Monday Inspiration: Beautiful Rooms

It’s a while since we looked at location houses for inspiration and as the dust mounts here at Mad House II and the kitchen will finally be pulled out this week – we have managed to hang on to the sink, washing machine and dishwasher while all the building work was done around it and we are cooking in the sitting room – I feel the need to look at some lovely, finished, clean spaces.

This is Beulah, via Shoot Factory, and is a really good example of the importance of a disrupter colour which is as much a note to myself as to you. The colours are warm and rich and tonal and while the owner hasn’t shied away from strong shades, that mint patterned rug (which is similar to this from Floor Story) just punches through all the caramel tones and spices it up a bit. It’s the squeeze of lemon over the fish if you like. The smiley face on the wall is also a rug designed by Henry Holland for the same company and perfectly mirrors the, ahem, mirror opposite. Once you start to look at shapes (rather than colours) you notice many more – the fan shape of the floor rug, the curve of the back of the chair in the window.

If you have decorated your room and found that something isn’t quite right don’t forget to take a look at your shapes. You many have too many straight lines and edges making it grid-like and perhaps not relaxing. You may have overdone the circles making it feel like you’ve eaten a whole box of chocolates and are left yearning for a crisp bit of apple. Of course colours are important but don’t underestimate the importance of shapes as well.

This is Perry, also available as a location house for hire, and while it’s hard to imagine messing up a room with high ceilings and panelling like this it’s actually the very simple furniture and pared back colour scheme that allows those features to shine. That blue green wall colour (have a look at Farrow & Ball Theresa’s Green) brings a warmth to the space and and a bit more than plain white or cream. It also loves a darker wood and you can see how the other colours pop against it. As a final point, if your room is already ornate from the architecture then stick to clean lines in your furniture – either mid-century or contemporary as the two will work together to enhance the overall rather than making it feel fussy and crowded.

If you regularly have lots of people round the table then a pedestal shape works really well not just for comfort but also to avoid the cluttered effect of too many legs – table, chairs people – what Eero Saarinen, who designed the Tulip table above, called the “slum of legs”. The stand out decor element for me though is those two glass bowls on the table that really draw the eye in. They may have been put there just for the photo but never underestimate the power of a well-placed objet for directing the eye to where you want it to go. Think of it as a beauty patch; the Georgians stuck them on their faces to draw attention to eyes, mouths or even cleavages. It worked and a vase, ornament or lamp can do the same for the best features in your house.

I was in two minds whether to show you this or not as having started the conversation about what colour to paint the kitchen last week (green, pink, chocolate or yellow being the leading contenders) I then landed on something like this which is currently leading the race. We are having a terracotta floor and the room is much smaller so it won’t look anything like this but it’s a colour that definitely in the mix and which will, I think, look great with the worktop which I’m definitely not telling you about just yet. This, by the way is Hobbs.

What this room shows you is the different types of natural wood that all work together. I’m often asked how to mix wood and while my first response is that a good rug will break up a fight between a table and a floor, you can also make sure the wood tones work together. In addition this is a solid slab of wood for the table, sitting on a more intricate herringbone pattern on the floor so they work together. The stools are round, another contrast in shape but in a colour that tones and the rattan seats bring another texture to the room.

This is why either creating a moodboard or laying out all your samples on a plain tray can help you decide if a room works or if you need to add or remove something from your plans.

Do have a look at all these houses in more detail to see their red threads and gather ideas. I’m off to put the last few cupboards in boxes before the old units are taken away for sale (more on that on Wednesday).



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. Thanks for answering my question om brown with brown furniture, Kate. I hadn’t really considered shapes and textures and you are totally right! That is what I need to consider more and not just the color. You have so much insights so I really love reading your blog!

  2. Does anyone know what those dining chairs in Perry are? They’re great – fairly similar to the classic Wegner wishbone chair but a little bit simpler and upholstered cushions rather than paper cord would be more practical and versatile.

    This also makes me think there could be a good bit of content around this (you’re welcome!): when is a design classic a classic for a reason (and so better to use it than an alternative that’s a close approximate) vs when is it so common that they become cliché and using something a little different would be more distinctive and original? If I had a pound for every time I’ve seen a Barcelona chair (or knock-off copy of) in a company reception area …

  3. Inspired as always. The Saarinen is a wonderful addition to the front room. I have a dead space of angular sofas and chairs that could do with shove to pop this beauty in along with the warm tones of glass accessories you refer to. Great inspo thanks.

  4. Can you ever go wrong with a classic herringbone floor! But I hope the mismatched dining chairs is a fad that will fade away. Cheers from Canada!

  5. The glass ornaments look like apples in the photo.
    I do like the tones and shades of real wood.

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