The Househunter: A former Stables in the City

There’s something so romantic about this former stables which has been converted into a two bedroom house and which looks like it belongs deep in the French countryside. But it’s actually in Canning Cross in the Camberwell conservation area.

Once a working stables, the building, which is set down a cobbled street, is now a two bedroom house with a courtyard garden. It is on the market with The Modern House for £825,000 and is a three minute walk from Denmark Hill overground station which gets you to Victoria in nine minutes and Kings Cross in 30.

It has three bedrooms with a downstairs bathroom and while I adore it I suspect the romance might wear off if you weren’t living alone or with only one other person. But as a sort of writer’s retreat I can hardly think of anything better. It’s like a Richard Curtis film set isn’t it? One can imagine Cameron Diaz popping up at any minute.

Downstairs is basically one room with the kitchen at one end but the quirky shape and half walls have done most of the zoning for you and while it’s one room there is a table for four and plenty of seating. So it doesn’t feel too cramped.

The panelled walls give it a cosy country air while the mint green is a fabulous, and perfectly unexpected,  touch. I suspect I wouldn’t have been brave enough and would have defaulted to a chalky white but it does look great and makes the perfect backdrop for the gallery wall. Or should that be charming works of art painted by Cameron of which she sells one every blue moon but is still able to live in this city dwelling with no apparent means of financial support.

And you can see below how the green stops by the mezzanine which serves to zone this area below and create a different feel – almost as if it were a separate room. There really is no rule that says you have to paint a whole wall from top and bottom and side to side if it doesn’t suit you to do so. Paint is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to create the illusion of different rooms even if there aren’t any.

Talking of bedrooms you will see from the floorplan that the second one has been divided into two but I imagine building regs mean they can’t market it as three bedrooms as you can only reach one from the other. Time to start thinking about fabulous dressing rooms and home offices. Or should that be writing rooms?

Upstairs you can see no space has been wasted with a laundry drying Sheila hanging over the void below (cue hilarious scenes when Cam’s knickers drop off into Hugh Grant’s cocktail – he is there as a favour to his sister, the art critic, and is about to reveal this hot new talent to the world). And don’t forget the internal window for the inevitable Romeo and Juliet bit  at the end- probably done from one end of the landing to the other while the stunned art gallery guests look on from below and burst into spontaneous applause at the moment undying love is declared.

The two bedrooms, by the way, are in the former haylofts which were at either end of the stable. Cue more groaning jokes about rollling in the hay from Hugh. I think we can all see from this that wherever my writing career takes me it isn’t going to be to Hollywood. Or even Notting Hill come to that.

Here you can see the main bedrooms with its skylight overhead and window to the side. I shall take the other so I can get up and write when the mood strikes. What do you think?

I am rather keen on it but that may be the effects of a year in the urban sprawl and while this is still in the urban sprawl it doesn’t look look it so you could probably still get a taxi home after dinner or a pizza delivery.

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. Love the house and your film, knickers falling from pulley into cocktail was particularly inspired!

  2. Then there’s the cameo from Cameron’s older sister played by Julia Roberts. She gets stuck in one of the rooms because of the door latch (oh, those charming and quirky little ol’ English houses, eh!), and because she’s stuck she can’t go out on a date with one of the gorgeous men who run the artisanal bakery round the corner. But it’s just as well really, because it turns out that despite all his pretending to care for the environment and knitting his own kefir from Peruvian angels’ tears, he’s involved in some very dodgy dealings. Exactly what we’re never told, but possibly cronyism. But not before a last minute scenic dash round London to a retro soundtrack and some floppy-haired swearing from Hugh. Final shot: Cammie looks up at the aforementioned Sheila maid to see his n’ hers underwear drying there. She smiles, and snuggles down cosily into the sofa with a cup of tea and a thoroughly decent chap who happens to live next door – he was under her nose all the time and she just didn’t see him! I know, right?

  3. If I were a billionaire I would buy this house for you. Just to read the writing this house inspires you to write.

  4. It’s an impractical delight…perfect holiday let. But how hateful the neighbours are to leave their wheelie bins all in a row to ruin the dream upon arrival!

  5. Now you’ve done it. I have to leave my family and move across the pond because I must live in this adorable house! Reality be damned.

  6. Well, now I know which movie I will be renting tonight! I think you should narrate a story or film for every Friday househunter blog post…that was delightful! I just wish that one of my occasionally sold paintings would buy me this house.

  7. Gorgeous place! In another life I would buy it for sure. I think you’ve missed your calling Kate!

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