Home. It’s not just a place – home is a feeling, something material and intangible at the same time. Not just bricks and mortar, we each build our notion of home from our memories of the past and our hopes for the future.
For you ‘home’ might be found in the sound of your kids splashing in the bath, or having fresh flowers in that crystal vase you inherited from your Auntie Barbara. For me, home is books in every room, the sound of ice cubes hitting glass as my husband fixes our Friday night drinks. It’s the smell of roast chicken, a towering pile of magazines, the glow of fairylights.
I’ve been fashioning my own idea of home for nearly 20 years now, since I moved up to Leeds to go to university. That first year (in the all female halls of residence – what was I thinking?) was spent in a dingy basement room, with posters of indie darlings and postcards from the Tate Gallery shop blu-tacked to the wall. My second-year house was cursed with the cheapest, brightest, greenest carpet ever – I swear it glowed (not ideal during hungover moments). This necessitated the hunt for the biggest, cheapest, most non-hideous rug I could find in Leeds, and gave birth to my firm belief that a good rug can solve many a décor problem, as well as simply tying a room together.
Once in gainful employment I moved to London and the joys of renting – enlivening all that magnolia with Jack Vettriano prints (what? It was 1997) and the creative use of throws. An eight month sojourn in Seven Sisters taught me that, no matter how many cushions you throw at it, sometimes a house is just a pile of bricks (mice and uneven floors in every room didn’t help). In twelve years of renting I became adept at making somewhere cosy, STAT. I also spent a lot of time dreaming about what I would do with a place of my own. Feature walls! Custom-built bookcases! Eames furniture! Hmmmmm…….
Three years ago my husband and I left renting behind for our very own two bedroom 1930s house in Carshalton. Slowly but surely we’re putting our stamp on it, learning about gardening and DIY as we go (neither of us had so much as put up a shelf before). Of course we’ve made a few mistakes – a hole knocked in the wall whilst attaching a towel rail here; slightly pinker than expected bedroom walls there – and I’m sure we’ll make many more, but as long as we avoid major structural damage I’m fine with that. 🙂
The custom-built bookcases and Eames furniture are still on my wishlist, but for me it’s the little decorative touches that gladden my heart and make me feel really at home. My tiny ceramic toucans, bought in Bath fifteen years ago for £7, that have been as carefully bubble-wrapped for each move as if they were worth ten times that. A Fifties-inspired sunburst clock from Heals that I obsessed over for months before finally, gleefully, nabbing in the sales. The leather jewellery box that belonged to my grandmother…..
You’ll have gathered by now that I’m no minimalist (although I do love looking at clean, calm, white and airy spaces on the internet), so it’ll come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that in researching this post I’ve found something I simply MUST HAVE. I have loved The Wizard of Oz since I was a little girl, and have mugs, coasters, a clock and um, dolls (these ones – yes, they are a bit creepy. No, they are not out on show). This print, though, is completely suitable for public display, and will look lovely on my kitchen wall.
What things/objects of yours signify “home” to you? What do you tie your string to?