About a year ago Ned and I got the keys to our maisonette near Clissold Park, and since then we’ve pretty much poured all of our money, sweat and tears into making it our own. I captured everything I learnt during the mostly horrific process of being a first-time buyer here, but this time I wanted to share my thoughts on how to make a house a home, a far more positive topic!
Tip 1: Tear It Up
The kitchen we inherited wasn’t horrendous but it quickly became obvious that it just didn’t work for our needs. The oven was old, the sink was grotty, the cupboards were too shallow for our plates and there was little to no worktop space to prepare meals.
So, we decided to get the kitchen renovated with our needs in mind. You can read about the whole process here and see more before/after photos. It’s obvious but it’s true that once you’re responsible for the entire look and feel of a room, it feels so much more like your own home.
Tip 2: It Will Be All Light on the Night
I have a thing for lighting. I have to actively stop myself from taking a quick trip to Heal’s Lighting department as I invariably end up fooling myself into thinking another corner of one of our rooms needs a pick-me-up. Over the past year we’ve made quite a few purchases on ‘investment’ pieces 🙏, as you can see below:
Tip 3: Hold a House Party
Halloween 2015 saw about 60 people turn up throughout the night, and more recently we held a big summer barbecue which went on from 2pm to 4am, with over 40 people turning up. After the Halloween party, there was fake blood all over the walls, and the floor was sopping wet with beer… That being said, it was really fun to open the doors to so many people and the see the house come to life!
My recipe for a good house party:
- Invite anyone and everyone you know
- Add some themed decor depending on the occasion e.g. pastel bunting in the summer or some cobwebs/plastic skeleton for Halloween
- Make a big punch in a large drinks dispenser. My go-to recipe is this sangria, topped up with any leftover vodka and lemonade!
- Remove anything valuable (heirlooms, rugs etc) from the main rooms
- As long as your wi-fi works without the odd hitch, Sonos really is an epic way to have the same playlist on throughout the house and in the garden!
Tip 4: Shut Yourself Away from the World
When we moved in, none of our windows came with curtains or blinds. We had to wait for bespoke window shutters to be made so we spent the first few months with a few flimsy frosted panels for privacy. Hillarys Blinds quoted us a hefty sum for bespoke Windsor shutters in pure white. Despite the cost, nothing beats closing these and putting on a movie with Ned to my left and Chickpea snoozing on my lap!
We also took a trip to Prêt à Vivre off of Upper Street to get some bright orange roman blinds in linen chintz for our spare bedroom and cottage pine wood venetian blinds for the kitchen. Again, they were pretty expensive but as our windows are such odd sizes, we wanted to make sure we had reliable professionals who would get the job done in one go.
Tip 5: Treat Your Guests Like Royalty
Guests are the best judges of whether your house is truly a home! I haven’t completely nailed this yet, but here are some ideas I want to make a reality:
- Guest Slippers: The goddess of housekeeping Martha Stewart suggests keeping a basket of slippers for your guests.
- Spare toiletries: One day we plan to get our spare utility room made into a proper bathroom so we truly have a guest bathroom too, complete with guest toiletries to make it feel more like a home from home.
- Frame your Wi-Fi Password: Make it easier for your guests by printing and framing the Wi-Fi password on the wall. You can find some printables over at Elegance and Enchantment too.
Tip 6: Add a Fur Baby
Not only does our cat Chickpea greet us every time we come home by brushing against our legs and miaowing, she’s also helps make every room look lived in. You can find my new kitten checklist here as well if you’re thinking of following suit!
Tip 7: Make It Personal
On our side table in the living room is a Cheerz box of 30+ photos from over the years, uploaded via Facebook, Instagram and Google Photos. If I find myself bored while chilling on the sofa, I can flick through the prints and take a trip down memory lane. You can also use the promo code JENFIH to get £4 off your own box of memories!
Tip 8: Immerse Yourself in the Local Area
Feeling at home is as much about getting to grips with the local area surrounding your humble abode. You can read all about the fave places in my local area of Highbury/Finsbury Park. I also love that I’m finally on first name terms with a couple of local businesses and (when I’m not crazily busy with work trips/life admin) a weekend walk around Clissold Park to fool myself that I’m in the countryside.
Tip 9: Invest in Art
While in Lahaina, Maui, we came across this vintage poster shop and decided to bite the bullet and buy a beautiful Hawaii print by Chas Allen, identical to this one sold at Christie’s. What I love most about is that it’s the first thing I see when I get home, and reminds me of our amazing Maui trip:
Tip 10: Bottoms Up
No house can really be a home unless it contains a well-stocked wine fridge, drinks cabinet or a selection of copper mugs – do you really want your guests’ G&Ts to go cold?!
We’ve come a long way in a year, and I can’t wait to get cracking on painting over the magnolia walls, replacing our horrid draughty doors and plastering over the endless cracks in the ceilings from our electrical work. Wish me luck as we enter a second year making our house a home 🙂