We’re off to Leeds this week to a Grade II listed 17th century hall which has been divided into three homes of which the end wing, with four bedrooms, is for sale. It’s on the market with Manning Stainton for £399,950 and is five miles from the city centre.

It’s spread over four floors with the kitchen and living room on the ground floor – one either side of the entrance hall. Below that, on the lower ground, is a large utility and tv reception room, while the next two floors have one large bedroom and bathroom (not en suite) and the top has three more bedrooms – two of which are less than 9ft wide – and a shower room.

In short, it’s a big house (over 2200 sq ft) with lots of rooms but if you needed four bedrooms to be occupied all the time you might find a couple of them a bit tight for teenagers. I mean it would be fine – I always had a tiny bedroom and my 16yo has a tiny bedroom –  but it’s one of those houses where you might think – I’d rather have bigger bedrooms and only one reception room with a small utility than all that living space and less sleeping space.

On the other hand, some of you will dream of a laundry room that measures 12ft by 10ft -and no you can’t turn it into a bedroom as there are no windows.

You might also be swayed by the decor. This kitchen, with its parquet floor is lovely and spacious – it’s also square which is unusual for UK houses which tend to be long and thin. You probably could get a bigger table in there too.

I love the bold colours that have been used in this development. That olive green (try the new Sap Green by Farrow& Ball) is gorgeous with the creamy, or chalky white, ceiling, while the gold sofa and mirror warm it all up and bring a level of sophistication to the room.

On the basis that you probably shouldn’t buy a house for the decor as you are bound to change it, we’ll ignore the rug island and lack of a coffee table but take the inspiration. If I were in the market for repainting my chocolate brown sitting room then green is probably the direction I would go in. I had always assumed I would heading towards a forest green but this olive is lovely in a period property. Anyone used it?

Upstairs to the perfect neutral bedroom of my dreams. With panelling and beams like that there is no need for colour on the walls, although I will say that those pretty pendant lights need moving. One is doing an excellent job of lighting a bit of carpet and the other is pointing like a dagger to the heart of the sleepers below. The bad Feng Shui must be off the scale.

Yesterday someone asked about beside lighting and here’s an example. Swap the ceiling rose over the bed to a two way outlet and then bring two cables out from it to a cup hook on the ceiling either side of the bed. Wrap the cable round them and let the lights hang down either side of the bed in place of bedside lights – of which there aren’t any in this bedroom. This will not only make your pendant lights more useful, it will also save space on a bedside table.

Before we leave this room – and yes have a look at the other end of it – if you do this you will need an electrician but if you keep the switch by the door you can turn the lights on as soon as you come in and then if you install two more switches either side of the bed each person can turn their own light on and off without getting up.

A final point – white walls and dark brown (or antique) furniture is always a fabulous combination. Most of the antique furniture I have is pine rather than walnut or mahogany which gives a more country feel whereas this is more elegant.

And what about this for a bathroom? It’s rare to have large bathrooms in the UK again as they tend to be squeezed into small rooms and rather forgotten about which is, perhaps, what sparked the craze and desire for a so-called “hotel bathroom”. This was probably a bedroom and the owners decided they would rather have a small bedroom upstairs and a fabulous bathroom down here and I’m with that.

In fact, if you buy this and decide you only need three bedrooms you could knock the two small ones together and have two kids up there with a shared bathroom and take this floor for yourself. Or, if you are buying as a couple, you could each have a wonderful home office on the floor above with a spare room for guests.

I think this one is turning out to be rather a good buy. But let’s not leave before we’ve stuck our noses round the corner of this fabulously wallpapered room. And I’m going to say that it’s almost there. I love this bold choice of pink and gold (and let’s assume it’s on all four walls as we can’t see them) but I would say if you have been bold enough to choose this paper then don’t fall back at the last minute with white skirtings and ceilings. Paint the woodwork pink to match the paper, to really frame it and make it stand out and then, if a gold ceiling is too much – and I get that I really do – then think about painting it a soft barely there pink to lessen the contrast between the two. Green would work as well mind you.

So who’s moving to Leeds this week? If the 18yo had chosen Leeds as his university I might have been sorely tempted. Forget what I said earlier, it’s perfect for a couple with teenage kids who are away studying and just come home at weekends or holidays….  What do you think?


Tags : 17th century propertyfour bedroomsGrade II* listedLeeds propertyManning Staintonparquet floorProperty for salethe househunter
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 love these old houses, although here in Canada 2200 sqft would be considered an average-sized bungalow (but, alas, without the glorious history, paneling, ceiling height & quirky historical touches!). My mother used to paint all her ceilings the palest of pinks — so pale you’d never know it was pink unless you knew it was pink. Her theory was that it made everyone’s complexion glow. She also abhorred green in any shade but the palest of celery (& that only in very small areas), but especially olive. Again, her theory was that olive green does no one’s complexion any favours — she said it made everyone look bilious & sallow. True or not, I know I can’t wear olive green without look as though I’ve been ill for a week, so would never want it on the walls in any room I spent time in. It feels very army camouflage to me, I have to admit. That pink & gold wallpaper IS delicious, isn’t it! And I love your idea of a dramatic pink or gold ceiling to go with it. Fuchsia is one of my all-time favourites, especially when paired with melon or lime or celery green. I’ve always thought I’d do very well in India with all their bright, energetic colours.

  2. Loved this post Kate. I actually had been eyeing up the F&B Sap Green n this has helped me to make up my mind!! Love that bathroom … oh for the space!

  3. Just painted my first gold ceiling. Striking by Crown if anyone is interested. Love it. My son will have a surprise when he returns from travelling!! Thanks for inspo Kate. About to paint our dining hall green, yet again. Maybe I’ll try a darker green than usual. I was going for a grey green as well.

  4. Hi Kate, Love your blog and your podcast!! I’m planning on painting my bathroom olive green. In particular, I’m going to use F&B Bancha. You can see a test of it on my instagram, @lilahm117.

  5. I like this house!

    I painted a small, but really light guest room in olive green (late Victorian brick terrace house) with white painted stripped floorboards, black iron bed, lots of artwork and lovely textiles. Loved it!

  6. I LOVE that olive green colour! Fabulous, always been partial to green but never tried olive before. Might be putting that on my list for our new house though!

  7. I have green walls in one of the bedrooms- it’s a bit softer than olive. I chose it to go with some antique patterned French silk curtains I’d had for ages. I have the same colour skirting but black doors. Generally speaking I take an item that I like and plan my decorating scheme around it. My unifying colour ( on closer analysis) is black. Every room has a bit of it. Amongst other things, the upstairs doors are all painted black and downstairs they are mostly crittal framed black. I still have white ( not brilliant white) ceilings as nothing is over 2.4 m .

  8. Beautiful,I love panelling and the features of an old house as I lived in one as a child.

  9. I like that pink-gold wallpaper too, the colour combination is up my street and I like your suggestions of painting the ceiling green, it would be a very bold and brave choice. The house is beautiful, love the decor.

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