This is a tale of two houses. Two houses that employed an interior designer who shall of course remain nameless…
The first of these houses was a new build: a SouthFork style mansion with eight bedrooms, stables, a tennis court and too many bathrooms to count. The people who owned it were truly blessed. With a thriving business, scrumptious twin boys and a perfect nine year old daughter, life had seen to it that they had been given the opportunity to build the house of their dreams and the building site that would eventually be their home was buzzing with deorators and plumbers and all manner of other buzzy little worker bees… Once the build reached a certain stage, the family moved in and all of a sudden the atmosphere on site changed dramatically: all workers were asked not to use any one of the many bathrooms but to "please go out in the field", all food and drink was banned and the familys children sat at a makeshift table in the kitchen and ate their salads silently and immaculately. Delivieries of enormous white furniture and serious looking reproduction oil paintings arrived on the hour, cream carpets were laid throughout the house and a painter was sacked on the spot for laughing too loudly. The home owners looked fraught and the interior designer who was positively demented by their relentless exacting demands was reaching the end of her tether. Then one of the little boys spilt a glass of ribena onto the cream shag in the "adults" living room and all hell broke loose. His Mother lost the plot. His Father slapped his leg, one of the painters objected and then there was murder with a tiny little boy standing in the middle of it, a silent, bruised little boy clearly witnessing the plain truth in front of him: that the house, and the cream carpet and the scary oil paintings mattered far more than he ever would…
The second house was a huge Victorian villa owned by the cutest little woman you have ever met. With money coming out of her ears and blonde hair fluffed around her head Diana Dors style, Imogen was a lady without a care in the world and it showed. Being in her house was a pleasure from start to finish. While the house was deliciously decorated, signs that it was inhabited by children were everywhere: from the multiplication tables painted on the bathroom walls to the baskets with each of their names on in the hall. At dinnertime everybody from the cleaner to the mistress of the house, the ironing lady and the kids took lunch together at the battered old pitch pine table in the fabulous kitchen. It was a joyous experience. The wall behind the table was covered in the kids pictures and everywhere you looked photographs of the family and certificates of acheivement were hung proudly. Imogen took afternoon picnics under the dining room table with the kids, let them scribble on a fab wall painted with blackboard paint in the laundry room and had the most divine terracotta pots stuffed with toys in the living room. It was a crazy, mad, silly, lovely house and the interior designer felt that every home of hers thereafter would be shaped by Imogens…
Houses aren’t meant to be serious.
If we let ourselves think of them as living entities we would begin to understand that there should always be room for a sense of humour. If we have children we have to respect them enough to understand that our home is theirs too and if that means reflecting their personalities in all their silly glory then so be it, because if we are to live: to truly live comfortably in our houses then it is essential to loosen up.
Remember interior design isn’t brain surgery.
Silly Things In My House…
Saucy Seaside postcards strung from gingham ribbon and hanging in my living room.
Multi-coloured very, very, tacky fairy lights strung around our kitchen, so the neighbours probably think we celebrate Christmas all year round.
Finley’s first scribble hung in a very serious gilt frame and hung in the kitchen.
My swimming certificate stuffed into the edge of the dining room mirror.
Pink feathers decorating all kinds of things in my bathroom (which isn’t as mad as it sounds. Promise.)
Jars full of marshmallows in the bedroom.
Finleys first shoes hanging in the laundry room.
Photographs of Mark and I as kids, on our bedside tables.
Funny quotes clipped into all our mirrors and pictures to remind us to laugh…
Photos pegged onto a line and strung across Finley’s room.
Pink toned rosy lights in our boudoir…
..And a dog on wheels in the dining room.
What’s silly about your house?