Telling the tale of home
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When you are welcomed into a person’s home, you hope you’ll catch a whiff of who they are. You want to understand their likes, dislikes, views and overall approach to life and hope that it chimes comfortably with the person themselves. Of course, you want to know what it looks like – but once you’ve got over that, your biggest impression will be how it feels.

Conversely – when you welcome someone into your home – you are showing them a visual and very personal manifestation of who you are. Or you should be, because your home should be your story teller – the weaver of the red thread and a marker of you and yours.

You must be aware of your own stylistic roots – who you are and who, and what, has influenced you. Remember what shaped and excited you as a child, as much as your own adventures as an adult. My childhood home felt like home partly because our family pets were buried under the apple tree and it gave me a great sense of place. This translates into my adult homes in that wild orchard-like gardens and animals are always there.

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When creating your own home, it’s super important to forget/positively ignore what anyone else thinks you should do. Your mother, best friend, monthly interiors magazine all have no idea of that particularly unique thread that you need. They are looking at your home from their own perspective of you or in the case of some media, what they want you to buy to neatly fit in with this seasons trends.

So, how do you do it? And how do you stop yourself ‘decorating’ within the whims and constraints of current trends?

Before you start, you need to know what fills you up and what brings you down (man). What sparks joy and what depresses you. Red will never find its way into my home and I personally struggle with the concept of super-spec’d kitchens. Plus, I don’t own a telly. I do love ephemera, sheepskins, curtain-free windows and dogs, and always have. Some, or all of these, may make you break into a cold sweat. Just remember, that one’s approach to creating your home is not better taste or on trend more than someone else’s (and who cares anyway).

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I often visit or read about the homes and creative spaces of thinkers, designers and makers who emphatically chose a very personal way of living. I may not like their choices or their aesthetic leanings, but it is encouraging to understand the freedom they had from creating their own visual world. It doesn’t mean you should replicate what they do, rather give yourself the thumbs-up if you dive head first into your own personal passions.

Creating something that is a visual curation of what you want your home to be, is a great way to begin.

And where you start is with a Storyboard - not a Pinterest/on-line image board – rather a cut-out and keep ‘how do I want to live in my home and how do I want it to feel’ storyboard.

Like all simple and pure creative processes you just need a really large piece/roll of card, glue/tape, a stack of printed material, some writing tools and scissors.

Pull out images, words, and colours from the magazines, catalogues, brochures, tickets, postcards from exhibitions, poems, paint charts - anything that speak to you. Print off anything you’ve stored on your phone or computer too. Note that this storyboard isn’t the place to create a shopping list of things you’d like to buy – you can do that later.  Try not to use images of anything that’s on-trend – because what comes in, goes out – I’m talking to you dark-blue-kitchen-with-a-Carrera-marble-worktop-and-brass-handles…

Then create a visual board of what home is to you -  something that shows an outward expression of what it should feel like. Cut things out, move them around and paste a collage together. You can lay it out and take pictures with your phone and move images around before you finally commit. Write on it if you want to. Add some colour swatches – whatever it is that makes this board a representation of your home.

Once you have done this, you’ll very clearly see a story emerging. Involve everyone in your home in this process. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it.

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I think that this is the very best place to start understanding how to create a home that reflects you. Put it somewhere you can see it every day. Live with it, change it, but take your time to know that it’s you.

Because creating a personalised space isn’t a race, it’s your home.

From Remodelista

Cassandra EllisComment
Kettles Yard – Living, not decorating.

I have visited Kettle Yard dozens of times over the last few years – six pilgrimages alone in the last few months before it closed for renovation. I was a little bit desperate to draw the soul of it into my conscious and my heart, nervous that when it re-opens, the very smart new visitors centre will slick it up, rendering it a bit Disney, or a bit too easy. I am genuinely moved every time I step past the jangly bell and are properly sad that it has been closed for two (or more) years.

There are only a handful of places that genuinely make me feel and think so fully  – and think about the purpose of interior design/decorating/styling. What is the point of this profession, this idea that one’s home must look incredible, as opposed to feel incredible. These places I visit over and over to try to connect the emotive reaction to the physical facts. They are all extremely beautiful places, but none are decorated for decorations sake alone and that I think is the key to me loving them - and Kettles Yard in particular.

Kettles Yard at its simplest is a smallish cottage knocked together from several, with a modernist and very large extension. It’s painted one shade of white paint and is both awkward and extraordinary in layout. The magic is that it isn’t officially interior decorated, it is instead a long and rambling poem revealing someone’s life. Story telling at the heart and a completely personal point of view. The house and people are manifestations of each other and everything chosen with their idea of beauty firmly held in solid gaze. You know what this family loves, what they feel and where they have been before. You can see and feel relationships, wear and tear and their unique priorities (which wouldn’t be the kitchen in their home) and that I think is the secret.

If I find myself swayed by a colour palette or fabric when working on any project, I stop myself and ask why. If it’s because it is a nod towards current trends, I put it aside. If it seems somehow attached the person or place and how they want to live, we move forward and the story continues.

An architect acquaintance once mentioned that his potential clients often want him to design their homes to be ‘so Kettles Yard’; complete with the mass purchase of pots, books, paintings and stones. He’s a very intelligent man so I hope he turns them down.

Images 1,4,7 & 10 courtesy of Kettles Yard

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The Daybed - the enhancer.

The daybed is the most popular piece in our furniture collection. I’m sure that shooting the pink version had a lot to do with it. Although I hope that it’s because as a piece of furniture it makes perfect sense, as much as it makes you feel – and feel really good.

I thought a great deal about how people live and would like to live before I started the range. I’m more interested in movement, flow and overall comfort in living than I am with creating a radical/design statement/this seasons must have piece. Instead I prefer tactile, comfortable (in both senses) and beautiful pieces that work for all types of people and all types of homes. I’m really interested in how lives evolve and the storytelling aspect of the items we collect on the way. So everything has to have a reason to exist as well as being (what I think is) beautiful.

I feel that the daybed is the nub of the collection.  It works in homes that are tightly squeezed multi-taskers, as much as it works in really large homes, where rooms need more energy – more places for people and animals to be. Empty or spare rooms lose the vigour that people and living give a home - and so - the Daybed.

The spare room becomes your art/office/novel writing room with somewhere for overnight guests to crash. Or it sits quietly in your studio flat for the same reason. Or – at the end of your bed where you/your children/grandchildren can read/play board games/nap/do nothing. I think people react emotively to it because of how you feel when you see it. It’s asking you to nap, daydream or gaze at a view. More importantly it invites other people into your home where perhaps the previous options were a blow up mattress or not having people stay over at all. Although a sofa is a sofa, it can also be the support role in your story – and that’s what I spend most of my time thinking about.

From a visual and workable point of view it is low and straight backed – and armless. It’s there, but not there and so can sit and fit almost anywhere. Yet it is wide and long enough to sleep on. And it’s really very well made – I call it the ‘three man carry’ well made. If you can pick up a sofa with two people without feeling the strain, put it back down and walk away.

I think the daybed is definitely life enhancing if not life changing – and not just when it’s pink.

View the Day bed

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Cassandra EllisComment