My House

Room Makeover: The Gold Ceiling Office

5th March 2019
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This is the tale of how a sad and neglected  spare room/junk room got its mojo back by acquiring a  gold ceiling and becoming my new office. Read on to find out what we did and for a quick room tour as well.

gold ceiling by mylands paint image by madaboutthehouse.com

When we moved in this room was given to the 18yo (that birthday happened at the weekend) who was nine at the time. He was very clear about the decor he required: there was to be a black carpet, a lime green wall and shelves for his books. The other three walls were to remain white. It remained this way for seven years. It also had some luminous zombie stickers for added frightfulness. Two years ago he painted over the lime green and was going to paint the fireplace green instead but lethargy got the better of him.

Then, last year, he decided he wanted to move into the, larger, room next door, which was the former spare room. We asked the 15yo if he wanted to move out his tiny room into this bigger space. The answer (that boy hates change) was an emphatic No. So we heaved the old grey sofa bed in here and gradually the room filled with junk.

vintage writing desk from ebay by madaboutthehouse.com

No-one really wanted to stay in it and the grey sofa, black carpet and white walls, in a north-facing room was too gloomy for words. To the ever-increasing piles of junk, was added the rarely-used ironing board, the laundry racks, and the stuff the 18yo didn’t want in the cupboards next door.

Something had to be done. We were wasting a whole room that we were lucky enough to designate as spare and it was mainly because we couldn’t be bothered to sort through all the rubbish. We needed a plan.

fireplace in rothschild st, walls in threadneedle, ceiling in FTT-002 all by Mylands

I was keen for panelling but The Mad Husband was insistent he wanted proper panelling and not MDF panels. The builder came round and quoted an exorbitant amount to fit said, extravagantly priced, panels. We went to Plan B – you guessed it – my favourite anaglypta. This one is Oriental Dado panels and we bought a dado rail (from Homebase) to be be fitted above.

So far so good. But the colours. For once I felt paralysed. I wasn’t sure we could replace the black carpet. Or the grey sofa bed. And, since the door is usually open, it needed to tone with the burgundy spotty stair carpet, which I bought from Alternative Flooring when we first moved in and still love as much today as I did back then.

fireplace in rothschild st, walls in threadneedle, ceiling in FTT-002 all by Mylands

So we had decided on burgundy. But the whole room? Half the room? The ceiling? The weeks rolled by and the decisions weren’t made. We wondered about our old favourite Down Pipe to tie in with the sofabed but I couldn’t bring myself to go back to it after having used it so much in previous years.

Eventually I hit on the idea of using the leftover Mylands Threadneedle paint from the bedroom on the top half of the walls and burgundy for the panelling. We had a plan. And then I started eyeing the ceiling. For a month I veered between burnt orange and ochre. The Mad Husband was on board – basically because he never goes in there.

french connection safari chair and mylands paint by madaboutthhouse.com

Then Mylands rang. They wanted to give me some paint for the bathroom, which I was painting green to match the green wall in the bedroom. That was very kind, I said, but I have to match the greens and that was from Dowsing & Reynolds (I bought it for the bedroom and they sent me some more for the bathroom).

So I started chatting about the spare room. Orange or yellow? Well, came the tentative reply…. “We have a metallic gold…” I was so excited I nearly dropped the phone. But first to get it past The Mad Husband.

Now many of you ask about how to get your partner on board with decorating schemes. Marianne Shillingford, creative director of Dulux, recommends steak and red wine. I usually suggest a lot of talking and some compromise. But, to be blunt, I wasn’t prepared to compromise on this one. So I unloaded the dishwasher. And reloaded it. And did the laundry. And a few other generally helpful things like emptying bins.

By this stage he was eyeing me suspiciously. “I need you to sit down,” I said eventually. “Because there is something I want very, very much and I can’t allow you to say no.” (See how it works this compromise lark?).

“IwanttopainthespareroomceilinggoldandIwantitveryverymuchandyounevergointheresoyoucan’tsaynodon’tsaynoIwantitveryverymuch.” I said.

“OK,” he said.

enid cat on barefoot hatha carpet by alternative flooring

So I rang Mylands and asked them to sent the paint on the wings of unicorns so he wouldn’t have time to change his mind.

Of course then I looked up and realised the ceiling was covered in woodchip. Now as I mentioned before in my post on paint; a gloss will show up every lump and bump while a matt will flatten it all out. Pulling down that woodchip would very likely have brought the ceiling with it and that was not in the budget. Instead we bought some very heavy duty lining paper. It’s not perfect but it’s pretty good apart from a slightly freckly patch by the window.

This, and the painting, was done while I was away in Milan for the Salone press conference and then in Glasgow for some filming (more of which tomorrow). I texted from the airport as I was about to board a plane. “How does it look?”.

“Like a 1970s Indian restaurant,” came the swift reply.


And you know what? I knew he was right. This room isn’t big enough for all that colour. So I flew back and spent the weekend painting over the burgundy with more of the pale pink. And the result is what you see before you. And Alternative Flooring, with whom I have worked many times since I paid for that first stair runner, sent me this gorgeous carpet from their barefoot Hatha range, which is in natural undyed wool (Japa) and is perfect as it allows the gold ceiling to shine in all its glory.

The sofa bed was gifted to a good home and I bought a vintage Georgian writing desk on eBay. Welcome to my new office, or how the spare room got its mojo back.

enid cat on barefoot hatha carpet by alternative flooring

It feels wonderful, not only to have a room of my own, as the saying goes, but to feel that every room in the house is being used and visited every day. Not least by Enid Cat, who has thoroughly inspected every corner from the top of the chest of drawers to behind the chair.

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  • lorraine lovell 26th March 2019 at 10:49 am

    Hi Kate

    I’m loving your gold ceiling, can you remember the name of the paint colour?

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 26th March 2019 at 3:29 pm

      Yes of course it’s Mylands FTT-002 – it’s pale gold from their film, theatre and television range.

  • Denise 22nd March 2019 at 5:28 pm

    I’m particularly struck by the iron in the corner on the floor by the tall floor lamp.

    Keepin’ It real, gurl, keepin’ it real.

  • Lucy 6th March 2019 at 2:00 pm

    I have never considered painting any of our ceilings gold, but now I really want to paint the office ceiling! LOVE IT!

  • Anna 5th March 2019 at 5:53 pm

    Ha separate offices…so of course you had the gold ceiling, which is a triumph because you dropped the ceiling line down the wall, clever!

    That chair will do your back in so if you are broke by now, look at IKEA swivel chairs to tied you over.

  • Ginny 5th March 2019 at 4:22 pm

    Inspired by the gold ceiling! Any thoughts on putting anaglypta on a ceiling in lieu of lining paper and painting it with the gold paint?

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 5th March 2019 at 4:46 pm

      yes it could look amazing. We had woodchip which didn’t but that would work really well I think.

  • Caroline R 5th March 2019 at 4:21 pm

    Can you please advise on where the print above the fireplace is from?

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 5th March 2019 at 4:47 pm

      It’s a Damien Hirst poster from about ten years ago called El Muerte De Dios. I think you can probably still find them.

  • Susan Shaw 5th March 2019 at 2:35 pm

    Beautiful! Can you share the burgundy color on the fireplace?

  • TorixBear 5th March 2019 at 2:14 pm

    Looks wonderful, really inviting considering it’s a north facing room. And from the photos, the textured paper that you say you put lining paper over, rather than remove, gives the gold depth. I think it enhances the richness of it, where the light catches and misses. Saved to my Pinterest inspiration board for when we buy in London

  • Sue Roscoe Watts 5th March 2019 at 1:05 pm

    Hurrah Enid /the cat is alive and well with her interior inspection skills still intack

  • Elayne 5th March 2019 at 12:48 pm

    My question is as Héléne’s above? What has happened to your glorious office attic? Haxit been appropriated by another member of the family or do you have other plans for it? I would have been very reluctant to give that one up, gold ceiling or not 😉

  • Elayne 5th March 2019 at 12:08 pm

    My question has been asked by Hélène above, what about the office upstairs. That is a glorious space I’d have been reluctant to leave, gold ceiling or not!

  • Taste of France 5th March 2019 at 9:31 am

    I love it. It’s neutral but not. The opposite of boring.
    You have given me inspiration for a small room that now has a burgundy ceiling (and walls….the idea was to distract from the bon-bon pink tiles, but it was far too dark).

  • Harriet 5th March 2019 at 9:17 am

    Oh that gold ceiling is just genius, Kate. Wonderful – and the balance with the other colours perfect. I had a similar room (much smaller) that became a complete dumping ground because it had started out life as a CD library with a big desk in it and gradually became filled with spare clothes, the dyson, etc etc. The cat loved it but I didn’t. So the other week I just moved the desk out and found it a new home on Freegle, and borrowed furniture from around the house – a little low-slung Victorian nursing chair, a set of ercol pebble tables and a standard lamp – and, for no money, effectively had a new room. So I feel your joy! PS And the cat has now taken up residence on the chair!

  • BlasR 5th March 2019 at 8:48 am

    SO pleased Enid approves. V clever corner shelving. And what a great ceiling.

  • Liz Hare 5th March 2019 at 8:10 am

    Fell in love with the gold ceiling as soon as I saw it and am inspired to paint my own boring office. Do you know if the paint was easy to work with? Good coverage? I would be painting over plain white

  • Jenny Moss 5th March 2019 at 7:50 am

    I love that gold ceiling. The line about the Indian restaurant made me laugh because as I was reading I was thinking, burgundy AND gold? Really?!

  • Hélène 5th March 2019 at 7:00 am

    This room looks stunning, Kate! But what about your loft study? Is that now your spare room? It looked like such a nice place to work.
    I am longing for a study of my own with a desk in the middle of the room. My two oldest are now both at uni but my husband is adamant I can’t make them share a room when they come home and that they are going to need a home base for several years still. I know he is right but I can’t help looking longingly at the oldest’s room in the loft which would make a lovely study.

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 5th March 2019 at 2:57 pm

      The loft room is still there and still intact but The Mad Husband works there now and he likes to work to music and I don’t so that’s been tricky. Also there is a sofa bed up there for afternoon naps and guests! So that room is still very much in use.

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