Humans in the home: inside a Londoner’s characterful flat
Humans in the Home is a glimpse into the homes of ordinary people. We’re unpacking how we feel about the spaces we choose to live in and how this is reflected in our design choices. From how the childhood home influenced – or didn’t – our home decor as adults, to exploring how notions around home have evolved over the years, we’re fascinated to learn what makes your home tick for you. Today we’ll chat with Lizzy, Content Associate at Vinterior who lives in a flat filled with small bowls, pine cones and a mad badger rug. Enjoy the tour below!
How do you go about deciding what to put in your home?
I’m quite picky so I have to really love something before I choose to put it somewhere at home. I think you appreciate objects more when you put real thought and effort into choosing them and each one recalls a memory or place. Most of the decorative things I have at home have come from trips. But despite being quite picky, that ‘coup de foudre’ will often happen very quickly so when I do see something – and it’s affordable! – I’ll snap it up. A great example of this is a kimono I found in a street market in Kyoto. It’s a beautiful pale green silk with a glowing amber obi and I knew it would be a wonderful memento to hang on the wall. My friends still think it’s funny that it took less than 24 hours in Japan before I bought a kimono!
How have your feelings around the concept of home evolved over time?
I probably just have a higher appreciation for spending time at home. Coming back from the busy office to a personal cocoon is a really nice feeling.
Do you have any pieces of special meaning to you at home?
Definitely, I have many cards and letters from friends and family which I’ve received over the years. I keep them in a wooden box I painted with folksy motifs. This is probably the first thing I’d grab if my home were on fire!
Favourite piece of furniture?
It would have to be my squashy green velvet sofa from Vinterior!
Does your childhood home impact your approach to decor now?
I definitely think my parents’ eye for art and design has influenced what I’m drawn to. I didn’t always appreciate it whilst growing up but now I do! They did much to instil an appreciation in us for the craftsmanship and artisanal quality of a piece. My mum designed and made beautiful furniture and was passionate about a lot of 19th-20th century art so she taught me a lot about colour and form. My grandfather, too, sourced lots of Scandinavian furniture during the 1960s. He lived not far from High Wycombe so there was an Ercol influence too. I also feel inspired by the sweeping lines of Scandinavian design and finely crafted Windsor/Ercol furniture which is probably completely subliminal!
What’s something about your approach to home design now which is unexpected?
I love colour and print, particularly loose bohemian florals. The antithesis of simple Scandinavian design! I’ve not found a way to reconcile these two yet. I love artists like the painter Sonia Delaunay whose eye for combining exuberant colours was second to none. Swedish textile designer Karin Larsson was genius in the way she drew print and folk motifs into the home. The Rose Hotel in Deal is also a fabulous example of stunning muted colours and I can’t wait to make a short film about it soon.
What’s something you would like to try decor wise but don’t dare?
Dark charcoal walls! I think you need a high white ceiling and light floorboards to pull it off. If I had two living rooms (ha!) in the right property, I’d probably attempt this. Charcoal can also be brilliant in a bedroom, I imagine it’s quite calming and cosy.
Where would your ideal home be and what era would it belong to?
I love period properties from the 19th century, or anything earlier than that even! I’d love to have a bay window one day. I’m not such a fan of 20th century architecture although the converted factory buildings around Clerkenwell have a kind of airy industrial chic about them. The Vinterior office is based in Spitalfields, a fantastic area for winding cobbled streets with Dickensian names like Artillery Row. It’s probably not peaceful enough to live in but the Victorian industrial architecture is fabulous.
How do you feel when you arrive home?
Happy! It’s my favourite place to retreat. Both my boyfriend and I like to head home and spend time hanging out or doing our own thing, it’s nice to do that around inspiring things which we’ve found along the way. Even if it’s as simple as our favourite postcards stuck on the wall! (That gallery wall will happen one day!).
Have you set any rhythms to maintaining a healthy home?
I think home is a really restful place, so as much as I love to have friends over for lazy dinner parties (and the door’s always open for cups of tea!) I avoid over-scheduling social hangouts at home. This keeps it pretty peaceful. On a practical front, we also avoid being either clinically tidy or slovenly. I don’t like it when stuff builds up so we’re pretty good at keeping everything clean, but we also don’t freak out if things aren’t immaculate (they very often aren’t.)
What inspires you the most to create a home you love?
All of the above! We spend a lot of time at home and our environment has an enormous impact on mood. I don’t think your home needs to look like a designer home (often lacking in character anyway!)
When did creating a thoughtful home space first become important to you?
It’s always been something I cared about. Even as a teenager, I put a lot of thought into how I arranged my room and the things in it, when I could see past the floordrobe! During the nomadic years of university and living abroad, I always travelled with a set of postcards from my favourite exhibitions which could be arranged into a gallery wall wherever I was living. I think I’d find it depressing to be in a bland, functional space! But now as an adult in my own home, I take a lot of pleasure in putting it together and see the benefit of living in a space which makes you feel happy.
What advice would you give to someone on creating a home you love to live in?
Avoid any pressure for it to look a certain way. It’s very easy to assemble boards on Pinterest but these beautiful spaces have either been styled by a professional or come about over a long time. Start with one key piece you love and build from there. Also try and source good quality furniture made from solid, tactile materials! I think it’s much better to grow piece by piece rather than fill your home with MDF.