This Bold House: Kate Watson-Smyth’s home is full of inspiration you can steal

From a gold ceiling to secret storage, interiors writer Kate Watson-Smyth’s home is full of inspiration you can steal.

Two ‘dingy rental flats’ caught Kate Watson-Smyth’s eye in 2010 and became more than just a new home for herself and her growing family – husband Adam Leigh and their sons Isaac (now 18) and Noah (16). The journalist, who has written about property, interiors and design for more than 20 years, also showcases her converted terraced pad in Crouch End, North London, on her multi-award-winning blog Mad About The House.

Kate Watson-Smyth
Kate’s attic space doubles as a guest bedroom and home office. The rug and eye cushion are a Quentin Jones x collaboration. The sofa is from Image: Brent

‘When we needed more family space, this “doer-upper” came to my attention – and has sparked creative projects ever since,’ says Kate. ‘The blog began as a place to show wonderful things that I couldn’t find room for in my newspaper work, as well as helping to show how to decorate with unusual items.’

Kate Watson-Smyth
A wood burner by was installed last year in the open-plan kitchen/dining room extension that Kate added when the family moved in. The dining table is from while the chairs are Visu by The rug was found ten years ago in a North London vintage shop. Image: Brent Darby

Since the family bought the property, a podcast and two books have followed. But at the core is Kate’s home, which has had many makeovers, from whitewashed scandi cool via a shades-of-grey love affair with Farrow & Ball’s Downpipe to a more earthy alchemy, combining rich dark chocolate hues with raspberry, soft pinks and off-whites. 

Kate Watson-Smyth
The fireplace is painted in Rothschild Street and the ceiling in FTT002, both The carpet is natural undyed wool as it ‘allows the ceiling to glow’. The Georgian writing desk was found on Ebay. Image: Brent Darby

Now rocking more of an individual vibe – all hail the gold-painted study ceiling (right) – Kate says, ‘I am less about trends, more about what I love, and my mantra “something new, something old, something dark, something gold” still holds true.’

Kate Watson-Smyth
In the living room, a limited-edition print from and palm tree lamp from add a contemporary edge to the classic lines of the Earl Grey sofa (in Cosmos velvet) from Image: Brent Darby

Each update sticks to Kate’s ethos for making the best of what you have, embracing independent stores and arriving at conscious choices. ‘My DoLessHarm hashtag on Instagram is about being more sustainably aware, and I am compiling a directory to help buyers make informed retail choices.’ 

Kate Watson-Smyth
The master bedroom features a false wall painted in a rich deep green (Mad About The Bathroom, which conceals a dressing and storage area. The bedhead (Rouen, by is covered in Moleskin Velvet Bottle ( The stripy bolster is a collaboration between and and the floral cushion is by Image: Brent Darby

In the same vein, her third book, Mad About The House: 101 Design Answers, out next year, will be about creating a home that works for you, avoids costly mistakes and saves you money. ‘That’s where it’s at,’ says Kate. And there’s nothing mad about that.

Kate Watson-Smyth’s tips for renovating on a budget

1. Paint is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to transform a room.
2. Use tester pots of paint to create bargain colour blocks of art on your walls or in frames.
3. Hem a large piece of carpet to create a luxurious yet cost-effective rug.
4. Move lamps, textiles and accessories around your home for seasonal updates at no cost.
5. Buy a cheap kitchen and use leftover cash for quality hardware and worktops.

Get the look

Copy Kate’s sumptuous style with jewel shades and plush textiles

Sofa (in Grape fabric), £2,495, 

Table, £1,490, 

Print (42cm x 42cm), £80,

Pendant light, £285,

Velvet cushion, £165, 

Chair, £2,219, 

Table lamp, £225, 

Vase, £148, 

Bed (in Cedar fabric), £1,752, 


Rug, £220, 

 Follow @mad_about_the_house, download Mad About The House: 101 Design Answers will be published by Pavilion next March, and can be pre-ordered now on Amazon.