Monday Inspiration: Beautiful Rooms

A trip through some of the beautiful rooms that have caught my eye over on instagram this week. A little more pared back than last week, but mostly calming as that is what I find I am in need of at the moment. These, I think – you may feel otherwise – are all rooms in which I would be happy to while away a couple of hours with a book. As I write there is talk of a mini heatwave in the UK so it’s all about a soft palette that brings on a sense of calm rather than an overheated maximalist vibe – which one mini (mal)  exception and I’ll be interested to see what you think.

kitchen by @carlaypage
kitchen by @carlaypage

Let’s begin with walls of storage all painted in a soft cream, or off-white, and all reaching the ceiling to maximise the amount of cupboard space while minimising the impact on the room. Of course you can’t reach the top without a chair or a ladder but we all have stuff that we want to keep but don’t need to either use very often or even see again – call it an archive if you like. In my case it’s the special baby clothes and diaries and the cuttings from a 25 year career writing for newspapers. I’m not about to throw any of it away but I don’t need to look at it very often. And then there’s the stuff you only need a few times a year – the huge serving platter, the big vases, the spare duvets etc. It’s all got to go somewhere.

And, in addition to having a space to store it, building up to the ceiling means you won’t try and stuff it along the tops of the cupboards in the dust gathering trap between that and the ceiling. Keeping a smooth, uniform look as high as you can will make your ceilings look higher, the space will be tidier so the overall effect will be larger.

design by @chalkwhitearrow
design by @chalkwhitearrow

Moving into the bedroom and a clever trick here that I am absolutely taking on board next time I renovate. Or perhaps next time I have a drill in my hand. Followers of fashionistas will know they often talk about rails of clothes that they bring out to help them pack, or plan the week’s clothes, or the holiday outfits. I do the same. And I have a rail. But somehow the rail is a bore to assemble and there’s never quite enough room for it. So I balance rows of hangers on the edge of my shelves. And then, when I reach behind for the shoes they invariably come crashing down and land in a tangled heap on the floor undoing any pre-emptive steaming/ironing I may have (or mostly haven’t) done but you get the idea.

But look at this simple solution – a rail fixed either over the top of, or between cupboards. Just enough to hang a few outfits for packing, or a single one to allow the creases to drop out. I spoke to Lucy Williams (below) about hers – mostly to tell her I was going to nick the idea and she said she wished it was longer so she could slide stuff along and still open doors but I think that may be a tactical mistake. If it were me it would become a secondary wardrobe, immediately full of stuff that I couldn’t be bothered to reach inside to hang and the overall, rather chic, effect would be lost.

A brilliant idea but one to rein in – a short rail will remain a practical outfit planner or displayer. Don’t be tempted to make it too long. Now where’s my drill?

wardrobe design by @lucywilliams02
wardrobe design by @lucywilliamshome as featured in house and garden shot by @horwoodphoto

I love a vintage-looking bathroom and this, by Hannah, of newly launched Design Studio Half A Hall is so pretty. Firstly, as you know, I am always a fan of freestanding vintage wooden pieces and this wooden stand, made for cigars but used for her perfume collection is just lovely against the pale walls and yet it also ties in well with the mirror over the basin. Now I appreciate we haven’t all got room for a parasol in the bathroom but if you have then why not? It brings height to the space and adds to the current fashionable sense of a room in which you bathe rather than a bathroom. As one of my favourite designers Nicola Harding said recently, imagine decorating a sitting room but replacing the sofa with a bath – that’s the vibe you’re after.

bathroom by @half_a_hall
bathroom by @half_a_hall

Now the room below is in Australia so I appreciate many British readers might not have rooms like this and I hear you. My current bugbear with many of the interiors magazines at the moment is that the houses featured are so different to anything we might have in the UK that they can only be source of admiration rather than inspiration. That said, I know there are readers in both Australia, America and Canada so a special hello to all of you today. And, for the UK readers, with low beamed ceilings you can still adapt this look for your own homes. The natural flooring in jute or sisal works perfectly in the UK and, unlike carpet, you can put a rug over it if you want more colour. The pale furniture and sculptural shapes work in any environment and if your view, through a smaller window, isn’t that green then you can either paint the window frames green or add more plants on the inside.

Design: @handelsmannkhaw Photo: @felix_forest Styling: @joseph_gardner
Design: @handelsmannkhaw Photo: @felix_forest Styling: @joseph_gardner

As we travel through these rooms you will have noticed that the walls, while remaining pale are now mixing with darker woods as the colours build. This kitchen has beams on a white ceiling rather than the overall wooden effect of above. The kitchen units are dark to match and the leather-backed stools look comfortable and bring more texture. The tiles, while muted in tone and colour bring a little more pattern to the space and the mix of pink lampshades and flowers is a joy. I am immediately thinking of matching the two in my own house. Look closely and you can also see a very hidden cooker hood as well. But while there is more pattern than at the start, the colour palette is still small and tonal.

kitchen by @parkandoakdesign
kitchen by @parkandoakdesign

And so we end with the most maximalist look of today’s rooms. It’s full on but, for me at least, easy on the eye, as it’s a single pattern used throughout on walls, blinds and seating. The cushions are plain and the wall in the foreground together with the curtain pick up on the darkest colour in the pattern and carry it round. There are no colours that do not appear in the wallpaper, there are no other patterns other than this single one used all over. Even the slight pattern on the ottoman appears more textural than contrasting. This is how I would do maximalism – no need to worry about getting the pattern mixing right, or the different shapes – simply find a design you love – one that you would drink if you could, use it liberally, knocking it back with plain blocks of the shades found within. It’s a minimalist’s maximalist dream.

window seat by @veere_grenney
window seat by @veere_grenney via @elizabethmachinpr

And I hope it has helped you with ideas for your own places and spaces this week.


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. Lovely rooms today, Kate! I am in love with the first kitchen. I usually like more colour in rooms, but that is beautiful. So calming on this very hot day. The bedroom hanging rail is great, too!

  2. I read and enjoy your blog every week and learn much from your insightful comments. This is the first time I have ever left a comment but there were 2 things which led me to do this. Firstly the picture rail which we added to our very boring spare bedroom doubles up as a very useful pre-holiday clothes’ planning rail, and secondly I too am getting a little fed up with the proliferation of homes which are so different from anything we have in the UK featured in UK based magazines.

  3. That clothes rail, great idea, as you say improvised versions usually end in tears! I loved the soothing nature of the decor in the rooms today, just right for a Monday morning, in a heatwave…..

  4. I dont have room for a parasol in my bathroom but in my last house I had a huge monstera (cheese plant) at the non-tap end of the bath. When you were lying down and the sun was shining through the window on a summers evening under a canopy of leaves, you could (almost!) imagine yourself on a beach or by a pool somewhere – well, not quite, but it was fun anyway.

  5. Many beautiful ideas, but that rail will become an essential! I haven’t ironed in a very long time, but when I eventually do, it will be next to the rail I install in the bedroom and the clothes will hang on it until I’m done (instead of the accumulation of hanging clothes falling off the ironing board edge). I may even iron more often, at least when I need a holiday outfit.

  6. The clothes rail idea is brilliant, with SO many possible manifestations, depending on your room and hanging space.

  7. I find myself being a minimalist maximalist more and more so – seeing this in (digital) print brings me a lot of joy. And something I would love to see more of. I will also be copying the clothes rail idea.

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