Why do we decorate?

Throughout history we have been obsessed with how to present the place we call ‘home’, from the earliest cave drawings right through to today’s endless inundation of home improvement programmes (think ‘Changing Rooms’ and ‘60 Minute Makeover’). In the UK alone, home improvement is a £14bn industry. The incredible growth of companies like IKEA and the emergence of homeware lines in all the major fashion powerhouses (‘Elle Decoration’, ‘ZARA Home’) represents an ever-increasing demand for stuff to jazz up where we live. So… why bother? If home really is ‘where the heart is’, why does it matter if our light fittings are renaissance or rococo?

According to 19th century artist Mary Haweis, ‘[…] our houses, like the fish’s shell and the bird’s nest, ought to represent our individual taste and habits.’ Rejecting trends and convention, she advocated the idea that interior design was a matter of personal taste and artistic expression. Like fashion then, our homes are supposedly a representation of us; a way of communicating to the world our likes and dislikes, our personality, our life.

Yet stylistic trends also mirror the time and place in which they emerge. Whilst art deco thrived amongst the glamour and heavy industrialisation of roaring ‘20s America, the same time period saw the beginnings of the Bauhaus movement in Europe. Shaped by European politics and a desire to combine art with mass production, the school produced functional, minimalist pieces whose influence can still be seen today. So interior design then, far more than mere decoration, can be a personal or even political statement.

It can also help to create a certain atmosphere. The right lighting, colour scheme and furniture arrangement can dramatically alter your mood, health and productivity, not to mention make your home more inviting for others. So let’s get funky with our feng shui. Don’t settle for drab throws and wonky paintings- a little bit of home improvement can go a long way. Add a splash of paint, change that broken door knob and rearrange the furniture to turn your place into a palace. It needn’t cost a lot of time or money. Become your own Laurence Llewellyn Bowen and transform your house or apartment in just 2 days with our handy guide:

Home Improvement Guide: 11 Ways to Upgrade Your Apartment This Weekend

Home Improvement Guide: 11 Ways to Upgrade Your Apartment This Weekend