Monday Inspiration: Beautiful Rooms

Right time for some gentle colours this week. It’s nearly time to go on holiday and I’ve reached that point where I’m metaphorically crawling towards the finish line so I want to be looking at restful images and calming colours.

all white via
all white via

Like this for example. I love this space. Right now I want to be in this space but I know, because I have tried this before, that I couldn’t live in it. Not because I don’t like it but because I would gradually start adding more colour. A Persian rug here, a stronger art work there. And then, after a little while, a year or two, the paintbrush would come out.

So I will admire this and it will soothe my soul to look at it but I know that it’s not my house. That said, I love lots of the furniture and, in my fantasy house there would definitely be a white linen sofa. The kitchen chairs look like Thonet Bentwood, if your budget doesn’t run to these – a lifetime heirloom investment –  then there will be similar in junk shops and charity shops or eBay so keep an eye out.

white and wood textures via
white and wood textures via

For similar low chairs to these ones above you can try this cane version from H&M or Zara have also just launched a  one and finally here is a leather version from home barn shop. It’s a great look, although more for occasional sitting and chatting rather than hours of reading or tv watching.  A pair of these would look great in The Mad Library but I’m not sure they are the right chair for purpose so I shall leave them in the shops but they might be right for you.

white bedroom with black accents via @francesloom

Talking of Persian rugs, this room belongs to the business partner of Kelly Vittengl, aka @francesloom, who sells amazing vintage rugs in all colours and sizes and, as I am always being asked where mine came from, this may be a contact that is useful for you – it is $100 flat shipping rate for the UK, $25 US and $40 Canada by the way, so know that before you fall in love with something. Which you will if you look….

persian rug from @francesloom in the home of @triplesevenhome
persian rug from @francesloom in the home of @triplesevenhome 

And another pale, cool room with a patterned rug and some olive green accents. You see how it starts…. This is exactly what I would do in an all white room after a while.

Sticking with the theme… I never start these posts with a fixed idea of where they are going but I do often find that one develops as I go along.

persian rug in neutral decor with eames chairs via charlotte asquith
faded pink rug in neutral decor with eames chairs via charlotte asquith

This rug isn’t Persian but it’s faded and vintage-looking and works perfectly against the floorboards in this dining area. Now I know many people don’t want a rug under the table, but if you have a wooden table and floor a rug is a good way of breaking up a fight between the two if they don’t go or of just having too much of one thing. I can also tell you, from experience, that nothing disguises mashed weetabix, spilled red wine, splashed white wine, yoghurt and marmite quite so well as a vintage patterned rug.

pale neutrals with splash of red via @himaraestudio
pale neutrals with splash of red via @himaraestudio 

Earlier we looked at a neutral room with an accent of green for a softer more relaxing look but what about this with its red velvet armchair. This is all about getting the right shade of red but against a barely there pink wall it looks perfect – this is a soft pinky red but terracotta would work well too.

Or what about this? There’s a lot more going on in this room but the principles are the same. Pale walls with a hint of colour on the ceiling, pink seating that is echoed in the gorgeous scallop rug by Jennifer Manners and then, whoops, takes a closer look at the coffee table legs. Not for everyone I’m sure, but the principle of adding something unexpected is definitely one to aim for.

jennifer manners scallop rug, design by salvesen graham for christies inc
jennifer manners scallop rug, design by salvesen graham for christies inc

Remember, there’s no such thing as bad taste; a far worse crime is no taste. Indeed, as Diane Vreeland, former editor of Vogue, once said: ” A little bad taste is like a splash of paprika…it’s hearty, it’s healthy… we could all use more of it. No taste is what I’m against.”

So like it or don’t like it, it’s entirely personal, but make sure you include a “wow, look at that” or a “whoa look at that”  element in every room.

low chairs and white curved sofa via@himeaestudio
low chairs and white curved sofa via @himeaestudio

Finishing off where we came in with shades of white and those low slung chairs. Now I’ve shown you where to get the chairs and tomorrow we’re going to be looking curved sofas because the new collections include a lot more of them and they’re much more versatile than you might think.

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. As a rural eco friendly cat owner ( cat eats rabbit, salad crops grow, no food miles), I definitely recommend a vintage pattern rug to disguise the leftovers in the morning.( Apologies to rabbit lovers, the rest have learnt to keep their distance)

  2. Rugs. We needed lots of old rugs to cover terracotta floors about
    18 years ago and went to eBay section Antiques. We stuck to One supplier because trust matters.
    Prices can be low and in our case they shipped to Italy. I’d say buy a small rug first to see what supplier is like.
    We had some amazing bargains this way. Having found a trusted supplier.

  3. I am somewhat curious about why you are suggesting that people should import rugs from the US that, according to the website, are sourced pretty much world wide. Given the air miles or shipping involved and therefore carbon foot print attached to each rug, how does this fit with your encouragement to us to do less harm in our interior design choices? There are plenty of UK firms selling vintage rugs.

    1. I have readers in both the US and Canada as well as the UK and I am conscious that most of the time I write for the UK market, so if I come across a brand that specifically operates in other countries I want to include it. Or course many UK readers, myself included, will prefer to shop within our shores to minimise shipping costs and environmental issues, but then so will the American and Candadian shoppers so this way I can offer them something that they might not know about and that doesn’t have to come from the UK.

    2. It is an interesting debate, and tbh do not know immediately where i would get the data to work it out. Envirmental costs (ie how much am I killing the planet by making CO2 and other things) can be very different from “how far is it coming”. Thought experiment.

      I know that I can import a 40-ft (=65 cubic metres+ say 200 washing machines) container of anything from China to Folkestone for $5000 US ,or to my local merchant Appliances Direct freight terminal for a bit more – because they will buy a full container. That transport cost is heavily related to the fuel used and therefore the amount of environmental damage. But I am only doing 1/200 of that amount of damage.

      If I buy a washing machine from a manufacturer in Scotland, which is delivered direct. Then has that one machine delivery killed the planet more or less?

      Not an easy one to calculate.

      What is the equivalent for something more interior-designy? An item imported in bulk by Ikea or The Range, or something made by an artisan craftsperson in Lower-Twistleton-under-Piddle? Which has the bigger carbon footprint?

      Perhaps buying local is not everything, as long as it is imported en masse and by ship not air.

  4. All these rooms are beautifully composed and desire to be restfull and calming, but something in me wants a patterned, colourful rug to anchor them.

    Totally unrelated, as a Canadian fan of British real estate, design and architecture shows, I am fascinated and curious about the Brits’ resistance to main floor bedrooms.


    1. Yes! Thank you for this Kate. Being Canadian, I am always looking for something I don’t have to import and pay tremendous amounts of shipping on. One of my favourite furniture companies will only ship to me at $1,000 per order no matter how large or small the order. There is design life beyond the UK Duncan.

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