So, Fiona came to photograph my house recently.
Yes, I have a wooden Ark in my living room.
Amy, Zoë and I have relatively similar tastes in our houses - we're all pretty thrifty. Nothing we have in our homes costs very much, aside from the untold number of hours spent finding, painting, covering, restoring and revamping. Don't get me wrong, we have the odd luxury. For example, Nic kindly bought me a Kitchenaid mixer, back before we opened the shop and had money (but far less joy in our lives!). But generally, we're the sort of people who, when complemented on something, take great pleasure in replying, 'thanks, it only cost me 50p!'.
We flick through those swanky interiors magazines all the time, and decided that our thrifty-crafty-retro style can look just as good as those prefect and perfectly expensive homes, with a bit of elbow grease and a fantastic photographer who happens to be my car-boot buddy.
My mid terraced Victorian rental house has pretty good bones, neutral floors, a couple of nice fire places and recently painted walls (it was so scruffy when we got the keys 8 months ago, they all needed doing!). It also has the benefit of being a much bigger house than my last one, so I haven't yet accumulated a suffocating amount of clutter. Although I'm working on it.
So my house got the honour(!) of being photographed. This time.
Since Fiona and I agreed a date, I have been painting shelves, hanging pictures, covering chairs, bidding on things on ebay (most out of character), raiding Zoë & Amy's houses for stuff (thank you both so much!), stealing things from the shop and flatly panicking about the whole thing.
Fiona did come round for a cuppa before hand to discuss the shots she thought she would probably take, which helped a lot. And as she's a good friend and not a complete stranger, it meant I didn't have to worry about the corners we weren't dressing. Imagine if the first time you meet the photographer is the day of the shoot? The stress levels would be off the scale. I have visions of people taking boxes of stuff to live in storage for a few days.
On first the day of the shoot, my Mum was good enough to came round in the morning and hang some shelves I had forgotten I wanted put up, as well as bringing some fresh fruit and flowers for the shoot - I think my text to her said something like 'Bring fruit and flowers, everyone has fruit and flowers in these things'. Thanks Mum.
Later on, Denise came along too, for which I am infinitely grateful. She's a perfectionist, and her tweaking and dressing was very much appreciated. She put my fabric in rainbow order and arranged my yarn in a very pleasing way! She also brought a much needed dollop of moral support. I think I might see if she fancies coming every week!
Fiona. Bless Fiona. She shifted furniture, ironed out wrinkles, polished glass, apologised, yes apologised, for 'trashing my house', all the while making it more beautiful. Fiona remained jolly and upbeat throughout both days. She's such a joy to be around and works so hard. What a wonderful woman, I feel truly blessed to be her friend. It was fascinating to watch her work.
I found the whole experience exhausting, and oddly emotional. I'm not really a hyper emotional sort of person, I don't cry when I watch 'The Notebook'. Much. I've been struggling to describe it. I was overwhelmed. It felt a bit like when you see a bride walking down the aisle - she's someone you know really well, you see her every day, but you find yourself a little choked at how perfect and beautiful and full of hope she looks on this day. (Perhaps I'm the groom in that scenario?)
I now look at the objects I love with new eyes. The shots are amazing. I keep saying 'it doesn't look like my house', but actually, the photos look like the very best version of my house. It's how my house looks in my head, when I'm able to ignore the pile of washing up that needs doing and the floor that needs cleaning.
Will the pictures ever make it in to any magazines? Who knows. We all think they're great, they're the sort of pictures we would like to see. But maybe there will be an influx of houses that look like mine, or they just don't like it! Fiona assures me this is unlikely to be the case, but I'm not counting any chickens. Or eggs. Or even feathers. We have a lot of work to do yet.
We can't show you the pictures properly yet, in case someone wants them exclusively. Sorry! These are taken on a phone from Fiona's computer screen! I hope you all like them.
I think this one is Fiona's favourite, but I prefer the
landscape version at the top, I love my ercol sideboard!
If you find these images inspiring, Fiona is teaching a DSLR Photography workshop this Sunday at the shop - click here for booking details.
Berylune, 45 Park Street, Leamington Spa CV32 4QN. www.berylune.co.uk
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