Property shows make the most of our desire to nose around other people’s homes. But they also feed into this idea that bigger is better. It’s very rarely that you hear someone say ‘I think this house is a bit big for us’. I don’t think a feeling of space can replace a feeling of freedom. I think that taking on bigger homes and more debt can be hugely damaging and is certainly not the sure-fire road to success we think it is.
I’ve bought into this idea for years – I moved from a one bed flat to a two bed house and then up to a three bed house. And it’s too much. Too much to clean. Too much space to fill with stuff. Too much to pay for. I spend so much time trying to make enough money to support a lifestyle I am not enjoying. I wonder how many people feel this way. I wonder how many people really feel like they can change things.
If you walked into a room like this, you wouldn’t think it was that small. It’s light and airy and beautiful.
You would only find it small if you knew it was the only living space. But you only need to occupy one space at a time. You only experience one space at a time. The rest of your rooms are for your stuff.
I live in a house with 8 rooms. Each living space (master bedroom, kitchen, living room) are around about the same as this room. I use one at a time. And some of them I barely use at all. But I’m paying for owning them. And I need to clean them. They’re glorified cupboards.
I didn’t go into one room in my house for months – just to see how much I did or didn’t need it. I don’t.
I had all these ideas about people coming to stay. They haven’t.
I’m scratching that idea in my next place. A sofa bed might be useful, but otherwise it’s just me and the dogs.
The big challenge is to get rid of all the things I have accumulated over the past 16 years. And it’s a lot. Because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? Surround yourself with things. It grounds you.
Or it weighs you down.
The recent need to work from home due to extreme weather shutting down the UK transport system has prompted me to consider my workspace. I have the enviable position of being able to do my job almost entirely from home – through remote access, email and telephone – under these circumstances, but does a change in surroundings change the way I work and what I produce?
Objectively good places to work rarely end up being so; in their faultlessness, quiet and well-equipped studies have a habit of rendering the fear of failure overwhelming.
Alain de Botton (The Ideal Live/Work Space According to Alain de Botton on Unplggd)
Apart from the obvious distractions of home working – pets, family, the ability to chain-drink tea, I can see obvious benefits and pitfalls, some of which are one and the same. If you usually work in a studio with other people, sitting at the same desk and looking at the same wall, I think a change of scenery can bring a refreshing change in perspective. It can allow you to think differently, access a different range of resources and inspiration. It can afford you a more relaxed working environment, which is not always beneficial, but can be if you are disciplined enough. I tend to move my workspace around the house depending on the task in hand: drawing, and checking proofs at the dining table where I have space for my drawing board, or to spread out sheets of paper; web building on the sofa where I can have my laptop on my knee and feel comfortable, warm and relaxed for the inevitably long time I will be sitting working; studio with desk for drawing on the mac, photo editing, etc. where I need to use a mouse or pen and tablet.
So that’s how I work, but I’m also fascinated by other people’s workspaces – what they gather around themselves to inspire and motivate. There’s this great thread on Behance where people are posting photos of their workspaces – mostly computer stations, but there are some artist and illustrator’s studio spaces too. The Guardian also did a series which ended a couple of years ago called writer’s rooms which featured writers in their workspaces along with an article about their working practices which made fascinating reading.
If you have a photo of your workspace on flickr, tumblr, facebook, whatever, please feel free to post a link in the comments section, or email me and I’ll do a post of some of them later in the week.
A Guardian article on the British obsession with Italian cookery got me thinking about why I love Italian food. If I had to choose a favourite cuisine it would be Italian. Apart from the obvious – the taste – what is it about Italian food that so darn great? It’s easy, it’s the passion. Italian food is about art, not science. It is rustic, nourishing for body and soul, it is served with love. I might be being a little short-sighted here, but I cannot imagine Italian families feeding their kids chips, kebabs, etc when Italian food is so entrenched in family and community.