Monday, January 19, 2009

House and Home

No sewing to show you. Instead I spent the weekend cleaning, tidying and baking (bread and banana bread), walking the dog and then sitting down to think. I am not as bothered by that change of plan as might be expected!

While we were away at New Year, I read “No Room for Secrets”, a sort-of autobiography by Joanna Lumley. The concept of the book is that she leads the reader on a guided tour of her present house and talks about her possessions / choices of d├ęcor and what they say about her life, past and present. And it struck me that I would be hard-pressed to carry out a similar exercise, because unlike Joanna’s, my house is not yet my home.

When FL and I moved in together, we wanted clear floors, clean walls, open spaces: a fresh start. But now I think the time has come to bring ourselves into our home. A psychologist would have a field day. We have clearly been afraid of revealing our true selves to each other. FL filled the two spare rooms with overflowing piles of books / papers / maps. And I kept my books in their boxes, while gradually accumulating yarn and fabric next to them, under the bed.

If you came into my front room today, you would see a huge heap of newspapers, dirty plates and used tissues on the sofa on FL’s side of the room… and a constipated little knot of knitting on mine. My daughter has a pile of books on the windowsill, where nobody can see them. The two sofas are arranged against the walls, with the table and dining chairs in the middle. To watch tv, you have to play chess with the dining chairs and anything on the surface of the table. Until we bought and framed a copy of the 1865 map of the area (just before Christmas), there were no pictures. There are no bookshelves. No CDs. No “ornaments”. The storage space underneath the tv contains a plastic ice cream tub full of chisels, screwdrivers, balls of string and batteries. It is a cold place, in every sense of the word!

Last night, we were watching a documentary about John Mortimer, and as the camera panned through his house I was struck by how much personality each room expressed: books, family photographs, artefacts from his travels. Everything said something about the people who lived there. And I felt a real sense of longing.

I need to devote some time and energy to our home. There will be shelves for our joint book collections. I will frame our wedding photograph and put it on display. I will make cushions and throws for the sofas. Have a wood-burning stove installed. And rearrange the furniture so that it is less like the visitors’ room in an old folks’ home. Because this is where we live together.

6 comments:

Sue said...

This is a lovely poignant, but positive post. It is obviously just the right time for you to 'home-up' your house. It won't be a contrived exercise, but a genuine progression. Just perfect. Good luck. Sue.

Penny said...

Go for it, girl! There is a strange power in realising that this is your space, and you have a right to make changes and inhabit it to suit you.

Gabrielle said...

I am waving my arms in firm support from Canada and I look forwards to seeing snippets of the results.

The declutter-DIY that we did recently was to give ourselves a fresh start and start to create a home together in the Fella's house - it's starting to work too. I feel more at home than I did before.

Our next step is to tackle the basement - I think that the skip arrives sometime next week, so the declutter, deep clean and proper organisation of 'stuff' is set to continue!

(Then, of course, we'll need to decide whether anything of mine should be shipped from the UK and if we do that - where on earth we put it!)

tea and cake said...

This is a lovely, positive post, and your home is sounding warmer already.
We didn't put up our family photos or any pictures until we felt setted in this house. It'll never be our family/full time home, as it's a tied house, but we make it comfy in the meantime.
Sounds like this year is Your Family Year.

Margaret said...

Sounds like a good plan. You seem to be just the person to be able to carry it out with warmth and beauty.

scarletti said...

I hope your house very quickly becomes your home. Happy homing.x