The Househunter Room by Room

Assuming the virtual gremlins haven’t been chewing the computer wires in the wordpress engine room again there are three houses for you this week. First up is a five bedroom house in Bromley which is on the market with Kinleigh Folkard and Hayward for £1,500,000.

And, as you can see, it’s all about the kitchen in this one. Now I love a big kitchen but there are also two receptions and I would worry that you would spend all your time in here and never use the other rooms. I know – first world problems eh. One of them is at the back of this kitchen as you can see so perhaps you could put smalls in the back one with the telly while you stayed at the front by those windows and the wine.

The key would then be to keep the front room as a dark and moody grown-up space – perhaps for evening telly or friends and cocktails. Make this the Soho House room where kids aren’t welcome as they can have their own sitting room which which you can see below.

Can’t leave this kitchen without admiring that kitchen though. the herringbone marble tiled splash back – the modern way to lay classic subway tiles – and the dark cupboards which work brilliantly to zone the kitchen within this huge space.

I’d happily spent my mornings in here drinking coffee and admiring the garden – or the gardener – from the comfort of this sofa.

This white bedroom is very modern and restful although the black accents do work to ground it a little bit. Compare this white bedroom with the white sitting room below which is altogether more rustic thanks to the reclaimed floorboards. White can go either way – modern cottage or modern contemporary. It’s what you put with it that makes the difference.

Moving out of London and heading to Grantham where you can have this Old Rectory (which is 9,000 sq ft as opposed to the nearly 3,000 of the Bromley house) for £995,000 via Savills. I’ve said before that the clergy always got all the best houses and this is one of the best prices too. It’s less than an hour-and-a-half from London for context.

This has eight bedrooms (I’m assuming this particular rector wasn’t required to be celibate), floodlit gardens, a self-contained barn and a heated outdoor swimming pool – which I’m guessing he didn’t install. It’s Grade II listed which isn’t that restrictive but you would need to check if you wanted to make radical changes like removing a chimney breast or adding a new bathroom.

I love this space under the stairs which is the place I would turn into a home office. Paint the window dark to frame the view and put my desk there looking out over the grounds.

And here is the white sitting room I mentioned earlier. Mostly white but a completely different feel thanks mainly to the dark wooden floor which stops it feeling too contemporary but keeps it light.

Finally, we’re off to Somerset to this 19th century, Grade II listed, three bedroom house which is on the market with The Modern House for £795.

First thing to note is that this sitting room feels very calm and that’s not just because of the neutral colours. It’s because it’s very symmetrical and that is very restful on the eye. Although interior styling lore says you should arrange objects in threes to give variation of height and add interest, putting things in pairs also works well and creates a balanced look that is relaxing and calming. Try it and see.

More glass walls in the kitchen and although this room is smaller than the Bromley house that is a table that easily seats six. As a rule of thumb you need to allow a metre round the edges for people to comfortably pull out their chairs to stand up. When estate agents can shoot from tricky angles to make spaces look bigger try assessing the size of the furniture to get a truer sense of the space in the room.

When I buy this the first thing I’m doing is adding a sliding door to that pantry room which will create more usable space inside. I’ve just done this to the walk-in boiler cupboard in our kitchen – henceforth to be grandly known as the larder. Actually scrap that – it’s The Larder. Changing the door has literally doubled the amount of useable space.

And talking of doors here’s how to do fitted wardrobes in an old house. Note how these doors mirror the ones to the room but, painted in a pale pink that matches the walls they don’t dominate the space but are entirely in keeping with the room.

This isn’t the same bedroom but clearly they had a pale pink thing going on. It’s a great colour for a bedroom and is screamingly modern these days. For those that think it’s too girly and feminine I shall remind you that it used to be that pink was for boys – it was regarded as a stronger colour while blue, more dainty, was for girls. Failing that tell him it’s beige. That has worked for several people I know to great success.

So, who’s going where this week? While I used to hanker after an eight bedroom rectory, I have become more modest in my old age and think I shall be retiring to Somerset for my weekends. You?


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. The Bromley house!! Could easily imagine myself moving in and spreading my teenagers and 3 cats over all that wonderful living space!

  2. Hi Kate, three houses! You are spoiling us. I’m in love with Somerset: from the windows onwards. The meadow-like garden completely hits the spot, and so does the mix of old and new in the house itself. In fact I might ask them to leave me the furniture (and the collection of Akiko Hirai pots) … the only thing I’d change would be the multi-patterned tiled wall in the bathroom, but that’s easy! I love Emery & Cie but not like this. But altogether gorgeous!

  3. No Kate, it’s Grantham for me, well, that is, if I had the huge budget needed to go with it. It’s not just about having the funds to decorate it and keep up the renevations is it?, but also enough to live in style – in elegant sufficiency. Him in plus-fours and me in the obligatory twinsets and pearls. Then we shall need dogs, despite the fact that I don’t actually like them, and horses, who scare me rigid, plus cats. I can imagine my husband quaking as I write so I’d better stop there, but I will enjoy thinking about it for he rest of the day. Definitely food for thought.

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