This year I have moved into a “forever” home. Despite being in my mid-thirties, this is a new thing for me as I’ve moved town every 3 years without fail since leaving school. While no crystal ball can tell me if I really will be here long term, for once the intention is totally there and a blue villa in Linwood, Christchurch is where this lockdown begins.
This lack of “permanence” to my living situation over the years certainly hasn’t been an issue when it comes to making a rented place my own. And this has largely been due to my attachment to STUFF!
The term “stuff” sounds a bit gross, overly materialistic, throw away, rubbishy and frivolous. But to me, myyyyy stuff is where my memories live, constant reminders of occasions, friends, relationships – visual markers for certain times in my life. My stuff includes things like the traditional wooden doll I bought at the airport wrapping up 6 months living in Japan in 2003. The pair of hand crafted clay planters I bought from an emerging Kiwi artist during an online flash sale in 2014. The little bronze horse head coat hook I got for Christmas when I was 10. The framed black and white photo of the Christchurch Port Hills I found in a vintage store just as I decided to put down roots here once again in 2016. The pot plant grown from a thieved roadside cutting in Wanaka that has traveled the length of New Zealand in the back of my car, no less than twice!
The list is long but I can tell you without fail where every photo was taken, each cushion was purchased, who the artwork is by or the vase was found.
“My “stuff” offers me both a three dimensional photo album AND a way for me to evoke the comforting, textural, eclectic vibe I like to live in.
And this has nothing to do with who owns the roof over my head….”
At a recent house party at our place, it was interesting to see what attracted the attention of our guests. There was the humbling chat of “you must come round and help me sort out my house” or “I need you to help me get more personality at our place”, which, while flattering, left me feeling a bit intimidated. As I know very well that what “I” would do, wouldn’t necessarily be right for “them”. That “my stuff” works because I have spent a lifetime collecting it and I wouldn’t know the first thing about what pings the visual heart strings of my visitors.
But this got me really thinking about what it IS that pushed forward “personality or character” to these friends and maybe what kind of recipe I could offer them to get a result that reflected their own taste?
The results are by no means rocket science and if anything, might strike you as a little simple!
Over the next few months I’ll present you with some categories of “stuff” and ways to wrangle it to aid in making a space your very own.
A hoarding gene could be useful here, but just as importantly, you need to rally courage and trust
in what YOU like
(not what Kmart likes, or the smoking hot baby mummas you follow on Instagram like).
We’re playing the long game, not a quick spend up at the Warehouse homeware sale ok?
And let me reassure you…you DO know what you like!
For example – start paying attention to the colours you wear and gravitate to (without thinking too hard about it), as the steps to making spaces that sing to you involves recognising and accepting the differences in your own taste compared to the broad ones preached by the retail world or even your friends.
Don’t pigeon hole yourself to shops that you think funnel you toward the “right” thing (and delete “is this on trend?” from your vocab).
My advice would be, don’t even shop for “it” intentionally at all!
Finds that beep on your radar are stumbled upon in weird moments and unexpected places and remember, they don’t all have to be brand new.
This series of ideas will offer ways to inject texture and personal elements into your home – but the specific form they take is entirely dictated by the person who will be living there (that’s you).
The first “gateway” items to help “home” you in a space is:
I’m as guilty as you with having barely printed a picture since 2004 but I bet you are taking more than ever on your phone! Lucky printing isn’t the expensive process of old, and we have pain free online services to take advantage of.
I’ve recently had a go ordering online with Happy Moose and Snapfish (both NZ Based) or the app Parabo Press offer very user friendly options. Also look out for Fuji Film printing kiosks which are dotted all over the country and allow you to sit and select photos to be printed on demand.
- Print larger than normal. A minimum of 5 x 7 inch means photos will be more visible in frames but why not go BIGGER.
- Mix it up! Landscapes often conjure as many memories as images with people in them AND will make for a rich and interesting mix when all grouped together.
- Consider making a gallery wall that can grow as you add to it. Nervous about how to arrange? Simply Google OR search Pinterest for “Gallery Wall Layout”, you’ll find visual guides to suit you and your space very quickly. On Instagram there are bountiful ideas to be found by exploring the #gallerywallhashtag, so make it your business to hunt out some inspiration.
- Renting or allergic to putting holes in the wall? I have had great success with 3M hooks. For heavier frames go for the metal ones and considering doubling up.
- Don’t be precious. It’s fun having lots of current photos up on the wall, so don’t hold back on replacing old shots with new in existing frames – you’ll know deep down the ones that you don’t mind not seeing anymore!
- Frames are easy as to find! I reserve my custom framing budget for “harder to fit” art work, and stick to really easy, affordable “off the shelf” options for photos. Spotlight, Kmart and The Warehouse all have lots of options to make things simpler to begin. Freedom’s collection is improving too and Country Road is also a great one to scan especially when on sale (AND they have shot a pretty cool first timers guide to hanging a picture wall to watch here!).
Also keep your eyes out at second hand shops for old frames that could be rejuvenated with new glass! Some patina and character might be the perfect foil to your photographic memory.
- But frames aren’t the only way….. you’ll spot that printing in standard sizes online is super affordable, and with that in mind, I will often print doubles to keep up my sleeve. That allows me to have some fun with how I display them without being precious, including pinning pics ruthlessly to my office pinboard and taping them to the wall with Washi tape. I love the casual, layered feel this gives as …well that’s just what I’m into (#interiorcasualist ….its a thing!)
I know modern fridges don’t work well with magnets these days but tape and bluetack do!
I hope this got some ideas burning and you will soon remember that surrounding yourself with things you love and items with emotional value, will transform your space/place/rented corner of the world/forever home into a place that sings of YOU.
You can read the next Volume of this series up now HERE.
Please feel free to share more ideas or links related to this post in the comments for everyone to share.