A Spring

Katherine Ormerod on preparing our homes for
the lengthening days and light-filled months.

You know that feeling when you step back over your threshold after a trip away—a week abroad in the golden light of true cloud-free skies, for example—and you suddenly see your home with fresh eyes. All those little jobs you’ve been putting off, all those seemingly tiny repairs or unfinished projects… they all just loom large. Day to day, it is amazing what you become habituated to, from mould to cracked walls, squint frames, and broken blinds. But with perspective, everything moves into sharp focus and that clarity in a décor context isn’t necessarily pretty.

I had a moment just like this last month when I finally surveyed the interior damage from a storm-downed drainpipe along the back of my home. At some point, water started cascading along the brickwork and seeped into the interior, absolutely savaging my careful paintwork. Snaking across my bathroom, breakfast room and kitchen, raised bubbles have created a truly run-down texture. And don’t even get me started about the encroaching mould which has accompanied it.

As I live in a rental, it’s always best to look at everything in soft focus anyway. I always say my home is a Monet—it doesn’t bear scrutiny. However, now the days are getting longer, and my rooms aren’t lit exclusively by electricity, I’m ready to tackle the issues and restore the polish. Whether you own your home or not and especially if you live in a period property, I will bet my bottom dollar that you have some kind of creak or crack you’ve been meaning to get to too. This is your sign to seize the day.

A Stockholm Home by Nanna Lagerman, featuring Haller Shelving by USM and Atollo 239 Lamp by Oluce.

You may not be particularly handy, but I always advise people that many tasks are far easier than you might ever consider. For my issue, I’m going to be lightly sanding the bubbled-up paintwork, skimming with Toupret then sanding down again before repainting. In the areas where the mould has invaded, I’ll be using an anti-fungal primer (sexy!) before layering on my first coat. I estimate it’s going to take an afternoon of my time but will pay dividends in the sunny times ahead. It will at least ensure I don’t go to bed thinking about it, which is the biggest payoff of them all.

Outside of repairs, there are plenty of other things that can get out of control in a home. Both of my young sons have their birthdays early in the year, meaning there is currently a surfeit of discarded toys, made obsolete by their grandparent’s generosity, floating homeless around our property. If you’ve got children, no spring clean can proceed without a full inventory of clothes which don’t fit ever-lengthening limbs or yellow trucks which are now considered babyish. I donate everything to friends with younger children or the local kid’s FARA charity shop. I also tell their grandparents to get a grip with the present buying, but that, of course, falls on deaf ears.

Artist Martin Tighe's home in Melbourne. Photography by Caitlin Mills.

Next up, there’s the bi-annual cull of the adult wardrobes to consider (though I’m certainly not ready for the seasonal switchover yet). I am absolutely brutal with my wardrobe cleanses and exercise very little sentimentality. If I haven’t worn anything in the past year, off it goes to a better home. Elsewhere, it’s the unfinished jobs which are getting my attention—a pair of café curtains in my bedroom for modesty and a buckled bookcase which needs to be replaced. Both have been at the bottom of my to-do list for the best part of a year.

I round out my quest for a clean slate with a deep clean. We’re not talking hoovering here, oh no, my friends. We are talking about bleaching the bathroom grout back to white and scrubbing the tiles with a toothbrush. We’re talking rug washing, curtain dry-cleaning and giving the fridge and the oven an almighty go-over. Every dreaded chore ticked off one by one until your home looks like it could go in a brochure. After all, they do say go hard or go home.

A cosy Conneticut Home designed by Dumais ID featuring a vintage Danish daybed and sheepskin stool (similar here).

Stockholm Apartment by Nanna Lagerman.