The Househunter 15/1/16


I LOVE this house. With only one small exception. Actually two, but apart from that I think it’s amazing and can’t understand why the owners are selling it. Although it belongs to one of the founders of Darkroom, one of London’s most fabulous design shops, so it’s possible that the next house will be even more exciting…

Anyway, on with the tour. It’s on the market with The Modern House for £1,650,000 and is a three bedroom Victorian terrace with that fabulous black extension by Paul Archer. Ready for a stroll round? I’ve included lots of pictures this week because there was so much to see.


First up a couple of shots of the sitting room which include the two tiny details I would change – one; the blue cushions. Can’t do cobalt but it’s a personal thing. I would change to olive green. Second, colour-coded books. Shoot me but I hate that. I really do. Please don’t. If you have and you invite me round there is a real possibility that I will rearrange them while you have nipped off to the loo.


And actually, from this angle I can see that the blue does look amazing. Yes you have to be brave to do the floor and the walls but hopefully these images will inspire you. After all, you could just take elements of it – have a different coloured sofa for example. The walls full of artwork also lighten it as does the glass wall at the back, so you needn’t fear that painting your house black is going to turn it into the Batcave.


Worrabout this kitchen? I love the white tiles with black grout and the black tiles with white. Such a simple idea and so effective. It looks like a kitchen made from graph paper and is completely perfect for the strong graphic designs so beloved of the company.


The owners have used the same trick in the bathroom, although just pause for a moment to check out the stairs. See how instead of painting dark walls with classic white window frames, they have inverted that look to keep the walls light and the doors and windows dark. Nice innit?


The other key to this room is the wood. The reclaimed (probably original) unpainted floorboards soften the black and white and mean that this colour scheme fits perfectly into an old house. A black, or white, tiled floor would have felt too modern for this space.


Finally the bedroom and again they’ve changed – this time we have dark walls and white windows. Proof that you don’t have to do everything matching for it to work. Check also the important touches of wood to keep it from looking stark. Great house. I want it.

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 hate colour coded books, to me it says the owner is more about style than about actually reading.

  2. I have colour-coded my books already for 25 years now, I like the look of it in my home, plus it helps me find titles, as I remember what colour the book is and therefore where to look.

    I wish the world of interior design and fashion would be less filled with design-rules and critisism and more with stimulating people to find ways to express their personality and just sharing ideas. There are no rules when it comes to decorating your home, follow your gut-feeling and observe the way you and/or your family use the house. All ‘rules’ are nothing more than personal opinions and the fact that most of those ‘rules’ change every season says enough.

  3. I love everything about this place. I was with you and feeling doubtful about the cobalt cushions, but from that second angle I’m sold. Plus it always makes me happy when well designed houses include that striped ikea rug, I have it too and it’s always nice to have your choices validated!

  4. I am open minded to a fault but the book thing turns me into a design dictator! Colour coding or – horror of horrors, painting or covering all the books in matching paper – and don’t even get me started on turning them all the wrong way round so you can’t see the spines, which should be a criminal offense 😀 It’s so naff it hurts, I suggest you create a distraction while I rearrange them all because otherwise this is a seriously great house. I do agree with Monica re the kitchen though, it’s just too clinical, funny how the same scheme works so much better in the bathroom….

  5. I do love black in an interior, especially doors and windows with brass hardware. The original wood floorboards look fabulous with the color scheme but I can’t get my head around the black and white shiny tiles in the kitchen, just too-too for me, gives it a very sterile and cold look, would not keep me in the kitchen. Love the terrace windows of course.

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