This is the time of year I feel most like myself, most cocooned and comforted. I go about my days in autumn with a kind of cosy reassurance that each of us on this chilly little island has “given in to winter’s big excuse”, its “boxed-in allure” as poet Maggie Dietz so evocatively describes in her 2016 poem “November”. Each year, I shrug on this seasonal contentedness like a coat, watching the fleeting rays of sunshine dash across buildings and parklands, and greeting the dusky closure of the day with candles, steaming hot showers and the promise of incipient festive cheer.
However, I know there are readers out there who will be bracing themselves for the deep freeze, the dark, brittle mornings and slippery pavements ahead, who take no pleasure in their obligatory submersion in the plunge pool of these final months of the year. Of course, I sympathise. As I detest the sweltering Tube trains and shimmering tarmac of August, I appreciate the opposite could seem unbearable for others. In moments like these, it will only do to make your home as comfortable as possible. A healthy mix of function and beauty will be sure to make even the coldest, darkest mornings feel like a gift. Here’s what you can do to give your home little autumnal lifts to bring about a sense of seamlessness in your day, giving a luxurious flow to your daily rituals, culminating in a restful evening routine ushered in by great design.
Michelle Ogundehin, the former editor of ELLE Decoration as well as a creative consultant, author and TV presenter, is well known for her views on the curated home as a source of joy all year round. She believes that “[one’s] environment is the third fundamental pillar of wellbeing alongside food and exercise”, an adage she explores at great length in her book, Happy Inside: How to Harness the Power of Home for Health and Happiness, published by Ebury Press in early 2020. Now, Ogundehin has partnered with appliance manufacturer De’Longhi to launch its Ballerina collection of delicately fluted kettles and toasters. “I believe that living well begins with how you start each day,” she says, “so ensure the things you use every day are the things you love the most, from your kettle to your bedlinen. You’re worth it.”
Indeed, the kettle is a good place to start. For a lifelong food-oriented person, punctuating the hours between meals with cups of tea or coffee on cooler days demands a lot of my kettle, especially when working from home. A quick, design-led upgrade makes all the difference, and adds a little harmless novelty to the practice. De Longhi’s range is varied and interesting, while this year’s Russell Hobbs X Emma Bridgewater collaboration will bring the kitsch to your kitchen. Of course, there is always the Smeg X Dolce and Gabbana kettle (should you be lucky enough to find it in stock) for a day-brightening start.
Despite my adoration of the cooler months, I do hate to be cold, and very much look forward to a scorching shower after an evening stroll. It is the process of warming up in the evening that I find to possess a particularly wide margin for error, mainly with regard to the availability of warm, dry towels. It is surely one of life’s greatest disappointments to find your towel is still damp. This is why it’s important to invest in some good-quality, fast-drying towels that maintain their soft, cushiony drape. Bedding and towelling specialist Sheridan (currently stocked on www.houseoffraser.co.uk) offers a range of beautifully colourful, quick-dry, 100 per cent cotton towels, while Kiramy organic cotton bath towels offer the same benefits with unique detailing and fringing (available from www.laredoute.co.uk).
Ask any interior designer about their most useful, reliable tool for any space, and they will tell you about lighting a room well. Great lighting can elevate any space, especially if there are multiple sources by way of a network of lamps. This will flatter any space (and any inhabitant) over and above using the main light alone. I shudder at the thought…
Luckily, there are many, many options for fantastic lamps from companies like Andrew Martin and Pooky, but sites like www.vinterior.co and www.1stdibs.com provide a more eclectic offering, of which some models may need to be rewired.
Finally, a list of autumnal home updates simply wouldn’t be complete without the mention of a couple of beautiful candles I’m burning at the moment. The first is Malin+Goetz’s Dark Rum candle from its Vices collection, designed to conjure a feeling of nostalgia. With notes of bergamot, plum and anise, it’s at once fresh and festive - perfect for crisp autumnal days. The same can be said for candle company Virginutty’sfragrance Sagada, which has notes of pine mixed with cypress and bergamot. The company’s candles are handmade, vegan and plastic-free, and use the highest quality, organically farmed coconut oil and premium grade phthalate-free fragrance.
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