In uncertain times, there’s nothing like retreating and seeking out the little things in life which bring us joy, says Laura Weir in her new book ‘Cosy: The British Art of Comfort’. By Jessica Jonzen
What does ‘home’ mean to you? It’s a loaded word which can mean many things to different people. It can just as easily be a person as a place. But the universally accepted definition of a home is of it being a safe, secure and permanent place to call your own. To have somewhere that we can truly be ourselves and be loved and accepted just as we are, is something we all – on a human level – aspire to. That is what really matters – much more than nice cushions or designer wallpaper.
That’s not to say that beauty isn’t important when creating a home. But it’s about choosing things you really love, things which make being at home an even more pleasurable and comfortable experience – whether they come from a luxurious department store or a car boot sale. But more than anything, it’s the stories which unfold within a home which make it a place of comfort.
In her new book, Cosy: The British Art of Comfort, Laura Weir celebrates the essentially British cultural quirk of ‘cosiness’ which is so intrinsically linked to being at home. From clothing and crafting to food and films to the bigger themes of kindness and generosity, Laura’s book gives us the chance to take stock and find comfort in the everyday. “I think at one time it was all about the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and now it’s about JOMO (Joy of Missing Out)” says Laura.
When the world feels uncertain and unwieldy our instinct is to control what we can, and revert to our own cosy personal environments.
“I think getting older and shifting priorities can be a contributing factor but regardless of age, the winter months encourage us to hibernate,” she says. “When the world feels uncertain and unwieldy our instinct is to control what we can, and revert to our own cosy personal environments.”
Indeed, Laura is the editor of The Evening Standard’s ES Magazine, meaning she is constantly surrounded by the dizzying whirl of the news cycle. “I want to swap toxic politics and the anxieties induced by social media for reliability and kindness. I want to feel more cosy,” she writes.
Don’t be tempted to confuse ‘cosiness’ with hygge – the Danish concept commandeered by interior designers and marketing companies, she says. “My interpretation of cosiness is innately British because I am,” says Laura. “Our cold, wet climate, traditions and rituals are very cosy – from tea drinking to knitting Aran sweaters. Each country has their own interpretation of ‘cosy’.”
Our cold, wet climate, traditions and rituals are very cosy – from tea drinking to knitting Aran sweaters.
Currently in the process of renovating her first house, Laura is in the throes of creating a cosy home of her own. “I wanted to buy my home to get on the property ladder and to create a home for my daughter,” she says. “I’ve ripped the whole thing out and started again, reinstalling the period features, re-plastering, rewiring, new carpets, storage, floors, new paint colours – the whole thing.” How does her home make her feel? “At the moment overwhelmed, but long term I hope it will be satisfying.”
And that is what creating a home is all about – building a place where life’s most memorable events will take place, from the momentous to the mundane. Opening stockings on Christmas morning; lazy summer afternoons in the garden; riotous dinner parties; watching your babies take their first tentative steps across the sitting room floor. It will be the cups of tea and cuddles on the sofa, and homework at the kitchen table on a Sunday afternoon you’ll remember as much as the big things. As T.S Eliot said, “home is where one starts from”, and it’s where, more than ever, we all want to be.
Cosy: The British Art of Comfort by Laura Weir is out now, published by Yellow Kite