Home Front: The New Year is time to press refresh
Cate Burren of Angel and Blume Interior Design welcomes in the New Year with some suggestions for a refreshing new start for our homes
We are currently on the verge of a house move, and apart from the stress of it all, which does seem to take the edge off the excitement, I am also experiencing that fresh start, new resolution feeling. This is of course enhanced by the time of year when everything is about new diets, gym membership and holiday planning (remember when we could do that with confidence?), but there is nothing like packing up a home you have loved, and has done you proud, to make you wish that you have given it a bit more TLC whilst you had the chance.
I think that as you pack up a home, you start to see it with the fresh eyes that you had when you first saw the spaces and the possibilities. Now of course, I can really see the areas that need a bit of work, the stuff that I didn’t quite finish and the fact that it is a bit late to notice this now is probably for the best. My resolve is all about letting go of a house I know well, accepting that someone else will change it and starting afresh in a new setting.
So, as we move into January 2022, in what will hopefully be a fresh, new, improved and moving-on year, my thoughts are about what small yet impactful things we can all do to refresh, renew and reinvigorate our homes, and to ensure that we celebrate what we really like about the places we have created for ourselves.
In no particular order, I give you my top 10 tips for making the very best of your homes, old and new, and I will be trying very hard to turn over a new leaf, in a new space, and practice what I am preaching.
1. Move things around - it is a great way to see things differently. Pictures and accessories can benefit from a new location (it’s an obvious thing: put your favourites in the places you see the most), but also try the odd piece of furniture in a new home – it can transform a space and make you see something you already own in a different light
2. Check your lighting. Do you have any light bulbs that need replacing, could you do with a new lampshade or two, or even some more lamps? Lighting makes a huge difference, particularly at this time of year, and updating what you have, even in small ways, really can completely change the way that interiors look.
3. Clean. I know that everyone goes on and on about this and many of us find it boring. However it is also very impactful when updating and refreshing your home and can also be therapeutic (no really, it can). This is as good a time of year to do it, so get scrubbing!
4. Whilst you are on that cleaning drive, you may also find a few things that need more than a good clean – possibly a mend, a restore or a repair. Before you even entertain the idea of throwing something out or replacing it, just because it is damaged, it is worth talking to the amazing craftspeople out there who can work wonders on what you already have – think seamstresses, upholsterers, fireplace restorers, stone masons, French polishers and so on.
5. Make friends with paint. Changing the colour of something is the fastest way to change the way it looks. I am not just talking about walls, although that can make a huge difference, but sometimes just a coat of paint on a piece of tired furniture, your kitchen cabinets, or a door or window frame can make a dramatic difference. Try to use unexpected colours to highlight the good things about your home.
6. Pictures. Your artwork, from original masterpieces to family photos, should all be given some love. Consider updating your frames (it makes much more of a difference than you think), look at the locations of your artwork, what the lighting is like, and remember to keep updating – your preferences and your family photos will (and should) change over time.
7. Be bold and get rid of things. It is hard, I know. Releasing items that you have in your home, but would prefer not to, is easier if you recycle (Emmaus in Landbeach is a great place to start), or return to those family members who left items with you (you are not a free storage locker). Do it gradually and accept that it may cause you and others a little bit of agony.
8. Bring in some life. Plants and fresh flowers do need some care and attention but they bring a very desirable freshness to a home. If you don’t have a garden (or even if you do) plant a few indoor bulbs – there is something very gratifying about watching their progress, particularly at this time of year.
9. How are you smelling? Trying to keep the warmth in at the time of year can mean that windows don’t get opened often. Try to allow a blast of fresh air in when you can. I also like a gentle whiff of a well-chosen scented candle, air freshener or even a humble lavender bag. Too strong and it can be very off putting so select your fragrances carefully.
10. Look at your home with kind eyes – it is so easy to focus on what is wrong with it rather than what you like about it. I really do believe that if you are able to love your home, it will serve you very well indeed.
Wishing everyone a very happy, healthy and homely 2022.
Angel and Blume will soon be moving from 17 Emmanuel Road, Cambridge to Fordham House Court, Fordham CB7 5LL. See angelandblume.com for more information.
Pictured: “This was my living room when I lived in a lovely terraced house just off Mill Road," says Cate. "Most of the items of furniture, pictures and accessories – some recovered, mended,
due to be mended - are now in my current home and will soon appear in my next home.” Photography by Spike Powell Photography
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