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Tuesday, November 26, 2013


What is that makes a place feel like home? Fin and I lived in our last flat for nearly three years, but we never felt as comfortable there as we do where we are now. On paper - and who am I kidding, in reality - the last flat was much nicer. It was newer, it was bigger, it was comfier. It had two bathrooms and neither of them had a beige bathroom suite, which is more than I can say for our current flat. Being inside our bathroom now is like being inside a biscuit.

So why do we feel so at home here? The location is better, I'll give it that. The city centre is easily walkable and there's a huge, wild-ish park right on our doorstep. We're right at the cul of a little leafy sac, so it's always quiet. It's the most peaceful spot I've ever found in this moderately bustling city. I don't know if that's it, though.

We've somehow managed to make this place feel more ours. Like the last flat, this one's furnished with someone else's crap cast-off furniture, but unlike the last flat, none of it's lilac. Is there a worse colour than lilac? I don't know if there is. Maybe chartreuse, but it's a close one. (Here's proof, if proof were needed, that lilac couches are a Very Bad Thing).

Our living room now is filled with warm colours, layered patterns, natural textures, candles, wood. The artwork on the wall is there because we love it or it means something, not just because it happens to have lilac in it. It has carpets on which Smidgen and Eeyore can do their crazy dance instead of skiting across shiny, dust-gathering laminate.

It's just comfy. It feels like us. It feels right.

I mean, don't get me wrong. It's small and weirdly shaped and the bathroom really is hideous. I would never buy this flat (or the one currently for sale downstairs), much as I love where we are. But I don't know if I'd buy somewhere else, either.

Someone asked me the other day, if we had the money, would we buy a home of our own. My honest answer is that I don't know. The thought of moving again gives me the chills, and not in a good way, but I don't think it's just laziness that makes me hesitate.

When it comes down to it, I don't think my feelings have changed much since I wrote this post back in 2011. Buying property just doesn't look like everything it's cracked up to be, especially since I've seen friends unable to sell those starter flats that seemed like such a good idea a few years ago. And now that I've figured out how easy it is to make your walls look pretty with some wrapping paper and a cheap frame, I care even less about my ability to paint the walls a crazy colour. (Seriously, Cavallini gift wrap looks so good in this Ikea frame that I've started hanging one in every room. Top tip.)

Sure, it would be lovely to have somewhere we could call our own. In my dream world, it would probably look something like that picture up there, and it would be on a hillside with a burn bubbling past, and we would have a pet alpaca called Jorge, but do I need that to feel happy? Do I need it to feel comfortable? Do I need it to feel like I'm home?

I don't think I do.


SEE ALSO:


Image of Emma Campbell's Kenyan home shot for The World of Interiors April 2012

15 boats moored

  1. cavallini paper is the best. Sounds like you are v.at home in your flat but I think at the moment I'm the opposite. Although the location of my rented flat is amazing, and it has felt like home for most of the last two years, I'm getting a little tired of renting. It's probably a grass is always greener scenario but I know we went to move on, hopefully to buy somewhere with a garden...but i think they're rare in London!

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    1. Mmm, a garden would be lovely. We're lucky with outside space here, but it's not the same as having a little slice of grass to call your own.

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  2. FRAAAAMES!

    As one of the people who has struggled to sell our starter flat I see where you're coming from. The only real benefit is in getting a bit of equity for the onward deposit.

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  3. Oh I hear you on the beige coloured bathroom!!! Ours is peach... I hate it... but there is no chance of us changing it any time soon.

    I think you're right about what makes a house a home - it is about feeling comfortable where you are.

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  4. Another person who doesn't think buying is the be all and end all! I just think a mortgage would keep me up at nights....buying doesn't really appeal to me, even if it means moving once a year etc.

    Your place looks excellent.

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    1. I *wish* that was my place. The only things my real flat has in common with that picture are the piles of books and a vaguely similar rug. Still, a girl can dream...

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  5. I like the freedom of renting. If I want to move I can do so in a month's time. With a mortgage you are so tied down. I'd rather the flexibility, beige bathrooms and all!

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    1. Absolutely - flexibility is an underrated commodity. In my head I live the life of an international spy who might need to move to a glamorous apartment in Berlin at a moment's notice. Sadly, this hasn't actually happened yet.

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    2. One of my favourite things is all the other lives I live in my head! Sometimes on aeroplanes I tell them to strangers as if they were real. Its quite a good way of trying things on for size / making decisions....

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  6. Lilac is indeed a dreadful colour. I hate pink more but I know I'm firmly in a minority there. I did once go to see a house that had an orange 'marble effect' bathroom suite - it was orange with chips of other colours liberally scattered in it. It took me a long time to recover (would have hidden any ensuing vomit well though).

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  7. I think what makes a house a home is such an interesting question - we are half way through an itinerant five months while the builders take our house to pieces and put it back together differently (having unwisely made the decision to buy!) and it is fascinating to see how other people make their houses a home to them, and to deconstruct what makes it feel homely, or not, to me.

    Which leads on to a whole different question about how we make OUR house a home once we finally move back in, to which I don't have an answer yet. And slightly refuse to think about because I am terrified I won't be able to do it and it will all have been a very expensive mistake.

    Another little recognised benefit of renting - you can hide behind the bad taste of your landlady (in my case, it was the corduroy sofas) and never have to admit that you don't really know how to make a house look nice, let alone feel like a home.

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  8. I will just pop in here to vouch for the fact that yes, indeed, the Kirsfinidge House feels 110% like their home. I think the first thing I said when we came around was, "Wow! It's so you!" (Well, either that or, "We bought this wine for two pounds at Tesco, I hope it isn't terrible.") It really is a lovely cozy place, you have every right to be pleased!

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  9. I totally agree that a rental can still feel like 'home' - in fact, I've lived in about 20 different rentals myself and while some of them never felt quite right, it was the idea of not HAVING to be there that kept my spirits up, always looking for something more right... in fact, my house is the 3rd purchase in my life (first one when I lived in the US, the second, a flat purchased with my now ex-boyfriend and there have been rentals in between) but it's the first one where I didn't actually want to leave. I don't feel trapped, I want desperately for it to be 'perfect' (whatever that means) and I love that it's mine (and his of course). In this house, it is all it's cracked up to be for me and for this time in my life. But there was no rush, there never has been. The timing feels right now, the settling is comfortable and not scary. I guess my point is that you don't have to feel pressured into owning if your time isn't here. Maybe it won't come, maybe it will. The important thing is that what you have works for you right now - and that IS all it's cracked up to be. Enjoy x

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  10. Love this.

    I felt quite similarly about the last place we rented in California. It was not without its quirks and problems (lo, there were problems), but it felt like home somehow. It felt comfortable.

    "Home" is a lofty concept, but I believe it can be found anywhere the lilac furniture is not.

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