What makes a house a home?
You will be relieved to read that it doesn’t take much to make a house a home, ultimately to make a home you need to display and showcase your style/personality through an accumulation of things, like furniture, soft furnishings, pictures, books, crockery etc. Also it needs to look like you use the things you have accumulated as well as living in your home, it is not just for show! I have wooden floors in a most of my rooms and they have scuffs and indentations. That is the beauty of wood it ages well and takes on a lovely character through time.
So my first tip is buy materials that age well, materials like wood, leather, enamel, metal. As well as ageing well, they are practical and will last forever. We are a generation so bogged down with buying new, following the latest interior trend, what matches and where will it go. We end up buying the wrong thing, and then wonder why we don’t like a particular room. You need to follow your gut instincts, think about places you like going, why is you like to eat in certain places, or when go to a hotel you feel at home? It is because you connect with something, is it the colour, the furniture they have used, the smell? You can replicate these things in your home. Remember to keep a note of the things you like, take photographs, start a Pinterest board and build up a visual reference of how you would like to home to look.
My next tip would be to take your time, you don’t need to complete every room in record time. If you have just bought a house and you are trying to put your stamp on it, it can be daunting. I would suggest you live in your house for a bit and get to know every inch, what doesn’t work? Do you need more sockets? What side does the sun go in the afternoon? These are all important discoveries you wont realise until you make a meal, use a hoover or sit down at the end of the day with a nice glass of wine. Make a list of the major changes and figure out what you are going to need to spend to get each room how you want it. If you go in and rip everything out without getting to know your home, you might end up losing some of the character.
When you are at the stage of buying things for your home, be wary of trends, they don’t take into account your home or style. Go with the items that make your heart skip a beat, the items that you will love year after year. It certainly is one of lives pleasures is purchasing something you love, the one that makes you smile every time you use or see it. My next tip would be to go shopping with a check list and dimensions of your room. This will mean you can take advantage of any sales or if you have stumbled upon a second hand piece of furniture and are not sure whether it will fit in the alcove in your lounge. Have photos on your phone of all aspects of each room. This will avoid expensive mistakes! I am sure you all have a favourite shop to purchase interior items but widen your search, whats available locally? Independent shops, speak to the owner, maybe they could source something for you, worth asking. Look at places like auctions, markets and craft fairs. Do get me wrong I love the high street for interior pieces, but mixing new and old makes for a more interesting and layered home.
Go homemade, I don’t mean Kirsty Allsop style (sorry I am not a fan, she is just a posh changing rooms.) this can be done in two ways: Do you have wooden furniture, that has an interesting shape and well made, but you don’t like the colour? It could be it is just needing a handle fixed. If that is the case consider painting it, fixing broken handles or replacing with new to fit with your preferred style. If not confident to jump right there are so many dedicated websites and blogs to upcycling and if you follow the steps, do the necessary prep and use the right products for the material you are working with I can be a simple afternoon project. You can end up with a unique and affordable piece of furniture that will reflect your personality, as well as a genuine sense of achievement. The second option is to by a handcrafted, bespoke artisan pieces. I love using crockery that has not been massed produced. When using a plate or a cup the experience of that daily ritual all the better.
My final tip would be to buy for life, like previous generations did. I am an advocate for buying good quality. However I am aware this might mean spending more, and this is not always practical if need to furnish a whole room/home. But as I have mentioned earlier, you can pick up vintage pieces in all manner of places: auctions and charity shops for a bargain. You are safe in the knowledge they will last your life time and will look as good as they did when you bought them.
Home for me is about being surrounded by personal, meaningful objects. I am drawn to pieces that have character and have an interesting narrative. As a designer and maker, I look for quality materials and appreciate craftsmanship and artistry. Don’t get me wrong I like a bargain as much as everyone and always work to a budget. I don’t expect my home to be the way I want it immediately, you have to let it evolve and develop you style as your home develops. I guarantee by following some or all of the tips above you will achieve that home you deserve.