What makes a happier home?
Helen & Matt and their son Harry recently moved home. We find out more about the project they’ve embarked on and what makes them feel happiest at home too.
Can you tell us a bit about what happiness means to you?
To us, having a connection to the outside and it being light, cosy and comfortable inside. It has to work for us as a family, so we need it to be open-plan and light with flexible shared spaces. It also needs to have a sanctuary for each of us too.
It’s interesting because as part of this series we’ve done a lot of research, and each of these things is important to our community too.
We know that wood, warmth and natural materials impact on how we feel.
In the Spring and Summer we want our home to feel bright and light and in Autumn/Winter need it to be a cosy sanctuary so getting that balance is key. We think if you can get this right your home can improve your quality of life.
Tell us about your new home
We love the style of houses built in the 60’s and 70’s and found one in the estate that we hoped to buy for a long time after much searching. We looked around it with the vendor who had lived in the house for 30 years and brought up her family in the house. She told us she chose to sell to us as she wanted another family to live in it and love it as they had.
We wanted to get some of the fundamentals done so that we could move in and then develop it slowly over time after we’ve lived in it for a while.
We’ve chosen a simple pared-back scheme for the whole house. White walls, terracotta tiles and wooden floor for downstairs and cork floor throughout upstairs. We chose a plywood kitchen in the same design as our last house as we loved it so much.
Out of all of the themes we cover on the series, what impacts you?
We think that ‘expressing yourself at home’ is the one that impacts us the most. I think for us to feel happy, comfortable and calm we need our home to reflect us, our style.
We love our home to have pieces of furniture that have memories attached, objects that we have collected over the years that have special meaning to us and help to shape our home and the sense of belonging we have with it.
We really loved reading what all of our customers and wider community thought, that was so interesting and inspiring to us ( you can read this too if you sign up to our 5-part email series).
Out of the happiness at home collection - what products do you covet?
We are very lucky to have a few items in our house from the Happier Home Collection, we’ve saved up and over time and bought them gradually and will keep them forever.
We have just had a Hay Quilton sofa delivered for our living room which we love, its so comfortable.
What do you love about the area you live in?
We live in Pannal, a village minutes away from Harrogate. We’ve lived here for nearly 11 years. It's a lovely community. Its surrounded by countryside so has great walks. You really feel the connection with nature all year round.
I would ideally live completely in the countryside but whilst Harry is growing up we thought we would stay in a larger village right outside Harrogate so he’s closer to his friends and his school.
What influences you?
We are huge fans of Charles and Ray Eames designs and philosophy.
“What works good is better than what looks good because what works good lasts,” said Ray.
In fact, the two things went hand in hand with Eames furniture. This was not a new concept. The Bauhaus had started this functional approach before the war, Charles and Ray made it mainstream.
Eames definitely got this balance spot on. When planning for our own home we always try and buy the best quality we can combined with the best design as good design doesn’t date. We want the pieces we buy to last. Buy once, keep forever is our belief and we make sure we live it.
If you could live in any house in the world, what would it look like?
We saw a house - Farnley Hey by Peter Womersley on The Modern House,that we loved. Also the Ahm House byJørn Utzon. They're definitely our dream houses but we would have to have it built on the Isle of Mull - our favourite place in the world.
What piece of furniture makes you happiest?
The Cite lounge chair by Jean Prouve, its our favourite chair. We’ve loved Prouve's design from the moment we visited the Jean Prouve exhibition at the Design museum in 2008, which had his “la Masion Tropical; installed infront of the Tate Modern.
He’s remained our favourite designer ever since.
USM modular furniture is one of our top picks. It originated in 1963 and has become a classic in terms of design and functionality. It can bring a pop of colour into you interior and is so flexible, you can add to it if you need to move it into a different space or a new house. A classic that will move with you over the years.
Cork stools by Vitra are one of our favourites we have collected a couple of the designs over the years. The are robustly built, stable, individual in character and lovable in appearance. We use them as side-tables or as stools. We love the natural material, cork its so tactile and is a really sustainable material.