Interior and design magazines have a lot to answer for when it comes to deconstructing our current notion of home.
The tyranny of aspirational living is woefully outdated, selling ‘lifestyles’ with whitewashed walls, statement art, lonely Le Corbusier loungers and sheepskin rugs.
These are houses filled with beautiful objects, but they are like mannequins – not living things. One wonders what it might be like to come home from work and climb onto the lounger with a glass of wine but more often than not, you can feel left a bit self conscious and empty. Its surprising the number of people who don’t allow red wine in their homes.
Homes should be stained. These tell stories of human life and all the clumsy, uncontrollable fun it can contain.
Of course, homes are entirely personal spaces – reflections of who we are and how like to live. And its for this reason that some of us can’t help feeling the anxiety of how we might be judged on showing someone our home for the first time. ‘Ignore the mess’ are stock phrases we’ve all used.
Maybe we can change our understanding of what a home means and what it might look like.
The sterile environments many decorating magazines portray, show the contents of a house in isolation of how it is lived in on a day to day basis. This is not to say that dirty underwear and unwashed mugs should be strewn around. But there’s room for a far greater deal of honesty in the homes we celebrate.
Maybe a kitchen counter should have a unwieldy collection of neglected spice jars. A table should be piled high with magazines and weekend supplements. These are signs of life. And they convey how the anonymous bones of a house becomes something more personal: a home.
We look at such pictures and we recognise our own lives, rather feeling anxious that our lives aren’t as good. Just as important as providing inspiration to people looking for different ways to design, furnish or decorate their homes, photos of others peoples homes should inspire a confidence to live in a certain way: unselfconsciously.
Consider spaces. Time was when rooms in houses were divided into small spaces, each with a prescribed function. You cooked in the kitchen, ate dinner in the dining room, lived in the living room and so on.
The rise of open plan living after the war was ‘modern’ and progressive. Partition walls – the enemy of the architect and the preserve of the uncluttered – went the way of the dodo.
A cavernous converted warehouse apartment with exposed brick was the stuff of dreams: endless uninterrupted space in which to live and party. But the myth that small spaces are claustrophobic or unhealthy should be dispelled with immediate effect.
Small spaces are comforting. Many home owner, when asked what their favourite part of the house is, it almost always turns out to be a nook.
P.S. A little side note on the topic of furniture, its very simple: surround yourself with things that you like.