I am not a natural homemaker. I mean that in the sense of not being instinctively inclined towards well-designed interiors, or which curtains would go well with which sofa or how to dress a stack of shelves so they look accidentally organised. I am awful at visualising things and because of that I’m over-cautious with what I buy, often opting to wait, wait and wait some more, as opposed to taking the plunge and hating the results in person. We’ve been in our home for two years now and I wouldn’t describe a single room as ‘done’, which is testament to the fact that I find it easier to dress myself than the house around me.
As much as there’s still space to be filled and jobs to be completed, the elements which make a house a home are often the very littlest of touches. Gifts from friends and family, second-hand gems discovered by Sunday afternoon chance, the cheap but meaningful artwork which reflects a valued facet of your personhood: these are the bits which make a building feel special. I thought I’d share a few of mine, especially for those who are in the process of moving or decorating and are feeling the pressure to have an immaculate show home all at once. If there are any pearls of wisdom that I can offer following mine and Keiran’s first foray into creating a home, it’s that unless you have a budget as broad as your expectations, it’s probably going to take a lot longer than you think. Be patient, and try to discover which little touches could be the most meaningful to you.
Tee - & Other Stories (gifted - affiliate link)
Skirt - Zara
Wherever my Nan goes, she brings a tea towel back as a present. This practice is slowly filtering down to my Mum and to myself, who have been long-standing recipients of said tea towels and now feel not obliged, but fulfilled in returning the favour. They’re actually a pretty useful holiday gift too, or at least more so than a fridge magnet or key ring.
Currently occupying the five hooks in our kitchen are a medley of tea towels in varying states of probably-should-wash-this-now, but the best two of all feature a pair of Shetland ponies with their little baby manes blowing in the wind, and a puffin, because my Nan and Grandad only ever really go to Scotland so the focus is very much on the wildlife of the land up North. They are as far away from ‘fashion’ as can be, but they’re twee and quaint and they remind me of that maternal line each time I see them.
Photos with love.
Both Keiran and I have very strong connections to our grandparents. Mine for me are simply a second set of parents, and I’ve lived with them at various points throughout my life. Atop the shelves in our living room sit two photos of our respective maternal g-pares, golden-framed with pride of place in the most used room of the house. I also have a few older images which I’ve pinched from my Nan’s overflowing personal collection and kept in my bedside table, right next to a photo of Keir and I together. There’s a feeling of the natural progression of things; first my Nan and Grandad, in their twenties and in love, and then a romance of my own, which I can only hope will blossom into something as profound and beautiful as their union. I just really treasure them and it’s important to bring that kind of love into your home.
The artwork you choose to decorate the walls of your home is akin to the clothes you choose to decorate your body each day; it can be pretty for the sake of pretty, it can be meaningful, it can be an outward manifestation of yourself - whatever you want it to be. Ours is a mixture: we have some pieces which are up on the walls simply because they look nice, some which have frozen a particularly desirable episode of nostalgia, and some which communicate who we are as people. We count anything music-related amongst the latter category. I found connecting through music as a means to reaching a more introspective level of interest and exploration in each other - as a way of accessing the more abstract and emotional kind of conversations which led us to talk about life and love as a whole. Imagine us sitting by a window after one too many drinks, listening to Frank Ocean whilst simultaneously scrolling through the lyrics on genius.com and sharing a mutual feeling of ‘wow this guy is fucking something’. Typical ‘so totally deep, dude’ stuff.
I felt the happiest I have ever felt whilst watching Frank Ocean at Lovebox in 2017, Keiran’s arms slung around my neck with the sun setting slowly over London. It was bliss in the most overwhelming and all-consuming sense, and we’ve immortalised that in the smallest degree with a few Frank artwork pieces around the house (I’ve also peppered SZA around where I can, because a girl needs her daily dose of queendom too). I see them everyday and it reminds me of us, of myself, and of the euphoria yet to come.
Exchanging conversation over a freshly poured brew is somewhat of a pillar of our household. From Mums to friends to next door neighbours, as soon as anyone comes through the door, ritual dictates either the kettle be buzzed out of its slumber, or one of us fumbles hopefully with the coffee machine.
Buying fancy mugs for your new pad seems to be a rite of passages for the newly-initiated away-from-HOME-homers; there’s a sliver of luxury in paying extra for some well-styled ceramics, and throughout the years I’ve accumulated quite a collection of what can only be deemed ‘Instagram Mugs’. If your mind has wandered to the Anthropologies and Oliver Boni (the plural of Bonases, I’m sure) of the world, then you’re on the right track.
What makes these special - sentimental, perhaps - is that the best ones were all gifts from my nearest and dearest. I have a few long-standing staples from my uni housemate Ellena, some personalised numbers as loving gifts from Keiran, and a smattering of other shapes, styles and spirits from my brother, Keir's sister, our joint friends - the whole circle. With each mug comes a story, and with each story a snapshot of time which is reembodied and reinvigorated with every hot brew. As I inch over a boiling tea and the steam unfurls slowly up, up, and up past my temples, I’m reminded of the people I love and each individual character preserved in ceramic. Sure, the cupboard space is now at an all-time critical level, but it’s full of goodness so I’m determined to keep finding space.
Think about the pieces which weave together the soul of your home. What makes it into your top four, and why?