The Househunter: Room by Room

Right I’m moving to East Sussex this week. That’s it. I’m not even entirely sure where I’m going but I fancy this tranquil location by the banks of the river in Rye, by the Romney Marshes. This black timber clad house is on the market with The Modern House for £1,845,000 (it’s Fantasy Friday folks remember) and it has a number of outbuildings, lots of parking, this view and a huge garden.

Actually I probably just fancy it for a couple of months and then the city will draw me back, but come and have a look and see what you think. Downstairs there is a large kitchen (massive actually) with a huge sitting room dining room behind it – looking out over the river. There is a separate TV room and bedroom also on the ground floor.

Upstairs there are four more bedrooms, one en suite, and two bathrooms. I think I would be tempted to turn the downstairs bedroom into an office as it also has amazing views over the river. The other thing is that there are three outbuildings – one earns as a holiday rental, while one of the others earns for location shoots while the third is currently an office but is plumbed for accommodation. What could be more perfect? A house that can earn its own living.

Inside the feel is modern rustic with lots of wood and natural colours. Spot not only the mint tiles but also the concrete worktop and open shelving – all part of the current trend towards making kitchen look more like rooms in which you prepare food rather than fully fitted out with cupboards and appliances.

Above is a good example of zoning. This is a large L-shaped open plan space  looking to the snug and dining area below. But the fireplace is in the middle, in the narrowest part of the room that could easily become a passage between the two ends of the room. So the owners have used paint to zone the area creating a point of difference between the wooden cladding at both ends. The chair is also positioned with its back to part of the room creating a break and preventing it looking like a passage and, if you look at the floor plan, you can access both ends from the kitchen behind so there is no need to go crashing through the middle when people are sitting by the fire. Although I bet the teenagers do.

Upstairs the rustic wooden cladding gives way to cooler, more peaceful colours with wooden furniture bringing up the red thread from below.

While we’re looking at a room like this, because I think lots of you will have similar sloping ceilings to work with, there are no rules. White, or a pale neutral is the easiest because you can do walls and ceilings and don’t have to worry about where one ends and the other begins. But if you want to use a stronger colour then just pick which bits you fancy painting. For example you could do the end by the desk in green to reflect the view outside. Do the wardrobe to match  and then change to something else either behind the wardrobe or just where it ends to create a different feeling for the sleeping area. Or paint the sloping ceiling in one colour and take it down to the floor and maybe up to the beam. As I say, there are no rules, just find a colour palette and get the brush out.

You could do similar here – to really make that green view stand out. That’s why painting a window frame dark works so well as it draws attention to the view beyond. Doesn’t have to be black – any colour you like – think of it as a picture frame, it’s just that your picture is a living and changing thing.

And then, the reason I am moving. This. I have always wanted to put this over the terrace at the back of the house but The Mad Husband says it will make the kitchen dark. I know he’s not wrong but I still love it. We have a decked area at the bottom of the garden. I have persuaded him that we should do this down there.

So what do you think? Anyone fighting me for the fantasy £2m cost of this house in East Sussex? Now before you go I wanted to draw your attention to the charity link below. Those who have bought the book will know that I make a donation to CentrePoint, the charity that supports youth homelessness, every month and that earlier this year I donated a fee for a piece I wrote for The Mail on Sunday to the same place (I also persuaded them to match my fee with their own donation to increase the amount). Now Rise & Fall, a company making bedding, who I have written about before, are giving all their December profits to CentrePoint. So if you are buying new sheets for guests, or just for the house you have, then do please consider choosing them. And talking of presents they are now offering a monogramming service on their pillowcases which is a nice touch if you are thinking of giving presents that are bedroom related (see yesterday’s gift guide for ideas to go with it.

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. Oh my goodness, those wide plank floors are so beautiful! In fact I had to go through the pix about 3 times because I couldn’t stop drooling over the floors long enough to see the rest of the decor. LOL! I don’t personally care for the open shelving in the kitchen — it’s very on-trend these days but I find it visually cluttery & a pain to keep tidy & clean. They did a good job with that bottleneck between the kitchen & the snug, though! I think it works really well, although I don’t like the dark paint & don’t understand why people use dead animal parts as decor. Yes, I’m a HUGE hypocrite — I eat meat & wear leather & even like leather furniture, but hides on the floor or heads on the walls make my skin crawl. But it’s certainly an interesting house & I found looking at the pictures instructive as I so obviously prefer the upstairs where everything is white & bright to the darker lower levels, which is the complete opposite of what I would have thought I’d prefer! I always enjoy having my preconceived notions turned on their heads.

  2. Gosh but I think, apart from that terrace and the bedroom with the balcony, minus that huge TV please, that it’s hideous. Those green tiles in the kitchen remind me of public loos when I was a child. And I know shelves are sooo fashionable but I hate dusting! Know everyone else will think it’s fab, so am prepared to take the flak!

  3. I have been drooling over that house on The Modern House website for a while now too! Good info re charities, thank you.

  4. Wow, I love that terrace! I have the same dark kitchen situation but can’t stop pinning them. And well done for raising money for centre point – my twelve year old has become really concerned about numbers of homeless people he is seeing. He wants to give money to everybody he sees so I’ve tasked him with choosing charities to donate to this Christmas. I’ll add this to his list of charities to check out.

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