Having spent more nights in Europe than in my own bed over the past two months, I’ve thought a lot about the concept of home. While I love the adventure of being plucked from my everyday life and dropped into unfamiliar surroundings, drawing comparisons to life at home is inevitable when negotiating the basics of breakfast, local modes of transport and figuring out how you can fit into a culture that’s not your own.
I’m not of the ‘take a scented candle with you to make your hotel room feel more homely’ camp. But if I’m staying for more than one night, I unpack as many clothes as possible and take over the bedside with my own things – small gestures towards creating that universally desired lived-in ambience.
Before setting off to Italy, I scoured Airbnb to seek out lodgings with a little more homeliness than your average hotel. From an apartment in a charming little neighbourhood in Rome, to a stone cottage in the country back-blocks of Tuscany, I found that staying in places where someone had taken pride in feathering their nest went a long way towards making me feel at home where I wasn’t.
After two blissful weeks of participating in local life from one end of the country to the other, it was time to hit Milan Design Week – where the business of nest-feathering is taken to a whole new level. With over 300,000 designers, architects, buyers, retailers, press and design tourists in attendance it was hectic, to say the least. But discovering fresh designs from around the world was an awe-inspiring experience. I share 20 of my favourites on page 27, plus four rising trends that are defining interior design right now.
That said, I would warn against taking your trend-watching too seriously. I think of design trends as an opportunity to shake things up; providing fresh inspiration from which to inject your own personality into your space. What I have concluded from my time away is it’s the life lived within a house – rather than the house itself – that truly makes you feel at home.