Five Ways To Boost Your Interior Mojo & Banish The Holiday Blues
Returning from holiday is nearly always a massive downer. One minute you're lying on the sunbed, Maeve Binchy in one hand and a strawberry daiquiri in the other. The next you're on a fast track pass to the washing machine and everyone's complaining that there's no food in the house aside from a packet of olives and some stale Jacobs crackers. The process of going on holiday is always so exciting - getting up early, checking in, boarding the plane. This year, we flew with a budget airline. Always tempted by the price, I forgot why it was so cheap and then remembered when we boarded the plane. It's a common error. But you don't really care, because you are EN ROUTE TO THE SUN! En route to fun, smiles, cocktails and laughter. Nothing, not even leg room akin to a foot spa and seat trays at a ski slope slant that make your coffee drench your lap, can dampen your enthusiasm. Returning home, however, has a similar feel to boarding a prison bus. The atmosphere is funereal, your gin filled duty free bags are the only positive and your suntan has disappeared by the time you disembark at Leeds Bradford. You're also well aware that there is at least a 50% chance of catching a minimum of minor flu from the man sneezing next to you.
However, one of the worst things about being away is returning to a full letterbox. Generally, I like to filter the mail on a daily basis prior to Joe seeing it - in my opinion, there is absolutely no need for him to have knowledge of anything relating to home shopping or credit cards. As everybody knows, these types of mail items don't even need to be perused in detail - they are opened, glanced at and placed straight in the bin before you can say 40% off discount code. Therefore, there's always the stress of surreptitiously reaching the mailbox before he does, whilst at the same time pretending that I have no interest in it whatsoever. It's quite stressful.
We are a family of hand luggage bearers, each responsible for their own. We scoff in the face of full sized suitcases, laughingly passing the carousel crowd as we saunter first through Nothing To Declare. However, what this also means is that each child is responsible for their own unpacking, meaning that it's generally a week after arrival home that the clothes even reach a wash basket, let alone enter the Circle Of Hell that is my slapdash laundry routine.
Collecting up the animals is another homecoming chore. We've just returned from Mallorca, during which time Buddy, our Lhasa Apso, went on a 'dog holiday' to Ella's boyfriends family. He had an extremely good time. They took him for walks, outings to the beach. In fact, he had such a good time that since he's been home, he's been wandering around mournfully, as if deeply disappointed by our dog care skills. Molly the cat disappeared completely. Despite arranging for someone to feed her daily, she took herself off and was discovered, a slimmer and moanier version of herself, nine days later in farmland halfway down the lane, after we undertook a photo flyer campaign to find her. It's enough to make you stay at home. Well, almost.
Returning from holiday may not be the greatest, but there's plenty of things that you can do to banish the blues. Your surroundings play a huge part in making you feel good and your house is no exception. Your home should make your heart sing and your spirits lift, so an excellent way to feel positive is to boost your interior mojo by reassessing your space. Here's five tips to help you take the sting out of September.
Rethink Your Space
Okay, so the first thing to do is to step back and look around. We live in our rooms for years, not realising that actually, half of what is there isn't bringing us any joy. Look carefully at which rooms make you happy and which don't and think about why that is. Is it the colour? The furniture? Is the lighting wrong? Maybe there's a coffee table that just doesn't rock your boat, or a wall colour that makes you scrunch up your face every time you see it. Have a think about what you would like to change. I'm not talking about major refurbishment here, just small moves that can make a difference. Removing a chair or a lamp, creating a different shaped area to what was there before, can inspire you to recreate your space and bring back the happiness.
My favourite way to plan rooms is to create a mood board. This is a no expense task, but it gets your creative juices going and can help you to work out how it can all gel together. I've written a blog post on how to use Canva, which is my go to mood board tool - click here to read. By putting together colours, fabrics and ideas, you can see clearly how it will combine. Now, these changes and ideas are not things that need to be immediately undertaken; they're rather just a way of putting down your ideas as to how your space can work better for you. I like to call it a Future Plan Of Action. It's fun to do and helps you to plan out the next few months, giving you a base to work from. It's a positive way to reassess your home and concentrate on the tasks in hand. Those Autumn nights are long, people.
Clear The Decks
Right. This is my absolutely fave thing to do and never fails to give me a boost. For me, it's like getting high with no drug involvement whatsoever (I lead a very sheltered life). Deaccessorise your room (I'm not sure that's a word but I'm sticking with it). Remove all decorative items, pictures, prints. The aim of the game is to start from scratch. Taking things away from their normal position encourages you to view them with fresh eyes. Look carefully at your possessions. Do you still love them? Or are you just used to them being there? Stick to the mantra that you should only have things in your home that you really love. Take away the things that no longer float your boat.
The same applies to your furniture. Do you still really like that side table? Would it look better in another room, or maybe in someone else's house? Be ruthless - if it doesn't make you happy, then ditch it. You shouldn't tolerate things that don't make you happy in life - ditto your interior decor. Look around your home and see if you have any loved pieces that would work well in the redefined space. Remember that a good possession is a multi tasking possession - if you love it, it will work anywhere. Rebuild your room, bit by bit, until it makes you happy. I'm telling you now, this task is a winner when it comes to mood boosting.
A good way to update your room is to add some uplifting art. Now, this doesn't need to be an expensive task. Sometimes the best pieces can be the ones that are recycled - one of my favourites is Bruegels Hunters In The Snow. A 1960's classic, it reminds me of my childhood, happy times, family - when I saw it in the charity shop for £5, I snapped it up. Every time I look at it, the memories make me smile. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but then that's why art is so individual.
Another favourite print is one that Joe bought me as a gift, a huge canvas of Slim Aaron's Hotel Du Cap D'Roc. Again, it holds memories - I was mid chemotherapy treatment and felt like crap; the blue skies, sunshine and overall happiness of the print never failed to lift me. Even now, five years later, it makes me smile to see it. And rush off to Thomas Cook to book a holiday.
Typography is an excellent path to happiness. As long as you avoid the trite and the corny (of which there is much), the right phrase can be a mood lifter and encourage positivity, particularly if you are a glass half empty person. Oh, and also bring a smile to your face which is an absolute essential. Art is such a personal thing but you will always know when you find a piece that fits. Instagram is a hotbed of independent artists (check out my previous blogs here and here for ideas) and the right print can transform your space. I'm currently replanning my living room and am definitely going to be incorporating some bright, uplifting, 1970's holiday inspired art prints. Bring on the palm trees.
Queen Of The Green
I always find it quite hilarious that I am such a promoter of green things and yet I am generally unable to keep anything alive for longer than five minutes. However, no room is complete without a plant, and this is a fact. Almost, actually, a law. They add colour and texture and, as we move into the colder months, are a welcome reminder of warmer times. I am now incapable of styling an Instagram shot without a plant in it - they complete a room, bring the outside in and also add height to your room. But, of course, they do look best when they are still alive.
So therefore, what I will do is list the plants which I own that I have not, as yet, murdered. Monstera (aka the Cheese Plant) - this beauty has never even faltered, despite being moved all over the house for Instagram photos. Yukka - big, space filling and most of all, literally unkillable. It's an investment (unless you managed to wangle the local garden centre down to £17.50 as it looked a bit droopy, as I did) but well worth it. Palms - again, large, textured, layering. Ferns - I've had one for two years (unbelievable fact) and it has good times and bad times, but always hangs on in there. Trandescantia (Wandering Jew) - Dee Campling brought this over to my house as a tiny cutting but it's grown huge and is basically impossible to kill.
One thing that I have learned to do which appears to have extended the life of my plants is regular repotting. Aside from having to lug ten tonne bags of soil home from the garden centre, it's a very therapeutic task and the plants certainly seem to benefit from it. Shocking for the gel manicure, though.
Unleash Your Inner Trotter
In our house, far too much money has been spent over the summer months on holidays, wine, crisps and in my husbands case, copious amounts of gin. Summer is also a time for investment in 'garden toys' such as Swingball and paddling pools that last for two days before someone forgets to empty the water, mould forms on the base and they are cast aside, never to be used again as no one wants to clean them.
Either way, September can be a barren time for the bank balance, so it's a good time to bring out your inner Delboy and create some cash to help fund your interior projects. If you've followed tip number two, you'll have realised that there are some items in your home that are never going to make you smile. Hop on to eBay and get flogging. Price carefully; check similar items to find out the benchmark and keep the auction to no more than seven days. Gumtree is another great selling platform - there's no fee and the price is fixed (although you are free to haggle).
You'll be surprised how quickly all those bits that you've lost the love for add up. Be clever. When I updated my kitchen a couple of years ago, I didn't like the wall cupboards. We removed them, put them on eBay, sold them within a day and with the proceeds, I had four made to measure solid oak shelves produced. And I had change in my pocket too. My motto is always to sell, then buy.
And when you DO decide to buy, don't disregard vintage items. Not only do they give your home an individual look at a fraction of the cost, they can also be a good investment. I recently picked up a G Plan E Gomme sideboard for £60 in a furniture warehouse - a quick check on eBay revealed the price to be closer to £400. Last week my brother called me to tell me that he'd found a china bowl in a second hand sale that he'd bought for 50p. Vintage 1960's Gucci, recommended selling price £600. Now that's what I call an interior mojo boost.
So there's my top five tips for banishing those holiday blues and boosting your interior mojo. September is always a busy month. Kids go back to school (parents all over the country rejoice), work schedules return to normal and we have much shorter, darker days. All of these things, in turn, mean far more time spent in our homes. Having a mini revamp or making small changes in your space can affect your mood and increase your positivity levels which is good thing at any time of the year. Positivity always rules.