The Househunter 19/6/15

modern thatch

There’s nothing like a bit of sunshine to make me feel all rural and bucolic. Until I realise that I forgot to buy more milk and it’s a five mile drive to the shop. I am, rightly or wrongly, a city girl at heart – a fact which I blame entirely on the aforementioned bad memory –  but I can still admire this property, despite, or because of, the fact that it’s entirely modern inside.


It’s on the market for £5.3m via Savills so we shall be doing little more than admiring this one. But I do love that seamless run of poured concrete flooring. One of my clients is hankering after a polished concrete floor but worries that she will go off it and it will just be a fad. It seems to me that that won’t happen. After all, concrete is just like tiles but without all the grout – which always goes horrid and mucky anyway. Now that you can choose the colour and the level of polishing it doesn’t have to be just for fans of the industrial look as it can look refined as well.

And let’s not forget all its thermo properties of being warm in winter, cool in summer and a great conductor of underfloor heating. Sadly, all that brilliance does come at a price. It may just be concrete but you have to pay to get that finish.

sitting room

Back to this house which also has an indoor pool and gym, it’s about two miles from Pangbourne, in Berkshire, so you’re also paying for commutability (is that a word?) and it’s on a 15 acre plot. And you also get some grazing highland cattle and some trout fishing. Suddenly you can see where the price tag came from. This is like being in Scotland but close to London. On balance, this is my kind of country retreat after all.

Because let’s face it, if I could afford to buy this I could probably afford to send someone out for the milk.

kitchen slate island

Next up is this gorgeous Italianate villa from Hamptons International which is on for £2.295m. It’s just outside Bath and has six bedrooms and four reception rooms.

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This is the kind of place I would like to be taking breakfast of a morning. Do go and have a look at the rest of it, they’ve done something slightly weird with the kitchen by building a kitchen inside a kitchen which just makes it all feel a bit small. Strange when there’s clearly no shortage of space.

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Apart from that I totally would have it if I could knock a few walls down here and there to open up the spaces. Nothing like a poke around a two million pound house to make you realise that your own home is actually the one you prefer.

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Finally this is also from Hamptons International  and it’s in Muswell Hill, north London, for £1,75m, which at this end of the post is starting to feel cheap. And it’s also my favourite. From the front it’s a classic suburban semi but come inside…

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The back has been removed to create a courtyard with doors that fold back to make this literally part of the house. It’s incredibly modern but there’s a wildflower roof. There is exposed brick and lots of glass but that sitting room really does look inviting doesn’t it?

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So often these really modern houses end up looking as if you couldn’t relax or sit comfortable for fear of ruining the nice clean lines. This does look like a home that can be lived in. Can’t think why they’re selling it. Although it has only four bedrooms, one of which is small, perhaps there is just a tad too much living space compared with the number of bedrooms.

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Still it’s food for thought this one. I’m sure there are a few ideas worth stealing from this one.

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Happy house browsing everyone.



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. From the outside the Muswell Hill house looks like any other semi detached. The garden is brilliant.

  2. The polished concrete floors look amazing and I love the wall of stone, the great thing about having a concrete floor is when you do get sick of it it’s the perfect foundation for tiles wood or carpet The polished concrete floors look amazing and I love the wall of stone, the great thing about having a concrete floor is when you do get sick of it it’s the perfect foundation for tiles wood or carpet. I love polished concrete and have decided to make a concrete worksurface for my kitchen, I’m slightly daunted but excited just to get some concrete in my house

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