Evolution Of A Wall

The British online magazine Heart Home just republished a house tour they did back in 2013, featuring our rented home in North London. We’d only been living in this house for a few months and I really wasn’t ready for a photographer to document things (story of my life?) But me being me, and never wanting to say no, I said yes. It’s pretty funny to see the innerworkings of my brain manifested in one wall of our house.

Since then, I’ve published two books, I’ve started working with Anthropologie Europe and A LOT has changed. Judging by these pictures, one of the main things that’s changed is my personal interiors style. Granted, we had no furniture, having sold it all to move back to London from LA, and I was in full on make do and mend spirit (here and here), but I have to admit that it’s hard to look at the photos now. I really don’t like much of what I was doing back then and it certainly doesn’t represent my style now. Having your home photographed repeatedly over the years is a bit like opening up a very personal diary and letting everyone read it. All my mistakes are exposed for everyone to judge!

Heart Home EHenson kitchen

The photo above is from Heart Home Magazine. The following images show the evolution of the exact same wall since that shoot, and they really tell a story about the way my brain works: Start with nothing. Attempt to make something from nothing. Overcompensate for having nothing by adding too many little bits of – you guessed it – nothing. Get overwhelmed by clutteredness of all the bits of nothing. Tear it all down. Start again. Image one, above: I had no furniture, having just moved in, but I found some frames and a weird shelf on the street which I painted white. I made some bunting out of fabric – I don’t know about you but I’d be happy if I never saw any kind of bunting again as long as I live. I faked it all out by adding flowers and veg to make it look lived-in. Honestly, imagine it without all the greens – blander than bland. I’ve since donated anything remotely vintagey/kitschy to Stoke Newington’s finest charity shops, slowly replacing them with things I actually like or – God forbid – leaving an empty space until I find something I like.

Image two, above: The day before photographing my home for my second book Bohemian Modern I freaked out a bit. Having spent six months working full time and travelling Europe in every spare moment photographing amazing homes for the book, I had completely neglected my own little pile of bricks. In a wild hour of panicked madness, I unearthed some old wallpaper samples, added decades worth of my favourite family photos, lots of plants, and boom – Bohemian Modern in a flash!

Image three: Last Friday. I’d worked an overnight shift on Thursday so had taken Friday off. I took a nap, woke up refreshed and was buzzing slightly from the huge coffee I’d just had. I needed a project! I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the messiness of the wall so I took off all the pictures and wallpaper, and quickly realised that blue-tac does in fact leave little marks even though it says it won’t. There were loads. I realised that I had to paint it so I bought some magnetic chalkboard paint and quickly rolled it on. Suddenly I got inspired by the pattern on the dutch wax fabric I’d stapled onto the kitchen chair seats and attempted to copy it with chalk – the plan being to cover the whole wall. After one row my arm started to ache at the tediousness of it, and so it remains just the one row.

And that, my friends, is how my brain works. What can I say, planning is for suckers! All hail, the queen of slap-dash decorating (Er, that’s me).

For the full house tour head to Heart Home magazine. Just promise not to judge too harshly. Particularly the shot where I thought crazy Dutch wax fabric curtains and painting the words “What are you waiting for?” on a frame would be calming for a bedroom…

And to see yet another incarnation of my home, buy Bohemian Modern and look for the chapter called Urban Bohemian.

Top image by James Balston for Heart Home Magazine, second image by Katya de Grunwald for my book Bohemian Modern. Last image by me and my iPhone.

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