I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted. It’s not just working in difficult circumstances over the last four months – and I say that in the knowledge that I have only had to work at home not school at home as the teenagers have been largely left to their own devices. I assume it’s the emotional battering we have all been through. Will I get it? Will I get it badly? Will someone I love get it? Am I racist? Am I actively anti-racist? Do I need unconscious bias training? What do I need to do? Have I still got a job? Will I still have one tomorrow? Will the teenagers be ok? And on it goes day after day. So today we are going to relax. We are going to sit down and read a book in a comfy chair or wallow in a bath of bubbles, which is odd as I never find baths relaxing but I find pictures of sumptuous bathrooms relaxing. Which might just sum up the lockdown conundrum. Desperate to leave the house but don’t make me go out. Let’s all just take a few moments to breath deeply before we reset those shoulders and get back at it.

image via sanderson
image via sanderson

So first up a window seat which, for me, is the most romantic relaxing thing I can think of. I mean I know the reality is that it’s probably a lot less comfortable than a chair but doesn’t this just look like a heavenly spot to while away a morning with a good book and a mug of strong milky coffee? The blinds are in Sanderson Lophura fabric and that table isn’t quite a Galvin Brothers perfectly imperfect stool but take a look at theirs which I like even more.

image via sanderson
image via sanderson

For those of you who prefer a chair, then sticking with Sanderson what about this corner? It’s light and fresh and the dark green woodwork and ceiling really brings the space together in the way that white just wouldn’t. And I remember my mother adding a coloured band to the edge and bottom of curtains in the 80s and thinking, for the last 30 odd years, that it was rather old fashioned but seen there, with the aforementioned painted woodwork, it brings another dramatic punch of colour to the room and draws your eye to the pink vase on the green shelf.

babington house
babington house

Now I’ve never been to Babington House, where this is one of the bathrooms but isn’t it pretty – even for a non-bather like me. It’s also quite a small space and they have chosen to install a small chair in the corner which is pretty much just for pretty rather than practical purposes. After all, if you’re lying there reading, as the bath tray implies, you don’t want someone sitting in the corner yammering at you do you?

Before we leave though, check the curtains. Like the Sanderson ones above there is a trim on the edge but this time in the form of a tassel along a plain curtain rather than the other way round. It’s just a small touch that makes a huge difference.

the burrows holiday rental in swansea australia
the burrows holiday rental in swansea, australia

Now I’ll admit geography got the better of me here as there has been lots of talk of staycations this summer and i saw this The Burrows, Swansea, and only later realised it was Swansea, Australia. But I know that there are a few of you who live there so this might be the perfect holiday inspiration for you and their bookings are now open. The rest of us will just have to dream about a eucalpytus tree in the bathroom although failing that, I might take a closer look at that lovely chalky blue on the wall.

And finally to this lovely bathroom belonging to @Pipshome, which like Babington House has a chair (perhaps a more practical cane) for draping towels and clothes, a rack made from a simple plank of wood – why didn’t I think of that when I was styling a bathroom shot for someone the other day, and some pictures on the wall. If you have good ventilation – and the light streaming in from the side of the chair would presuppose a window in this room – there is no reason why you can’t hang pictures the bathroom. I mean I wouldn’t put the family heirlooms but anything else should be fine.

freestanding bath via pipshome
freestanding bath via @pipshome

Right I’m off to relax for half an hour… actually I’m not I seem to have started doing the couch to 5k run and today will be my first continuous 20 minute run. The jury is out as to whether this will be the head-clearing zen moment that runners talk about or a wheezing huffing endurance test of hatefulness. Fingers crossed for the former eh?


Tags : Babington Housefreestanding bathlet's relaxmonday inspirationrelaxing interiorsrelaxing rooms
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. The last few months have been quite a trying time for all, I’m sure. As someone who lives alone, it has really taken a toll on me. The self-quarantine was hard. Being shut in for weeks without seeing another body was not fun!
    I am not a “bath” person and my quick showers did not do very much to help cope with the situation. So glad to be able to get out a little.
    I love the room with the window seats! What a great place to sit and read or just to relax!

  2. I don’t like baths either – you have to get out eventually, and either expire from overheating or freeze to death. But those bathrooms would definitely make it worthwhile. Especially the lovely one here in Australia. Mind you the bath water might be a tad frozen at this time of year.
    As ever your images and words and deeds are a salve for my state of slow burning anxiety. I count my blessings everyday that I love my shelter and it’s surrounds. If only I could hide in here and all the nastiness outside would go away.

  3. These are very stressful times. It is important to have a safe place to retreat to for times of reflection and recharging.

  4. This is a lovely post and reminds me of a wise thing my dad said – that this time is so tiring partly because so many of us no longer have access to the things we normally do to release the pressure of work and worries, so we don’t properly unwind.
    I love chairs in the bathrooms. We have a wheelback chair with cushions facing the bath and use it for draping clothes, balancing an iPad with an episode of something funny or – most often – having a bath while the cat hangs out in luxury X

  5. The layers of anxiety are so real and so draining but the colours of the Swansea bathroom speak to my soul – so serene, so beautiful. One day, one day….to relax in a place like that

  6. I love every single one of these rooms Kate but especially the first with its green lamp.Something lovely about green. ….and I’m off to do the couch to kettle challenge.

  7. Your words made my eyes well up. Thank you for your consistent inspiration.

  8. You are not alone dear Kate….any intelligent person would continue to be worried. We are all tired if truth be told, and want to be safely set free. I compliment you for choosing to run, but no fun from the sounds of it. Thank you for your uplifting blogs. A little piece of normality in our surreal world.
    Whether your bathroom has an olive tree or prickly teasels matters not, what matters is that you stop to consider yourself for part of each day!

  9. Do you know I love having a chat when I’m in the bath! So the chair in the Babington House bathroom looks wonderful. My husband is less impressed by my desire to chat though haha!! Definitely feeling run down again, the Corona-coaster strikes again, funny how we feel fine for a few weeks, and then down again, before rising out of the fog once more. We currently have builders in situ doing our loft conversion while we are trying to work from home below. Finally chose some paint colours last night, everything seems to have been harder without external inspiration (and clarity of mind) for some reason. Right, off to dream about a bath with a eucalyptus tree in the corner and the wind whispering through on a hot day. None of those things are achievable currently but it sounds lovely!! Thanks for the daily dose of imagery as always.

  10. I hit a bit of a wall this weekend so your words struck a chord. And I live in Australia so the house in Swansea Tasmania was most welcome. I’m not quite ready to get on a plane yet but when I am I certainly will be looking them up.

  11. Thank you! As I read your questions, my breath caught for a moment. Oh, yes! Those questions are with me, too! In the last few days, those questions have gone underground. Still there, but underground. I’ve been almost completely absorbed in moving out of our house (which we donated to Habitat for Humanity) to a rental; preparing for our house to be moved to another location (houses move in Maine… it’s a thing); and trying-trying-trying to finalize the design for a house we are going to build on the existing foundation. Reading your powerful questions here and seeing them coupled them with beautiful images of home and hearth, I’m reminded that we can consciously work with the essence of our questions and, at the same time, finding love in our hearts, we are always at home, and we are still called to create Beauty.

  12. Following from Germany , not that great an great english speaker… .
    BUT: Your daily posts kept my spirits lifted during the last months. You were like my constant highlight in the mornings back in those horrible weeks around April. In admiration of your staying power. And even more so now, that you mention these feelings which rose.
    Best wishes and a huge “Thank You” !!!

  13. Hello Kate

    You’ve captured it so well. I think a trip to Babington House is in order 😉 I like a bath as a treat as showers are quicker and use less water for the daily routine. I agree too that art or pictures in a bathroom are very relaxing especially if they have a personal meaning and are not just filling an empty wall. Bring on the zen moments for sure.

    Best wishes

  14. Your words this morning really resonate especially about the layers of anxiety. Our houses are places of refuge for some but for others not always during this crisis. I like the thought of finding a quiet space to gather thoughts. The bathrooms are beautiful.

  15. Your comments about layers of anxiety really resonate. Thank you for continuing to post and to offer inspiration. Your posts are always worth reading, with valuable nuggets to remember. I do hope you get a chance to relax and to be inspired and reinvigorated in turn.

    We have moved from an extended (originally 3-bedroomed) 1930s semi in Surrey to a larger period property in Shropshire. There’s a lot to renovate and most of our furniture is not quite right for the house, so I have found your blogs and books invaluable in stimulating my thoughts. However I am finding it SO difficult to find my colours for this house, let alone to decide on any thread. Think I probably need help!

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