BACK TO BASICS

The older I get, the less stuff I want. Over the past few years, my taste has become simpler and more specific. As my work life continues to speed up and I spend more hours than ever before in front of a screen, I have begun to crave simplicity, natural materials and peace at home. Perhaps it’s something to do with being more sure about who you are and what you like – and realising what actually matters in life: friends, family, love. People, not ‘things’. Then again, getting fussier about what I like (even if I conclude that I only LIKE simple, unfussy things…) probably means I’m more materialistic / shallow than ever before but ANYWAY…

I used to flit like a moth from trend to trend – my desires pulled hither and thither. I liked whatever I’d seen most recently which, in my line of work, was a lot. I was never able to commit to a wallpaper or a patterned fabric; By the time it was up, I’d be over it. SO last season. Every interiors love was a passing fad, a fleeting lust. However, I’ve started to gradually sort the wheat from the chaff, reducing my possessions bit by bit. A year of de-cluttering has meant fortnightly trips to the charity shop with bulging bags. Penning a feature about minimalism for a magazine recently, highlighted the fact that, despite being a consumer journalist specialising in ‘new home stuff to buy’ (oh, the irony) I am, weirdly, quite minimalistic these days. When asked, I struggle to think of things I want for Christmas – unless you count theatre tickets, wine or a few more (because, surely, you-can-never-have-too-many) Weck jars…

It all started with the mugs. A motley assortment of freebies and one-offs gathered over a decade – I opened the cupboard one day and decided: enough was enough – they needed editing. Now, we have fewer – but they are hand-thrown, beautiful stoneware pieces from a pottery. They’re a pleasure to use and will last us for years. Job done.

Next, it was the tea towels. A similarly mis-matched bunch, they have all been banished – expect for a few vintage linen ones and a job lot of industrial catering Linen Union ‘glass cloths’.

This is probably too much information (!) but even our toilet brush has been up-graded (or down-graded?) to a less-practical-but-infinitely-more-rustic Baileys-style wooden brush (£4 from Leyland) in a simple galvanized bucket, £3 from a florist. (Incidentally, Labour and Wait sells a similar combo for, like, £18. Just saying.)

One lady who’s been peddling a pared-back ‘Pure Style‘ look for many a day is Jane Cumberbatch, a stylist who lives in Tulse Hill. Her simple but chic way of living (check out her photography blog, her Algarve holiday home, and her little shop) has been inspiring wannabe purists (like me) to transform their lives into something vaguely resembling the Toast catalogue for decades. But, like most of us, she sells ‘stuff’. In fact, she’s just launched a new range of ‘colour bands’ – mini hand-printed rolls of striped wallpaper:

The idea is to use them as borders and trims – or instead of dado rails, headboards or frames. They come in a pretty spectrum of hues and, while I’m not exactly one for multi-coloured stripes on a chimney breast, a single band is a subtle touch of pattern that perhaps even those of us in the I-like-boring-plain-grey-walls-brigade could tolerate?

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