What does home really mean to journalist Hadley Freeman?

Ideal Home columnist Hadley Freeman ponders how her relationship with her home has changed with age

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I can chart my life by the things I spent money on. In my twenties, all my spare cash went on clothes and going out. A Luella skirt here, a Marc by Marc Jacobs top there, it was amazing (or not) how quickly my monthly pay cheque disappeared. But because I loved fashion and derived so much pleasure from it that still today, even with the benefit of two decades of hindsight, I don’t see any of that expenditure as waste. I see it as me finding myself as an adult through the therapeutic medium of Net-a-porter.

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Then in my 30s, my money went on holidays. I became the queen of organising trips with friends: booking villas, finding where the beach parties were going to be, and then making all of my friends come to them with me. I still loved the fashion, don’t get me wrong, but memories last even longer than Miu Miu, as Jesus said (or maybe that was Lindsay Lohan.)

Then around my 40th birthday, the focus changed again and I became obsessed with home décor. It was strange: my husband and I had lived in our house for three years, and I was fine with the all-white walls, the ramshackle plastic-y furniture, the heavy dark wood floors which were there when we moved in. Yeah sure, whatever, who cares? Well, it turned out I cared. Very much. Suddenly, living in a house that not only didn’t reflect me but actively depressed me was as unbearable as wearing clothes in the wrong size, or going on a cycling holiday (ultimate contradiction in terms.) 

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And so, despite having three year old twins and another baby coming, I set out on a massive revamp of my house. Well! This will probably not come as a massive surprise to readers of Ideal Home, but I cannot convey how much the changes lifted my mood. A home that is beautiful! And me! Do other people understand the importance of this? (Yes, cry a million readers of Ideal Home.)

Well, here comes the comedy twist in the tale: we’re moving. Again. I’m delighted. The problem with doing up your home is that at a certain point it’s done, and you can revel in the beauty, but the activity is over. Now I’m back to looking at websites and asking myself “Which towel rack truly reflects my soul?” Ahh bliss. 

Hadley Freeman
Contributing Editor

Hadley Freeman is an American British journalist. A staff writer for The Guardian Hadley is the author of the bestselling House of Glass (published March 2020) alongside other titles. She has recently moved house, and lives in London with her husband, her kids and, most importantly, her dog.

Born and raised in New York, Hadley spent eight years on the fashion desk at The Guardian, before becoming a staff writer and columnist. She penned her Weekend Guardian column for over five years, until September 2021 when she stopped to concentrate on interviews for the newspaper. Hadley’s work has appeared in publications including Vogue US and UK, New York magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, and many others.