The Househunter: Room by Room

We’re heading over to west London this week to have a look at an apartment by one of my favourite designers, Suzy Hoodless, and while we’re there I thought we’d poke a virtual nose into a couple of the others which might inspire you in terms of colour and design for your own places.

This first one is a one bedroom apartment on the fourth floor of Television Centre and is on the market with The Modern House for £825,000. There is an open plan living, kitchen, dining room and a bedroom with walk-in shower. It’s accessed via a lift or a cantlievered staircase, which was the biggest in the world when it was installed in the 1960s.

The flat is wider at the front than the rear and has large windows that flood it with light and give a view of the famous gold Helios statue in the centre of the courtyard.

So, open plan and small-space living at the same time. Those of you who listen to the podcast (you still can by the way) will know that we discussed the latter in the most recent episode and we have also talked about zoning an open plan space.

Note above that the kitchen cupboards match the walls to stop the space feeling cluttered, while those cupboards also reach the ceiling to keep it all as smooth as possible. The lack of handles continues the clean and uncluttered feel.

The colour palette is very simple – it’s basically black and white, or grey and ivory, with lots of natural wood and that fabulous pink sofa with its green cushions – the colour of which is picked up in the plants as well. That simplicity all helps to create a feeling of calm in a small space.

The wishbone chairs allow light to pass through and the geometric rug echoes that design and adds to the sense of light and space.

The windows are original and you can see how Suzy has echoed that black frame in the rug and the chairs to tie it all together. That, if you read last Wednesday’s post on mixing old and is, is the Red Thread, which is key to getting the sought after cohesive look in any home, not just when you want to mix contemporary and modern furniture.

Leaving there and we would walk through the communal entrance hall which would be quite a nice space to stop for a breather before tackling four flights of stairs. And note the colour combination: soft pink/beige (we must find a better name for it) with dark orange and black walls to frame it all.

As promised, I said we would drop into a couple of the the other apartments for inspiration and this one is the Fran Hickman, one of nine in the “Architects’ Series”, which is a three bedroom penthouse. Now what about that stretch of burgundy all along the walls? This keeps the open plan space tied together but the dramatic colour contrast of the teal dining area helps zone the space and you can just see the corner of a blue sofa in the foreground. This is a curved sofa, which is something else Sophie and I mentioned to break up a long narrow space.

Just popping in here and you can see how the woodwork has been picked out in a warm ochre that ties with the bedhead. I show you this just as an idea for doing something other than the classic white. You could also have half painted the wall all the way round in the same colour as the bedhead. It’s all about ideas that break out from the classic white on everything look.

Now as I have recently painted my bathroom green it won’t surprise you to know that I love this bedroom. The patterned bedhead looks gorgeous against the dark walls and the toning cushions are great. The fabric lampshades also stand out against the dark wall in the way a plain bulb wouldn’t. I have used green and pink in my bedroom but green and gold is another fabulous combination.

Lastly, there is the Haptic apartment, a two bedroom apartment on the eighth floor (you’ll be needing that sit down in the lobby) with three roof terraces. It may only have two bedrooms but at over 1,400 sq ft it’s the size of my last three storey terrace townhouse which had four bedrooms so space won’t be an issue.

It also might not surprise you to know that architects are based in London and Oslo, which explains the monochrome palette although the wood has a warm pink tinge to it which works beautifully with the black.

If you had a similar arrangement and wanted two sets of pendant lights note how the ones over the island are plain bulbs, while over the table have black metallic shades that tone with the rest of the decor. This means they all work together and don’t distract from each other. Mind you that’s a lot of seating for a two bedroom apartment. The bar stools are great but I want to remove some of them, or the chairs at the table.

We have spoken before about using mirrors to bounce light around and make a space feel bigger but don’t forget that you can use more than one. This group of three looks wonderful and may work out cheaper than using one large one.

This also stops it looking too gymnasium. I have mentioned in other posts that a large modern mirror can look a bit like it’s waiting for the workout to begin and suggested foxed mirror as an alternative but that can be expensive, so think about using modern mirror but in smaller sizes and adding frames.

Finally, a black ceiling. Might not be the right colour for you but it’s not white. I might have used a soft green to go with the plant for example.

Right, that’s enough of that. I hope that has given you a feast of ideas to take you through the weekend. I’ll be back on Monday, one year older. Seriously starting to lose count now….


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. Hmm I love colour but I do wonder about those burgundy walls – they make the space feel much narrower and longer in my humble (and not remotely skilled!!) opinion. I’m sure it looks different in the flesh however!

  2. Elaine look on the web where there’s information about foxing a new mirror. It’s not difficult to do.

    Tanti auguri Kate!

  3. Kate Im looking everywhere for foxed mirror for my kitchen splash back . Only needs to be toughened if so many cms near heat source. I live in Scotland and cannot find any suppliers. Any suggestions? To have it transported from South England could be risky and very expensive . Am I correct in thinking you tried foxing mirror yourself once?

  4. Happy birthday! I will toast your good health after painting the dining room ceiling this weekend. Pink, not black.

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