After New Year I had an unexpected e-mail from The Person.
“When you come over next can we do things to make the flat homely?”
It was an e-mail which simultaneously surprised and didn’t surprise me. I remember when I moved into my new place and got myself all unpacked, he started round looking a bit confused before saying “But this room looks like you live here already, you’re all unpacked and everything and it looks like you. My flat looks like I’ve just moved in.”
What surprised me was that he wanted it in his place at all. I just assumed he was being blokey and liked things as they were. But the nesting bug must have caught hold of him somehow and the request was made.
At first I was in heaven. Getting to make a home for someone else is immensely fun. Mostly because it doesn’t involve you spending any money doing it. But I soon realised one huge stumbling block.
Homey things = girly things.
Trying to make a flat seem nice and homely whilst retaining a sense of masculinity about it was hard to imagine. Especially as I’m a girl. And whilst I don’t think I have excessively girly taste, I didn’t think The Person was going to get as excited about an ornamental birdcage as I would.
In the weeks leading up to me going to see him I started to have a little browse and pick up some things as presents to get him started. Some nice mugs which are colourful and can go on a mug tree in the kitchen but were without a hint of Liberace. Some decent tea towels to replace the dirty rags he currently owns. Some grey storage boxes – grey – how manly can you get?! And some little fake plants that require no care and won’t be producing any unexpected girly flowers on them.
But I knew there were going to be problems. I spotted this throw on Dotcomgiftshop (£49 reduced to £15? Yes please!) and suggested it because it was brown, thought that would be pretty manly. But it was rejected for being girly. Apparently if a sofa and a bed are already covered in fabric then why the need to cover them in more? It was a logic I found difficult to argue with.*
I went over prepared for a battle and, to be fair, I kind of had one, but by the end of the weekend things were starting to take shape. To really understand what I had going on here you have to imagine a student, who has just moved in to his first place. There was seriously nothing to work with. As in, he didn’t have a bin in the bathroom. Or a table to put a coffee cup on. Getting a picture? This wasn't really a case of getting amazing, expensive furniture that will last our whole lives, and more about just getting stuff, full stop.
So by the end of the weekend we had:
A nest of tables (one for each end of the sofa) A bin for the bathroom and a toilet brush
A toothbrush holder and soap dispenser
A bath mat (Hurray for 3 for 2 on Argos Colour Match stuff)
Some nice new colourful towels
Shelving unit (bargain from Morrisons for £9 – although I wouldn’t put much on it given that you didn’t actually need a screwdriver to put it together)
A bamboo plant
2 table lamps (to take up residence on aforementioned nest of tables)
I also did a bit of re-jigging, moving the never-used small dining room table into a corner of the lounge and moving an uplighter to create a little dining area. I suggested getting something to sit in the middle of the table but couldn’t get agreement on anything, having a conversation that went a little like this:
Me: How about a bowl?
The Person: What would I put in it?
Me: Well nothing. You could just have a bowl. OR. You could put some sand/pebbles in it and a candle in it?
The Person: You know what would be good? A big giant rock.
I discovered that it’s actually difficult making somewhere homely when you’re not the person living in it – all I could really do is suggest things to The Person and see if he liked them. I tried again with the soft furnishings, I brandished a tartan throw from Primark in his direction and made him feel how soft it was and I thrust a cushion in his face in Debenhams exclaiming “Look! Pigeon cushion! How manly is that?!” But it was to no avail.**
I still haven’t won the battle over candles unfortunately. I think that’s a no- go. Although a utensil holder for the kitchen has been given the green light so it wasn't a complete fail.
All in all – not bad for a weekend’s work say I.
*But I totally went and bought that throw for myself anyway and I love it. It’s so so so so soft I just want to smoosh up in it all day.
** Or was it? Later on he admitted that the throw and cushion might not have been such a bad idea. Aha! I just had to plant the seed!