The Househunter: Room by Room

Happy Friday. Fancy a coming for a quick tour of this rather lovely four bedroom terrace house in north London which is so typical of the Victorian terraces in this city and is on the market for £800,000 via Brickworks. It has such a clear, and lovely, red thread that I thought it would be the perfect place to visit and to understand how to create your own thread  – for anyone who isn’t sure.

Anyone who lives in a house like this will be familiar with the concept of building out into the side return to create a wider kitchen. What I love here is how the kitchen cabinet colour has been used on the door frame as well so while the two spaces have some separation with the half wall, they are still joined together. This soft blue grey colour, which turns up again and again throughout this property, is a perfect foil for the wooden floorboards and farmhouse table too.

Now we see the same table and get a glimpse to the back of the room – the snug? I imagine everyone will have their own name for it but what I wanted you to look at was the dark colour. This is clearly the darkest part of the house. The rooflight over the table will help that to a degree but the owners have made the decision to embrace its darkness and paint it a strong colour which is also part of the red thread. But note how the woodwork here, links to the paler wall colour in the dining part.

I’ve said it before but for new readers: white paint needs natural light to reflect off itself and create a lighter space. Using white paint in a small, dark room usually just results in a small dark room painted white. You have two choices: either pick a pale colour that isn’t white and paint the walls, woodwork and ceiling in it to blur the edges and make it feel more spacious than it is or embrace the dark and go for something bold as they have done here.

Moving through to the sitting room at the front of the house and the same colour is found again. It’s impossible to say what it is as every computer and camera will render it differently but if you like it then have a look at Farrow & Ball’s Theresa’s Green, Pale Powder or Borrowed Light. A word about the latter – in a south-facing room it can be a breathtakingly beautiful colour. In a north one – it can be very blue and cold. Test it first.

Before we leave this room take a moment to look at how the bookshelves are painted the same shade as the walls which allows the books to be the focal point. Another idea would be to paint them, and the woodwork, in a darker shade of the same. And I might have painted the cupboard under the telly to match the walls too to make that disappear.

Upstairs now and the warm terracotta accent shades from downstairs have been replaced with yellow. But the walls are still the same colour (or a version thereof). As with the chartreuse cupboard from Monday’s post I probably wouldn’t have thought to use this colour here. But now that I see it I love it. A timely reminder to always try something new and never close your mind to colour combinations and pattern mixes.

The bathroom is the same shade, but there’s a deep yellow stool under the window to warm the grey tiles and stop the room being cold. There’s always a lot of white in bathrooms and wood – natural or painted – can warm them up a little. Particularly if you are choosing a blue for that room. The owners have opted for grey tiles but as we’ve established already; this blue goes with lots of colours and you could change the look by swapping them for a richer blue (like downstairs) or a contrasting terracotta shade like the reclaimed tiles from Sophie’s kitchen yesterday.

Back to yellow accents with this loft bedroom and here the blue has been phased out to grey but it’s a similar tone. So you can see how the colour palette, while different in each room, has given the house a cohesive scheme throughout and note also that this is another house with skirting boards that aren’t white…. I will win you round people I will win you round. And Erica, I’m talking to your mum here…

What do you think of this one or these colours? Join in the debate below. And before I go – yes Robert. I think he’s a brilliantly clever architect and his ideas are impressive (there have only been three episodes) but I’m not sure he’s designing so much for the brief as to show us his brilliance. I’m convinced by that ,just not by sleep pods. For those who don’t follow we’re talking about yesterday’s podcast review of Your Home Made Perfect.

Enjoy the long weekend, those who have one. I’ll be back on Monday with some more beautiful rooms for you to look at.

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. Does anyone happen to know the colour (or similar colour) that is used on the kitchen cabinets? It’s that blue/ grey colour and I’m keen to try painting our cabinets at some point. Thank you!

  2. The house looks like it was all done on a budget by people, (possibly a young couple) who were paying such a high mortgage they decided to do their best with just paint. That as we can see, made good sense. But a great pity that they did not improve the sitting room fire place. Money spent there would have added to the value of the house.

  3. I’m pretty sure Robert was the architect used in an episode of 100K house (or some such title), the episode where they converted an old shop. Whoever the architect was (and he was definitely a Robert lookee-likee if it wasn’t Robert) came up with an original idea to make the downstairs sitting room the full height of the house – it looked amazing and didn’t waste space for lots of reasons I can’t actually remember. I mention this because the owners of the house had some specific problems that Robert answered in an imaginative and useful way…. and the owners were delighted with the finished result (and my husband and I were mightily impressed). So I suspect Robert CAN listen rather than just design to show off. And, no, we’re not related to Robert. Just sayin’….

  4. I really like the colours they’ve used, and I really liked the fact that the skirts and doors etc weren’t white.
    I think it looks great, especially in the loft room.

    I think I would have been quite nervous to do this in the past as you think you *should* paint it all white if you don’t keep it natural wood. But this has made me look at that differently!
    Think I’ll use this post to convince my partner of the same for our next project 😂

  5. I really like these colours too and have used a lot of muted blues and greens in my own home including pale powder and Theresa’s Green. I’m not sure my house has a ‘red thread’ if you look at it as a whole. The only possible red thread is the presence of houseplants everywhere. I’m not sure if that counts…

  6. Interesting. I think the blue is too cool. I am fascinated by the hallway and why they chose what looks like a pale cream carpet for the stairs! Maybe they just never got round to replacing the stair carpet as it doesn’t seem to go with the rest of their style. The front door is bright yellow which is fun although I’d have to paint it immediately.

  7. I really liked the colours and as I’m thinking of moving to a very similar looking property I will be trying some of the ideas.

  8. I think the colours used look very cold. I know and understand the “red thread” theory, but this is taking it too far. It needs some warmer colours for accent and also some black grounding points. My favourite room is the kitchen, the colour works well with the wood floors and table.

  9. I love the colours in this house and was also interested to see the different coloured door frame in the kitchen. We are having a single-room extension built above our bungalow with two large French windows to take advantage of sea views. I’ve always wanted grey frames but the rest of the house will have white ones, apart from one new door and two windows. At some stage in the next 5-10 years we’ll replace them. Can’t decide what to do!!

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