1. A house, apartment or shelter, that is the usual residence of a person or family.
2. The place in which one’s domestic affections are centred.
3. A place or region where something is most native, familiar or common.
A word that appears in my work on a daily basis. Homewares, Lifestyle and Home, Home design, Home Interiors and so the list goes on. What really makes a home a home?
My husband and I are still without a ‘home’. We are worlds away from the wonderful relaxation and retreat in Italy, and back into the ‘5 star’ treadmill of London. Still working at the never-ending US visa process, which adds a layer of unease in our lives neither of us can quite understand. Two 5 star hotels in a week – and not a single restful night. How can this be? Surely we have paid enough money for a peaceful night in a calming room? I daren’t even mention the chain of hotels we are in, or question who the interior design might be down to. But one thing I am sure of, they got it wrong. No amount of money can create the perfect rest. I’ve been there.
Everything is wrong. The overdone gold staircase, coupled with heinous carpets, and the lack of storage in every room. The ludicrous idea that the door of the fridge opens at a 90 degree angle away from the wall but directly into another piece of furniture. We were never meant to have anything from the mini-bar, ever. The baby rat was an added bonus, (not to be boasted about, I have been assured by the concierge). But when residing in an old brewery conversion in central London – rats, are seemingly part of the furniture. You pay just a little extra for them.
However, I LOVE LONDON. It’s become one of my motto’s. The wonderful design shops of Upper St in Islington, Terence Conran’s hotels, the sumptuous amounts of flowers in the lobby of Claridges and Columbia Road alike.
Not having a place to call my own has begun to take its toll. My rose tinted glasses are starting to fade. Instead of walking past all the gorgeously bustling bars in Shoreditch or the wonderfully aromatic smells in Brick Lane and simply drinking in the atmosphere – I’m walking past wondering how cosy all those people will be in their homes tonight. Tucked up in front of the telly with a cup of tea no doubt, I think, with a hazy green cloud of envy starting to form above my head.
Last night I sat in a lovely bar in central London and had a much-earned glass of wine with a very old and dear friend. She explained something extremely poignant to me, it gave me goose bumps…”Em,” she said, “I’d love nothing more than to say to you, I’m going home to Northern Italy, or Barcelona, or to The Bahamas, but I can’t. It’s Northern Ireland. Cold, wet and slightly boring Northern Ireland. But it’s still my home and I can’t wait to get there”. She touched a nerve.
Home is home. No matter how it’s been designed, where it is the world. What the climate is. It’s home.
Even though I’ve lived in Sydney for ten years. I’ve always in my mind, remained British. Home, I always thought.
And here I am. Homeless and frightened in a five star hotel in Barbican. Juxtaposition at it’s most frustrating.
I can’t wait to get home. To New York. It’s never been home before.
But with four walls, a few simple touches, it will begin to take shape. Husband, dog, favourite cushions, artworks, lamps and rugs.
It’s not these material things or the bricks and mortar that create a sense of home. It’s family. Friends. Neighbours. Memories. Sights. Smells and Sounds. And mostly, it’s love.
So come on London. This week. Put some love back in.
Even though bricks and mortar and material items aren’t the most important thing, when someone else comes along and mindlessly destroys them. We are left speechless.
A few images of the London I know and love.