I have moved so many times in my life that I can unpack and set up my home in three weeks flat. That includes scrubbing down every cupboard and countertop, and washing all the walls and floors. I don’t care how clean my new space looks on the surface; I need to do a deep clean before I unpack partly so I know it is clean to my standard but also to remove the previous owner’s energy. And by touching every wall and surface I get to know the feel of the space.
Once that is done, I will unpack the things I need for daily living but the finishing touches I leave for at least two months. Knick knacks and treasures stay in their boxes and pictures lay against the wall waiting to be hung.
I didn’t always do this. In my earlier moves, I was in such a rush to make the alien space I was moving into with its odd smells and unfamiliar sounds feel safe and familiar that I would slap up pictures and artwork and arrange my treasures willy-nilly just to banish the strangeness to the corners of the room. Quickly putting out my things so I could see and touch the familiar like a security blanket.
It calmed me down to have my things out in the new environment but in not considering the personality of my new abode, how the energy and light flowed through the space, where it got stuck and the air stuffy or how I would use the space every day I would inevitably have to go back and rearrange the wall art and displays and sometimes even the furniture layout and function of a space.
If you want to have a great relationship with your house and make it feel like a home you need to spend a few months getting to know each other. Then and only then do I place my things out in locations that both honour the treasures and the home, creating a harmonious new union.
So for the few months I was learning about my new space, getting to know its quirks I started watching beauty gurus on YouTube. My discoveries on beauty and the modern young woman is a blog for another day, but what I noticed with the majority of these bright young things is that their spaces were beautifully decorated with the same design esthetic, soft grey or white walls, white lacquered tables, white or grey tailored sofas, lots of silver or rose gold to add sparkle, fresh flowers and gleaming pristine kitchens. These spaces all looked like they came ready-made out of the pages of a design magazine.
I remember being in my early twenties and setting up my first apartments, the thrill of picking out furniture and accessories, cookware and towels, although it would be several years and apartments later that I could afford to buy new. But I remember adopting the latest trend in home design from top to bottom. If a home reflects who you are, in your twenties you are still relatively fresh out of the package without much life experience to shape your taste in the space you call home.
When you are older you have more memories, experiences and a clearer understanding of who you are down to what you prefer as opposed to what others would have you like. I’m sure that if I were twenty-something today, my space would look just like all those fabulous young YouTubers right down to the granite counter tops in a kitchen that is never used except to make a salad or tea.
But in my well-worn skin, I like my spaces to feel comfortable, cozy and relaxed. My ideal design esthetic is an English country home where the décor pieces have been handed down for generations, telling stories of the lives of the people who inhabited the home, of furniture that is slightly threadbare giving the whole place a feel of benign neglect where dogs are welcome to snooze on sofas with slightly sagging cushions and where there is always something delicious simmering on the Aga in a kitchen that is more utilitarian than sleek.
So dear readers, whether you are in your twenties or, like me, inching every closer to fifty, what does your current space look like? Does it reflect your authentic self? And what is the style of decorating that resonates with you?