Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Difference Between a House and a Home

Today was "take your child to work day", and as part of the deal, I dragged my daughter around a furniture store looking for items for clients, then asked her to write a blog post for me. All I asked was that it had something to do with home, style, life etc. So, with immense pride, I am sharing her very first blog post with you.....

I like to believe that we live every day to go home every night.
Home is so commonly thought of as a place to live, a building, an investment, or the place that holds all our stuff. It has gotten to the point where the word "home" has become so superficially used.
Not every house is a home, and not every home is a house.
Houses are built with pipes and beams, homes are built with hand-signed memories and countless astonishing imperfections. It is because of this, that in my head, it only makes sense that a home can also be a person. What we all love in the concept of a home is the consistency.
The place that you will never cease to go back to. On the best and worst days of our lives, our homes are the places we run to first, and the people we go to tell.
Home is the place that we feel safest. The place you go or the person you see during an intense thunderstorm. The spot that you think of first when you are left directionless.
Home is a feeling, a consistency that is essential to our happiness. Homes are not perfect. Actually, it is highly unlikely that something perfect can be a home. It is when you leave, that you start appreciating all the imperfections. That one corner you always stub your toe on, the ever so slightly uneven floors, the chips in the paint on the wall, and the little piece of dust that always seems to find it's way back into the corner.
It is nothing less than amazing how at the end of every day, we have somewhere, chock full of beautiful imperfections and timeless memories, to call our home.                  

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Curate not Decorate

I can't take credit for the title of this blog; I read it somewhere recently, and I think my heart actually skipped a beat because I knew exactly what he meant. I know it was a designer who said it, and I think it was a gentleman, but it could have been in any one of the dozen magazines sitting in my china cabinet. Does anyone else store magazines in their china cabinet?

Any decorator will tell you that a home needs accessories, but I find that the word kind of reminds me of when my daughter was first told to study at school. Barely able to read, she said okay, went home and read her books; but she didn't know what studying was, or why it needed to be done. We just assumed that if they were in school then they must have known how to learn. Fortunately, her teacher's were wonderful, and it was a fleeting moment in time, but I sometimes think that accessories fall into that same category.

Waving our arms around, we say that you must accessorize, and while it all looks lovely and decorated when we are done, there is sometimes very little explanation about the magic behind the pretty room. In our haste, we forget to tell you the most important part.
Because accessories take time. They are the warmth in a home; the layers of comfort that draw us in, cozy us up, and tell us stories about the person who lives there. It's about a journey, and they should feel collected (not as if you got trapped in a home goods store, and when they found you they said you could keep as much as you could carry).

Accessories are the bits and pieces that say who we are; they bring us happiness by being so cherished, and they allow others to really get to know us. They don't need to be loud or provocative, they just need to be genuine; a carefully placed pile of books, no matter how beautiful, will always feel hollow if you bought them for looks instead of what was inside.
We want to know why you were compelled to buy that painting, or what made you love that rock so much that you didn't mind paying the extra fee to bring it home in your suitcase. If it's in your home it should matter to you.

If your need for accessories and doodads are few, then make them count; buy only for love, not just because it is on sale and someone said you needed to fill a space. Be open to looking in different shops, searching attics, and wandering through garage sales to discover what you are drawn to. Ask friends about their home, what they like, and why. If you still don't know, go old school and tear out favorite magazine pages, or create an idea board on Pinterest.

There are no rules about what you should (and shouldn't) like, but from a collected jar of pencils to the most exquisite piece of art, your accessories should make you smile, and they should be able to speak for you.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Joy of Junk Mail

Lots of people I meet have a hatred for the mail; it's shoved in drawers, overflowing from plastic bags, or abandoned in boxes for days on end. But my daughter and I actually fight to see who goes and collects the mail. We both rummage through it, as we slowly walk back to the step, seeing if there are postcards for her, or magazines and catalogs for me. Occasionally, there is a real letter, but sometimes it is just a few, official looking envelopes, screaming out for our attention, when they are merely clever impostors, pretending to be far more important than they really are.

We look at them together, and I roll my eyes at the credit card invitations, while she is excited at their promise of (seemingly) large amounts of money coming our way. I rip the plastic off the magazines, scan the headlines, and try to guess who is the latest beauty on the cover. I briefly believe them when they say that the new hair cut will make me look young and slim, then I put it carefully aside, coveting its promise for an indulgent, quiet read later on.

Getting the mail is a game to us, and I realized yesterday it's because our focus isn't on the bills and thoughtless, shiny pieces of advertisement (I always mean to take up the coupon crusade, but I just can't seem to do it). These, we can't avoid, but in the middle of the necessity is the fun of always having something unexpected to look forward to.

Yes, it may be setting the bar for enjoyment pretty low, but we never know what is going to arrive. Like everyone, I have had my fair share of devastating envelopes, but amidst the fear and breathlessness, the garden catalogs continue to arrive, and the fashion magazines still sweetly call my name.

I know we are supposed to cut down on clutter, and unsubscribe to everything, but I don't want my world to be that sanitized and pared down to exactly what I want. I control enough in my life, without knowing (and dreading) exactly what I will see every day. I like to be surprised; to have my eyes opened to something different, and to be allowed to wonder why on earth I have just received the latest bass fishing catalog .....

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Fairy Light Tales

Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a slight crush on Nigella Lawson; her cooking style is really similar to mine, and while I will never be as talented as she, I do tend to waltz around the kitchen at all hours, want everything to be delicious, and just know that daydreaming is an under-appreciated art.

One day, I was watching her cook, and I noticed that she had fairy lights around her kitchen window; assuming it must have been filmed during Christmastime, I thought they looked pretty, but didn't think too much about it. The next time I watched, they were there again, and I realized that they weren't just there for special occasions, she had them up year round. It was the first time, apart from being styled in magazines, that I had seen anyone use fairy lights in their everyday life.

It seemed so indulgent and fancy, that it just gave me another reason to like her even more. While I had often thought about buying my own fairy lights, I was never sure where I would put them, and I suspected that they might look a tad silly in my own corner of suburbia; after all, my home isn't featured on television, and I can only ever pretend to be Nigella.

So, I added them to my wish list, and went about my daily life, until a few months ago when a friend and I visited our favorite home and garden shop. When we walked through the door, the sky high room was literally dripping in branches that were covered in teeny, tiny fairy lights. Excruciatingly beautiful copper wires had been delicately wound throughout the shop for miles; we couldn't even see where each one began, all I know is that we couldn't stop smiling. and we decided that we must curl up in a corner and spend the night there.
We never did, but our reluctance to leave was a small price to pay for a few, giddy hours of happiness.

When December came, I had my Christmas tree lights on all day, and I started to wonder how it would be when they were gone. I would miss having the small sparkles appear at the press of a button, but I petulantly told myself that they were only for special occasions, and they would be plugged back in again next year. Besides, who buys fairy lights when there are so many other important (grown-up) things to worry about?

A few days after the tree had been taken down, my friend and I exchanged presents. Inside mine were glorious strings of copper, fairy lights, and the happy, grateful madness began. My inner child took over, preconceived ideas were abandoned, and I immediately put them on the small tree in my living room. Now, whenever I want to, I just press the button, and the room (and my life) feels just a bit more special ....

Thank you, Stephanie!

Sources: Top left: Pinterest Top middle: One Kind Design Top right: We Hang Christmas Lights 
Middle: Tesco Bottom right: Babble Bottom middle: Pinterest Bottom left: Home My Design

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Invisible Clutter

Just when you thought that you had read everything you could about clutter, along comes another kind ..... invisible clutter. So, now, as well as that pile of bills and scrunched up clothing that live permanently in the bottom of your laundry basket, there are things cluttering up your home that you didn't even know were there!

But, this is the easy clutter, the stuff that we can hide, or get rid of without any emotional attachment; it's not sentimental or overwhelming, but it does clutter up our homes unnecessarily. My thought is, that the workhorses of our home, the boring everyday things that we need, should be simple and classic, almost invisible, but still hardworking and reliable.

We all know that it takes just as much time to buy clear dish soap, as it does to buy the orange, but the orange yells at us from the supermarket shelf, and (unbeknownst to us) comes home and adds just another layer of clutter to our kitchen. It sounds so daft, but just give it a try; take away the orange soap for a moment, and see what a difference it makes. You should be drawn to something beautiful, fun or interesting in your kitchen, not a plastic bottle of neon orange liquid.

Of course, if you adore the scent of the orange soap (or you have an orange kitchen) I would never suggest that you change, but if you have some wiggle room, and do feel like your home needs a little less stuff in it, just try to simplify the look of the things that you use every day. Let the mundane blend into the background, and leave the fancy colors and patterns for the real decorations ...

p.s. Don't you just love the invisible vase floating in the main photograph?

The other photographs are from: Common Good and Co (dish soap) Apartment Therapy (toilet paper) Antique Farmhouse (soap dishes) Land of Nod (garbage can) Pinterest (towels)