Monday Inspiration: Beautiful Rooms

Monday again and we seem to be having a bit of a summer moment. And while I have been inclined to complain* (*mention in passing) that the kitchen is dark compared with the last one as it has no skylight, I have to say that at the back of the house with a stone floor and no direct sunlight coming in it’s turning into quite the refuge from the heat. But on the basis that we’re all melting everywhere else, here are four rooms that might inspire you for the week ahead. Some cool some warm but all equally lovely.

image via europa digest

Now this caught my eye for two reasons. The first is that it’s just lovely. The second is that the house in Italy has a room with windows just like this and we have been debating the colour scheme. Two of the windows have been replaced with uPVC and there is no budget to replace them. The rest are wood and not in a brilliant state but we think they can be repaired – at least for now.

I had been thinking about painting the window frames and reveals in green to frame the view. But the decorator felt that a) this might make the window seem smaller and reduce the view (not sure I agree with that) and b) that it might draw attention to the two windows which are plastic. I do possibly agree with that. But I’m not sure I care. So it’s a question. The Mad Husband (by the way) is leaning towards the decorator but then again he hasn’t seen this picture.

The other question – which is perhaps the main question for me – is not about reducing the view, there’s enough of it to go around, but will it draw attention to the fact that the windows don’t match? Now that is potentially something I mind. In the end I am leaning towards painting the wooden/plastic frame and leaving the stone reveals the same colour as the walls. What do you think?

This carpet, by the way, has been laid over a thin layer of concrete which, in turn, sits over a floor of lovely hexagonal terracotta tiles. Can’t be saved. “Sobs”. We are currently looking at the budget to see if we lay some reclaimed terracotta or paint a new thin layer of concrete and cover it with rugs. Yes I know which we’d all prefer but windows people windows.

The alternative, which is where I was when we visited last week (but now I’m swinging back to windows) is to leave the room painted pale/off-white and – forgetting about the floor for now – painting the ceiling in a soft green. This room is on the second floor and looks over a valley from the plastic windows so it’s green all year round. The other windows look over the garden where there is a large copper beech (deciduous) so in winter a green ceiling would keep the nature feeling.

Painting a ceiling is a great way to bring in colour if you don’t want to swathe the whole room as you can keep the walls light and bright. Be careful if you have a low ceiling and use a dark colour as that will bring the whole thing down which, if you have a high ceiling you can afford to do.

green ceiling via @wildinthewolds

The green wouldn’t be as olive as this but would be a match to the green doors found throughout the house (see previous posts on The House In Italy) and it might be lovely. Or, let’s be honest, it’s a big room – we could do both. Which, now I’ve written it down feels like the solution. Now to tell The Mad Husband…

These last two rooms use essentially the same colour palette in different ways. A warm terracotta on the walls with blue and white in either checks or stripes (make your choice) and the pale blue turns into rather a disrupter colour as it’s such a contrast to the rich pinky red. A more tonal blue would probably be navy or cobalt. Now I’m aware that might sound odd – what I mean is that if this terracotta were blue it would be tonally much stronger than the pale blue that has been used. That would be a more intense cosy winter feel where as the unexpected contrast of the pale blue brings a lighter more summery feel to the space.

il palazzo experimental a venezia via ad-italia

I was drawn to the room above, not just for the colours, but because the house in Italy has a similar cupboard (across a corner) in what will mostly be the 22yo’s room. He wanted the cupboard removed. The builders wanted an insane amount of money to do so plus it’s good storage. So it’s staying. I haven’t told him yet. And besides the room is big enough to take it. So I have plans to paint it. Now I was pretty sure he wouldn’t go for stripes on the outside (because he told me so when I asked) but I haven’t suggested the inside. So that is what we shall do. Here is a picture of the room as it is now. That minty green is going. The 22yp fancies a strong blue on the windows and I’m thinking maybe the ceiling. And now – the inside of that cupboard…

And finally, here the terracotta marries beautifully with that rich wallpaper and wooden cupboard and so the floor is an unexpected joy. It’s not what you would expect at all and it brings a modern witty touch to what might otherwise be a classic look. I’m not sure I would have thought of this but now that I’ve seen it I’m definitely going to be paying more attention to thinking of unexpected details. What do you think?

design by clarence and graves 

Right I must be off. Lots of things bubbling along in the background which I will be able to share with you in the autumn as well as wrangling Italian builders. I’m off to Lisbon on Wednesday to visit a cork tree farm so be sure to follow along on instagram to visit with me.

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. I agree with previous comments with regards to windows, paint them all the same colour and add astragal bars on pvc windows, perhaps the odd cafe curtain would also help blend in the plastic? Beautiful handmade lace or gorgeous linen will distract from the frames I think.
    I have no idea why, but the giant wardrobe in the corner of the 22yo’s room conjure up Mr Ben vibes to me…perhaps a magic mural of The Shopkeeper or something along those lines? If the hulk is staying, it needs to make a statement!

    Can’t wait to see/read your progress, you are such inspiration!

  2. Ooh thanks for the update! My tuppence:
    1. i love the green window frames idea and wonder about whether you actually paint the mismatched frame a different colour, either disrupter or a tonal so you nod to it being different. You could maybe treat it as special by putting your favourite painting nearby or a wonderful big plant that it draws your eye to? Or could you get a clever carpenfer to make some kind of internal wooden insert like a shutter?
    2. Re the floor, why don’t you just paint the concrete floor fake diamond tile ( as many are doing for wooden floors like your blue and white pic) and not put mor e concrete on it incase you find yourself with time eventually to chip it away carefully (labour of love)
    3. I am not keen on stripey cupboard, I would not want it to be the room focal point somehow as it could dwarf it.
    Look forward to the next instalment

  3. Call me conservative, but I would colour drench the whole room, walls, ceiling, mismatched windows and all. Then you wouldn’t notice the mismatch. Or more likely, only you would ever be aware of it. I have to admit, though, that I don’t like ceilings a different colour unless they’re really high. Otherwise, they always look to me as though they’re pressing down on you, a very claustrophobic effect.

  4. Do not forget you have a wonderful resource in Sophie who I believe painted her PVC frames black – can she help or advise on the plastic windows beingpainted?

  5. Problem floors? In Umbria architects were choosing to lay resin floors. May be worth researching Kate?

  6. Hi there. I’m solidly on Team Paint-the-Windows-Green. And if it was my house, I would attach fake mullions to the square plastic window — including a vertical one in the arched space — and paint it all to match the other windows. (Sophie Robinson’s uPVC technique, where needed.) It would blend in perfectly, and no one would be the wiser. Also, that hulking corner thing will never look good, no matter what you do with paint! Really messes with the proportions of the room. It looks easily demoed by an enthusiastic 22 y/o, and I’d look for a freestanding piece of furniture to provide storage, or do an IKEA hack with a PAX wardrobe. You’ll be glad you did, I promise!

    1. I agree! I’m 60 and I’m sure I could demo that in a few hours. Only problem is attatchment areas to the floor and plaster walls will need repairing. If the studs have been bolted through the tile the holes can be filled with coloured epoxy. Maybe they’re just glued on. You can poke around on the inside of the closet to see.

      1. I agree too! The cupboard (even with stripes internally) is a pig’s ear and, thus, will never be able to metamorphose into the proverbial silk purse! Unless there’s a structural purpose for the cupboard, get the 22yo to do some work!

        And I’m on Team Green plus the suggestion of adding fake bars to the pvc windows to minimise the visual disparity.

    2. I agree. That closet/cupboard/corner thing is humongous and needs to go. or eat least needs to be reconfigured. I see there is an additional depth inside it from the room wall (window wall) so I would maybe try to bring it in line with that wall and maybe square it? It doesn’t look like you would lose a lot of storage space but maybe it seems small from this perspective. That way that window wall is all symmetrical and the storage unit takes less space. anyway, I support removal but making it smaller and less oddly shaped could also work. Can’t wait to see what you do with it.
      p.s. support painting windows too, once painted they would look less different in my mind.

    3. If the corner wardrobe needs to stay it needs to go up to the ceiling. And then paint the entire room including ceiling in one color. That could work.
      If it can be squared so the doors are not on an angle then that is the best option. Still it needs to go up to the ceiling and same color on ceiling and walls. This could be done in a weekend if you know how to use a saw and screwdriver. Then have your painter to fill and paint.
      I would not do PAX in that space even though I love IKEA and PAX wardrobes almost everywhere!

  7. I think I would paint the windows and the ceiling green, I feel if you have to compromise it’s better to look like you owned it! Same goes for the cupboard, if it can’t be removed then turn it into a feature…
    I quite like the idea of adding details to the UPVC window too, but I imagine your builders won’t be so keen. Whatever you decide to do I am sure it will look spectacular, and once the room is furnished you won’t be so fixated on the windows and floors. I often wonder what it would be like to decorate with a bottomless budget but then where would be the challenge in that? 😀

  8. Great post. Thank you Kate! I have duly pinned the stunning image of the green ceiling for future inspiration. Best of luck with the Italian house – such great bones!

  9. Hello Kate, i’d paint the window frames and the ceiling in green in the first room, and see if the 22 year old could help remove the cupboard in his room. Perhaps the cupboard is sturdier than it looks, though, and can’t be removed easily. Stripes inside sound great.

  10. I scraped glue and cement off my original terracotta tiles and they came up fine. The cement was to my surprise easier than the glue but did leave a little residue in chipped parts. It was a lot of work with a long handled razor scraper, a builder would not have done it, so it’s possible they ‘can’t be saved’ because they won’t spend the time and you might not have the time either but if you really really want them you could test a patch. Maybe they have done this already but I know my builder said flat out you would have to rip up the whole floor and lay a new one.

  11. The built-in cupboards are a historical feature in ancient Italian houses. I have them in Milan too, in a 1920 building. I would be a pity to disrupt them.

  12. So much potential here. The shape of the windows are gorgeous. If replacing the mismatched one is not an option then why not fit astragal bars to the plain square window and then painting them both the same colour as you suggested. I think once painted it won’t stand out so much. I’m sure whatever you do will be great.

  13. I think you could have that corner cupboard out in a jiffy – the 22 yo could tackle it under supervision. It doesn’t look like an original feature from the photos. I think the room proportions would be better with it gone.

  14. Good morning Kate! Love the plans, and love the potential in the Italian house! I seem to recall Sophie and husband builder Tom sharing a primer on the podcast about using a zinsser primer to paint their PVC window, perhaps that may factor in? Also what are your thoughts about taking the 22yo bedroom cupboard up to the ceiling – would that make it look less blocky, or would the room feel more closed in? Asking for a friend…Enjoy the sunshine and keep the inspiration coming!

  15. Are there any other rooms that you could swap out a couple of wooden windows for the uvpc? I would do a distraction job of leaving all white and paint the ceiling if not able to match the windows. Im not sure that I could live with the mismatch.
    It’s going to be gorgeous tho

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