Moosifer’s Homemade Home

I finally caught an episode of Kirsty’s Homemade Home last Thursday.

Unlike many people I know, I like Kirsty Allsop.  She’s managed to parlay “being a bit posh and a bit mumsy” into a career and, unlike her tv partner in property crime, she can carry a show on her own.  She does, like Lawrence Llewelyn Bowen, actually know quite a lot about design principles and history. (If you don’t believe me, try tracking down LLB’s three part series Taste.)

And yet…watching Kirsty’s Homemade Home was a bit of a letdown. Not the fact that although she gamely tries all the crafts featured the time-consuming work of finishing the jobs is done by the craftsmen. That’s the magic of television, and the conceit that she has actually made everything is fine within that context. It’s more the idea that you can make a craft-filled home quickly that bothers me, or that such home-building is a revelation to the viewers.

Look, the curtain has pennyweights in it to make it fall straight! Yes, so has the old orange velvet one in my bedroom: I put them back in when I shortened the charity shop curtain and used the offcut fabric to cover a cushion.  Pepping up a sofa with a riot of colour is as simple as buying a crocheted blanket from a charity shop! Yes, I’ve had my crochet blanket since 1992: it’s done work as a bed cover, a sofa cover and currently acts as a sofa blanket.  You can buy old stuff from reclaim yards! Yes, I got a white porcelain toilet from one in Newton Abbot about a decade ago…

The very same Thursday I finally watched Kirsty’s Homemade Home, I’d dropped in to see Sarah at Otto Retro. I was just passing and wanted to say hi, but I came away with two new kitchen chairs. They’re blonde wood, varnished, and Sarah recovered them with some lovely vintage fabric. There’s no maker’s or seller’s mark, so we’re guessing they are late 50s. It’s taken me thirteen years to see a pair of kitchen chairs I liked enough to buy, and that suit my eclectic interior design ideas. It took me ten years to find a desk, during which time the old one was held up with a box full of papers from university.

Homemade houses can’t be bought in, they need to evolve over time. And part of that means living without the exact thing you want until you can afford/make it.  The programme suggests that an eclectic style is something that can come off the peg.

I can’t disparage it entirely: if the resulting exposure leads to craftspeople around the country getting more commissions then obviously that is an excellent thing. And I’ve always been a fan of getting things secondhand, simply as you find something more interesting and are reusing a resource. But I do wonder if, by eliding the time element of such home building, the show gives the mistaken impression that it only takes a season to develop an eclectic home.

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