Good Mooooooorning and Happy Monday (or hello and happy whatever day it is when you are reading this. Here, as ever to start the week are my favourite rooms that I have found and want to share with you as you might find them as inspiring as I have.

kitchen design by Huntsmore
kitchen design by Huntsmore

Having just finished the redecoration of the shower room and found myself adding a surprising last minute paint colour, I was struck, when going back through my saved Instagram to find versions of it cropping up again and again. So today, in advance of showing you the finished room (next week) I thought I would show you these rooms.

I have always love the idea of a vintage, dark wooden non-fitted kitchen. My cupboards are painted dark chocolate brown which may be as close as I will get but explains why I fell hard for the Huntsmore design above.

pale blue walls by Robert Kime
pale blue walls by Robert Kime – the darker blue chairs emphasise the walls while the dark wood and red accents warm it up

And it’s no great revelation that dark wood is a big friend of a soft pale blue. Now, like grey, pale blue can be hard to get right. Remember that the warm light of a south-facing room will warm a cool blue while the cooler blue light of a north-facing room will make a cool colour cold. There is no substitute for tester pots. And don’t forget to look some of the greys. Parma Grey can look like a soft blue and I have just used Little Greene Aquamarine Mid in my shower room (which I will show you in next week) and while in some lights it’s a greeny blue it can also look blue-green in others.

designer Melanie Lissack shares five quick, easy and budget friendly renovations
designer Melanie Lissack shares five quick, easy and budget friendly renovations

Designer Melanie Lissack, who recently shared five quick, easy and budget-friendly renovation ideas on her brilliant blog, has used the same trick by adding a chair in a deeper shade of the wall colour to bring the scheme alive.

Now – blog news. Last week I left the house for work. The second time in a month and this time travelling on the tube for only the second time in a year. It was the day after my second vaccine and while I had no ill effects to speak of, I did feel tired.

design by studio hus using shades of blue on the panelling and woodwork
design by studio hus using different shades of blue on the panelling and woodwork

My stock response to stress is to take on more work. To shore up the encroaching feeling (and constant self-employment background buzz) of panic that the work will end and you will not have done enough of it. I have two very exciting, and big, projects on the go at the moment – one of which you will hear about in about six months and one next year) and of course I have set up Design Storey Shop as well. So, in order to be able to devote myself to all that is going on (let’s not forget the podcast and Instagram which has been the neglected middle child in all of this) and to reclaim my Sunday afternoons and feel that I am doing a good job, something has to give.

That something is a blog post a week. I have been hugely thankful for your support over the last year and I am particularly loving our Friday Film Club (keep that coming – perhaps we should all decamp to Hollywood soon and set up our own screenwriters’ guild) but in order to find interesting and relevant content for you on a regular basis I need more time to find it. A bit of time to sit and stare into space or to absorb what I am seeing in print and digital media and to let it swirl gently around the corridors of my brain for a moment.

In many ways this is a hard decision to make – the blog has more visitors than ever at the moment and I’m thrilled at its success. But this also feels like the right time to step back a little. The world is opening up again and having spent so much time at home reading about home I expect that some of you might have less time than in recent months.

pale blue walls via historika hem
pale blue walls and dark wood flooring via historiska hem

So, from now on I will be posting three times a week; Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Roughly. Any sponsored posts will remain on a Wednesday (and clearly marked as such) but if there is no sponsored post there will be an organic (as it were) post. So those three are set in stone. For the time being I will keep househunter on a Friday but the Monday and Wednesday posts will vary according to what feels relevant and interesting. As planning would have it there are sponsored posts for the rest of this month – but one is my shower room reveal so don’t feel hard done by – and this means I would otherwise have had to write five posts a week which is a lot. So it will be three for now with the bi-monthly Thursday podcast post In short, instead of four posts a week and sometimes five it will be three posts a week and sometimes four.

As ever, I try to keep my sponsored posts relevant to brands I love and/or have worked with for a long time and, of course I focus on trying to make content that is useful and relevant and not just a paid ad for you to skip past and that will not change. I consider very carefully who I partner with and turn down many, many approaches preferring to foster long term partnerships over a period of several months or even years.

The blog will be 10 years old next year and will have three books bearing its name – that’s a lot of content either for free or for less than £20 for you. And I will still be dropping into your inboxes three times a week at 7am.

So on that note I’m off to prepare Wednesday’s post and to go to two meetings about these upcoming projects. I will tell you more as soon as I can. I think you will like them… And in the meantime if there are any subjects, design dilemmas or queries you would like me to answer then drop them in the comments box below.

And here’s a sneak peak of the shower room for you, seeing as it’s a similar colour to today’s inspiration images.

shower room at walls in little greene aquamarine mid with window and radiator in arras. Bamboo Tiles by Otto Tiles and toiletries by Buly 1803
shower room at walls in little greene aquamarine mid with window and radiator in arras. Bamboo Tiles by Otto Tiles and toiletries by Buly 1803



Tags : dark accentsdark wooddark wood furnituremonday inspiration
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. A happy blogger is a good and inspiring blogger indeed. Please have a ball on behalf of all of us !

  2. Love your blog Kate, whenever you post and whatever the content, is fine by me.

  3. As a subscriber to DesignStorey, I follow to see what is new in design. The cost of shipping products, those which can be shipped, is often more than the retail price of the item. Instagram offers pretty views of rooms, but little content on the design of interiors. Mad About The House is the post which covers both elements of interiors with personality, attention to detail and humour. Wishing you well with new projects ahead.

  4. Your Blog is like meeting up with a friend for a chat (sometimes controversial), but now my friend Kate is rather busy and although I will see less of her she is still very precious!

  5. Completely understand and appreciate it. It is a lot of content, with multiple other big projects going on too.

    I have a design dilemma, which I’m sure must be something others have faced. I am about to buy a Victorian house that got a fairly bog standard dormer loft conversion about 20 years ago. All is structurally sound, and we will be broke for a while, so not planning any major alterations, but I just don’t know how to decorate this long narrow, boxy, featureless space! Especially in contrast to the rest of the house. It’s one long room with the dormer window on the south facing garden side and the slope and one small velux on the other end. By the window is going to need to be a WFH office, with a spare bedroom space up the other end (where there is also a tiny bathroom). How do I make it all feel less boxy, low, and dull?

    1. I had exactly the same dilemma with my loft. Couple of things I did which helped, I think. At the dormer end, where I work, I had a built in desk and shelves made to fit the space, then painted it all (including the walls) the same dark colour. Then the other two thirds of the room I painted in a pale colour including the ceilings. This breaks up the room and has prevented it looking like one long featureless space. And painting the ceiling in the same colour means you don’t really notice how low it is. A mistake I made was to buy a rectangular rug. It just accentuated the ‘bowling alley’ appearance. I replaced it with the biggest circular rug I could fit in the space, and this has helped to visually ‘widen’ the room. (I’m not using the room as a bedroom though; I have chairs under the sloping window, not a bed.)

      1. Thank you, this is brilliant! If you see this again would you mind sharing how you transitioned between the dark and light colours – were the shelves a kind of divider (something I am thinking of doing)?

        1. I had a couple of L-shaped ‘nib walls’ built which help to separate the two spaces, but I think it would have worked similarly without them. If you search for Sussex Lofts on Facebook there are a couple of photos on the Reviews page (hope that’s allowed!). All looks a bit more ‘lived-in’ now but you get the gist 🙂

  6. Excited for you on the big projects and cannot wait to see. 10 years- wow! Awesome accomplishment to have kept that up with such regularity. Happy to hear we will still receive 3 wonderful posts a week.

  7. Yours is the only blog I read, so a limited edition (as it were) will be even more special. Thanks for all your hard work & inspiration Kate.

  8. I agree with everyone else! Your posts are interesting and inspiring and it’s the quality that counts. Thank you

  9. Your shower room is looking very exciting! I have painted a thin frame of Arras round Inchyra Blue doors in an otherwise dingy and bland upstairs landing. It makes a huge difference.

  10. As a Jilly come-lately, who doesn’t “do” social-media, I started to read today’s blog with the sinking feeling that you were about commit to far-less wordwomanship per week. It is such a joy to read your prose: excitement and wonder at endless new discoveries, wittily tempered by reflections on the wider universe.

    I think you probably had made a bit of a Lockdown rod for your own back, so much better to leave us wanting more!

    Wishing every success, you and your loved-ones deserve xx

  11. I agree with everyone else – I love your blog but I really appreciate the pressures and would feel lucky to have one blog a week from you! It’s always amazing content and I am always so impressed by how many interesting, beautifully written posts you produce – for free. So good luck and I look forward to seeing your emerging projects! Thank you.

  12. I only discovered you when I started a refurb. a couple of years ago and you have been such good company. So down to earth and practical and your books are inspiring. I’m having a dilemma with a chocolate colour on tall cabinets in a east to west facing kitchen (not loads of light) any thoughts? I will miss your sunny disposition every day but look forward to the days I have it. Good luck with all you have earned.

  13. You don’t have to apologise to us about reducing your blog posts. You produce so many interesting posts for this blog so it’s only right that you take some time out for yourself and your other projects. Look forward to hearing about these other projects you have going on.
    Take care and all the best.

    1. Likewise agree with everyone else. Any days you decide to blog are an absolute treat and feel lucky no matter how many! So I applaud your decision. Absolutely need time to sit and stare into space – though it sounds like you’ve got more than enough happening as it is so that seems doubtful! (But I hope you find some anyway) And can’t wait to see your shower room too!

  14. Of course you must do what’s right for you Kate, personally I am just happy that you will still appear in my inbox. I will embrace those 3 days even more!

    1. Loved the photo of the kitchen design by Huntsmore especially as in my own fairly unstructured kitchen I had a dresser inbuilt out of iroko and it’s worked very well for years now – but the thing is too much brown iroko is too much and I had the iroko and other wood units on the opposite wall painted in ‘touch of soot’ Little Greene with an iroko worktop provided the warmth it needed –

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