My bedroom as a teenager was a proper hippy den - an attic room, customised for occupation in true Stanfield set-building bodgit-and-scarper style by me and my dad and decorated in wacky colours (complete with oh so classy handprints) by me. Batik throws and an assortment of hangings and mobiles adorned the sloping ceiling, while one wall was completely covered in photographs of me and my friends in various states of inebriation. Incense would invariably be burning whenever I was in residence, as if the overwhelming smell of Body Shop White Musk perfume (at least it wasn't Mango) wasn't enough. I adored this small but cosy space, in which large chunks of my adolescence were dawdled away - listening to the Cure, Sinead O'Connor or one of many compilation tapes made in those days, writing my diary, reading trashy novels, daydreaming, or shooting the breeze via the now vaguely retro seeming medium of the land line telephone. Not much has changed in the bed half of the loft at my mum's house, and I always sleep up there whenever I visit. The photowall has been dismantled - with the intention of putting all those classic shots into an album someday - but many of the trinkets and decor remain. Even my old tabby cat still makes the hike up the ladder to sleep there with me.
I've never moved on much in terms of style since this formative period, and have always aspired to re-create the ultimate shabby-chic daydream den in the front room of mine and Ant's Brighton pad. I can't be doing with uber-designed living spaces that tell you nothing about the person who lives there; houses without books especially creep me out, because, honestly, how are you supposed to get the measure of someone without having a decent nose through their library and preferably stealing a book or two?
Ant is by nature a hoarder and clutter-freak, so our tastes have happily convened over the years to create a naturally evolved space that says a lot about us as individuals and as a couple. It's full of stuff we've picked up on our travels, inherited heirlooms and treasured gifts, as well as a decent combined library that is fast overflowing into other rooms. Other than the yellow paint on the walls (which we had leftover from our previous flat) we've never made any conscious design decisions about the space, and yet visitors often comment on how soothing they find it. Almost everything has a story behind it - from the box of percussion instruments to the two wooden cats - and it gives me great pleasure to recall the histories of all our bits and pieces - whether for the benefit of others or my own sentimental indulgence.
Every now and then, I get an evening at home alone in which to recapture my contemplative teenage years, and will sit and enjoy the comforting sanctuary that we have created. This evening I was doing just that when it struck me to compile an anecdotal itinerary of the room, to photograph it for posterity, as I wish I had done with my bedroom in Eastbourne before moving out. In the interests of authenticity, I didn't change or tidy anything, just picked up the camera (which is always handy) and started shooting. If you look closely, you will see that I have even caught one of the cats unawares and in a rather undignified pose.
So there you have it: the museum of me, the anatomy of a lounge, the entirely self-indulgent story of us as told by our front room. A bigger version of the above collage can be seen on Flickr; the stories, however, are kept in my head, ready to be served on demand along with tea and cake to our honoured guests.