How much would you say your home is a reflection of you?
I think a lot of people would say that actually, they’ve just picked what they liked from a catalogue and not really thought about how those features represent who they are – if they do at all! Don’t feel bad, you guys – I’m certainly guilty of the same. But it turns out, it’s probably not making us as happy as we could be. Let me tell you why…
I went to a really fun interactive masterclass recently with Ashlyn Gibson, an interior designer, stylist, art director and owner of Olive Loves Alfie – one of the most gorgeous little lifestyle stores which celebrates individuality in London’s hottest new postcode, E20. It was all part of their #MakeYourselfAtHome campaign with Get Living London and East Village, turning the former Athletes’ Village (y’know, from the Olympics!) into trendy urban accommodation.
She talked us through some of her favourite projects and how anyone can add personality to their home.
My biggest takeaway from the session was just how important it is to feel like your house is yours. Not necessarily in the ownership sense, but as if someone were to visit and know immediately that it was you who lives there.
I’d like to think that if I was ever on Through T’Keyhole (yes the Keith Lemon version, shoot me), they would say:
“Hey, that looks like Karen would live there!”
It’s harder than it looks though. I flick through my old blog posts from time to time and I can’t stand how we decorated this house. I imagine so many people out there do exactly what Joe and I did; head to your local paint store (for us, it was B&Q), picked out a colour which looked inoffensive, and then just painted some rooms.
Over time living in the space meant I grew to really loathe them, not because they were particularly bad-looking, but because I didn’t connect with it. We simply hadn’t reached the stage of personalising it yet due to renovations.
But slowly but surely, over the past 5 years, we’ve added trinkets, photographs, souvenirs from trips, items which are in-jokes, found colours that work with our home and personality…and they all mean something to us.
I wanted to share some of the key learnings from the session with Ashlyn which completely spoke to me:
- Give your home a narrative which reflects your life. Don’t worry about re-decorating over and over. Your life changes, so let your house evolve layer by layer, too.
- Take a more soulful approach to your home. Find out what speaks your language and allow yourself some space to do with as you please.
- Don’t be afraid to move outside of the trend culture. The zeitgesit is to be authentic.
That last one speaks to me so much. I don’t like the idea of following trends…just because it’s a trend. I think we spend far too much time and money trying to impress others with what we think should look good, and when it comes to your house, it’s you who has to live in it every single day. So make it somewhere you love to be.
When I got home, I flicked through Ashlyn’s books and found them so completely inspiring that I’ve asked my mum to take a look too. She’s currently starting from scratch re-decorating her entire house and she’s looking at ways to put her stamp on the property.
She’s stumped, so I gave her these 4 questions to think about. They were asked to us by Ashlyn in order to figure out how where to begin in adding personality to our home.
- A favourite place or somewhere that inspires us
- A person of significance in your life
- An item that you cherish
- A cultural experience of importance to you, such as a film or painting.
I’ll tell you what my answer was to an item I cherish. It’s my Lego figurines.
They were made especially as a wedding present by one of mine and Joe’s best friends. They’re colourful, they’re nerdy, and rather than keep them stashed somewhere as a souvenir, we’ve used them as a focal piece in our lounge. It’s something that I know is completely unique and it makes me feel like our living space is all for us because of them.
They’re not contrived. It’s not taken out of a glossy magazine. They’re ours and I love it all the more for that.
How would you answer Ashlyn’s questions? How do you make your house a reflection of you? I’d love to hear what you think and how you’ve made yourself a home.
Follow me on Facebook to hear about the rest of the masterclass next week on the psychoology of colour in interiors.