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Nature versus nurture: how to create an authentic home

Nature versus nurture: how to create an authentic home

Taste plays into most of the decisions we make as humans, manifesting itself in everything from how we decorate our homes to the food we eat. While subjective and ever-changing, our personal tastes are undeniably influenced by the media we consume as well as the design landscape of our childhoods – but how much of this do we genuinely like and how much is influenced by fashion and family?

Have you ever stopped to think about why you identify with certain colours or styles? Or how that’s changed since you were a teen sticking posters up over your bed? The early imprint of your family and upbringing can create a template that we either actively set out to reject or emulate. Nostalgia is a potent emotion. Surrounding yourself with inherited furniture and sentimental objects or embracing a past era can be very comforting. We can become unconscious homing pigeons searching for visual references that give us a sense of warm familiarity. On the flip side, breaking out of that mould can set you apart, creating a much-needed stamp of individuality and independence. Growing up with minimalism might ricochet you to the more is more approach. Consciously or subconsciously you’re reacting to your past in an effort to get closer to, or move away from, your childhood. Our likes and dislikes are an unshakeable part of our heritage.

But what about nature versus nurture? None of us live in a bubble, unaffected by the constant whirr of a fashion and interiors industry keen to push the latest cerulean blue (a memorable Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada made sure of that) or keen to reflect the excesses of the booming 80s, self-aware 00s, or sensitivities of a post-pandemic world. Your current love of macramé and terracotta walls is probably just as much to do with the collective zeitgeist channelling a wider need for our homes to make us feel emotionally at ease; enveloping earthy colours and nature-inspired materials providing us with warmth and comfort.

But then what do we mean if someone has innate style? Is there a look that has universal appeal? Rather than defining taste, we should be focusing on authenticity. This is creativity and confidence that doesn’t need to conform. A mirror to reflect your interests and passions. An idea that is impossible to mass-produce – so tantalising in an era of boundless choice and unlimited social media access.

How to be authentic? Examining what we love and what we want to live with every day would be a start. Nature or nurture, we can enjoy the influences we’ve picked up along the way and let go of those that don’t bring us joy. We are all a sum of our parts – a celebration of our roots and a scrapbook of our experiences. Becoming aware of what inspires you and why can be empowering. Crochet and paint the colour of cobbles, simple Shaker style furniture and sumptuous velvet cushions in the burnt ochre of sunsets. Just make sure it’s a glorious statement of you – trends come and go, but what excites you really is timeless.