The crafty way to put art at the heart of your home
A newly built home offers a blank canvas that enables homeowners to get creative and explore their own personal style from day one. Once you’ve chosen your dream home and selected the finish of the kitchen, bathroom, tiles and a host of other elements you can start accessorising to transform your house into a home. And if you want to make your home stand out and showcase your personality, what better way than with some handmade items?
Exquisite visited freelance artist Kate Windsor at her home in Stoke on Trent to pick up some inspiration and top tips about crafting for the home.
Kate’s studio is in her garden – it houses all of her materials, paints, inks, printing equipment, sewing machine, pin boards and completed artwork. It has heating and lighting, with a Bluetooth digital radio so she can listen to music while she works. It’s a lovely laid back workspace, from which she can see out into the garden. In summer she takes the tables outside to print and paint in the garden, hanging papers on the washing line to dry.
“My neighbours are quite used to seeing giant pieces of printed paper flapping about in the breeze,” laughs Kate, who still feels the same excitement about embarking upon a new creative project as when she was at infant school.
Inside her home Kate has her own artwork on display – something she feels she sometimes has to explain to visitors.
“I often hang my part-finished work in very prominent places in the house. I work a lot with collage and so I often need to keep looking at a piece to check that I’m happy with its composition or colour ranges,” she says. “If I’m preparing for an exhibition then I will produce a large amount of work and I need to hang my art in the house purely for logistical reasons. My walls are storage spaces.”
Kate’s 11-year-old son’s artwork is also present, alongside pieces created by artist friends.
“I’m a firm believer that you should love what you have on your walls, whether it’s done by an old master or your little cherub,” Kate enthuses.
“Your home is your sanctuary and so homemade items are the icing on the cake. I personally adore anything that has been made with good intention and love. I’m quite big on recycling so we will on occasion end up with all sorts of weird and wonderful creations in our home.”
As well as running her own workshops, Kate regularly attends creative classes and looks to incorporate new ways of thinking into old styles of working.
“If you want something aesthetically pleasing and made by your own fair hands there are no end of fabulous workshops available to learn new skills, meet new people and get the creative juices flowing,” she explains. “From ceramics to upholstery to basket weaving and printing, learning a new skill is incredibly satisfying and addictive with the added advantage of achieving unique items for your home.”
Ensuring that handcrafted items enhance the décor of the home is important.
“It’s good to think about the space where your handcrafted items are going to be situated,” Kate says.
“If it’s a delicate ceramic piece then it needs a safe place where it can be viewed without fear of damage or if it’s a hand printed cushion then you want it to compliment your furnishings. Think about your colours – do you want it to blend or do you want it to pop? Do you like everything to match or do you like an eclectic mix? Is it sentimental or is it a centrepiece? There are no hard and fast rules. ”
Kate adds: “The lovely thing about handmade is that you’re in control. So go ahead and create and enjoy. Remember if it doesn’t quite go to plan then it’s a great talking point over dinner.”
Kate herself takes inspiration from almost everything around her, confessing to having “a bit of an obsession with the sky and the sea”.
“I am particularly drawn to shapes and colours, with blues being the palette I am most inclined to work with,” she says.
“I am inspired by many artists, illustrators and designers, but my particular favourite is the Italian architect and interior designer Paola Navone. Her work is very eclectic and cosmopolitan with bold colour and simple forms mixing traditional handicrafts with straightforward modernity.”
Kate is also a huge fan of Pinterest.
“I’m a very visual person so I love to start the day with a head full of beautiful images,” she says.
The must-have items for crafting, Kate says, are an open mind, a sense of adventure and a good pair of scissors.
“Crafting and creating should be fun. Wonderful discoveries are made from mistakes and homemade means you have invested yourself in your work,” she explains.
And when it comes to sourcing materials, it’s very much dependant on the project and desired outcomes.
“I’m quite good at seeing potential in an unused item and this can set off a completely new creative process. However if you have a set project in mind then I would say to shop around. If you’re new to sewing and using fabrics then I would definitely try out your projects on inexpensive material or recycled fabrics before investing in pricey fabrics,” Kate suggests.
“Also, if you have items of sentimental value such as baby clothes or grandma’s blankets, then look for projects in which you can use these items in every day. I often make brooches from my son’s old clothing and attach to the tote bag I use when I’m shopping. It’s a constant reminder of something lovely and frees up storage space in the home. If you want to try out new crafts there are many, many places to source your materials. The Range, Hobbycraft and The Works all have extensive choice at very reasonable prices. A word of warning though, crafting can be very addictive - you may need a studio in the garden before you know it!”