The Househunter: Room by Room

I loved these two properties which were listed in April. One traditional in style and painted light and one more modern with dark walls. It’s always hard to choose which I like best. Really I need two houses – one light and one dark or one summer and one winter. As it is I have a mix of light and dark rooms which, as compromises go, isn’t bad. See which you prefer below. 

After last week’s ultra modern property we’re going a little more traditional this week. Something perhaps that might give us ideas that we can translate into our own homes. I love looking at the ultra-modern homes but the reality is that most of us don’t live in them so every now and then it’s good to have a look at something that we might actually be able to adapt to our own rooms.

This is a pretty little house in Chipping Camden, Gloucestershire, which is on for £1,250,000 via Savills. Now yes it’s a pretty gorgeous staircase but with an endless amount of time and sandpaper many of the traditional bannisters would look similar if they were stripped back. Paint is easier though. The floor is practical dark slate tiles but look at the walls. Pink. Think. Have you ever seen a hallway that is pink? So here we have the pink hallway the rinky dink hallway…. sorry.. got a bit carried away there.

But yes pink – warm, welcoming and unusual. Try Farrow and Ball Pink Ground or, my new pink discovery – Temple by the Paint and Paper Library. If you are nervous about doing the walls in an unusual colour – but remember you don’t linger in the hall so it’s a good place to be dramatic – then how about just the back of the door?

Out of the hall into a classic country kitchen. Now while the dark colours are coming through into kitchens, it’s true that white will always be popular. It’s a classic that won’t date. But if I buy this – and obviously I am like the sailor with the girl in every port only mine is a virtual house in every county – I would paint the lower units in something dark and dramatic. You can leave the top ones pale. First rule of interior design – it doesnt’ have to match. It would also keep the room looking light and if the bottom units were a deep, dark green say Little Greene’s Invisible and the tops stayed light.

This deeper pink wall echoes the paler shade in the hall. There are various tricks you can do like this. Paint the ground floor dark and take it a bit lighter as you go up to the top. Paint the front of the house dark and make it lighter at the back. That way you link with the colour but you can adapt it to the room and how much natural light it gets.

There’s no denying this bedroom is restful with its pale green walls and slightly darker rug. This is how to do a rug under a bed if you can. Two bedside rugs is good but in a small room can break the space up and make it feel smaller. And I have never understood the rug at the end of the bed look. I can perhaps tell you now that I am working on a rug design with Wendy Morrison which addresses the issue of rugs under beds and losing half the pattern etc.

This isn’t a huge room and that’s a pretty giant bed but it’s still calm and restful and doesn’t appear too busy even thought there is a lot going on. That’s the power of colour for you. And only you can decide if you want a dark bedroom that is cosy at night for sleeping or a light one that will fill you with energy and get you out of bed in the morning. I prefer the latter for actually living in and the former for looking at.

Returning from Bath and heading to North London to this three bedroom house in Stoke Newington which is on the market with The Modern House for £1,695,000.

Now I don’t know about you but one of the issues we commonly found during all the years of house-hunting was that the downstairs space was often small relative to the number of bedrooms. This is, perhaps, particularly true in London where the footprint of the house is small but there are more floors.

Anyway, this three bedroom house has been extended on the ground floor and is now over 1,970 sq ft which, for reference is much bigger than my old four bedroom house which was about 1400sq ft – if that manages to put some perspective on it.

The owner used to be a chef so the kitchen design was a huge factor in addition to their desire to be connected to the outside space. I love that little window seat although I might be tempted to add a cushion foam base to make it slightly more comfortable. I can imagine moving the plants and sitting in that corner next to the window with a book all day. At least in my fantasy life.

The sitting room is a complete contrast and has been painted dark – I’m guessing it’s a very dark green – say Studio by Farrow & Ball but that’s what it looks like on my computer. It might be different on yours. Either way it’s a gorgeous shade. The sofa, by the way, is covered in Icelandic Poppies by GPJ Baker. I adore patterned sofas and if mine wasn’t buttonback – which would interfere with the flowers – this would definitely be on my list of possible re-upholstery options.

The colour continues into the back half of the room but there is so much light from the front that it doesn’t appear to make it dark. And it appears again upstairs on the fitted wardrobes which are practically invisible apart from the handles. If you fitted push catches to them you could make them disappear even more if you wished.

This bedroom is the classic dilemma that I mentioned above. I love this space, when I look at it I want to paint my bedroom in this deep, dark shade. But I don’t want a dark bedroom. That’s the one room I need to be light. Mind you I have a very dark bathroom so I can get my fix of dark in there.

So there we have this week’s househunter. I hope you have found some inspiration for your own homes and do let me know if any of you actually decides to buy one in real life! Have a lovely weekend all.







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’m curious to why you need a light bedroom? I prefer a dark bedroom (to aid with sleep) and a light, bright bathroom (because I get ready in the bathroom and want to see everything clearly).

    1. As I said in the post it’s a question of preference. I like a light bedroom so that I can get up in the morning – when I say light I mean the paint colour – we have blackout blinds so that it’s dark for sleeping but the room itself is painted in light colours. I know other people who like to paint their bedrooms dark and make them cosy spaces. I like to look at those but I wouldn’t be able to get up in the morning!

  2. I think for me it’s the Chipping Norton house but I’m also blown away by those dark wardrobes in Stoke Newington and considering going over to the dark side in our guest bedroom now!

  3. Hi Kate, enticing tho the Chipping Campden house looks, the link doesn’t seem to be working … unless, horrors, it has been sold. Now what am I going to spend those lottery millions on?

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