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.
‘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.’
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.
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.’
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.’
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