Remember the saying ‘home is where the heart is’? Turns out it’s actually true, for me at least. I’m originally from Sydney but for years I’ve lived in London. In fact,I've actually spent more of my life out of Sydney and now London is very much my home. It’s where my stuff is, my immediate family… my life is here. Both Sydney and London are two of the biggest and best cities in the world, full of life, colour, vibrant events, and I can’t rate one higher than the other. But my most favourite place of all these days is right here inside my house.
I really love being at home: working, cooking, reading, existing. When I’m out and about, just the thought of being back home makes me happy. No matter how lovely a party, lunch or outing, I often find myself wanting to click my red glitter heels (OK, trainers) and get back home in an instant. Why do I so firmly believe that being at home is best?
We live in a digital age that’s stuffed full of gadgets and tech tricks: I’m not saying I want to go back to horses and carts, but I do think that all a person needs, sometimes, is a cup of tea, a slice of cake and a squidgy sofa (plus a few plump cushions, of course). And it’s not just me, because I’ve talked about this with plenty of mates and most of them are secret stay-at-homes too. I took a little look into it and it turns out there’s proper boffin-based scientific evidence to suggest that thinking of home can actually raise our endorphins and, basically, make us happy. Works for me, anyway!
Those in the know say that shaping our surroundings to suit our needs is a psychological way of strengthening this feeling of home: to the best of our abilities, we instinctively seek out favourite bits and bobs that reinforce the home factor, picking the right lighting, fabrics and accessories (and, yep, gorgeous squishy cushions) to suit our individual home style.
It’s so important for me to replicate our home in order that we settle faster, wherever we are. Expats friends who move around a lot do the home-making thing with alarming speed and efficiency, and I must say I’m pretty good at sorting things out too. I can unpack a suitcase faster than you can say ‘stuffed pillow’, and get a holiday rental looking like we’ve lived in it for years (and no, I don’t mean just throwing a few old socks around).
If you’ve just moved, or you’re simply planning a change, and you want to get things right in a short space of time, here are my three top tips to making a place feel like yours:
1. Pack a few foldable favourites in your hand luggage, especially if you’re moving house and dealing with potentially homesick children. Loose cushion covers, a small framed photo each and your favourite book, set out strategically, will cheer everyone up.
2. Do some advance online browsing to see if your favourite shops are in the locale, or deliver to your new place, then get shopping, treating yourself to your favourite scented candles or diffusers, new cushions, side lamps and place settings to fit with the new habitat, and an online order of yummy sweet treats for when friends come to visit.
3. Get out and about and familiarise yourself with the new hood: it may feel strange now but before you know it you’ll be cosying up as if you’ve lived here forever.