Where I work: a glimpse inside my home (and office, and studio…)
I don’t know about you, but I love seeing inside other people’s homes. Being a visual type of person I like to look for ideas and inspiration, but there’s also – admittedly – an inherent curiosity (a far better word than ‘nosiness’!) in each of us. All houses tell stories about their inhabitants. Few things give you a better insight into someone’s interests than a look at their bookshelves; artwork, collections or souvenirs hint at past travels and personal histories.
I live where I work. And where I live is a small village. There’s one road in and out. We have a train station (part of a heritage railway, so lots of steam engines and galas throughout the year), a river, a green and plenty of wooded walks right on the doorstep. There’s no shop, post office or pub but we also have no passing traffic. There’s a little church which opens a tea room on Sundays, and it’s where the local Photographic Club meets.
Although the village has an industrial history, it’s now a conservation area. Think quaint cottages and white-painted front doors, window boxes and chicken coops. I wake up to the sound of birdsong and watch the seasons changing through the windows. We have a great community here too – everyone knows everyone else and the neighbourliness really does make living here a joy. Children play and adventure safely together and we all muck in to help with clean-ups and to arrange social events: bonfires, summer fetes, the annual Scarecrow fun day… I know we’re really very lucky.
So: the house. We bought it in 2014 (moving about fifty yards up the road from our old one). It was in a state of disrepair but we knew there was great potential; three storeys (and a cellar), a garden backing onto fields, big rooms and plenty of character. Of course, we already knew the neighbours, so that was one less ‘unknown’ to consider. Since buying it we’ve made lots of changes – installing new sash windows, replastering and so on, and there’s still a way to go. We’re extending and overhauling the garden too. It’s quite a process, and a gradual one. But the kitchen’s already a lovely place to be with our dining table in the centre and an old fireplace at one end: a proper country kitchen where I can sit and work with the radio on and a cup of tea close by.
Last Summer in our beautiful cottage garden.
How the garden looked when we bought it.
A gorgeous fireplace and beautiful parquet floor were hidden under piles of junk.
My studio is of the pop-up persuasion; that is, it’s in our living room and is set up and dismantled as and when needed. It’s a great space with the old parquet flooring and good light. The door opens out onto a little balcony as it’s elevated and the cellar below is at ground level, so you can see out over the trees to the village church and down onto the garden. It’s such a relaxing place to be – particularly when I’m home alone!
The kitchen when we viewed the house.
Our kitchen now – still lots to do but it’s looking far better now.
Of course, I dream of one day having a dedicated studio at the bottom of that garden – one that’s bright and cosy in the winter and where I can work uninterrupted. But there’s something nice about welcoming clients into our home too. It puts them at ease (important when you’re a portrait photographer!) and necessities are close to hand: the kettle and snacks are obvious ones, but a home environment is great for babies, children and their accompanying needs.
So I’m in no hurry to decamp just yet. With juggling work, family life and a house refurbishment, building a new studio isn’t really something I want to contemplate! Fortunately our house is somewhere I’m more than happy to be; adapting and shifting things around become second nature when you work from home. One huge bonus: there’s no commute (with all the associated stress that brings). Just the school run and then back to my happy place…