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Going For That Loved-In Look

"Something about it repelled dust and wear as it repelled intimacy, happiness and love." PD James, Innocent Blood

Well, if happiness is measured in dust particles, I must be living in a very jolly place! There is a huge difference between a house staged to impress others and a home that responds and contributes to the comfort and enjoyment of its occupants … with the scars to prove it.

At some point in our lives, we've all sat solemnly in perfectly appointed sitting rooms, perched on the edge of our chairs, carefully balancing a cup and saucer or a glass of red wine and silently praying that no one drops a crumb or says the wrong thing. I remember such an occasion many years ago when we were visiting friends in England. My older son was less than two years old. He behaved perfectly … he was quiet, patient and not disruptive. In fact, he was so quiet that none of us noticed, until we were leaving, that he had taken a bite out of every piece of perfect fruit in the perfect cut glass bowl on the foyer table. He'd been brought up in a home where fruit was meant to be eaten!

Here are a few questions to help you find your position on the spectrum where 'keeping up with the Jones' is at one end and 'going for that lived-in/loved-in look is at the other:

Do you hang your curtains pattern side out for the benefit of your neighbours, or pattern side in, for your own enjoyment? (I'm serious, this was a popular practice back in the mid-20th century along with see-through vinyl coverings on chairs and sofas and cellophane-wrapped lampshades!)

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Is your coffee table merely a display prop for elegant contemporary art books, or is it a surface where the mutilated morning paper and an open pack of cards sprawl leaving just enough room to rest your slippered feet at the end of the day?

Is your dining room off limits but for special occasions, or is it the family conference table where tears are spilled alongside gravy, laughter is shared and the world's problems are sorted out?

Are those scuffmarks on the hall walls signs of neglect, or triggers for sweet memories of the children when they were younger and used the hallway as a racetrack?

Does the art on your wall fit in seamlessly with your décor, or does it tell the story of a recent adventure or special moment?

Is the collection of discarded shoes and abandoned jackets at the front door a sign of poor housekeeping, or a reminder that your house—your home—is a welcoming place where people gather?

Designed by life … that's the kind of home I like!

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