Useful and beautiful

I have been thinking about the idea of what ‘home’ is a lot lately, mainly because we are in the process of selling our house and buying another. A lot of this is based on the assumption we will be moving to our new home in the New Year, which is by no means certain as yet – hopefully I’m not tempting fate too much!Found on Pinterest

Found on Pinterest

I am incredibly excited about moving, partly for very prosaic reasons like having a shower screen instead of a curtain, a decent sized kitchen where more than one person can be at a time without accidental bottom goosing (fine when it’s just me and Will, less good for visitors) and of course the most wonderful thing of all – room for a dishwasher! I am fantasising about the dishwasher, specifically going to bed and waking up in the morning to find the washing up done. Dishwashers are real life house elves.

There are lots of more emotional reasons too. A big one is that this will be the first house we’ve bought together, Will already owned the house we’re currently in so I wasn’t involved in choosing it. This will be our grownup married home. It is also a lot bigger than our current house so we hope very much it will be our ‘forever’ home. I don’t think I appreciated how different it would feel from our current lovely little house, or how much I wanted to move to something a bit bigger, to allow a bit more space to actually think about how a room is laid out, and design it so it feels both beautiful and ours in a way that no amount of pinning things on Pinterest can.

Since our current house was already fully furnished with Will’s things when I moved in, a lot of the actual moving in or interior design part was working out how to fit two people’s stuff in one house and deciding what we should get rid of. The bookshelves were the most pressing issue, between us we have 12 bookshelves in use in a small two bedroom house. This has meant that if you follow the William Morris statement of ‘have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’ we have ended up on the ‘useful’ end much more than the beautiful. Simple things like a washing basket have had to be carefully measured to see if  they will fit the space. When our old chest of drawers fell apart we had to get a replacement that would fit where the old one would, in a very tight space, which turned out to be a reasonably priced and perfectly practical one from Ikea, but it wasn’t exactly something that made me pleased to see it everyday.

It makes me particularly sad when I see all the gorgeous second-hand, just needing a lick of paint furniture out there, and especially as I really don’t want to buy everything new. As far as I can see it, we are all drowning in stuff, why make more and more new stuff, using energy and resources, rather than just use something someone no longer needs? Especially when there are so many lovely vintage pieces to discover. It makes me a little embarrassed about the idea that we have filled a two bedroom house with our stuff, but I try to be pretty ruthless with everything apart from our three areas of shame – which I do believe make our lives better on the whole. For curiosity’s sake, I should probably say that these areas are books, which I feel needs no justification, especially as we generally buy books secondhand in the first place, and take piles to the charity shop quite regularly. The next is craft supplies, which build up in a scary way and need quite a lot of space to store, but they generally allow me to make things in a more ethical and thoughtful way than buying from new, so I still think they’re allowed. Finally, we have lots of kitchen stuff, which generally comes under the useful banner, with the occasional beautiful thing thrown in as I have an obsession with homeware.

Whilst realising we’ll always have to be careful not to get carried away in these areas, I am keen to not fill the new house for the sake of it (we will have a few rooms that we won’t be able to furnish at all initially – we are so lucky I know; space is such a luxury). I don’t ever want to feel that our stuff is weighing us down so much that we are getting as cramped and crowded as we feel in our current house, as that would suggest we have got huge amounts of junk, which won’t be making us happier I can guarantee. I also have a feeling that when a house is designed to just store stuff it is not so much about feeling like a lovely happy space to be in. I am treasuring the idea that with the next house we will have the time to really think about how we want different spaces to feel and furnish in a way that can make everything, as far as possible, into something beautiful and useful. It’ll be a lovely challenge.