Well what a week. I spent most of it filming for something that I will tell you all about in September and then my in-laws came for the weekend; the first time they have been here since 2019. It felt so strange to see them inside and not huddling under an umbrella at the end of their driveway. A sign that life is gradually returning. I have a meeting in town this week too and although it’s only for a morning, it seems to have mentally swelled to occupy the entire week’s brain capacity. It’s so long since we went out to meetings and work events that I feel as if I can’t possibly plan anything else on another day until I have done that. Does anyone else feel the same? I wonder how long it will take before we are all running around as much as we used to or if the slower pace will remain – that’s probably better for us? I know I have tendencies to take on too much in the ever present self-employed/freelance panic, so I’m going to try and plan my time to be a bit less frantic from now on.

kitchen design by emma merry styling
kitchen design by emma merry styling

Anyway, to get us in the mood for, perhaps, a busier week than we might have been used to in recent months, a few beautiful rooms for you to stroll through and we are starting with some featuring natural, and vintage wood. I have written before, in my interview with Oliver Heath, that wood in interiors has been proven to lower the heart rate and stress levels so if anyone else is worrying about going back out there, take a few minutes to gaze on these beautiful rooms and then touch some wood in your own homes.

kitchen design by Kirsten Blazek of @a1000xbetter photograph by @virtuallyherestudios
kitchen design by Kirsten Blazek of @a1000xbetter photograph by @virtuallyherestudios

The gorgeous kitchen at the top is a mix of natural wood, marble and brass – all classic materials that can combine in so many ways to create so many different looks. If ever there was a room that followed my mantra of something new, something old, something black and something gold this is it.  It’s a new kitchen but the brass taps will acquire an aged patina over time, the cane barstools have black legs and the window, also dark, frames the view beyond while the light fittings bring a touch of luxe. Note also how the marble backsplash bounces the light around. The effect is classic but contemporary and while it’s new it has lots of natural materials in it that will age well and it will look brilliant (better?) in a few years rather than dating with time.

Then another kitchen in wood and cream with black and brass handles. Similar materials and colours in different proportions and places creating a totally different feel.

vintage wooden bedside cabinet by louisa grace interiors
vintage wooden bedside cabinet by louisa grace interiors

Even a small wooden item like a bedside table will bring character and personality to a room. Bedside table are really hard to find as we often need more storage there than we think/care to admit so I often look to vintage places for this particular item. Especially as there often isn’t space for much other than a bed which means lots of upholstery and soft furnishings and a dash of vintage wood can warm up a hotel white bed scheme or punch through a more maximalist floral setting. A bit of contrast is always a good idea in a scheme.

house for sale in Sweden via @cheapoldhouses
house for sale in Sweden via @cheapoldhouses

Now for this old house in Sweden which is for sale and I can’t be the only one who dreams of collecting the key and moving straight in after mopping the floors. I’m cheating on the theme slightly here as there’s a vintage wooden cot bed but it’s really all about the frescoes on the walls and the colour combinations. That rich green is lovely and while I don’t tend to have any red in my own house you could either use the odd splash as an accent or alter it slightly to a rich burgundy (or even rust) or back to a pale pink.

image via historiskahem photo: @johanspinnell Styling: @rydmanshem
image via @historiskahem photo: @johanspinnell Styling: @rydmanshem

And then, while I don’t consciously plan these posts a theme tends to emerge as I put them together and since going with your gut is a good way to start an interior scheme – let your subconscious take charge at the start and see what comes out – I also like to see what is drawing me in and here we have a pair of red chairs at a vintage wooden table which just add a splash of bold disruption to what is otherwise a very mellow and toning scheme.

And finally, more versions of pink and red but this time the wood is all painted and the matching arch of that wall light is the bow that ties this all together. That said it could have been a contrasting disrupter colour too – somehow that book needs to be open on the green page tying to the plant on the table to stop this all sliding into perfect co-ordination. Rather than relying on a book to bring the spice, the light could have been a different colour that could have linked to a patterned tablecloth. Imagine a bright emerald green or cobalt blue or, for me, a dirty ochre yellow. Don’t worry about introducing what may seem like a random colour to a scheme – as long as it a) pleases you and b) appears elsewhere in different forms elsewhere in your house it will form part of your red thread.

image via historiskahem photo: @fboukari Styling: @copparstadinterior
image via @historiskahem photo: @fboukari Styling: @copparstadinterior

Right I’m off to have a word with myself about how one meeting in town doesn’t take a whole week. Post-pandemic planning – we can do this people. Just don’t rush up and kiss me for a few months. We are not back there yet.


Tags : beautiful roomsmonday inspirationnatural woodpainted wood furniturevintage woodvintage wood furniturewooden touches
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. Yes! I’m glad it’s not just me. Now every time I have something to do like a hair appointment or a meeting or even an errand, it seems to take up my whole day for some reason. The problem is I can’t get anything else done. I seem to need an entire day uninterrupted to get anything accomplished.

    Love the Sweden house! Fascinating. We don’t see things like that in the U.S. sadly.

  2. Please do not rush back into a hectic lifestyle. People who are showing off how busy they were before, and how busy they soon will be in the new normal are getting on everybodys nerves.

  3. I can absolutely relate to that feeling of overwhelm as the world starts to rev up again. Not sure if I have the energy or desire to go back there – and I am not even juggling children, only a demanding job that has been made more manageable by not having to commute. There is a very real anxiety about having to do it all again, having lived the more balanced alternative. Thank you, as always, for so eloquently summing up what so many of us are feeling. And thank you for continuing to provide a few moments of colour and happiness in my otherwise somewhat drab day.

  4. Wow! That kitchen is stunning!

    Thank you for sharing. I really appreciate the time you take to curate these gorgeous homes. I so look forward to your posts. It’s the first blog I read when I wake up and have my morning coffee. Your informative, practical and humorous writing style is a pleasure to read.

    I hope that meeting doesn’t take up too much psychic energy. I live in Canada, and we aren’t as far along on the vaccination journey as the UK, so it’s hard for me to imagine what life will be like when I can leave the house to see work colleagues in person. It will feel strange indeed. Be safe! And thanks again for all that you do to make my days happier.

  5. Lovely post Kate. I especially love the cane bar stools with backs in the first pic. Do you know where they come from? Thank you 😊

  6. Totally get the feeling that one small meeting can take up every inch of your brain and put everything else on hold until that one thing is accomplished. It is the lockdown, true enough. I do feel it has been a valuable lesson in just how mad we have all been trying to cram SO much into our lives for so many years. It is exciting, stimulating, wonderful but also draining, and damaging to our bodies. There HAS to be balance, especially as we age. And beware the electric light! We evolved to spend longer nights in total darkness (especially in the winter) and I am reading about the health consequences of this revolution that is only about 100 years old in our long journey here on Earth. Good luck and I hope you find your balance.

  7. You sound so ALIVE and up for anything this morning dear Kate.
    As I lean on my French cherry wood table to type I agree wholeheartedly, real wood, ideally old wood is essential in any home.

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