The Househunter: A Striking Four Bedroom Victorian House

Something about this house immediately caught my eye and I can’t decide if it was the shape or the colour or perhaps the garden. Whatever the case it deserved a closer look. I think it’s partly that it’s end of terrace and the dramatic blue grey colour of the brickwork makes it appear detached and emphasises the dramatic pitch of the roof.

It’s on the market with The Modern House for £995,000 and one of the key selling points is the garden, which has been designed to change with the seasons and attract a wide variety of wildlife throughout the year. It’s located in Barnett and the work was done by the architects Storp Weber. Coming in?

This was the second image that caught my eye. The blue grey of the outside brickwork has been brought inside to highlight that beautiful bay window and then taken over to that enormous wall light. That, by the way, is the Lampe De Marseille by Le Corbusier and while it normally seems to retail for around £800 I found it here for £472 (true at the time of posting). It was such a huge discount I got every excited and threw it in my basket until The Mad Husband reminded me it’s still nearly £500 for a light. But what a light. I mean we could do without a chair if we had that light surely?

Coming out into the kitchen and you notice immediately the yellow staircase – the colour of which has been picked up in the chairs by the bay window in the room above. I have those Lego flowers too – a lockdown treat that brings me joy every day. And this is one of the key points of this house – decorate in colours that bring you joy – that may be acid yellow (it’s not for me) or it may be a delicate shade of mud found only in a north western corner of Seattle (more me) but whatever it is the stairs are the first you see when you come in from out so it’s vital that they give your heart a lift when you see them. Try painting the inside of the front door to match so it’s the first thing you see when you come downstairs too.

Zipping about a bit in this house but upstairs you can see how the yellow is a decorative feature in its own right when the door is open – never underestimate the power of a door to be decoration – especially if you have flat featureless doors that can look like coloured panels. When the door is closed however the yellow remains in the form of the artwork and, neat this, the back of the chair. Again, when you have furniture that sits with its back to the room – office chairs for example – it’s worth considering their back view. The boring black bit that you sit on is mostly obscured as it faces the desk (or your bottom) but that zinging back brings another considered element to the room. The green chair stops it all sliding into coordinated matchiness.

More yellow in this room – a slightly more ochre version here and, paired with the grey, brings a proper mid-century vibe to the space. I adore the way the colours of the striped painting have been repeated in stripes around the room. You can come badly unstuck when matching painting to decor but this works rather well.

In this bedroom the yellow is less but the chair takes us back to the painting with its yellow background. And this is how you create a red thread. Clearly yellow is one of the threads that binds this decor together but this is a really good example of how it is used throughout but in different ways. To recap: we start with the stairs, we had the chairs in the sitting room, the walls and doors upstairs take us to a soft bedspread and a painting over a fireplace. So there is lots of yellows but it is used in different shapes, forms and materials throughout the house. That means it’s never boring and it provides the linking thread rather than a sea of matching yellow walls that makes every room look the same.

There was also a grey and yellow bathroom but I’ll let you discover that for yourselves as we are coming back down into the sitting room where, from this angle, we can see the green throw which also links to other rooms. And remember plants count as green.

Now to look at the downstairs more carefully as there is another element that is repeated throughout this house. Can you see the arch that leads into the dining area? It’s an interesting way of adding a feature to what was perhaps a long dark area at the back of the house. It’s slightly echoed in the round table that sits in front and even brings your eye back to the tap at the front although that wasn’t perhaps at the foremost of their minds when decorating. However…

Pull back to the sitting room and you see there is another arch leading from there into the kitchen. Now, I don’t know this at all but I wonder – you see that cutout that acts as a shelf on the side? That whole white part looks like a panel that has been attached to the wall. It’s hard to tell if if it’s a design feature or was deliberate but, it occurs to me, if you wanted to bring in more curves, or to change the shape of your doorways withouth needing structural engineers to calculate new lintels and so on you could do it this way. Add a panel. Paint it any colour you like and just make sure there’s a bit extra – like that cut-out shelf to give it a purpose and not make it look like you were trying to hide anything.

This might seem like a strange idea but writing as someone who has inherited a random gothic arch into the kitchen making it impossible to fix a door without some fairly serious building work – and the lack of door means the smoke alarm in the hall goes off every time you make toast – I’m looking at this idea with interest.

One final arch for you here and this is another clever one. The door hasn’t change shape but the glazing recreates the shape from downstairs and provides another visual link to the rest of the house. It’s details like this – along with handles and switches as I mentioned earlier in the week – that make all the difference to how well designed your house looks. Fabulous furniture is great and lasts well and looks good but don’t underestimate the power of the building to really nail a design.

So, anyone moving to north London this week?

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. Is it just me or maybe it’s my screen? The photoshop efforts are off putting. The arched door is way too wide for that little narrow doorway and would never close, the office chair seat is way too deep for even a giant to be able to lean back into it. I get that some distortion has to occur with camera lenses in order to fit in everything possible to one shot, but surely aesthetics need to be considered. I read this as a tiny cramped house devoid of anything which would show how small the living spaces actually are. I may be wrong but whoever photoshopped the pics needs to go back to editing school and unlearn the Dali effects demonstrated here

  2. A lot of things I liked. The external blue grey colour, the clever matching of curves and the colour pops. However I felt it ‘tried too hard’, no inherent slouchyness. But I think that is down to the sales shots. It seems like the Inigo Homes, The Modern House, Historicka Hem all have a sameness in photo styling, particular to each agency.

  3. This decor is too austere for me. There are some versions of modern decor that do not appear to support human life and I think this is one of them. Where are you supposed to put your coffee cup when sitting on the living room sofa? The whole house feels so chilly.

    I can only think that the owners have taken the declutter mantra too rigorously before putting their house on the market. Alternatively they are pursuing the Marie Kondo method on steroids.

  4. I love that lamp! The decor has been cleverly put together, but for me the house lacks warmth and comfort. It’s a sea of grey, with lots of uncomfortable looking chairs and sofa and hard floors without rugs. Even with the woodburner alight, I think I would feel cold! I am currently sitting on a comfy chair on front of a woodburner, feet on a rug and enjoying my dark red red thread. Not tempted to move to North London!

  5. Buy the lamp Kate!! As a clinically diagnosed lighting hoarder, I am certain you cannot go wrong with something like that. It can make its way around your house for years and you will always love it. If I didn’t already have um, a few light fixtures in a few places in the house, I would buy it myself and sell a chair to do it!

  6. Buy the lamp Kate!! As a clinically diagnosed lighting hoarder, I and certain you cannot go wrong with something like that. It can make its way around your house for years and you will always love it. If I didn’t already have um, a few light fixtures in a few places in the house, I would buy it myself and sell a chair to do it!

  7. A different colour palette would warm up this house. It wants some heat as I feel the need to put on a sweater.
    The feeling I have is that this is a pop in, pop out residence. Not a lot of time spent here. This is not to say that every Victorian terrace should be decorated in the same way. A modern, minimalist decor in a Victorian building can sit very well. One that will also enhance the architectural details inside and out. Perhaps the new owner will do this.

  8. I’m with Joanna but up here we would say oh dearie dearie dearie me…dreich and drab…is external paint colour called rain forecast by any chance ? I would have ditched the expensive light and buy a warm throw , cushions and a rug

  9. Wow – even though the design of this house isn’t at all to my personal taste, I can still appreciate how clever it is. A Victorian terrace can seem dark and cramped but the cohesive style in every room makes the house feel light and spacious. And it looks modern whilst keeping its character.

    Agree with the comment about lack of comfort though – maybe the current owners are super energetic and never slob out in front of the telly.

  10. You know your advice to check measurements when buying off the internet Kate? You’ve forgotten it again. The apparent massive reduction for the lamp is because you are looking at the price for the mini lamp, the full size lamp is reduced as well but to £695.

    Love the interior of this house, but I wonder if the grey harling is covering external wall insulation?

  11. oh. dear. the best thing ? the yellow stairs and the lego flowers. Continuing the theme of lego, this house, in my opinion, has something of the kindergarten building blocks feel. No elegance. No comfort. Hard flooring not softened by rugs. I saw one. what is going on with the mantlepiece ? What are those things on it ? are they staying there ? The lights are obtrusive and would be great in an open plan minimalist home in California, perhaps. Hate the visible wire hanging down. The sofa in the sitting room looks fine for camping but doesn’t look comfortable with the nosy lamp hanging over it, reminding me of a street lamp. The chairs in the bay are hard plastic, so no respite for comfort if one moves from the flat sofa. Blocky and brutal. I do love the garden however, and if I lived here, I think I’d find more comfort in the long grass outside than the interior. Sorry to be so damming. I know I have scored an open goal to be corrected. lots of people will love this house. Each to their own, but I would not wish to own this home.

    1. The chairs in the bay look like they are upholstered chairs, we’ve got similar Eames chairs and they are comfortable. But I don’t like ‘squishy big sofas’ because they are always too big for me so I sit perched on the edge neither able to touch the floor or the back like a little child whereas MCM furniture is neat and perfectly sized for me.

  12. Love this house. The enormous wall light got me too. Don’t know what I would do with it, but I wanted it immediately. Lucky we have people who put on the brakes. Ditch the yellow and you’ve got a sale. Cheers from Canada!

  13. Oh and 1 other thing, a four bedroom house with a kitchen sink and hob that small? I can’t seriously believe someone has done a decent Sunday roast for 5+ people without buying it all in and having it delivered.

  14. Yep, the owners definitely like yellow looking at the whole set of photos. Not sure about the external colour of the house though, the image of the front makes it look a bit dreary and spooky like the ‘weird house at the end of a street that you hurry past on a dark night’, might look better on a sunny day? Or what about adding some colour to the arched brickwork around the windows, the gable end trim or even the front door just to break it up? But generally I like it, just not London for me thanks.

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