The Househunter: Penthouse with great views

This week we are off to Bristol, to a rather fabulous apartment with 180 degree views across the harbour, three bedrooms above and parking all situated under an Ogee dome (yes I looked it up as well it’s sort of S-shape – see below). I’m sold already…

It’s on the market with Knight Frank for £850,000 and you’re going to need to come in because there are some clever ideas to see. Also I suspect, in much the same way as when I posted a tiny flat in Bath, many of you knew the street, many of you might have walked past this dome and wondered what it was like inside.

kitchen island with ladder

I’m giving you the link to the floorplan but take note that it will download as a pdf rather than open up in a new window and such is my current pandemic brain I pressed the button five times before realising). Right so as you can see there is a large octagonal living space for the kitchen, dining and living and there are five of these large arch windows round the room. The kitchen is at the back so you can stand at the island stirring your soup and gazing out at the view.

Two of the bedrooms, and a small bathroom are behind the kitchen while the third, with a large en suite bathroom are on the floor above.

feature wall via knight frank

Now then, although this room is mostly about the windows let’s look at the clever furniture. An octagonal, or even round room for those who have looked at Oast houses, can definitely present a challenge when it comes to furniture. Here the owners, rather than faffing around with bespoke curved cupboards (which I have seen) have taken the back third to create a straight kitchen with an island in front.

And yes to the ladder for watering the plants. Now this is a compact kitchen – four units across – very similar to mine – but when it’s located in an open room it won’t feel pinched and, crucially, you won’t be walking for miles between fridge and cooker. I know someone who knocked down walls to make a massive kitchen and filled it with an island that was about eight cupboards long and then discovered that all she did was walk up and down all day. She’s probably loving now there’s a lockdown and she can’t get out to exercise but it’s a extreme way to get the most out of a layout.

built in cupboard behind custom made sofa via knight frank

But the really clever thing is the sofa. Firstly, we are conditioned to put the furniture round the edges of a room which, in a room this shape, creates its own problems and in this case would also mean turning your back on these windows and that view. So the furniture had to go in the middle of the room and this is where they have been really clever.

The sofa, clad in wood to match the island, has been built in front of a set of storage cupboards. How genius is that? With a shelf along the back to rest a glass of something chilled and sparkling (or coffee) or you could put coffee table books and even plants to create a sort of screen from the rest of the space.

this height for the television via knight frank

I think that’s so clever. And it looks comfortable too. I don’t know if any of you watched Your Home Made Perfect last year but the architect was constantly creating bench sofas with storage underneath that did not look comfortable. This, on the other hand, does. And if I lived in a loft (that was last week’s fantasy Friday) or even had a large open plan space (as opposed to a narrow Victorian one) I would be showing the carpenter this as an idea. What do you think?

navy blue wall, skirting and radiator via knight frank

Moving upstairs to the bathroom and before we go in I just wanted to bang the banning of the white paint drum. You can see here that the walls, door, skirting boards and radiator have all been painted in the same colour. This highlights the room beyond – and especially that window – and draws the eye in. The floor is also toning between the two so again draws the eye into the room. And you can disagree with me but white woodwork and a white radiator WOULD NOT LOOK AS GOOD. I don’t make these rules but I do feel they need enforcing….

bathroom with a view via knight frank

Right in you come. The shower has been tucked tidily behind the door giving the bath all that space in front of the window. And no I can’t see any curtains either and yes I can see there are houses over there. Looks good though doesn’t it, even if the bath would be a glamorous clothes rail in my case. You could fit a blind – right up at the top over the window in the same colour as the wall so it would sort of disappear during the day. Or you could dance about naked in front of the window and not care about the neighbours – they are quite a long way away which, I suspect, was the calculation.

hallway views via knight frank

And, to finish, the view back the other way. I’ll admit to being intrigued by this – the hall is clearly half dark and half light and the doors have been painted in two colours. These are the two doors into the bedroom and this is taken from the front door. It’s quite a long narrow corridor and this would have the effect of making it feel like it was widening out to take you into the living area – especially when the doors are open as they are here. I think the calculation has been carefully made as to how much door you see when they are open and that has been matched to the white beyond to give the impression of a wider hall. Another good trick to adopt if you also have a narrow hall with a room at the end.

I told you this was a clever house. Anyone fancy it? And can we all come round for tea if you do?




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 like some elements but not sure about the wood floor and more wood on back of sofa and kitchen island – makes me think of entering a reception area of a doctors or public library. Perhaps a bespoke carpet or tile floor design could have worked with the unusual floor shape ?

  2. I loved the sectional sofa with built-in storage. Interestingly, quite some years ago, a designer in the US marketed sectional seating that also had bookcases in the furniture grouping that would fit around the sectional (you bought them separately). The design got a lot of press but I suppose it didn’t sell that well because it disappeared and there was no duplication of this idea by other manufacturers.

    I often suspect the dilemma of how to light a room makes people pause in moving furniture away from walls. It is quite common in the US for the living room to have no overhead lighting, leaving you to rely on floor lamps, table lamps and sconces. Some of the 1920’s buildings did have outlets in the floor and this is the solution to successfully float furniture. However. I think most people are loathe to add this to their to-do list (possibly expensive – I haven’t investigated this).

  3. Love your blog, Kate, it helps keep me sane! I really admire these high ceilings (and the views look lovely). Although I don’t feel that the ceiling lights in the dining/living/kitchen space are doing much for it. Perhaps the thinking is not to draw the eye away from the view. For me the bathroom would definitely need a window covering!

  4. All gorgeous windows from which to see the best view of Bristol from any opening. The dropped open bank holding the plants above the kitchen is a clever thought. I like this. The plants will thrive with all of that natural light and the ladder is just the right height and size.
    The sofa surround is really an innovative idea. I love the uncluttered concept but would prefer either a different material for the kitchen island or for the storage cupboards. There is wood on the floors and furniture, plus with the wood island just behind the wood storage cupboards, it seems a bit heavy., even though the room is spacious enough. Otherwise, a truly unique space to come home to .

  5. I wouldn’t bother with a blind on the bathroom window – it would spoil the aesthetics. An attractive folding screen maybe? The bathroom looks big enough to keep one in the corner on standby.

    I would however be hoping the bespoke sofa/cupboard arrangement was included in the price!

  6. I could never bathe in that room without a window covering. I don’t care how far away the neighbours are.

  7. ‘dance about naked in front of the window and not care about the neighbours’ has me smiling. Very well thought out decoration of the main living area – verdict still out on the half/half doors. I have just discovered your blog and it is brilliant!

  8. The two colour doors are ingenious – certainly opens up the hallway, but wonder how they look when closed?

  9. The thing with the bi coloured doors is genius, I fear if I tried it it would just look weird but here I love it. Have you ever seen it used anywhere else or is it that rare thing, an original idea?

  10. I do like elements of it but just see the view of the bath with rounded window above, as a giant toilet! Close up, the window looks like the seat’s been left up too with the design!

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