My head is full to the brim with houses right now. For those of you who don’t follow me on Instagram, you have missed out on the saga of the last month – we’ve found a new home and are moving 202 miles away to a little town in the Snowdonia National Park. Bet you didn’t see that coming, right?
This new house has a lot of expectations on its shoulders. Not only our hopes and wishes of what our new life will be like, but practical expectations too. I will be working there, living there, it will be my sanctuary when I feel alone in a new town, and it will be a sometime hotel to the family and friends we insist on coming to stay.
So what goes into this new home, and the planning and design of the rooms and atmosphere, are more important than the last time we moved. How am I going to make this house a home, and how can I help it fulfil all the duties I expect of it?
Inspired by Blogtacular x West Elm I’m starting with the furniture we need, and how I want it to make me feel in this new chapter of my life. I’ve picked out some West Elm goodies that would feature in my #dreamwestelm makeover, but are nonetheless inspiring the aesthetic of our new home.
In our old house, it always felt a little like we were camping out. It always felt…temporary. A classic case of a house that had been rented out for decades, with only the bare minimum of work and updating done to it – there were cracks in the plaster, paint flaking off in chunks and peeling woodchip wallpaper. No matter how much I spread around my trinkets and spruced with flowers, the walls were still crumbling away from the persistent damp.
Our new home, however, is freshly refurbished with the counter tops of dreams and beautiful pine doors. An old Welsh miner’s cottage, it sits at the end of a teeny narrow terrace, has zero straight walls or angles and is built with huge thick grey stone. There are ferns growing out of the back wall and perfect views of the mountains from the window. So it’s pretty dreamy (not quite a farmhouse with an orchard, but still dreamy).
But still there’s work to be done to make it our own. Here are my three commandments for designing this house, and I’d love to know any you’d add in the comments.
It shall be light and airy
While the walls are painted a light magnolia (of course), I am conscious that this house will be prone to darkness. The Welsh climate isn’t known for its year-round sunshine, and with old thick walls come small windows and slate floors and sills.
I therefore want to avoid bulky furniture, dark woods and general clutter that will steal the light. Given that it’s a design aesthetic made to deal with limited light, I’m heading down the Scandinavian route when it comes to theme. Simple accessories, block colours, and light, mid-century style furniture are what I’m coveting. I’m hoping this look will also help keep the decks a bit clearer and make me commit to that clean-lined aesthetic.
Case in point is West Elm’s Ladder Shelf Media Console. When you rent you can’t just be drilling holes all over the place, so you end up with a lot of bare wall, or big bookcases. These open shelves make use of that space without being bulky or light-stealing (and just imagine the shelfies…).
There will be quality over quantity
We moved into our last house very quickly, and we needed to buy a house full of furniture in a matter of weeks. As such we bought cheap and cheerful, and I think that is part of the reason it never felt homely. A cheap MDF coffee table is never going to feel as precious and stable as real wood with a gorgeous patina.
I think we underestimate that in our homes and furniture. Just how much effect they can have on our mood and well being. So I’m keen, where I can, to buy things that aren’t going to make me feel temporary, that will make me joyful and content. I’m going to be a little prone to loneliness as it is, so I want to be surrounded by things that build me up not bring me down. Things that I love, things with a little heart and soul, things which I can be confident in and things I can feel good about.
Each room will have it’s own purpose
At some point it became necessary, or fashionable, for rooms to have multiple functions – see kitchen-diner and bedroom-office. Of course, needs must in small and urban homes, but in our old home we really took it the extreme. We had a bathroom-utility, the lounge was a living-dining-exercise-office room and our bedroom tripled up as the attic and laundry room.
None of which was particularly zen or calming and led to a general feeling of mess and chaos all over the place. This is something I’m desperate to get away from.
I want every room to have a purpose. Moving into an area of much lower house prices has meant we’ve got a third bedroom, which has opened up a world of opportunity. In the old attic on the top floor of the house are the two rooms with the best views and light. My vision for up here is to have a floor of creativity. One of the rooms will be Dan’s room, where all his 60s and 70s vinyl can be displayed and played to his heart’s content (and maybe I’ll do a sneaky bit of yoga in there too).
The other room is going to be my office. It was really important to me to have boundaries now I’m going to be working for myself from home and I wanted to make sure I had a room to work in so the living room could be a laptop-free zone. This is the lightest room in the house, so as well as my writing and marketing work I’ll be doing the crafts I’ve been longing to take up and doing all my photography in here.
The #dreamwestelm Makeover
I’m focusing on this creativity floor for my #dreamwestelm makeover (it’s mainly just my office but I don’t want to be completely selfish now…😉).
I need a small desk – the bigger the desk the more space there is for me to dump piles of paper and photo props. I can’t choose between these two: I love the clean lines and openness of the of the Mid-Century Mini Desk (and it’s photo backdrop potential, obvs), but I’ve wanted a bureau-style desk since I was really little and the Mid-Century Mini Secretary is the stuff of my childhood dreams (yep, I was that kind of kid). Which would you choose? Maybe I need two desks….
A spinny chair that looks and feels like an armchair – need I say more? I can just see myself in the winter months, wrapped in a blanket cradling a cup of tea, gazing out of the window trying to spot the mountain top through the mist. Given my persistent back problems it is doubly important for me to have a good quality, supportive chair to work in, and the Helvetica Office Chair comes a gorgeous dark grey, so winning (and spinning) all round.
Storage is key for me in our new house. In order to keep the clean uncluttered lines I crave I need to, well, keep the lines uncluttered. That means having furniture I can hide all my props and papers behind, while displaying only some key favourite items.
The Fishs Eddy Sideboard (above) combines practical storage with the lightness I’m looking for – the white and tonal greys lighten up the whole piece and slot just perfectly into the Scandi theme (and also you all know how much I love grey). Similarly the Modern Narrow Tower bookcase is just the right size for slotting into our weird angles while keeping it all airy.
I still want to keep this space homely and cosy – I want a little soft feminity among the light wood and storage. I love decorating with texture, I think it’s the easiest way to create interest and comfort, so I’m looking for textures to complement my already huge wool blanket collection.
I’m looking at the Mural Collection Abstract Rug (above) with its pinky browns and greys to bring luscious softness, braided baskets for extra storage (and photos, of course), plus a statement planter to inject some energising greenery. All to be paired with my favourite prints from indie makers, and, if I ever get around to it, some homemade bits and pieces too. First on the list is a lovely textural cork board…