The Househunter: The Thinnest House in England (probably)

I have always thought of my house as a narrow London terrace although at 17ft wide it feels significantly wider than my previous London terrace which was 15ft wide. Both of these those are spacious compared with today’s property which comes in at just 5ft 6ins wide. Which means I could barely lie across it. For reference at standard bed is 6ft long. Wanna see how they’ve done it?

It was, apparently a hat store once, a fact which the vendor has referenced with the display in the frosted window next to the front door, which gives onto the hall by the way so it’s not a room that one lives in so close to the street. The agent, Winkworth, which is selling the two bedroom house for £950,000 (it’s in Shepherd’s Bush) is quite excited: “Unique is an oft over-used word, especially by estate agents,” reads the breathless pitch. “Perhaps this over use is why it feels so completely inadequate when it comes to describing this genuinely individual property which, despite its surface oddness is actually very easy to live with…. counter-intuitively this is a space that works in much the way a luxury yacht does.

“There are almost too many features to mention but here are a few as a taster – Aga powered, Nest controlled central heating system, period parquet flooring, original deco bath tub, roof terrace and double full height glass doors leading from the glazed dining area.

“If you like traditional properties that tick all the boxes then the chances are this is not for you. If, however, you don’t like boxes and you like to entertain, enjoy the quirky and charming and feel there is more to life than two up, two down then come and see a truly special home. Viewings have never been so highly recommended.”

Ok so let’s take a breath and have a look shall we? I suspect you will want the floorplan so here you are. Now then, the entrance is basically a long hall leading to this sitting room at the back. And it does slightly flare to a mahoosive 7ft 3ins wide at this point (!) and there are definitely ways you could decorate this to make it function better than this which seems only to emphasise its narrowness. In short – a colour on the wall or just the end wall to foreshorten the space. A floor lamp at the end of the sofa, two small chairs facing the small sofa, no coffee table but a small table between the two chairs. Amazing artwork to distract the eye. That sort of thing.

The kitchen and dining area, which opens onto an immensely pretty courtyard garden which is just crying out for wrought iron furniture and croissants of a morning, is on the lower ground floor. The kitchen, at the front is 5ft5ins wide but the back is nearly 10ft at points. Princely. And if you’re wondering where the cooker is in the kitchen ( I know how your ever practical minds work) it appears to be in the dining room. This isn’t unusual I have known more than one narrow Victorian terrace with a fridge in the back of the sitting room opening into the kitchen.

Now upstairs, let’s start at the top where the bedroom is accessed via this trapdoor at the bottom of which is the bathroom and a dressing room which take up the whole of the floor below. There is also a shower room on this floor too.

This is pretty good use of the space and I have to say, if this was in a film set in New York with a single woman (or man) living alone and it was full of plants and beautifully dressed everyone would go mad for it. I rather love it, for my alternative life where I have no husband, children or groaning knees.

The first floor has two bedrooms, one of which is billed as a study and I suspect, given that one bedroom is open to the stairs the rules mean you can’t claim it as a three bedroom home. I would probably use the open space on the landing as a working space and keep the back bedroom (below as a bedroom).

It’s a tricky sell – it’s nearly a million quid – but, the estate agent is right, if you like character and quirk this might be the one. The garden is so pretty and with some paint (the white isn’t doing it any favours) I think you could create a fabulous, individual home for one. Or two people who are either very, very in love or quite small. What do you think? And if you ever find out who buys it let us know so we can go round and visit.

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. That trapdoor/deathtrap in the bedroom floor is a deal-killer (could be a resident killer too).
    The first picture is lovely. I also like that tiny white room with the fireplace, but the other rooms all feel claustrophobic.

  2. Being the manager of a Tile, Cabinet and Counter top company I think it is darling. Having flipped several houses as well. I agree with everyone that the price is a little insane. This would be a great AirBNB, weekend getaway, etc. I love all the little odds and ends to it but the door to the master, that is a tricky one.

  3. Ugh – I don’t know if it’s a lockdown reaction but even the pictures make me feel claustrophobic.

  4. The finish on this house is very poor and looks quite slap dash! The floor edging and paint would drive me nuts! The price is ridiculous – even for London!

  5. Its a ridiculous price for a cupboard however as a gardener the outside space could be wonderful and a much needed breathing space since the summer temperatures Londoners are having to adjust to living in are only going one way.
    Might work as a quirky long weekend city break /holiday let type for one or someone just out of prison who remembers where they stashed the money!

  6. I agree that the price is high but for a house (albeit very narrow indeed!!) in quite a desirable part of west London with private outdoor spaces and the character displayed, I’m not all that surprised. The paint work is too white for me, but that’s easily changed. I think the most difficult part of the sell, which others have also pointed out, is the trap door access to the main bedroom – which is surely likely to be a deal breaker for most people.

  7. Very quirky and an innovative use of space. In the dining room, which has beautiful furniture, hiw could they not have hidden that jutting fat pipe on the floor?
    Very nice but a lot of money.

  8. Utter madness! No amount of design can hide the fact that nearly a million pounds buys you a house you can’t use without bumping in to someone, has very little storage and is the width of a cupboard. The phrase ’emperors clothes’ comes to mind..

  9. I love it! But the price tag…. if I had a million quid to spend on a property (even in London) I wouldn’t want to crawl through a hatch to get to bed. Great suggestions for enhancing the living room btw.

  10. Would be fun as a little weekend base for a visit to the city but not to live in, Like the comment before, trapdoors and midnight trips to the loo (especially after a few glasses of something) probably wouldn’t mix too well!

  11. Well Kate, your groaning knees might rule you out … with me it might be my weak bladder. I’m not sure I could manage the trap door at 3am!

  12. I can usually factor in that London prices are bonkers, but from the perspective of living in Scotland, where (Edinburgh aside) a million quid gets you a mansion, this is insanity itself. I feel claustrophobic just looking at it.

    1. I thought the same. If you have a million quid, why would you want to live in a place like this? Nonsense.

    2. I misread the price and thought it was dear at £590,000! I thought Dublin prices were crazy but £950,000 with a trapdoor to the bathroom is an eye opener! There are some lovely elements to it but the finish looks poor throughout for either price.

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