Forget the Soho House look. I just want to keep up with the Canadians

During the past six weeks, I have been gripped by an urgent need to re-style my house

Share

Apparently what we all need now in our houses is the “Soho House Look”, as described in the pages of a new style guide to the famous private club which purports to give secrets of its interior design to the humble homeowner. As far as I can make out, the formula is a crafty mishmash of velvet sofas, seven (count ’em) pillows on each bed and proper-sized duvets. Yes, it’s that simple. Do not, ever, toy with putting  a kingsize duvet on a super-kingsize bed. There is nothing worse, apparently.

Of course, style guides have existed for a long time; the current show about Georgian living at the British Library tells of Thomas Chippendale’s book The Gentleman and Cabinet-maker’s Director (1754), which showed how to emulate the elegant designs he pioneered; it ran to several editions, and was translated into French.

The thing about a style guide, however, even one from the fashionable Soho House, is that you can ignore it. Or never open it in the first place. To inflict a major change on your house and how you live in it, I find that direct interaction with your peers achieves a far more revolutionary result.

During the past six weeks, I have been gripped by an urgent need to re-style, refurbish and essentially recharge my house. From top to bottom. I have changed all the blown light bulbs, and commanded an electrician to mend the broken lights. I have spring-cleaned the larder, and given away bag-loads of clothes, toys and books. I have bought a new wardrobe (Gumtree), a dinner table from Ebay and several large boxes for organised storage of towels, sheets and bags. I have repositioned every single music manuscript on the shelves into order of instrument (yes, I know how bourgeois that sounds). Even my underwear is now in matched sets (great tip from Anthea Turner, this; hook the correct bra around the correct knickers so they are always linked in your drawer). The house now looks so ordered it resembles a stage set of an Ayckbourn play awaiting Act One. My children tip-toe around it in awe. 

My manic behaviour is nothing to do with Soho House, or anything like it. It is all thanks to a house swap over Christmas, when we traded places with a Canadian family. This family, it transpired, live in a state of  extreme tidiness the like of which I have never before experienced. Their kitchen was a shrine to the Ziploc bag and Tupperware box. Every single item of food was in a labelled tin. Sheets and blankets were stored in towers of soft canvas bags. Torches were in serried ranks according to height. All right, this Canadian family lived in a humid Mexican jungle, where armies of marching ants would turn up at the scent of a single grape, and a scorpion once landed on our bed, but all the same. Theirs was a scientific scale of cleanliness.

Of course, while we were in Mexico giggling at interlocking sandwich boxes, alphabetically organised DVDs and sealed pouches of Special K, the Canadians were getting down to business chez nous. Returning home to London, we found our kitchen had been completely reordered. Drawers and cupboards revealed neatly stacked crockery and glasses. There were even noise-reducing pads stuck on the feet of our chairs, something I have been meaning to do for about … four years. They left a lovely thank-you card, but clearly they had been unable to exist in our everyday mess.

Publishers don’t get it. We don’t care about the concerns of hoteliers. We don’t want to make our houses look like private members’ clubs. What we care about is the approval of our peers.

I now stalk about the place brandishing a J-cloth and a can of Method Lavender Spray, folding tea towels and polishing picture frames for the approval of a family who live 6,000 miles away and who I am unlikely ever to meet again. The horror of being thought you live like a slattern. I still feel ashamed.

Less red carpet, more real people

My favourite moment in the TV coverage of the Baftas is always at the end, after all the big gongs have been awarded, and the Fellowship has gone to someone who looks really surprised to have got it, but then trots out a perfect rendition of Prospero’s speech.

It is the run-down of the “minor” awards – the ones which don’t justify the accolade of proper TV coverage because they don’t involve a Hollywood star. Awards for costume, set, special effects, sound, and so on. They go to people unknown outside the business, and because they are not Hollywood stars, they are normal looking people. They vary in height, and weight. They sport their own clothes and jewellery, not ones on loan from PR companies. They have done their own hair and make-up. They have not had their faces frozen by Botox, or surgically lifted, and they do not seem to have had  physical enlargements of any description. In fact, with their wrinkles and wonky teeth and tousled hair, they are about a million miles away from the groomed sausage factory of the red carpet, and they look happy and relaxed and wonderful.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The economy expanded by 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2014  

British economy: Government hails the latest GDP figures, but there is still room for skepticism over this 'glorious recovery'

Ben Chu
Comedy queen: Miranda Hart has said that she is excited about working on the new film  

There is no such thing as a middle-class laugh

David Lister
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little