The Househunter: Room by Room

So last week we looked at a four bedroom house in the wing of a country manor and this week we’ve got the whole manor. It’s actually a four bedroom former rectory that’s two or three times as big as last week’s but that can bring its own issues I think.

This is on the market with The Modern House for £2,500,00 and it’s in Hampshire with views, on a clear day, right over to the Isle of Wight. So details first – it’s Victorian (pre-1900) and has been extensively renovated by the owners. There is the main building and a coach house and the two are connected by a glass walkway.

So downstairs in the main house there is a large kitchen with a sitting room at one end, a music room, a drawing room and a library. So far so first world problems – what are you going to do with all that space? Actually, as any parent of teenagers will know, this is probably a great house for that family as everyone can have their own sitting room for their own music/tv/screen/gaming/hellishly loud unpleasant noise as well as their own bedroom. And no-one needs to talk to anyone else. Ever. So far so teenage.

Failing that though, you have got to find a reason for these rooms to exist that mean they will be used all the time. An empty room creates negative energy and while most of us crave more space, probably, it’s also a good exercise to look at the space you have and see that you are using it properly.

The room above is a good example. It’s the master bedroom, with the ensuite behind it and there is also a separate dressing room. It’s vast and takes up the whole of the ground floor. But do you need that much space? Sure it’s lovely if you have it, and I’ve always maintained that up until the 20th century the clergy got all the best houses, but if you don’t have it then it’s always worth thinking carefully and logically about how you use the space you do have.

Bedrooms don’t have to be on the first floor. Parents don’t have to have the biggest room – after all they are in their bedrooms much less than children and don’t have large piles of plastic toys to store. Would an en suite bathroom or dressing room significantly enhance the quality of your life? (Answer: probably) In which case is there a room that isn’t being used much that could work as either of those?

The luxury of a music room is beyond most of us, but it’s often a good idea to think about how we use the rooms we have. Recently I was discussing with a client, whose main issue – she cheerfully admitted – is that she’s got one too many children for the number of bedrooms she has. Further discussion revealed that there was, in fact, a bedroom for each child and one for the parents, but that ending the sharing arrangement of the two youngest would mean giving up her dressing room to which she had become rather attached over the years.

So we set to work with a tape measure and some string and established that the room, currently shared by her younger sons, had enough space to create a small dressing room/walk in wardrobe and still house a double bed with space for a chaise longue in the bay window. It’s tight but it works. It’s also next to the main bathroom and there’s the option of knocking through into there creating fabulous master suite and giving the kids free use of the shower room in the loft.

So while you’re admiring this house, or thinking thank god I don’t have to worry about which room to put the piano in, you can also take a moment to ponder your own arrangements. Someone tagged me in an instagram story the other day (sadly it disappeared before I managed to save it) saying that he had read my book following a recent downsizing and rather than having a spare room that would only occasionally be used had installed a sofa bed and a table that could do the work of a desk and a dressing table so that the room can be used twice as much.

And when you’ve done that you can admire this gorgeous house with its panelling and high ceilings and fantasise about what you would do with all these rooms if you didn’t know how to play the piano.

Tags : four bedroom former rectoryHampshirethe househunterThe Modern HouseVictorian renovation
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 would love one extra room. It would be a library with a partner’s desk in the middle of the room and a comfortable chair with a footrest by a window.
    All of that just for me. My husband can have the living room to himself. He likes to fall asleep in front of the tv!

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