The Househunter: Room by Room

Seeing as we appear to be having a late burst of unseasonal sunshine – due entirely to the fact that I bought a swishy new raincoat at the beginning of the week  (you can thank me later) I have decided that we shall start this week’s househunter tour on a boat.

But this isn’t just any old boat. For starters the master bedroom has a four poster in it. Exactly. Coming? It’s on the market with Savills for £1,750,000 with a mooring licence until 2063. It’s 29 metres long (yes metres) and has 2454 st ft (note the change of measurements) of internal space – which is easily the size of my house pre-loft conversion – and there’s another 1130 sq ft of garden, which includes grass.

As I say, Penelope isn’t just yer average riverside boat.

It’s arranged over two levels with the reception room and kitchen on the top floor – see these images above and below. This is definitely wider than my Victorian terrace. Mind you, I note from the particulars that the agent doesn’t call it a boat – with its connotations of sailing – but a floating home. Which means, perhaps that it isn’t entirely built for sailing from its home in Putney to, well France. Or at least Henley.

I rather love the juxtaposition of a boat, sorry floating home, with a couple of renaissance tapestries on the walls. And you can see from these pictures how spacious it is and how high the ceilings are.

There are three bedrooms in all, one with the aforementioned four poster, and two bathrooms. Not to mention a study area by the kitchen and masses of storage with a utility room. This is one of the, huge, bedrooms pictured below.

And then you get a lawn. Because all the best boats need gardens. Now normally I would worry about living on a boat in winter when it was cold and dark and the novelty had worn off. But I think I could get used to this one. Might need to tweak up the decor a little but I’ll admit there’s definitely something appealing about living on the water.

What do you think? Has anyone ever lived on a boat? I went to a party on one once which wasn’t quite the same thing but it’s all I’ve got.

Moving to dry land now and this fabulous two bedroom house in south east London which sits in a row of Georgian terrace houses and is accessed through these rather amazing blue doors. I’m sold already. I love the idea of something gorgeous hiding behind closed doors. It’s a bit like those houses in Paris where just occasionally the big wooden doors are open and you catch a glimpse of an amazing courtyard and life within.

Now when I saw the picture below the first thing I thought was that it belonged to the fictional editor of The Herald in the current televsion drama Press. Anyone watching? I love it but then I’m a journalist. However, I’ve yet to have time to rewind to the part in the last episode where she was drinking too much in her garden (it’s more of a documentary than a drama really) but the street has apparently been feature on both Doctor Who and Call The Midwife so it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility.

It has been immaculately restored and extended by Fraher Architects who put back the panelling and added this glass-roofed extension to let the light flood in and it’s on the market with The Modern House for £1,650,000.

They also added this neat little workspace which is perfect for anyone who has a double length sitting room and isn’t sure what to do with the back half. Or who has a dining room that needs occasionally to entertain but doubles up as an office. You could fill the shelves with decorative objects like this or buy some box files in natural card or black and white so they fitted with the decor rather than screaming “work” at anyone who wandered in.

The key thing for me is the navy blue windows in every room. I’d love to paint some of our white frames but I can’t work out if it would involve taking the windows out (in which case it ain’t gonna happen) or if it’s possible to do it well enough without. Anyone done that either?

It’s all the questions today isn’t it?

Finally this rather sumptuous bathroom although yes that is a small bath. There is a shower in here – the photographer was standing in it to take the picture – so maybe you don’t need a bath. Or maybe it’s just for small children. I lived in a flat in Paris many years ago with a small bath at the end like this. It was perfectly fine.

Somewhat less salubrious was the fact that where you see the loo below. I had a kitchen sink running into a row of units containing the cooker and the fridge. It was a sort of bathchen or kitchroom. It wasn’t the sort of open plan living that one aspires to put it that way. The loo, by the way, was on the landing outside for anyone who’s paused to think about that arrangement.

And on that note it’s probably time I went.

What do you think? Rather than town or country, this week it’s high seas (sort of) or terra firma? Which will you choose?


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. Hello, to add my 2p worth, I once spent a summer living in a shared flat in Paris where the shower was in the kitchen (separate toilet and bathroom, bath obviously used for storage of random “stuff”) . It was a little inconvenient if someone wanted to shower and someone else to cook….

  2. Although that is the nicest house boat I have ever seen I don’t think I could live on the water as I would worry about it sinking while I was asleep.

    The house in SE1 is divine and I will have that this week please. Complete with furniture. The laundry in the basement is a bonus and the glass extension and garden could host some amazing parties. And in my fantasy life there I could also pop down to the Old Vic weekly too.

  3. I love the second house but I was mystified by the alleged 2400 square foot shown on the floor plan. It feels like a much smaller house than that, especially as there is no loft conversion.

    As to painting sash windows without removing them: in theory you can but they always end up sticking in my experience. No short cuts, alas.

  4. Spotted the London property on themodernhouse a week or so ago and love the whole feel of the place. I would gladly put up with the small square bath!

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