The Househunter

We’re going to the country this week because, well because look at that view. I’m not terribly good at the country myself; after years of living in London and 24 hour access to shops I am now literally incapable of going to a shop and buying bread and milk at the same time.

My short term memory is shot ( I should play the tray game to get back into shape) which means that I invariably forget at least one of the things I am supposed to be buying. Like the time my mother came for supper and I started to cook the chicken stew (having been to the shops to buy everything) and realised, after I had started sauteing the onions, that I had completely forgotten to buy the actual chicken.

savills balla wray house

So the thought of living somewhere where the shops actually shut is mildly terrifying to me. Not to mention the recent New Year in Cornwall where there is no phone signal if you are on O2 thing.

I asked in the shop where I might find a signal and was told – and I quote (I’m a trained journalist I can do that): “Orange is better round here but if you walk along the coast road to the second bench you should be all right. If you get to the third bench you’ve gone too far.”

savills grey kitchen

Now I wouldn’t have necessarily minded the lack of signal except that I hadn’t warned Mother that I would be hors de contact for three days. And given that we had driven down there in Hurricane Frank, I wasn’t exactly gagging for a walk along the coast road to find the signal.

I caught up with her eventually. “Happy New Year,”  I said. “We’re in Port Isaac, terrible phone signal, sorry.”

dark grey sitting room white sofa

There was a sniff and a pause. Then: “Well, Doc Martin never seems to have a problem.”

So, me and the country. I love to visit and I love to look at it but I’m not sure I’m ready for a permanent relationship. Mind you when I look at this house in Cumbria on the edge of that lake, I could be tempted. Well not for six million quid but you get the gist.

charcoal grey bathroom

This lovely historic pile is on the market with Savills but never mind the actual money, let’s just go in and have a poke about shall we?

This house really is done in shades of grey isn’t it and it looks great. It has four reception rooms, four en suite bedrooms and a master suite, a cellar and wine room, a boat house and jetty and a three bedroom cottage. All with those magnificent views over Lake Windermere.

savills dark grey sitting room leather chairs

Or, if that doesn’t float your boat. What about this? Also on with Savills, it’s a converted barn in Chippenham, Wiltshire. Now I have to admit, I’m not usually a fan of the converted barn. It’s rare that the spaces work (for me at least) and sometimes they’re just too rustic and country.

huge entrance hall

But this is all wide open spaces and vaulted ceilings and I could definitely make an exception for this one. There are five bedrooms, three bathrooms and a large workshop and outbuilding. It’s on for £1,395,000.

white kitcen vaulted ceiling

What do you think? Are we all moving to the country? Will someone remind me to start making really detailed shopping lists?

exposed brick vaulted ceiling green sofa

What do you think? Are you town or country?

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. It’s a no brainer! Country is best and North Cheshire particularly lovely!!


  2. I am not taken by either of the houses – so won’t be putting in an offer. The country for a weekend – great but full time living no thanks. I like the idea of our house in North London and a city pad in Florence – another city but different culture. Keep dreaming.

  3. Chippenham for me I think (the freezer takes care of my short term memory). What a gorgeous mix of traditional/contemporary in the kitchen

  4. I live in Devon in a village but it’s only 15 minutes from a city. Best of both worlds, I have lived on Dartmoor which was at first idyllic but then very isolating, it wouldn’t be something I could do again. I’m so with you on barn conversions! I haven’t ever been able to warm to them as homes, no matter how spectacular.

  5. If I can’t walk to buy the papers and a pint of milk, I feel trapped. I am town all the way but that kitchen is gorgeous!

  6. I’m probably more a townie but I’ve got my foot in both camps as I change my mind a lot! Thinking I’ll be ready to jump the country ship to town completely soon as I too like a bit more convenience these days, plus I need the buzz to keep me awake! 🙂

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