The Reveal: Main Bedroom

The main bedroom is done. We have two complete bedrooms (see the first one here) and brush stroke by brush stroke the grey is being eradicated. For once again this room was a sea of grey when we moved in with a pale grey carpet and walls, broken shutters on the windows that blocked the light and hid the pretty shape of the frame and two small wardrobes tucked into the alcoves on either side of the fireplace.

curtain poles by jim lawrence, curtains by blinds2go, radiator by castrads, wallpaper by mind the gap, sisal bubbleweave by alternative flooring

Despite this house being much smaller than the one we moved out of, we quickly realised that the bedroom was almost exactly the same size (about 10cm shorter) than the previous one so once again the false wall with a wardrobe behind it seemed like the best solution. We both have a lot of clothes/shoes and we need to store suitcases and winter coats and so on.  There was no way that the natural alcoves were going to be enough. So for those of you that have noticed on instagram – yes we repeated the layout. That said we tweaked it. Here’s a link to the original wardrobe but for those who want to make a quick calculation – you need about 90cm either side of the false wall for easy access, the depth needs to be 60cm to accommodate a hanger and ideally at least 80cm to walk through (more is better).

The dimensions are roughly the same but this time I included two hanging rails and left space at the side for baskets to store underwear, gym kit, pyjamas and all the sort of stuff that normally goes in a chest of drawers. Walk-through wardrobe II is much more efficient than its prototype of 12 years ago.

When it came to the design of this room, I felt instinctively that I wanted to go cosier. The last house was a tall, elegant town house, this is more of worker’s cottage and of a completely different style. So while some of the layouts remain the same and the colour palette is a variation on a theme, it’s a completely different look and feel. It’s so important to take the style of a house into consideration when you are decorating.

And so we decided on wallpaper. This is the Sarkozi in taupe from Mind The Gap, a Transylvanian company who based this design on a piece of Hungarian tapestry.

We decided to go bold and wrap it on every wall but to pair it with pink paint to make it look more modern. There’s always a danger you can get a bit “Grannycore” with a floral and as I’m 55 that’s not going to look ironic! I used Temple by Paint & Paper Library which, some of you many remember, I had in the old kitchen.

wallpaper by mind the gap, sisal bubbleweave by alternative flooring, temple woodwork by paint and paper library, margaret howell for anglepoise lamps, bedding by mother of pearl for john lewis

The light switches and sockets are in bronze by Corston Architectural which, again was added to punch through the softness of the floral paper and pink paint. I bought curtain poles from Jim Lawrence in black beeswax for the same reason. The iron radiators are from Castrads and all these strong accents are there as a foil for the femininity of the bedroom decor.

curtain poles by jim lawrence, curtains by blinds2go, radiator by castrads, wallpaper by mind the gap, sisal bubbleweave by alternative flooring, opaline beehive lamp from trainspotters

Now many of you have asked me why curtains when we had none in the last house. Again, it’s a different house in a different style. Long curtains felt right in this space. These are the ivory velvet from Blinds2Go. Now I was contacted by their PR, who I have known for years asking if I wanted to fit their temporary blinds, which come in many designs, including William Morris and Orla Kiely. I opted for curtains and thought I would report back to you as I haven’t used them before.

curtain poles by jim lawrence, curtains by blinds2go, radiator by castrads, wallpaper by mind the gap, sisal bubbleweave by alternative flooring

Well I can tell you that you have to do your own measurements (quite impressed with myself that I got that right) but they came fast (in two weeks) and are well made and hang beautifully. I was very impressed. Now you have to gather the ruffles yourself and that was slightly trickier than I thought but then again I was impatient and did it at 11pm after a day of travelling. Do yourself a favour and do it in daylight after a sleep. The lining is also cream, rather than that traditional beige colour so have a look and see what you think. Window dressings are expensive but they are transformative.

For privacy I made some cafe curtains – a linen panel that sits halfway across the window. I used some leftover linen from a previous project and fixed them onto 6mm brass rods from House of Brass. It’s all straight lines so easy enough to sew. I hemmed three sides and left a wider turning at the top so it could thread onto the rail.

curtain poles by jim lawrence, curtains by blinds2go, radiator by castrads, wallpaper by mind the gap, sisal bubbleweave by alternative flooring

When it came to the flooring, I felt that a traditional carpet might take us back to grannycore so we chose a sisal to toughen it up a bit. This is the Bubbleweave from Alternative Flooring ( a company I have worked with for a decade and watch this space for some news on that in the Spring). Firstly can I reassure the doubters that it’s soft underfoot (that’s the large weave) and makes the room cosy. Now some of you have worried that the cat will use it as a scratching post to which I say fine – she’s going to use something and if she leaves the actual carpet and the furniture alone she can have this!

curtain poles by jim lawrence, curtains by blinds2go, radiator by castrads, wallpaper by mind the gap, sisal bubbleweave by alternative flooring

Now it may be the novelty of a fully finished room when I have builders all over everywhere but this room feels like a proper sanctuary at the moment. It’s cosier than the last one (which was floorboards and blinds) and the storage works better. We also changed the hinges on the door so it opens against the corner and gives us a space to tuck the laundry basket and mirror. This means swapping the light switch so do factor that in if you want to do the same thing.

wallpaper by mind the gap, sisal bubbleweave by alternative flooring, temple woodwork by paint and paper library

Talking of lights – you will notice the pendant light hangs down in the corner. I have written about pendant lights in bedrooms before. They often end up illuminating a bare patch of floor at the end of the bed and serving no useful lighting purpose. So we moved this to the corner where it still lights the room but hangs low over a plant and makes a feature of that corner which would otherwise be purposeless. It’s also light enough for you to sort the black socks from the navy when putting the laundry away. I bought this from Trainspotters – it’s the opaline beehive.

hang a rail under a shelf so you can display and plan outfits

One final touch? I stole this from Lucy Williams, and that’s this rail on the shelves. Firstly it means I can plan outfits when I’m packing but also it keeps me tidier. I’m terrible for draping clothes over chairs and doors when they are between wear and wash. This way I take out what I am wearing and leave the hanger on this rail. At night I put it back on the hanger and it goes back into the wardrobe. Small idea big impact. And I’ve written about the joy of that before.

Now if you’ve read this far you can be rewarded with details of a prize draw where you can win one of my Vita sustainable armchairs designed in collaboration with Love Your Home, a copy of my first Mad About The House book and a beautiful Bert Frank lamp so you can set yourself up in a cosy corner and relax the rest of the winter away.

sustainable armchair by madaboutthehouse and loveyourhome

For details of how to enter click here. It’s UK only I’m afraid. I wish you all luck. You have until 3 February to enter and the winner will be announced via Bert Frank’s instagram only.

win a lamp by Bert Frank
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. Fantastic Kate, looks beautiful. I’m so glad you were able to reclaim those elegant fireplace tiles!

  2. I do love your walk in wardrobe idea and it’s something I’d love to recreate somehow, but we have a large bay window in our bedroom and I’m not sure how it would work effectively having to cut it in half. Hmmm. Anyway, such a beautiful room – can see why it’s a sanctuary!

  3. Congrats on getting all that done – and with speed! Would love to know the source for your bed.

  4. Thank you for your inspirational post Kate. ❤️ Your bedroom looks fab. And I think you may have solved a storage problem I’ve been battling with – off to take measurements now! 🙏🙏

  5. Absolutely love the room… such a sanctuary. So many inspirational ideas Kate. A wonderful blend of Storage solutions and all round practicality which actually contributes to the efficient working and overall feel of the room… No wonder it looks so calming. Thanks so much for sharing.

  6. Love the room! I’ve also been considering the cosiness of carpet – and inspired by the Mad House I have a a very similar layout. Very boring question, but how have the joins in the carpet been hidden?

  7. Hi Kate,
    There are many creative aspects to your bedroom. The transformation is complete and looks great! I am most impressed with the linen panel curtains you sewed for your windows. The half panels are perfect for privacy; they are soft, opaque, and yet let in the natural daylight. The brass rod is warming. I think the added bonus for this idea is that you made it yourself! Well done!

  8. We’ve been looking to do a similar cafe curtain trick for so long but I can’t wrap my head around how to actually afix the poles to the windows. Can I ask what fixings you used (and if its something screwed into the windows themselves, would these work on UPVC?) Thankyou!

    1. Hi Ash, so I used these fixers for my 6mm rods – they come in different sizes depending on the width of the pole and simply screw into the frame. I’m not sure about uPVC to be honest – I guess as long as the plastic doesn’t crack but I would ask someone else first! The other, cheaper, alternative is to buy a length of that coated wire that you hang net curtains on that has a small screw. And if that’s no good I have contemplated – although not tried – a piece of fabric hemmed to the window size exactly – no gathering – and attached to command strips. You can stick one side to the uPVC frame and sew the other to the fabric and Bob may well be your Uncle at that point. Let us know how you get on.

      1. You’ve absolutely made my day Kate! I’ve had a quick look and UPVC seems to be suitable for some light screwing (ooh-err) so I’ll be ordering these as soon as I get a chance to measure up. Thankyou so much!

      2. Soo useful. I love the devol kitchens cafe curtain rod but expense and lack of DIY skills means the command strips idea maybe perfect

  9. Beautiful! So worth it to use ideas that worked in the past, with varying colors and updates. Such a pretty room!

  10. Your room looks so nice. You always give me inspiration to try something new. I learn so much from your posts and look forward to them. Thank you!

  11. I have also used Blinds2go/Curtains2go for roman blinds in a couple of our rooms. I’ve found their service great. You have to make sure you measure accurately, but their website has all the instructions on how to do this, depending on the type of window covering you want. They come quickly and fit easily. I also love their huge range of fabrics and wood finishes to choose from. Not an ad, but a fan!

  12. Such a brilliant post, Kate. I will be stealing your bedroom storage idea in our next house, when we eventually downsize. My only less-than-positive comment is that the size of the mirror is a bit mean – are you planning to go bigger?

  13. So so beautiful, Kate. From the wallpaper to paint choices and the texture in the flooring and velvet curtains….all layer together beautifully. You must be delighted. An inspiring read this morning, thank you x

  14. I can feel the sanctuary vibes Kate, such a restful balance of colours, textures and patterns. I’m about to order the Sisal Malay which is a smaller weave, favoured by my carpet fitter but taking onboard what you say, I’m wondering if I should look at the bubble weave – not sure I’m brave enough to mention it! And I see you’re a fellow Trinny fan too!

  15. Bedroom great, cosy, efficient and beautiful. I would like to enter the competition but the link on your blog doesn’t seem to work?

  16. So lovely. So cosy. Well done for getting there so quickly (she says from a half completed kitchen extension that’s dragging on and on …) I couldn’t make the competition link work. Is it just me?

  17. The look is perfect and inviting. Love the wallpaper, and now I want lined, velvet curtains. Cheers from Canada!

  18. Thank you for sharing and fabulous ideas! Please can I ask, where are the baskets from on the sides of the false wall hanging space? I am looking for something similar. Love your blog, thanks Sara

  19. It’s gorgeous and ticks the practical box as well. Thanks for all the info and advice, it’s so useful to us procrastinators! I still can’t make a decision on decorating my bedroom as I like too many things and keep changing my mind…..

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