The Househunter: Room by Room

So it’s a toss up this week between those who want an escape from all the Christmas madness and those who are too busy to think about, or want to see, anything else. I’m pretty sure that none of you are actually buying houses though so I thought I would just round up a few great properties  – or rooms therein – that we have looked at this year and you can wander round either today or in that dead bit between 25th and New Year when you’ve lost track of the days and there’s nothing on the tellybox.

georgian house for sale via The Modern House

Let’s see if we can create a sort of ideal home. So assuming a great hall, you come into this room at the front with the fabulous muted blue woodwork. I’m gunning for white woodwork this year (even though I have plenty of it) and my first question is going to be – do you actually want that white? Is that a decision you have made or was it because you thought you didn’t have to make a decision? Because you do.

dining room via the modern house

Right, into the kitchen and dining room. I had gone off concrete a little bit this year but actually if you warm it up with natural wood and other colours it still looks great. It’s an expensive finish to do well though so I don’t imagine that it’s for everyone. However, if you like the look you should investigate microcement which is just a very thin layer that comes in masses of colours. It’s particularly good for floors and walls in bathrooms as you don’t have grout lines from tiles so it will look cleaner and fresher for longer.

black kitchen via the modern house

Here’s another kitchen and I love this effect of painting round the openings so that it acts as a frame to the room beyond. It’s a clever idea and really effective. And backs up my earlier point about thinking carefully about whether white is actually the colour you want to use rather than the default.

via the modern house

Later this month I’m going to be doing a piece about the new trend predictions for 2019 and one of them, which is been raised by a couple of professional interior designers, is the return of so-called brown furniture. I won’t go into it here as it’s out on 28 December (subscribe if you don’t want to miss it) but it’s a point that’s perfectly illustrated here as the antique furniture and door really bring character and warmth to the this plain white space.

via the modern house

Another white room, but here the personality is added by the patterned sofa. I think we should have more patterned sofas as it’s more unexpected than having patterned curtains but can really make a statement if you keep the rest of the room quite plain. You can also take it down with plain cushions.

image via the modern house 

You know what I’m going to say about this one below don’t you? Yes the radiator. Imagine how much better it would look if it matched the wall. And while we’re at it – the windows. They make no sense in white in this dark room. But, if you don’t want them to be dark then pick another colour- pale pink or light grey. Something that looks like a decision. Full marks for storage though and the stripped pine door.

image via the modern house 

Now this radiator below is a statement – of the old school variety and, as such, doesn’t need painting. Although imagine how amazing it would look against this wallpaper if it were matched to the ochre of the walls. Or even the black iron bed. And I saw a gold radiator the other day which, in a plain, or industrial space looks amazing. Not, however, if your decor tends towards the Dubai shopping mall. Which I assume, as you’re reading this, it doesn’t.

image via the modern house

Now this bedroom below. Love the door painted in navy blue and, reflected in the mirror, the matching shutters. That’s exactly what I mean by thinking if you really want white. In this room the blue really packs a punch and goes with the headboard as well. But I’m going to make another suggestion. If you have a wall of mirrors in a bedroom it can be a little bit gym. Or, in my case, I just don’t need to see myself from all those angles every time I turn over in bed. So think about foxed, or antique, mirror instead. It gives a perfectly good reflection but slightly blurs the edges and looks a little more characterful and less modern. It’s not cheap but there are plenty of you tube videos about diy versions so I’m just throwing it in to the mix.

image via the modern house

Lastly bathrooms. I’m a big fan of a wooden clad wall in a bathroom. It’s warmer than tiles but it’s quite a rustic look and it won’t be for everyone. If you like pattern then you can do this cladding with wallpaper above.

green bathroom via knight frank
green bathroom via knight frank

This is the modern version of cladding – rising to the ceiling with bold black accessories everywhere. This is more industrial than rustic although it’s still warm because the wood has been kept in its natural colour. This is only for well ventilated bathrooms though.

image via johndwood

Or you can take the tile route. This is a good way to add pattern as well as to zone an area in a more open plan space. These star tiles from Ca Pietra where everywhere this year and I loved them. Sadly The Mad Husband was less keen so they won’t be making an appearance here any time soon.

freestanding bath and star tiles via savills
freestanding bath and star tiles via savills

Lastly to remind you of summer days. It’s the shortest day of the year today so here’s what you’ve got to look forward to.

via the modern house
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 have to admit my first thought as I scrolled down past the black kitchen was “what’s with all the cobwebs?”….
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours! You bring great joy to my mornings! (no pressure…. )

  2. Lots of lovely rooms here as usual. Is white paint on woodwork coming back, surely not! Any chance you could post links to the best youtube videos on antique mirror glass- would love to try it but have been told it takes forever and uses really smelly chemicals. Happy Christmas to you and yours and looking forward to your posts in 2019.

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