Last night, in keeping with one of my resolutions for the year, instead of watching TV, cleaning (!) or surfing the net, I pulled out a book and decided to spend a couple of hours reading. I’d forgotten how much I really loved it, and have a sneaky feeling I’m going to hit my “book a month” goal easily! But while I lay there on the sofa, I took the opportunity to actually look around my living room. And I pondered the question: what impression do people get when they come to visit? What does this space say about me?
Growing up, my parents always decorated beautifully. Harmonious colour combinations, and funky Ikea bookcases mixed in with some beautiful mahogany furniture; huge art prints in gorgeous frames, ornaments and sculptures collected from various world travels, and room renovations like you wouldn’t believe. Seriously – I remember them knocking down walls to make an enormous bathroom, with cork flooring, snazzy oversized tiles on the walls, textured wallpaper and corner cupboards (and a bathtub) with wood stained the deepest of turquoises. I loved living somewhere with so much thought put into its presentation; when I moved out, I was perturbed by the fact that I had absolutely zero in the way of decorations, or even standard possessions.
I didn’t have anything. I didn’t have a TV, anywhere to store DVDs or CDs, a proper sofa or even a bed, and I certainly didn’t have much to hang on the walls. I moved out a poor student, and continued through a series of rather sparse-looking apartments with some really rubbish flatmates into a poor working adult. So I’ve never really been able to afford nice stuff. I remember apartment-hopping, living off inherited furniture from friends/past flatmates, buying crockery and cutlery at the dollar store, and taping posters to the wall because I couldn’t afford frames. Home is where the heart is, as they say, and what does mine say about me?
Allow me to invite you round for a proverbial cup of tea. One year ago, I was frantically struggling to get out of a lease and find somewhere I could afford by myself. I was sick of cohabitation dramatics, and Sweet and I had only been together 7 months, so I didn’t think we’d be moving in together. I was tearing my hair out trying to find a place that wasn’t a complete hole/potential murder scene that would actually be affordable, when the unthinkable happened.
Sweet said we could move in together. We ran around in the snow of a new year, and found something amazing. A full, two-storey house with new appliances, flooring, paint and windows in a really good location. It was $100 more than I was paying for my tiny little apartment. There had to be a catch. We went one very cold day to the open house, and it was beyond wonderful. A family of 4 had been living there before, and were relocating somewhere bigger with their new baby, but filled our questing heads with promises of low bills, nice neighbours, and a great landlord. We had to apply, so we did, but didn’t get our hopes up. I was making $25k and he was new to teaching – and subbing at the time. It didn’t exactly scream stability. I spent the next week looking elsewhere, sure we wouldn’t be picked over more affluent, settled, nicer and more secure applicants. But we were picked over more secure applicants – I got the phone call while my best friend and I were scouring the local charity shop for new outfits (because we’re hip that way), and I remember screaming and RUNNING at her down the shoe aisle. We hugged and jumped around like crazy people, and within the week, Sweet and I were moved in.
Once I had the keys, I remember taking the bus just to visit my beautiful new (empty) house every day until moving day. I was going to be in a house, with the person I loved, with no crazy roommates who’d steal my things, break my doors, or leave piles of my dishes moulding in their bedrooms for weeks on end while they sat there not showering. This was perfect. And I wanted to make it look perfect, this time, too. It was a new chapter in my life, and for the first time, I had somewhere I could call my home. I wanted it to represent us. And though we still can’t paint – we’ve managed to decorate enough that I’m perfectly content with what we have.
When you come into our house, I’d like to think it’s welcoming. It’s very open-concept, and the living room bleeds into the kitchen, which in turn dissipates into the computer area under the stairs. Everything is so open we can play music off the computer, and have the whole lower level bathed in song. Throughout downstairs there are little things that tie in to my love for Ireland, a love that’s been in existence ever since I visited two years ago. There’s a framed poster of a beautiful page from the Book of Kells, little lightswitch coverings of celtic knotwork, and photos I took of Dublin’s architecture going up the stairs. We have several faux trees, covered in fairy lights, and our main wallspace is taken up by a series of black and white framed photographs of those we love, surrounding a large, framed landscape of the London skyline at dusk. There is a bookcase, whose shelves are buckling with the cramming of too many books piled inside, and perhaps too many candles and photos on top. We have a small, old television but a giant, comfy sectional sofa – I hope this says how small a role TV plays in our lives, and how large good company.
Upstairs we have two bedrooms; one, mostly for storage (and the cat), and the main bedroom, for us. We invested in a lovely ornate wrought iron bedframe (around which are entwined more fairy lights, which we use instead of a lamp), and the comfiest mattress we could find. We have a dresser, upon whose mirror are tacked photographs and notes, from each other, and from family. We have a large, heavily framed Moulin Rouge poster of the couple embracing, directly above the head of the bed, and various photographs of our favourite times surrounding. There’s a nerdy wall covered in steampunk drawings of Doctor Who villains, and an unfalteringly large pile of clean washing on the floor. We both have better things to do than fold laundry, and as long as the rest of the house is clean, we don’t mind. This bedroom reflects love.
I went back to my book, happy at the thought that finally, I have a home. Somewhere I enjoy being in, and somewhere that reflects the lives and hearts of those who live inside. Somewhere interesting, warm, and inviting – somewhere I’m really looking forward to being cooped up in for winter, keeping so many of the resolutions I made for this year.
What does your home say about you?