What does home really mean to journalist Hadley Freeman?

I can chart my life by the things I spent money on. In my twenties, all my spare cash went on clothes and going out. A Luella skirt here, a Marc by Marc Jacobs top there, it was amazing (or not) how quickly my monthly pay cheque disappeared. But because I loved fashion and derived so much pleasure from it that still today, even with the benefit of two decades of hindsight, I don’t see any of that expenditure as waste. I see it as me finding myself as an adult through the therapeutic medium of Net-a-porter.

(Image credit: Future)

Then in my 30s, my money went on holidays. I became the queen of organising trips with friends: booking villas, finding where the beach parties were going to be, and then making all of my friends come to them with me. I still loved the fashion, don’t get me wrong, but memories last even longer than Miu Miu, as Jesus said (or maybe that was Lindsay Lohan.)

Then around my 40th birthday, the focus changed again and I became obsessed with home décor. It was strange: my husband and I had lived in our house for three years, and I was fine with the all-white walls, the ramshackle plastic-y furniture, the heavy dark wood floors which were there when we moved in. Yeah sure, whatever, who cares? Well, it turned out I cared. Very much. Suddenly, living in a house that not only didn’t reflect me but actively depressed me was as unbearable as wearing clothes in the wrong size, or going on a cycling holiday (ultimate contradiction in terms.) 

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Lady in jeans carrying shopping bags in a shopping centre

(Image credit: Alamy)

And so, despite having three year old twins and another baby coming, I set out on a massive revamp of my house. Well! This will probably not come as a massive surprise to readers of Ideal Home, but I cannot convey how much the changes lifted my mood. A home that is beautiful! And me! Do other people understand the importance of this? (Yes, cry a million readers of Ideal Home.)