he did wake you up when he slammed the front door (and are teenagers actually capable of shutting doors any other way?) and also do you want to create a lovely space for your mother to move into and NEVER LEAVE?


So, moving on. Or rather up, the master bedroom suite on the first floor has a walk-in wardrobe, bathroom and all the sort of stuff you would expect in a house of this size.

But do we like it? I have to say that while I don’t really do blue I’m applauding the vendor’s decision to paint the double doors connecting both ends of the knock through reception in such a vibrant colour. Is it time we made doors a feature rather than painting them white and hoping they blend in?


You will all have your own opinions on this single grey wall in the bedroom below I’m sure. I love the colour, would have done the whole room. Or perhaps just the window frames. Or half way up all the walls. I will say this; in a room this large with two windows it won’t be dark if you did all four walls grey.

But look how the dark walls makes the green of the bed standout. The whole room painted would be knockout.


Finally to the bathroom with its black shower head and taps which is rather delicious. The vintage basin unit also softens the space and adds character. I can’t get beyond the height of the mirror which touches the ceiling and would have to be lowered by at least one tile on the day I moved in. But other than that I’m not remotely fussy or hard to please. The Mad Husband will tell you that in every single house or flat we have lived in (bought and rented) I have made him hang pictures on the day we get the keys and before we can go to bed on the first night. He’s always mighty thrilled with that I can tell you.


Next up it’s off for a quick look around a Grand Designs house which some of you will remember from the tv series. It’s an enduring mystery while people nearly kill themselves building their dream homes and then sell them a couple of years later. I can only assume they’re so broken by the experience that they can’t love the finished building as much as they thought they would and have to move on.


It’s for sale with The Modern House for £1,950,000 and if you saw the programme you’ll remember the neighbours were all livid that such a modern barnlike building was going up next to their traditional homes. They came round in the end and it does look rather fabulous in that setting and quite in keeping.


It also went on to win masses of awards for the architect Sandy Rendel and while it’s huge the break in the roof line apparently works to disguise that. And it sort of does. Clever these architect types aren’t they?


Inside it is, unsurprisingly a little too modern for my tastes but that sitting space must be amazing in the summer. Although I wonder if you would feel a little exposed to passers by? I’m torn on that one.


I prefer this picture window below which frames the view and gives you a little more sense of being a room rather than living in the field with the cows. But that’s my opinion and I am not an award-winning architect. Are any of you? What do you think – all of you not just any architects who happen to be reading?





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. Adding my own reassurance to Ellie’s, for me the properties don’t have to be a) for sale or b) incredibly extraordinary. ‘Tis your insight and infinite wisdom on design that keeps me coming back; commentary on less palatial homes would give the same pleasure. For which many thanks, again.

  2. Love this column so please don’t stop it!! Glad I could help 🙂 Although to be honest I don’t really care whether the properties are for sale or not, I just want to nosey around a nice house or two…

  3. First visit to your blog.

    Interestingly the Lewis house is not ‘huge’ – it is only 257 sqm which is not that much larger than the Brixton House, which is 180 sqm approx. And on a tight site, too.

    I feel that it is perhaps leaning too much towards being an architectural statement rather than somewhere to live, and is very exposed for family life. Where does one privately sunbathe for example? No garage as far as I can see, and seem to have to reverse onto the street .. in a 2 million place in a small town in East Sussex ? 😮

    IF forced to guess I would say they are trying to make a quick million from the GD effect, even if there are other reasons. Plot was 350k. Build cost was 700k. 2 million 2 years later at a London price per square foot is hugely cheeky. WIll not happen .. I would say selling price will be 1.2 million to 1.4 million tops, unless someone rich and foolish falls in love.

  4. Please keep doing this column! Yes we DO love poking about in other people’s houses! And I’m sure I’m not alone in reassuring you that we’re just as interested in more ‘ordinary’ houses (of which there are no shortage) as the extraordinary or luxury ones. It’s hearing your opinions on the house/decor which we enjoy! And snooping…..ahem, I mean ‘being inspired’…by other people’s clever or not-s0-clever ideas.
    In short: keep ’em coming!

  5. Do we think those blush pink chairs in the first Brixton photo are from I ordered something very similar in a deep green a month or so back and this has reminded me it should hopefully arrive soon-ish! As an unabashed lover of blue I am 100% on board with the first property – agreed re. the bathroom mirror, but easy to move, and those bathroom floor tiles are glorious…

    1. They are really like the made ones aren’t they but they aren’t because these are quilted and the made ones aren’t. I hope you like yours. Do let us know. I saw the prototypes before Christmas and completely loved them. Wishing I could squeeze one in somewhere.

    2. They are Fern and Grey – called Jenson chair (I remember these as my son is called Jenson!)

      Could anyone help me out with the marble top coffee table – love this – WANT!!!

  6. I do blue, and am absolutely in love with the Brixton property. Those pink chairs are stunning – want them, need them. SO agree on the mirrors – looks like a giant lives there.

    I agree on the second house being incredibly impersonal – there are zero creature comforts there – a vase of flowers on that huge dining table would go a long way to brighten it up a bit. Although I love the outdoors, I would definitely need a blanket to sit on that couch in in January when all you could see was rain and dripping wet grass – bbbrrrrrr..

  7. I begin each day with your witty prose and gorgeous interior design inspirations. Thank you!

  8. Please don’t stop the feature! It’s the highlight of my friday at work , reading the Househunter on my lunchbreak!
    You mention hanging pictures up in rented places, I wondered if you had any tips for doing this in rented places when they aren’t keen on you damaging the walls. In fact any advice on making rented accommodation feel more homely, I currently live in a rented white ‘box’, and it’s so hard to put your own stamp on a place & make it feel like home!

    1. Command Strips are your friend. Basically like Velcro for walls and pictures and they don’t pull the paint off. So that’s the first thing to hanging art. If you have the space you can always prop them on the floor against the wall which is a bit artist studio but you need enough room to do it. And this – removable wallpaper. It’s probably not quite as easy to remove as they suggest but might be worth looking into. And while I’m on the subject someone needs to invent this but in plain colours so it would be like painting the wall but you could then peel it off. Anyone want to go into business with me. I think this might be a winner.

  9. I like the Lewes house and if I remember correctly they did have a baby so I’m wondering if the stress of keeping a young child from drowning ( not to mention the sheer drop that might kill them before they hit the water) has prompted them to put it on the market.

    Being in that happy state of having grown children who are hopefully not grown up enough to make me a grand mother, I could be very happy in that house.

  10. I love the Lewes house as a thing in itself but it doesn’t look as if anyone lives there, let alone young children – not only because it’s so impeccable (well yes, I know you tidy up for photographers, especially if you’re trying to sell) but it’s kind of impersonal. But I think it could look absolutely amazing, and less stark. And the setting is so dramatic. And just think – access to the beautiful South Downs. So I think I’m going country this week. And I agree with Jenny – this column is the highlight of my week. So no pressure …

  11. The Brixton house please… I have just been poking around further on the estate agents site – Peddar Property has much better pictures of the rooms.

  12. I always love this column so please keep doing it. Want the Brixton home but yes, why do people hang mirrors like that? Makes me itch!

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