Shades of Grey Author Kate Watson-Smyth at Home

Since featuring an extract of Shades of Grey by Kate Watson-Smyth last week, we thought it might be nice to re-visit Kate's own home. The original feature appeared in the May 2014 issue of Heart Home magazine.

Interiors writer and blogger Kate Watson-Smyth shows us around her North London home, sharing a few design secrets along the way.

Writing about interior design for her day job, Kate Watson-Smyth gave new meaning to taking her work home with her when she moved into her Victorian townhouse in Crouch End three years ago.

Looking for a project, Kate, along with her husband Adam, took on the task of transforming what were two rental flats, putting them back into one house. The result is a beautiful four-bedroom family home for Kate, Adam, their children 13-year-old Isaac and Noah, 10, and not forgetting Enid the cat.

Reminiscing on the early days of the renovation project, Kate comments: “We lived in the upstairs maisonette while the work was being done downstairs and then moved around all the rooms in a Tetris-style fashion while the rest was done.”

Structural changes such as removing the partition walls that divided the property into flats, although far from a minor job, turned out to be far from the end of the project. In order to turn the house into a home, Kate and Adam also fitted a new kitchen and bathroom, replaced the aluminium windows with wooden sashes, installed new plumbing and heating and changed all the doors so they were in keeping with the property’s Victorian heritage.

Kate’s passion for, and knowledge of interiors meant that she had a big influence on the fixtures and fittings. She says: “I'm not really a maker - more of a draw it on the back of an envelope, hand it over to someone else to make and I did quite a lot of that. I love the wardrobe in the master bedroom which acts like a mini-dressing room and the kitchen shelves and cabinets were all done to my specification, as well as the library shelves.”

Of course, as someone who writes about interiors daily, there are always little additions that Kate would like to make to her own home and she takes much of her inspiration from the internet when looking for something new. “I love browsing the web - Duffy London always amuses me as I like to find wit in design.”

Such browsing has resulted in one or two bargains being sourced along the way too. Kate says: “The pink chaise longue, which has been adopted by Enid the cat, was £250 nearly ten years ago. It's a great piece, in good nick and I still love it. I would like to recover it in a paler blush pink with contrasting grey buttons but I don't know how Enid would feel about that. She won't let anyone else sit on it.”

For those pieces that the budget, or the space, simply won’t allow, Kate again turns to the web, where she shares her ‘Objects of Design’ with blog readers at madaboutthehouse.com. “If I had an elastic house and an elastic budget then I would absolutely buy every single object of design. That was my criteria for doing it - that it had to be something I would want/use/like. The reality is that neither the budget nor the house is that stretchy.”

Kate is far from alone in taking interior design inspiration from the internet, so much so that she has launched a new business, which has grown out of the blog. She explains: “I am constantly being asked for styling advice and where to source products so I decided that the business would be about helping people to shop their Pinterest boards as well as interiors advice. Lots of people tell me that they pin their ideas but don't know where to buy the things they find so the idea for madaboutyourhouse.com was born.

“The idea is that you send me your board and I will give you about three or four suggestions at varying price points similar to the pieces you like - from lamps to sofas or perhaps a whole room.”

Read Kate’s blog at madaboutthehouse.com or get help sourcing your own interiors products at madaboutyourhouse.com

Photographs: James Balston   Words: Kelly Lavender