I don’t know about you but I always think that “New Year’s Resolutions” in January are particularly badly-timed in the Northern Hemisphere because the middle of winter is a hard time to turn over a new leaf, even with the strongest will power. I always think of spring as being a better time to start afresh – I mean spring cleaning your home is a great place to start. The fact that this past weekend has felt like winter in springtime means this post is particularly well-timed – feels like the weather when everyone is talking “resolutions” but it’s actually spring (on paper, at least!).
Laura Calder’s latest (non cook)book, The Inviting Life: An Inspirational Guide to Homemaking, Hosting and Opening the Door to Happiness is a wonderful resource to work with as the weather slowly sheds its winter coat (we hope!). I’m a big fan of taking small actions everyday to better your life as opposed to trying to commit to one big change once that you don’t, or can’t, sustain and this is a fabulous starting point if you’re ready to make some “new year’s resolutions”!
From the publisher:
Far more than a guide to homemaking and being a fine host—although it is definitely all that too—The Inviting Life is about how to live each day with a desire and determination to turn the ordinary into something lovely. It’s also a book about why we should bother. Whether the subject is décor, ambience, shopping, feeding weary travellers, mixing cocktails, planning dinner parties, or getting yourself motivated for spring cleaning, Laura Calder affirms the value of our everyday activities and shows how beauty, creativity, and delight have the power to change the world. This one-of-a-kind book is both a page-turning narrative about Laura’s own hosting and home-making adventures and an invaluable work of reference. It’s a spur to ideas for everything from creating a welcoming living space and making a respectable salad, to putting guests at their ease and writing a thank-you note worth receiving. Written with candour and humour in Laura’s inimitable and engaging voice, The Inviting Life offers empowering guidance for anyone looking to take more pleasure in their life and home.
I love the basic premise of this book – turning the everyday, the ordinary into the extraordinary in a manner that is warm and inviting as opposed to preachy. Laura’s voice is friendly and funny with a smidge of self-deprecation (and a hefty dose of reality), making it feel like you’re right there with her, sharing a glass of wine or afternoon tea. Though it’s touted as a “guide”and is full of all sorts of useful tips and tricks which will set you on the road to a more inviting life (both for you and your guests), it reads like a novel so it’s at home on your bedside reading pile. Laura’s illustrations throughout mean it’s equally at home on your coffee table though! It really is a delightful read that will have you thinking “Why didn’t I think of that?” and nodding in agreement with the practical advice Laura gives.
The book is divided into four sections – Make a Welcome Home (on furnishing your home), Hug Your House (caring for your home), Keep a Living Kitchen (on getting back to home cooking) and Host (how to be the perfect host for any occasion, with some tips for being a great guest in there too!) and it’s written as part memoir/ narrative about Laura’s own life, part “guide” which is a really unique format and one that makes for very easy reading (as per above, “page turning”). While there are too many lessons offered to give a full recap (buy the book!), I’ve honed in on a few to try to give a sense of the book.
How to make your life more inviting in 7 easy steps:
1. Don’t favour style over comfort.
When it comes to furnishing your home. If possible, choose both. And don’t underestimate the importance of a comfortable place to sit. We’ve rented so many places all around the world where the furniture is stunning but just so darned uncomfortable and it doesn’t make for a happy home or inhabitants 🙁
2. Lighting is important
And it’s not all about making a room bright, it’s about setting a mood. And always make sure that there is a well-lit place (that’s comfortable to sit in!) to read (this is SO important!).
3. Feeling connected to where you live is important.
(aka: the importance of windows and neighbours). While it might be lovely to think about running off to Paris and living in a garret apartment with views of the sky and rooftops, having a window with a view out onto a street is an important factor in feeling connected to the place where you live. Look out the window before you get dressed – check the weather – or pop your head out the door and chat with a neighbour. A house will feel more like a home if you’re connected to your surroundings.
4. A house is a space for living
So don’t start hiding dirty mugs behind plants or shoving piled of laundry to be folded into a cupboard when people drop by unannounced. But do take the time to respect your living spaces. Keep your home neat tidy (but not magazine-like pristine) so that your home feels good when anyone (including you) enters.
5. Cherry pick your (spring) cleaning list
Sure, make a list and try to prioritize but also realise that “you can’t do everything and sometimes you have to let stuff go”. Hello reality check! Noone likes housecleaning but Laura offers a number of positives (it’s meditative, it’s cathartic, it’s satisfying, hey, it’s even exercise!) as well as some tips for making regular cleaning more manageable (and thus more enjoyable?).
6. Home and food are synonymous
And no matter how hard you try to keep them out, the kitchen will always be the place you find the majority of your party guests because the heart of any home. Laura speaks about the importance of home cooking and offers a few simple ways to help get into the home cooking habit including tips for planning menus, shopping for and storing food, keeping a well-stocked kitchen in terms of equipment and cookbooks, setting you on the road to cooking more at home. Because a home that smells like dinner cooking is so much more inviting, right?
7. Be a great host
Though many people equate “hosting” with a more formal affair, Laura argues that there are different levels of hosting and offers advice to help you navigate them all both as a host and a guest, from an impromptu get-together with family friends through to a more formal event like a gallery opening (there is even advice abut how to deal with being “stuck in a corner with someone who seems “about as social as a sarcophagus”!). There are great tips for entertaining on a budget too.
The Inviting Life is full of so many rich nuggets of advice but I love that it ends with a list of “ten ways to make your life more inviting right now” (small things like cleaning something, even if it’s just a doorknob or mending something broken even if it’s just a fingernail), proving that you don’t have to make huge changes in your lifestyle to make a difference in your happiness factor. But, I suspect, if you read the book and follow the bigger pieces of advice, the happiness factor in your life will skyrocket.
Please note: This post contains affiliate links. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. This post also contains affiliate links from The Book Depository. This means that if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you). Thank you in advance!
Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of “The Inviting Life” for review purposes. I was not asked to write about the book, nor am I being compensated for doing so. All opinions 100% my own.
MY BOOK! In the French kitchen with kids releases July 31, 2018! Click here for pre-order details!