A townhouse in Crouch End, North London, built in 1860. There’s a living room-cum-library, open-plan kitchen and dining area, utility room and downstairs loo on the ground floor. The first floor has three bedrooms and a large shower room, and the second floor has the master bedroom, dressing room and en-suite bathroom. The house is home to journalist and blogger Kate Watson-Smyth and her journalist husband Adam Leigh, and their sons Isaac, 11, and Noah, nine.
‘I’m so bored of striped runners – this dotty carpet makes my heart lift each time I see it,’ says Kate. She painted the handrail a matching purple.
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The living room (pictured top) was originally painted white, but Kate and Adam felt the room lacked personality and, after a few months, chose a dramatic grey for the walls. ‘I love how it looks bold and cosy at the same time,’ says Kate. ‘Plus, it makes the artwork “pop” from the walls and turns watching TV into a really cinematic experience.’
A vintage-style rug layered over the white-painted floor adds laid-back luxury underfoot.
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The deep-grey walls and dark fireplace make a perfect backdrop for a mini gallery of intriguing objects.
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Two steps lead down from the living room to the library, giving an appropriate feeling of calm and separateness to this end of the room. ‘Putting a dining room here would have been a waste of space,’ says book-lover Kate. She has kept the decor simple, with books ‘papering’ the walls and simple chairs for reading in. ‘I hate anything too “matchy”, so the contrasting legs on the armchairs are perfect,’ says Kate.
‘It sounds pretentious to call it a library,’ says Kate, ‘but I don’t know what else to say; it’s full of books.’
The downstairs flat’s original poky kitchen and bathroom were combined, and the added space provided by the extension meant there was room for a separate dining area, with doors opening on to the garden.
New York tin ceiling tiles add glamour to the dining area. ‘There was a danger that the extension would look like a boring box. It doesn’t have the ceiling height for a row of amazing pendant lights above the table, so these are the perfect solution.’ Confining the tiles to the dining area stops them looking oppressive and helps to define the space. ‘I like the mix of new and old in this room,’ says Kate. ‘There’s a connection between the old sewing machine stools and the wood table, and the contemporary kitchen next to the new extension.’
Kate has cleverly set 60cm floor units beneath 90cm stainless-steel worktops, so that the under-sink pipes don’t take up storage space and she loses a minimum of surface to the open shelves. ‘I hate wall units, as they always seem to stick out too far so you bang your head and don’t have room to work. Open shelves are shallow and accessible, and keeping them away from the hob means they don’t get sticky,’ she says. Leather handles give an individual finish.
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Kitchen units are set forward below extra-wide counters, to give additional clutter-free workspace. ‘And don’t forget the rug, carefully chosen because it’s the same colour as spilled red wine!’ laughs Kate.
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Even a small space can feel dramatic, with enveloping matt paint and white details. spotlights – and a decadent disco ball – keep the feel clubby.
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Noah’s bedroom is hidden behind a secret door, covered with Trompe l’Oeil wallpaper. ‘His room is small, so I wanted to make it feel special, like his own James Bond den,’ says Kate. The wall and door were papered in one go, with a dark architrave and a fake skirting board completing the illusion.
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Kate and Adam have constructed a half wall, complete with skirting board and cornice, to create a dressing room behind the bed.
As the purple flock wallpaper makes such a statement, the rest of the room has been kept simple, with white walls, floor and bedding.
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The luxurious en-suite was converted from a top-floor bedroom and leads from the dressing room in Kate and Adam’s bedroom. As in the rest of the house, the couple have mixed contemporary and vintage pieces against a background of plain floorboards, for a fresh but eclectic look.
Read Kate’s interiors blog at madaboutthehouse.com
Words: Kathryn Kelly
Photography: Richard Powers
Styling: Mary Weaver