The Househunter: Room by Room

Ready for this? Let’s go. There’s quite a lot to say about this one so we’re going to have a good old look round and hopefully get some ideas. It’s on with The Modern House for £3.85m (say it fast it might hurt less) and is a five bedroom house in North London.

It has been completely remodelled by Undercover Architecture who oversaw the interior decor as well and it’s a fantastic house; masses of living space with bifold doors (see below) so you can open up or close off that extra sitting room, a home office in the basement, a laundry room, lots of bedrooms and bath. In short all the things you would have if you could, but most of us probably can’t ,so we get to look around this one and see if there is anything we can use in our own spaces.

Mind you, if anyone ever does click through from here to buy a house then do let me know. I know of at least one person who has gone to see a house after seeing it on these pages. And many years ago someone bought a house after seeing it featured in The Independent – back in the days when it had a 24 page property pull-out every week.

Still, I digress (when do I ever not?) so back to this house. Nice innit? And a word on the open plan. I see so many people with young children who want open plan so they can keep an eye on them and it’s true it that a sense of space is a wonderful thing but it’s also true that teenagers want their own space and they don’t really care how big it is as long as you aren’t in it. So the walls need to come back up again, and I say that as one whose 16yo has recently discovered 90s rap. If you have open plan but can incorporate doors like this that will fold all the way back but can be firmly closed when needed, it’s a good thing.

Now for the colour scheme – we’re used to neutral backgrounds, usually in a pale shade, with splashes of vibrant colour. We’ve all done that, but here that idea has been turned slightly on its head. The walls are pale grey to be sure, but the wood is dark – so much more interesting than white – and then the designers have chosen one vibrant colour to echo throughout the whole house. This is cobalt, it could be emerald or blush or, if you’ve been paying attention this week, turmeric.

People always ask me how to link the different rooms of a house and I think that often it comes naturally. We are drawn to a certain palette of colours and they will subconsciously echo throughout a whole house. It wasn’t until Living Etc wrote about mine having pink in every room that I really realised I had done that. It’s more burgundy as I have so many rugs in that shade but as I sit here typing on my new turmeric sofa (keep up) I have just realised – and even I’m slightly wincing now –  that my trousers are burgundy with a sort of, well it isn’t turmeric but let’s say camel, stripe on them. It’s these by the way in case you don’t believe me. Let’s just say I practice what I preach and move on.

So, this cobalt blue to link the spaces is one thing. But what they have done, which is clever, is to use it in slightly unexpected ways. So the staircase is painted. They have used it on the doors. Then the furniture is in a slightly darker, and more subtle blue. This house is a master class in how to use colour in interesting ways and not just thrown a bright cushion at a neutral sofa and gone to the pub. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

And the final point – look at picture below. Painting a dark hall – especially when it’s a dark corridor anyway – will make the other rooms seem lighter and brighter and draw the eye. Perfect example right there.

So you don’t have to love this house – although I do, if only I had four million quid, drat – but it is a house of interior design lessons that may serve you well.

Right, fancy another? Just a quick dash round this one which jumped out at me as a perfect illustration of all the trends that we have been talking about this week and, since it was done up by interior designers Landmass London, gives you a hint at what is to come. In other words – backs up the theories.

Also on with The Modern House this is a two bedroom apartment in a converted warehouse that is on for £1.27m. And what is the first thing we spot? Well it’s vibrant blue and turmeric – and no I wouldn’t necessarily put the two together either but it certainly makes the point.

A little more as an accent in the bedroom along with – who remembers yesterday’s trend post – a single piece of statement art on the wall rather than a gallery. Also hanging bedside lights which is a great idea to free up space on the bedside table, which you need to keep free for the pile of books you are never going to read and the glass of water you are never going to drink.

And we’re not done yet, for there is a floor that is herringbone parquet and a kitchen that has made bold use of colour. And I didn’t even plan this post. That aside, the dark windows frame the view and the navy blue or black kitchen is just as timeless as a white one and looks better too.

Finally if you look closely you can just see that the island is mirrored to increase the sense of space by reflecting the room back. Not that is short of space but I don’t suppose you’ll be short of money either if you’re buying this one which is within walking distance of the City.

So there we have it. The end to a perfect week of extraordinary interiors from Monday’s rooms by Rockett St George via a couple of trends and finishing up with the real life illustration of it all today. If only life was as tidy. Have a good weekend everyone and don’t forget to tell us what you think about these houses in the comments below.

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. Hi Kate,
    I’m usually a bit colour phobic, but love the cobalt paint in the first couple of images. Do you have any idea what it might be?

  2. Great flat and love the painting of the “Popcorn Eater” which originally looked like a frame less Old Master.
    The House appears soulless, especially the sitting room. Its floor screams out for a huge rug. Have they moved out furniture for the photo I wonder?

  3. I prefer the apartment – I love the airy space, the exposed brick…. but not the ubiq herringbone floors. So busy with the brick. A darker chevron would work better IMO. Dare I say that I think herringbone has had it’s day?

  4. Love them both. In that first house what is the name for that kind of floor covering they have in the bathroom? The industrial looking rubbery stuff with with raised round circles on it?

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