I love my home to the extent that the best aspect of any travel, for me, is the return. My home is, quite simply, my favourite corner of the world, my ultimate retreat and my greatest ally. It is my space to be fearless and splendid in all of my obsessions. In short, I think of it as a secret superpower that protects and supports me—something that feels ever more essential now that the world seems to have gone a bit bonkers.
But with its perfectly symmetrical brick-fronted facade, original leaded-glass windows and pretty walled front garden, it looks like the sort of house you’d expect to see adorning a chocolate box. Built in 1821 (so, strictly speaking, Georgian), it even has a little porch with flower baskets hung on either side, and there’s an ancient passion-flower tree and pink roses tumbling across its front. But this belies the modernity I have installed inside: new electrics and plumbing, a few raised ceilings, marble-clad bathrooms, a Corian-countered kitchen and under- floor heating throughout. As for the decor, I live and breathe the philosophy expounded in my book, Happy Inside: How to Harness the Power of Home for Health and Happiness, in that every single thing in my home, from the weight of my cutlery to the feel of my sheets to the colour of my cushions, contributes to my well-being. And I do not say this lightly. It is a consequence of everything being very carefully considered—but not in an achingly pedantic, hours-of-trawling sort of way; rather, for anything to be welcomed indoors, it has to contribute positively to the story of relaxation and harmony that I want to tell with my home. In this way, surrounded by things that make me happy and the colours, fabrics, materials and finishes that soothe me, no matter where I look, I am uplifted.
However, it hasn’t been about spending a lot of money. The majority of my furnishings are not expensive designer pieces. Instead, I prefer to lavish attention on the envelope of my home: the walls, floors and ceilings—the most important design decision being the flooring. Literally and visually, it is the foundation for everything, underpinning every view and item laid upon it. I indulged a long-standing dream and splashed out on a dark-stained-oak parquet floor for downstairs—hand-laid and then oiled to a gleam in situ. I happy-cried when it was finished. Upstairs, a 100-percent-wool thick-pile carpet was meticulously colour-matched to a Farrow & Ball paint chip—“Mizzle,” to be precise—and then hand-dyed.
But my path to this place of peace has not been without its twists. Over the years, I have swapped cities, counties and countries; rented many a dodgy apartment; and moved almost once a year in pursuit of home. But every abode taught me something about the effect of my surroundings on my health, wealth, happiness and hormones, and I grew to understand just how deeply these things are connected. The ultimate recognition is that making a home is never frivolous; it is absolutely fundamental to becoming your best self.