When I walk into a house, the first things that grab my attention are the signs of life; clues as to who lives there and what kind of lives they lead. I am nosey, but I know that I am not alone in this. I have heard of people viewing properties on the market with no intention of buying, but to satisfy their intrigue for a building or the history of its occupants. Our human race is a curious species.
Every house can have its own personality, a reflection of its free thinking occupants. Everybody has a story to tell, and we have the power to create our own special atmospheres by personalising our spaces. This is what sets our homes apart from each other, making them interesting not only to us, but to visitors as well. The secret is, to put our personalities out in the open. This is what makes the difference between stepping through the doorway of a home and finding it warm and welcoming, or cold and clinical.
Sentimental possessions play a large part in transforming a house into a home. Displaying your personal artefacts and all they represent will bring positivity into a space, making a focal point. Memories of happy times can be kept alive for you, and can be shared with others. This is also an extremely affordable way to create a focal point in any room.
There is something a little sad about family albums or scrapbooks squirrelled away on a dusty shelf, safe but forgotten about for most of the time. When I visit houses I am always drawn in by the photographs out on display and the stories they tell. I had a friend whose entire kitchen wall was covered in polaroid and photo booth snaps, collated over the years and covering at least a decade of her personal history. I never tired of looking at that wall, and always found something new I hadn't spotted before. In the same way, my son used to spend long periods of time scrutinising an old screen I collaged with movie memorabilia.
The personal collections on display in my home include not just family photographs, but pictures drawn by my children when they were small, even self portraits drawn on balloons, now shrunken but still smiling back at me. I display my sons first pair of green jelly shoes - works of art in their own right, now complemented by his not-so-miniature cowboy boots brought back from Texas by his grandparents. Everything from trinkets passed down through the family or acquired on the market, to travel mementos and the lines on the wall charting the growth of my children, all play an important part in making our home real.
Collage is another way to collect material together to make a bold and entertaining statement. I cover large areas with images in my home as well as for commission. I did this for the excellent Soulshine Cafe in Bridport, where I was presented with a pile of maps showing places travelled by the owners and asked to incorporate them into several collages to be installed in the building. Maps make brilliant coverings for walls or furniture, steeped in the intrigue of places you aspire to visit, or have already been to, providing the opportunity to add the bus and train tickets you brought back. Memorabilia are a great way to get the ‘you’ into a space: Pieces of fabric, cinema or festival tickets, stamps, postcards, recipes, whatever holds special memories for you.
You could choose a place in your home where people gather, or identify a neglected space you would like to make more of: a stairwell, or even the downstairs loo, and let your creativity run riot! Find space where everyone's personality can be celebrated and children can be allowed the freedom to express themselves without worrying about scratched paint work.
So think of all you hold close to your heart. Happy memories, hopes and aspirations. Collections that signify positivity that you want to bring forward with you in life and influence those around you. Ask what relevant messages do you want to convey to others. Get in the attic, rummage around and find your forgotten treasures. Research your family tree, stick the kids certificates on the fridge so they can remember their achievements, and acknowledge your own. Put your history on the walls and keep adding to it until your home oozes personality, positivity and love.
Published in the May 2018 edition of Bridport Times magazine: bridporttimes.co.uk