The Househunter: Room by Room

And we’re off. To Brighton. Because the sun is shining (at the time of writing and following the wind and the torrential rain) and who doesn’t like a trip to the seaside? So grab yer sunnies and let’s start this week’s tour with a look around this five bedroom Regency townhouse – with sea views – which is on for £1,650,000 via The Modern House.

There are many points to note about this property, not least that if it doesn’t actually belong to Tom Dixon, it belongs either to his mother, a superfan or someone who knows when the secret discount sales are held. Every pendant light and most of the armchairs are by his fair hand. And if you love his style but can’t afford his stuff then check out Ikea early next year when his collaboration with the Swedish super store (as reported on these pages) will launch.

Note also the gold clad kitchen island – brilliant idea for a) luxe and b) bouncing light around the space and making it feel larger. It works beautifully with the dark grey kitchen cupboards and the gold pendant lights in the open plan space. You can buy a piece of brass (or zinc or copper) from here and fix it yourself. Probably. I asked for samples from them some time ago but my kitchen island has cupboards on both sides and it was more complicated to stick it on the doors. Well it probably wasn’t but I didn’t. Anyway, you can.

More Tom Dixon in the living room and I love those chairs which are tall and thin – much like my house – and so perfectly proportioned to the narrow room of many period properties. Note the floating rug – which I have said is a bad idea unless (because for every rule we know there is an exception) it is an oddly-shaped one. Like a sheep. Or a cow. Even a zebra. Those can float. Squares and rectangles no. They must be anchored by furniture.

Finally the bathroom for the pendant light hanging over the bath. There are rules about that which you can read here but you need either a high ceiling or to hang it to one side. But leaving aside the light for a moment, the vintage bench what brings character to the space. Always try and bring in a little natural wood into a bathroom – it softens all the hard white lines and warms it up a little. If you don’t have a space like this – and who does? – then go vertical; a couple of shelves will do the trick. Especially if you can drape a plant or two on them.

Time for another? Let’s to to Penzance, in Cornwall, to see this five bedroom house which is also on with The Modern House for £1,200,000.

The house, which has been extended and renovated, sits in four acres of land and is properly secluded. There are also two self-contained guest houses. The kitchen is long and narrow but opens at the side to this huge dining space.

A few years ago I wrote a series on international interior design for The Financial Times and, although bound by its very nature to be somewhat stereotypical, I was told, when researching Paris style, that the French don’t like to have an eat-in kitchen but would rather keep the cooking space – and the mess – private and have a large eating area.

They would rather put a dining table in the sitting room than the kitchen which is in contrast to the Danes, who claim to have invented the conversation kitchen – as they call it – where the whole family hangs out together to cook and eat and chat.

But for me this house is all about the windows and the views out of them. The spaces, while large, have been zoned by the architecture so that this sitting room feels cosy while still being part of the larger space. Rug island though.

I love this shot with its glimpse of the room beyond. Sometimes it’s not just about the room you are in but about what you can see – glimpses of other rooms in corridors beyond and this is a great example. The eye is drawn to that far space and you want to go and see what’s there.

Finally, the bedroom. Yes it’s narrow but the owners have made the most of it with the tongue and groove ceiling and shelves of books either side. As I said in my post yesterday – the ingredients for the perfect bedroom include a bedside light within reach of an idly-stretched arm and a good book. This then is ticking those boxes. And with that – let the weekend commence. Well nearly….

Before you go there’s just time to look at this wonderful conservatory – so perfect for a lazy weekend brunch don’t you think? Sadly we can’t all recreate this, but imagine if it was white. It would look old fashioned and ugly. In black it frames the view so much better and makes a much bigger statement.

Finally, after my long lazy brunch, if anyone needs me I shall be out here on the long covered balcony with my book. What are your plans for the weekend?

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 just pooped onto the modern site to see more of the Brighton house. It is fab and as you say Tom Dixon lighting for sale with regency house included.

      1. Oh Sandra, auto so-called spell/grammar check has caused everyone some level of grief. In this case, however, I can’t stop myself from rereading your original post and laughing. Thank you so much for this spark of joy. Cheers, Ardith

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