The Planning Gods permitting, we will soon be extending our family home. I’m excited. Nearly as excited as I was when I was 12 and Mum and Dad announced that they were extending our family home, in order to turn my bijoux box room into a pad fit for a teenage girl. Life was about to be brilliant.
Just prior to the extension, our home was rather reminiscent of this Pulp song
i.e. it was very small and had wood chip on the wall. We were fans of wood chip in our home. It was cheap, it had little bumps that hid the even bumpier plaster that lay beneath, and I am guessing it was pretty easy to whack up.
Pulp hark from Sheffield, which is just up the road from the town I hark from. Like most places in the ‘industrial north’, it was once a place of great industry comprising coal mines, steal and associated skills and careers. That is until it had all industry ripped out of it as Politicians and Union Leaders
used it as a pawn in a ruthless game of ‘my ego is more powerful than yours’ failed to reach a middle ground when debating their differing views on the economic principles in which they firmly believed.
But not until I was much older than 12 did I have any sense that the place I was from was somehow disadvantaged. All I was aware of was the lovely, loving, family home in which I was raised, and the lovely loving family and friends that filled it.
In planning how to kit out the extension, I have been thinking back to my 12-year-old self. What made her house a home? I know it wasn’t anything fancy, or expensive, or ‘perfect’. So what was it? Here is what comes to mind:
- Sod location location location. No matter how small or shabby, your home is your castle. It should be your favourite place to come to in order to relax, to socialise, to unwind, to be stimulated. Create little nooks and crannies that house all your loves and interests: a coffee corner, a place for books, to listen to music, to sit or stand with friends, to lounge under blankets, to fire up the PS4, to cook, to play with lego. None of these areas needs to be big, sometimes they can be interchangeable, but have places to fulfil the little rituals that make you happy and you don’t ever ‘need’ your home to be near an overpriced coffee shop or a deli selling jam at five Pounds a pop. If you can stand to live a few blocks away from the cool crowd, your house will be cheaper than theirs and you will be able to go out more. Ha.
- Saying that, never choose a home that is more than a ten minute walk away from a pint of milk and a pint of beer, especially if you are British. We need a social pint and a milky cup of tea now and then.
- Always have a bit of extra food and drink in. No visitor will leave feeling critical of your home if you give them tea and a digestive, or a glass of wine and some Bombay mix .”How retro!”, they say, ‘How cheap!’, we think.
- Avoid magazines claiming to give you inspiration on decor and design tips. £4 a pop to read a load of adverts? No ta love, do you know what I could buy in Ikea for that amount of money?
- Don’t kit your whole house in things from Ikea. Or from any shop come to think of it. Mix it up
- Don’t expect your home to always look like those picture on Pinterest, or blogs, or even in Ikea. You are a human being. Sometimes it will look like a shit tip. I find it useful to have a shit tip area, that I can either shut a door on, or hide under a throw. Shit tips tend to be made of quite comfortable clutter so can double as place to relax/hide/weep at the amount of washing you have to do.
- When using tradespeople to carry out jobs in your home, check their credentials. Your local council website might give you some good tips on finding approved people. You may also want to check out their Christian names. Stan, Ted, Bill are examples of honest tradespeople names. Marcus is not. Dad had a plasterer called Marcus help with the extension, until Marcus joined the family for dinner at our small formica table, via the large hole in the ceiling that he had just fallen through.
- You can never have enough plug sockets, or storage. Storage can be super smart and super fun, and it can be used to hide your abundance of ugly plug sockets.
- Dimmed lamps, large plants, and fragrant candles hide a multitude of sins.
- Be led by your instincts, your heart, and your wallet, whilst being mindful that wood chip has probably had its day in the sun.
Those top ten tips worked well in the home I lived in when I was 12. Hopefully they will serve me well as I approach 40. Planning Gods permitting, life is about to be brilliant.