Mad About The House 101 Interior Design Answers: the new book

Hello and almost Happy  New Year. I wanted to finish off the old one, and the decade come to that, by showing you my new book which will be out on 5 March: Mad About The House, 101 Interior Design Answers.

It’s a collection of 101 of the most common questions that I have been asked on here over the last eight years of the blog, 10m hits, 4m visitors, and over 2,000 posts. As you can see from the contents page below, I have organised it into sections beginning with the first six questions that you need to ask before starting any decoration, redecoration, refurbishment or even buying a simple piece of furniture.


I have touched on these six questions before and I truly believe that if you start here and, crucially, answer them honestly, you will be on the right track to creating a home, or even just a room, that works for you and the people you live with. This will then save you money and expensive mistakes as you won’t have to redo it. Answer the questions and own the space.

I have also talked about trends and how to navigate them, sustainability, which is not just about buying from the right places, but also about buying the right things so that you don’t need to change or replace them and, of course, buying vintage and reupholstering and repainting so that the pieces you have can last for as long as they possibly can.

Then the questions start. Beginning with Where do I start? Or How do I get my partner to agree to my plans? What is the best paint for which surface and how do I create a lighting scheme? And so on. I hope it’s comprehensive. There are check lists and advice from others who know better than I on certain things. So Kimberly Duran, of Swoonworthy , talks about the bell curve progression of trends, Bianca Hall and Tania James of Quirk and Rescue discuss painting straight lines and how to spray paint objects while Karen Knox tackles budget planning and Lisa Dawson tells you how to plan that gallery wall. Or you might want advice from Philippa Curphey, who used to style for Ralph Lauren,  on how to buy antiques and where to invest your money.

Other common dilemmas include how to make a narrow room look wider, where to splurge or save in a kitchen design, or how to save money when creating a bathroom. There are lists of common standard measurements (kitchen units, doorways and baths) as well as the pros and cons of different types of worktops and flooring, window dressings and paint finishes.

As with the last book, this is illustrated by the brilliant Abi Read. When I first decided to break away from the traditional coffee table mould of glossy photographs (and much less writing) it was because I didn’t want the book to date. My concern then (which still holds true today) and that we do judge a book by its cover and if that cover, or the images inside, don’t appeal to our personal taste, or they happen to fix themselves too firmly into a single time period, then the words, however useful, may go to waste as we won’t buy the book.

By sticking to pictures I felt that that could be avoided, as well as giving the book a point of difference. However, it turned out that while that has been true what has been more valuable to many of you is that an illustration is just that; a way of expanding on the point made in the words – literally illustrating – and therefore not pushing you to feel that you need to create a certain look or aim for a certain style. It is all about you and your home.

The illustrations leave you free to find your own style and discover what works for you while using the pictures as a guideline to explain the words further.

Some of the illustrations are based on those I follow on instagram: Sophie Robinson, Kim at Desire to Inspire, Alex at The Frugality, Robyn at Almost Everything off Ebay and Reena at Hygge for Home.

I hope you will love it as much as you have loved the last one which is now in its seventh reprint and has sold nearly 25,000 copies. For those of you who wondering if I can retire, the answer is no as the revenue averages about 50p per copy sold and that has been spread over the last three years so until or unless I reach the dizzy heights of selling Jilly Cooper type numbers, the blog will continue to appear four times a week.

That said, if you would like to pre-order the book, the link is here. If you order it today you will pay only £14 when it comes to you in March and, since it looks lovely next to the pink one, you can currently buy both for £28 which is almost nearly two for one.

It remains only for me to thank those who have agreed to endorse this new book; Jonathan Adler, whose sentence: “Kate is my go-to how-to guru” thrills me every time I read it, the food writer Melissa Hemsley, Sarah Tomczak, the editor of Red Magazine (which I have bought since it launched in 1998) and, finally, and with enormous gratitude, David Nicholls, the deputy editor of House & Garden who gave the book its subtitle when he said: “We know the questions, surely it’s the answers we want?”.

I know the photos are a little bit blurry here -that may have been my publisher Pavilion’s dastardly plan not to give too much away so you feel compelled to buy the book. Finally, if you do fancy ordering it and you are meandering around the Amazon website and you had five minutes spare to add a review to the first one here, I would be enormously grateful. Reviews really help with the rankings and publicity that Amazon gives to books and the more you get the better it is and that really would set my 2020 off to a flying start.

Right enough of the self publicity for now! The blog will be back properly next week. It might be back sooner, it depends how much fun I am having lying on the sofa reading novels and playing with my new Aarke water carbonator – yes The Mad Husband came though for Christmas but now he has a January birthday … bit rude frankly – but I must devote some brain time to that conundrum too.


Tags : 101 Interior Design Answersbook illustrationsbook launchInteriors book
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. Congratulations, your book looks beautiful. I am so excited for this book but I need it now! I’m a year in on bringing an abandoned barn back to life and almost at the decorating stage… I received your previous book for Christmas last year and that has been invaluable, as is the blog and the podcast, thank you for all your help so far!

  2. Love the “mint green” combo Kate. Tell husband that you need to get off the sofa and go to “similar green” Lina Stores to celebrate such an achievement!

  3. Congratulations on you new book, if it’s anything like your blog (which is great by the way) it looks like it will be full of your great advice and tips. It’s just a shame I don’t have a house that I can decorate myself.

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