The Househunter: Room by Room

4th August 2017
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This was one of the most popular Househunters this year and it’s still on the market so if you’re interested….

It’s in Painswick in the Cotswolds and is on the market for £1.5m via Savills. It has six/seven bedrooms, four receptions, is Grade II* listed and there’s room to make extra accommodation as well.


open fire and large rug via savills

It’s Georgian, which already makes it lovely and I would imagine that most of us, those that live in period properties at least, are probably in the more usual Victorian variety but there are still period details to work round and enhance or ignore.

The first of which is this amazing fireplace, which is basically in the hall, so yes you would want to make a feature out of it. I’m going to say 10/10 for the large rug filling the space and creating a visual sitting room. I’m also minded to ask the estate agent if I can have that blush pink chair for my bedroom. However, I would suggest painting the dado and picture rails the same colour as the wall for a more contemporary look and the RADIATOR too. I can’t see any lighting either – perhaps they don’t use it in the evenings, but a floor lamp to add height wouldn’t go amiss. If this were my house I would have piles of books and magazines here and make it a reading spot to curl up in.

One of things I come across most often when visiting clients’ houses is a series of rooms without purpose. I mean yes it’s a sitting room but you need to think about who’s going to sit in it? And what will they do when they are sitting there? And how old are they – are we talking beanbags for kids, upright sofas for conversation or slouchy cushions for tv watching? All those things need to be taken into consideration and that hall above could be the perfect space if you decided what you were going to do with it. Otherwise, it’s just a rather lovely walk-through to another part of the house that has a couple of chairs in it.

rows of welles via savills

Every room needs to have a function, every space a function. That way you can use all of your home and nothing goes to waste. From the playroom on the extra large landing to the desk fitted into the smaller one, use it all. This is the housing equivalent of nose to tail eating – I’ll need to come up with something better than that won’t I – suggestions below.

Mind you,  they’re not short of space in this house as this appears to be another hall. I just love the rows of wellies in different shades of green which is why I included this shot. Although… yes there’s a small point for both this and the room below. If you have lovely plasterwork and moulding you are mostly very lucky, but, as with the picture rails, painting it all out in the same colour will create a much more dramatic and modern look to the space.

large sitting room pink walls via savills

While we’re in this pink sitting room, I’m not sure what’s going on with the tiny coffee table which sits like a piece of driftwood on the rug island in the middle of a wooden sea. A bigger table – at least one that the people sitting round the edges can reach to put their drinks on – would be a good start. A bigger rug too. Or, think about the layout. We’re always tempted to put the furniture round the edges to make space in the middle of the room. For what? Unless you have a permanent game of charades being performed there, you don’t need a gaping gap in the middle. Those of you with narrow Victorian houses (me for one) can rest for this bit – we know you have no choice in this matter.

Those of you with square rooms or wide spaces like the one above: how about pulling the sofa forward to sit on the edges of the rug thus losing the island. This will also mean you are closer to the fire and can feel its warmth rather than just waving at its prettiness. Then, consider a narrow console table behind the sofa. You can use this for lamps, photographs, books and wine glasses. The room immediately looks cosier, the space is better used and it doesn’t look like a doctor’s waiting room.

But I love that red chaise longue against the pale pink  walls. Massive thumbs up for that. And for the navy blue walls below although more rug islands in here.

navy sitting room rug too small

Sticking with the navy in this office room, and this is where you can see how an old table really brings character. The chair is great too and here the rug is the right size to fill the space. I’m just going to say radiator and leave it at that. If you have white walls you can have white radiators. They are not beautiful objets that you have purchased for their ability to enhance a space. Unless you did, in which case stand down – owners of old school radiators are exempt from this rant.

navy blue study with vintage desk via savills

Moving on. Or, in this case up. Who wouldn’t love this as a bathroom? And it’s a pink bath. I just thought you’d like to see that as inspiration. Also, I bet the owners were cursing that angled cupboard when they moved it but they’ve made it work. As the house is listed they may not have been allowed to get rid of it. If your house isn’t listed then it’s not always practical to keep original cupboards, which are often too narrow for a modern hanger. Use your judgement – sometimes the feature needs to go, sometimes you can work round it and it will bring something to the room.

freestanding pink bath via savills

This is a far from traditional nursery with its pale grey walls and vintage furniture. Good rug work here and lots of space to play. It’s a restful colour that won’t fight with the sea of plastic tat that is inevitably about to appear.

pale grey nursery with large rug

And finally, another restful space. I love these wooden walls and soft colour scheme which is somehow perfectly brought to life with the faded rug. I might have done the ceiling the same colour as it’s so pale but the dark mirror frame and picture over the chair, bring a hint of definition to the space so it’s not disappearing into a sea of pastels.

pale grey panelled walls via savills

Do you like this house? It has really good bones as Georgian houses often too. The other thing is that they take modern furniture really well – the clean lines contrast beautifully with any ornate plasterwork and odd room shapes. Are we spending our fantasy money this week? Or are we going to take the decorating advice and run? Let me know and have a good weekend everyone.

I’ll be over on Instagram if you want more interiors inspiration.

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  • A Oxley & Son 4th August 2017 at 2:24 pm

    Such an amazing space. Would be cool to have worked with the contractors to in a new build project on a big home like this.

  • Sara Mat 21st February 2017 at 8:00 am

    I always wanted to live in a classic house. Btw what do you think about mixing modern furniture like bean bags with an classic house? Will it be a good idea?

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 21st February 2017 at 10:35 am

      It depends what you are using the room for I think. I’m not sure they work in formal sitting rooms but they’re good for teenage bedrooms and dens.

  • Jonathon 6th February 2017 at 7:06 am

    How lovely to see Byfield House once again! We’ve been lucky enough to spend many an evening in this beautiful old building when it was a wonderful B&B. It was the place we’d go to for a weekend when we were in the early days of our relationship and I have to say it looks very different from when I last saw it. It’s definitely lost some of its charm and character (mainly provided by its former owners) but I’m sure it’ll be snapped up very quickly as it really is lovely.

    Couldn’t agree more – we ALWAYS paint out the radiators and all of the paneling – its a must as far as I’m concerned!

  • Catherine 5th February 2017 at 11:32 am

    Love, love, love this house! But can I put in a plea for some curtains at the windows? Those huge rooms are going to be hellish to heat, so even with the shutters at the windows, I’d be wanting some really thick cosy curtains to keep the cold and the wind out!

  • Lizzie 5th February 2017 at 12:01 am

    I looooooooooooooove this house so much, I want to cry. Being a sunny SoCal girl, you had me at wellies. I appreciate all your tips to make it flow better. I’m definitely spending all my bank on this fairy tale crib.

  • monica 3rd February 2017 at 4:46 pm

    Hi Kate,
    I always love the way you look at a room and then comment on what works and what could be changed to improve it. Very helpful and constructive. Have a great weekend!

  • Duffy 3rd February 2017 at 1:25 pm

    I know you have a thing about radiators and I agree but if you change room colours on a regular basis what do you do?At the rate I paint rooms there would be NO heat coming out of them if I painted them every time!!! I so agree about the small table in the middle of the rug…totally lost…any chance of a feature on large coffee tables?

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 3rd February 2017 at 5:06 pm

      I will definitely do a piece on large coffee tables – the good ones are hard to find is the main reason I haven’t, but I will keep it on the list and when I feel I have found a good variety at good prices that don’t all look the same then I will do the feature. Re radiators – good point! I guess most of us don’t paint as often as you do. Or perhaps you would need to strip them down between colours – like that’s going to happen! I guess it’s white then!

  • Sandra 3rd February 2017 at 12:45 pm

    I would love to have this house as a 2nd home. Just imagine all the weekend walks in the Cotswolds and admiring the lovely features in the house. For winter I would happily snuggle up in an armchair infront of one of the impressive fireplaces. Great home!

  • Flora 3rd February 2017 at 12:34 pm

    Oh my, what I’d give to own this house! Yes, yes, definitely spending my money this week 😉

    I really like how you recommend what you’d do if you were able to get your hands the house – it’s always interesting to hear, and I couldn’t agree more re painting the radiators too.

    I’m seeing these rugs around a lot at the moment – are they having a bit of a resurgence? (Or did they never go away?). My parents have owned rugs like these forever and they really don’t to ‘trends’… so I’m surprised to see them everywhere!


  • Lisa 3rd February 2017 at 10:29 am

    Best selection of rugs I have seen for a while…. !

  • Hester Bassett 3rd February 2017 at 9:31 am

    Cannot BELIEVE how much house £1.5m buys you in Gloucestershire – this would only get you a modest cottage in Hants :-/

  • Vivienne 3rd February 2017 at 9:21 am

    I love this house. I’d probably just live in front of that huge fireplace with books, magazines and a glass of red, kept company by our dog, who’d be way too close to the woodburner…I do think, though, that some of the fault with the furniture layout may be with the estate agents wanting to show how big a room is. If they normally have that sofa in front of the fire in the room with the pink chaise, then a photo would show an awful lot of the back of a sofa. It might explain why the table looks like it has been abandoned/divorced.

  • Our French Oasis 3rd February 2017 at 8:54 am

    I am definitely moving right in! The line of wellies in the hall sold it to me! Although getting the children to actually leave them in such a perfect line, actually the husband too, might prove a touch more difficult in real life, plus the table would be strewn with gloves, hats, scarves and dog leads, but there’s so much room who cares. Love this and the decorating advice too. Have a great weekend and don’t get blown away in the storms!

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