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Home is a feeling, so fill your house with it.

Updated: Apr 22, 2023

The concept that home is a feeling not a place is well established. But contrary to meaning your house and home are not necessarily the same thing, I think it shows why we have to put the effort in if we want our houses to create that ineffable feeling of ‘home’. The intangible but compelling desire to always want to get back to that place where you feel completely at peace.

The people that live in your house and the relationships between them will of course be the most significant factor in creating the feeling of home. However, physical space has a huge impact too. Your house has the ability to exude tangible emotion based on the meaning behind the objects in it and the love that has been poured into its design and everything it holds.

If your decor is simply taken from a catalogue where the company cares about nothing but profit, it is surely far more difficult to attain a profound emotional connection with it.

So how do you fill your home with feeling?

1. Seek out the sentimental

There is nothing more special than items that evoke memories of loved ones. Art, ceramics, kitchenware, candlesticks and rugs from my grandmother around my house is like a small touch of her warm embrace in every room.

Image: A medley of hand-me downs, gifts and vintage items on my dresser top, including a sugar pot I treasure above all else as it brings the fondest memories of making welshcakes with my grandma as a child.

2. Preloved furniture and decor

Second only to preloved items from your own family, is preloved items from other people. I just love imagining the lives of people that things have been through. For example I have a cutlery box that would have been used to transport a family’s silverware when going from one house to another - every time I get a spoon out I imagine finely dressed butlers taking it to a horse and carriage waiting to set off to the country! (Maybe). Not only does it create a connection to those objects that you could never have with something mass manufactured, it’s quite good fun making up the stories in your head as you go.

Image: The antique Victorian cutlery box sitting on a Georgian side table in my kitchen.

3. Items that represent your passions and interests

This one is a particular favourite of mine. Ultimately you don’t want your house to accidentally look like a musty museum, so making sure it’s not all vintage is a good idea. But new doesn’t need stop it having meaning. The key is to find items that evoke a connection to things you really care about. For example I find the bloomsbury group fascinating in the way they disrupted the arts, and I have much admiration for the economist John Maynard Keynes having studied economics at university. So a £10 print I got of Keynes painted by Duncan Grant in 1932 is such a joy for me to look at. I don’t just see a picture of a man in a chair, I see a revolutionary thinker being painted by a revolutionary artist and I think of their lives at Charleston house. These items can be great conversation starters for guests too as they show people what your interests are.

Image: The print of John Maynard Keynes painted by Duncan Grant at Charleston House

4. Sourcing from people with a passion for their craft

One of the things I love most about instagram is the way it connects you to independent makers and creatives who you might have never known about otherwise. From the most gorgeous handmade lampshades to fabulous artwork, when you own something like that, knowing the love that has been poured into its creation by its maker makes it really special.

Image: The lampshade pictured was handmade by a woman I found on etsy using liberty fabric.

5. Reminders of experiences that mean something to you

Surrounding yourself with objects and decor that are from or about places you’ve been to that you have an emotional connection with is always a winner. There’s nothing better than lugging an obscure or fragile object all the way back from an holiday location, it arriving in tact, and getting to enjoy it back home. Or finding a print or painting of somewhere that has brought you lots of joy. I have a wall hanging in our snug that I bought in Morocco in my 20s that transports me back there when I look at it.

Image: The Moroccan wallhanging sitting in my ever-disheveled snug.

6. Crafting and DIY

I know this can be intimidating to start with but trust me, once you start, it’s infectious. If you’re learning something from scratch I recommend finding a short recreational class where someone can show you the ropes so you have a good first experience. This will build your confidence to then go it alone with online tutorials and books as a guide. Learning to sew for example is really easy and unlocks a world of soft furnishings in all your favourite fabrics.

Image: A headboard I reupholstered sitting in front of a simple bed canopy that I made.

7. Go bespoke

I’ve saved this to last because it’s not for everyone, mainly because of the level of effort and price tag. But if you can, you won’t regret it. Picking one piece of furniture that elevates the whole room, that you know you will treasure forever, is so special. Take your time and do your research, but you can get second hand armchairs in good structural condition at auctions and have them reupholstered in a fabric that you adore, and there are independent upholstery companies who can make you a footstool from scratch in the dimensions and fabric that are perfect for you. And if done by a professional craftsperson, they'll last you for up to 35 years.

Image: An antique chair I reupholstered from frame to fabric in a unique design.

Far more effective than blowing your budget on a designer lamp or fancy rug, I truly believe that taking this approach means people will love what you create because it’s part of you. And you’re very likely to create something rather unique that has the ability to inspire. How wonderful!

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