Mad About . . .

Tweakments (of the interior design kind)

26th April 2021
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Hello and Happy Monday. First of all can I say thank you so much to those of you who read and liked my “film script” last Friday (linked here for anyone who missed it). I have to inform you that Richard Curtis did not, in fact, ring me over the weekend and hence you find me here typing away about more prosiaic matters than how Cameron Diaz would react to her knickers falling into Hugh Grant’s dirty Martini in a corner of south east London.

before: painted radiator at (fallen plum by atelier ellis)

before: unpainted radiator at (fallen plum by atelier ellis)

Secondly, I realise that a number of you don’t “do” instagram and while I have a tendency so show new things in the house there first they often end up coming here later or not at all. So, today, I am showing you a few tweakments that are currently going on in The Mad House before they make it to the ‘gram.

And in doing so it occurs to me that in the same way a new top can somehow reinvigorate an entire wardrobe so a small change can make a whole room feel new and exciting. Let’s be honest – for those of you do “do” instagram, I have not been there that much over the last few months. A combination of lockdown lethargy and feeling I was boring myself with my own spaces never mind anyone else.

But the arrival of the builders to sort out the leaking shower room (from roof and floor) has meant a a few changes, or tweakments, have taken place. A nip here and a tuck there. Nothing so dramatic as full Botox but a bit of filler as it were – cosmetic not surgical.

painted radiator at (fallen plum by atelier ellis)

after: painted radiator at (fallen plum by atelier ellis)

First up was painting the tall flat radiators in the sitting room. They took up so much wall when they were installed that we stopped the dark paint in the corner and left that part all white. It worked to open the room up and for a while I thought it was fine. But they were still big shiny blobs of metal in the room and I was desperate to paint them and wrap the room round at the end – as it were. However, The Mad Husband, while a late convert to a standard painted radiator, wasn’t convinced that a flat painted one would work.

painted radiators at (fallen plum by atelier ellis)

painted radiators at (fallen plum by atelier ellis)

People, it’s been a long campaign but I’m thrilled with the result. I still adore this wall colour (Fallen Plum by Atelier Ellis – I think I rang her up with 24 hours of her launching it) and now the room feels complete. Well apart from window dressings but more on that later in the week.

As you can see from the pulled out shot, we are also adding a small panelling tweak in the library. That blue tape is the decorators’ fixing the black plastic sheeting down as they have stored their tools in there for the bathroom works. I will show you that at a later date but, again, that was a final tweak.

I always liked the idea of wrapping this room in bookshelves but it would have made it very small and given that it’s a very high ceiling – the room is slightly sunken – it might have felt like you were sitting in the bottom of a bucket. So we left it blank and carried on. Every now and then I mentioned panelling and The Mad Husband ignored me. Then I panelled my office (mine see he has no say there) and he was taken with that. So now we have  panelled that last wall in the library and, once again, it has been the perfect finishing touch.

painted radiator at (arras by little greene)

painted radiator at (arras by little greene)

Before I show you the last tweak, I will show you the painted radiator in my office. It’s not a shot that’s really going to make instagram but it’s the view from my desk and I think you might agree that it disappears into the panelling and looks so much better than a white one would. Left white it would have become a feature and it sure ain’t pretty enough for that. And yes as soon as I can co-ordinate brain, paint and brush I will be painting the white plastic knob too.

Lastly, for now, we’re off to the kitchen. And all credit to The Mad Husband here. We have too many recipe books and not enough storage and he suggested a narrow shelf on this unused corner which would free up space in the library and also on the sideboard in the kitchen (not shown) and on the shelves above the kitchen sink. Which means, in turn, we can remove some stuff from the overcrowded pantry and put it on the shelves where the books where. Everyone’s happy.

bookshelves at

bookshelves at

Although I now suspect the entire thing was a ruse for him to legitimately store his shoes tidily in the kitchen rather than in a heap by the door…..

And, yes the ceiling is two different colours. Thanks to the leak from the shower room above the ceiling needs repairing and repaining so it will now be the same colour as the walls. It was painted white when we built it 10 years ago and while the walls have changed several times the ceiling never has. Now is its moment.

bookshelves at

bookshelves at

So house tweakments, not necessarily cheaper than Botox but for my  money far more satisfying. And permanent come to that. And, for the more energetic among you, things you can probably do yourselves.

Share some of you simple tweakments that have made you fall in love with your house again below.



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  • Reply TVORBOU – svatební půjčovna 27th April 2021 at 9:24 am

    Beautiful designs!

  • Reply Anna 26th April 2021 at 1:40 pm

    A small decorating change can be good for your mood or self-esteem.

    Proof that great minds think alike Kate!

  • Reply Bonnie Foster Abel 26th April 2021 at 1:24 pm

    Didn’t noticed before this post how much of a difference the view into your library from the sitting room contrasted in colour. Painting the wall sized radiators has eliminated the tension of that contrast. The completed wall paint effect softens and frames the view into your library adding a new interior interest. Like it very much! Also love tall, narrow bookshelves.

  • Reply Miriam 26th April 2021 at 12:06 pm

    Really liked reading about these, especially the ones that add usefulness! Some of the tweakments we’ve done over the last few months:

    – sorted out the porch by putting up hooks for skateboards, plus a mask/sanitiser station (sign of the times)
    – reorganised the playroom for the baby including moving the massive Lego table into the conservatory
    – changed around all the bedrooms, to accommodate said baby
    – transformed a cheap pine wardrobe by painting it pink leopardprint
    – painted garden wall murals
    – set up a good Zoom background for my office with pictures and wall-hangings
    – created downstairs home-learning areas for my older children
    – discovered the usefulness of little storage trolleys
    – big octopus wall-sticker for an otherwise-boring white family bathroom that we won’t be able to replace for ages.

  • Reply Allison 26th April 2021 at 11:39 am

    They look great! Especially like the ones in the sitting room. How are you letting your husband put his shoes at the bottom of the new bookshelf?!😃 He wouldn’t get that past me… Could you please let me know where your lovely hand on the mantlepiece comes from? I love it.

    • Reply Kate Watson-Smyth 26th April 2021 at 11:59 am

      His shoes have sort of been there by default for ages – I suspect the clever shelf idea was a plan to let them stay there in a more unobtrusive way! The tall white hand was from Home Barn, they still have some. The smaller wooden one is an artist’s model one – cheap but stained to age it and the black, white and red one is from the Guggenheim Museum in Venice.

  • Reply Eileen 26th April 2021 at 9:14 am

    This year we were all about the painted radiators, as we worked our way through redecorating most of our new home. I shamelessly, ruthlessly, exploited your podcast to justify it to my recalcitrant Brit husband – that and “paint your boring coving & skirting molding to match the wall”. Best advice ever! Both tactics used to good effect in our builder-standard ’90s house to give it more of a presence, and let our collected vintage furniture stand out. Your rooms look amazing — and don’t give up on script-writing just yet 🙂

  • Reply Catherine 26th April 2021 at 8:50 am

    All looks fabulous Kate. I love these kind of small but transformative jobs. My kitchen is currently filled with freshly painted sections of picture rail, which we are going to reinstate in our sitting room (wisely advised by our joiner to paint them BEFORE attaching to walls). You can see the line of the now lost picture rail in the plaster and we have been meaning to do it for years.
    PS – looking at other people’s recipe books is strangely fascinating!

  • Reply Cathryn 26th April 2021 at 8:39 am

    Painting our staircase Mylands Sinner, also the linen cupboard on the top landing. Swapping the grotty old knobs on the linen cupboard, coat cupboard and elsewhere for gorgeous things in orange and cream and hot pink from Etsy. Lining the cupboards with a lovely vintage green and pink paper, also Etsy. Painting the alcove in the breakfast room behind the shelves in Pink Ground – now pink glows through the vases stored there. Adding the same pink on the window recess in the kitchen – now a soft contrast with the green of the F&B French Grey on the walls, and a contrast I will continue in different paints in sitting room and dining room. A red thread!

    Painting radiators to sink into the wall/surface behind is a great move, and one I’ll be adopting as we decorate more rooms.

  • Reply H 26th April 2021 at 7:54 am

    I always think having books in the kitchen too close to the hob is not good for the books because of the steam and grease. Having your books round the corner looks like a good compromise, close to hand but not too close.

  • Reply Sandra 26th April 2021 at 7:44 am

    Bespoke colour kitchen stools… love my kitchen in F&B Charlottes Locks but wanted the stools in a complimentary colour – F&B Tanners Brown. It drove me mad that i could only find stools in oak, grey abs black. I got them sprayed locally with 98% colour match for £50👌. Absolute love it.

  • Reply Cynthia Fleming 26th April 2021 at 7:35 am

    Painted radiators are our new discovery this year. We had the heating engineer take two modern column rads off the systen so we could get at them properly to paint. Shout out for Frenchic paint (no link with me). Now black and fab.

  • Reply Julia Inman 26th April 2021 at 7:23 am

    I always justified not painting the tall flat white radiator in our hall to match our dark Dulux Heather Bloom walls because it is located next to our white front door – and because you hadn’t painted yours! Yours look really great and now I regret not having painted mine. We bought the correct ral colour paint at the time so now I think we might! Did you do it yourself (brush or roller?) or use a professional decorator? I am scared about doing it myself and leaving paint runs on such a smooth surface – reminiscent of those awful boarded internal doors that were the DIY rage in the 60s! Thanks Julia

    • Reply Longdenlife 26th April 2021 at 10:44 am

      Yes, top tips on painting radiators please! Like Julia, also tempted but worried about making a hash up of it! 🙂

      • Reply Kate Watson-Smyth 26th April 2021 at 12:00 pm

        Use the right paint – wood and metal – is now standard for many companies. Or gloss. And a roller will give a smoother finish than a brush – particularly if it’s a flat radiator like these.

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