Organized Kitchen, Organized Mind
Written by Erica Davies
Stylist, fashion journalist and brand consultant Erica Davies tells us how her recent kitchen reno changed her morning routine – and how your space can really affect your mood.
Two Christmases ago, we moved out of London. It was a big move, filled with worry and risk. Would we love it? Was I doing the right thing? Would the kids be happy? Would anyone LIKE me?!
The house we moved into was much bigger than our last home, which we'd loved for ten years. It 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'd moved.
For six months, our life still in boxes, I felt depressed and out of whack. 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 in. With its stark, cream walls, beige carpets and poor lighting, the house felt completely wrong. Everything was painted the wrong color, and it left me feeling really, really low all the time.
So we started painting, room by room, as soon as our budget would let us... Slowly but surely the house started to sing – and it felt like mine. I felt like I was Home. It was like I could finally relax. The kitchen was the last project we did – and it was a big one, using up all of our money and project managing skills. We knocked down walls and ripped up floors, we added color (dark blue and pale pink with grass green and copper) and a feeling of continuity. We gave it a heart and some love.
It’s the first place we come together, just the four of us.
It’s where we make tea and talk to each other and watch TV. It’s where the kids do 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 coffee, sit on the green sofa at the end of our kitchen and enjoy the calm.
Working in a hectic digital world, there's no letup from alerts, messages or emails. Prioritizing time not surgically attached to my phone is essential, to avoid a feeling of anxiety. That first cup of the day means the quiet time that's so important. But then again, I'm all about multi-tasking! so while I’m waiting for the coffee machine to get going and fill the room with the smell of ground beans, I check my calendar to see what kind of day I have. I try and get organized the night before, so all the kids' school gear is packed and ready to go by the back door.
Right after dropping off the kids, I’ll head out for an hour at the gym, or go right back home to make myself eggs in the peace of the kitchen. Although I'm working from home, that half hour of making breakfast is my happy time, when not yet in the work zone and there's no one else around. Even though socializing is important for life balance, I'm always trying to teach the kids that you need to enjoy your own company, too.
I'm a huge podcast fan (I love the High Low with Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes, plus Sara Tasker’s Hashtag Authentic), so I'll either listen in, or put on some music and just hang out before leaning in and getting on with work.
I’ve just invested in a laptop! So now even my work life is kitchen-based too... Another cup of tea, opening the laptop at the kitchen table, lighting a candle and working with the view of the backyard for focus... After years of working in an office, I know I'm really lucky to have the flexibility of working from home. I do miss the company of coworkers, but make sure I speak to actual humans often – sometimes nothing beats a good chat!
Your personal space is so important to your mental health.
You should always fill it with things you love.