Tidy Kitchen, Tidy Mind
Written by Erica Davies
Stylist, fashion journalist and brand consultant Erica Davies, tells us how her recent kitchen renovation changed her morning routine, and how your space can really affect your mood.
Two years ago, at Christmas, we made the move out of London. It was a big move, one filled with worry and risk. Would we love it? Am I doing the right thing? Will the children be happy? Will anyone LIKE me?!
The house we moved into was much bigger than our previous home, which had been loved for ten years and was where we brought our babies home after they were born. But we couldn’t ignore the space and light and the countryside - they were all the reasons we had moved.
For six months, our life still in boxes, I felt depressed and out of sorts. Yes the move had been huge and my life had changed dramatically, but there was something more than that. The whole environment felt bland and strange and I couldn’t settle. With its stark, cream walls, beige carpets and poor lighting, the house felt completely wrong. It had been painted in completely the wrong colours and left me feeling really, really low all the time.
So we started painting, room by room, as soon as money would allow, and slowly but surely the house started to sing - and it felt like mine. I felt at home. I felt as though I could finally relax. The kitchen was the last project we have completed - and it was a big one, absorbing all of our money and project managing skills. We knocked down walls and ripped up flooring, we added colour (dark blue and pale pink with grass green and copper) and a sense of continuity. We gave it a heart and some love.
It’s the first place we come together - the four of us.
It’s where we make tea and chat and watch TV. It’s where the kids tackle homework and we read the Sunday papers. It’s my sanctuary. I get up half an hour early so I can come downstairs, make myself that first cup of tea, sit on the green sofa at the end of our kitchen and enjoy the calm.
I work in a very hectic digital world, where there isn’t any let-up from alerts, or messages or emails. I need to prioritise time when I’m not surgically attached to my iPhone to avoid that feeling of anxiety. That first cup of the day allows me that quiet time, which is so important. But then again, I am all about the multi-tasking, so while I’m waiting for the coffee machine to wake up and fill the room with the smell of ground beans - I check my diary to see what the day holds. I try and get organised the night before, so all the children’s school things are packed and ready to go by the back door.
Straight from dropping the kids off, I’ll head for an hour at the gym or otherwise go straight home to make myself boiled eggs in the peace of the kitchen. I work from home, but that half an hour of making breakfast is my happy time, when I am not quite in the work zone but there is no one else around. While being sociable is obviously so important, I am constantly trying to teach the children that you need to be happy with your own company too.
I am a big fan of podcasts (I love the High Low with Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes and also Sara Tasker’s Hashtag Authentic), or I will put some music on and just be - before I have to knuckle down and get on with my work.
I’ve just invested in a laptop, so now my work life is kitchen-based too. I make another cup of tea, open it up at the kitchen table, light a candle and have the view of the garden as my backdrop. After years of working in an office, I feel very lucky that I can be flexible and work from home. I miss the company of colleagues, but I make sure I speak to people regularly - nothing beats a chat!
Your personal space is so important to your mental health.
You should always fill it with things you love.