Since launching Around the Houses last month I’ve realised that running a blog should come with a health warning: blogging can be hazardous to friendships.
Researching posts, styling, photographing, and writing content – all in a day’s ‘work’ for an interiors blogger – can be a pretty solitary affair.
I’m making new friends on social media – creative, interesting, funny people who share my interiors obsession and appear never to tire of musings about styling, sofas and succulents. A kind of online Interiors Anonymous. We can satisfy our cravings for stylish vignettes without boring our off line friends. People, where have you been all my life?
There is however no substitute for friendships in the real world, a realm into which issues more weighty than the choice between F&B off black or railings tend to intrude. Where would any of us be without our non-virtual chums, physically on hand to share all of life’s ups and downs with? Lately I’ve found myself turning down offers of catch ups over coffee or evening power walks along the beach so that I can get a post finished. Friends come first. This just won’t do.
So, I wondered: Could there be a way to combine blogging with spending time with friends?
Enter my new blog series: My Friend’s Shelfie.
What’s a shelfie?
For the uninitiated: Shel-fie. Noun: a photo of one’s possessions arranged and displayed artfully on a shelf or similar surface. In other words, it’s a sort of contemporary still life.
Hilary Robertson, a New York interior stylist, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, opines of shelfies:
Creating something beautiful is compelling and addictive. It’s a meditation of sorts.
The resulting display Ms Robertson observes, is like “a museum of you”.
As much fun as I’m having creating my own shelfies, I had to wonder, how many museums of me would be interesting? Even to me?
But luckily for me I have friends who are not only interesting, but lovely, funny, creative people too.
How will it work?
The idea for My Friend’s Shelfie is that I’ll pop over to a friend’s house and together we’ll choose some favourite things from around the house. Then we’ll style up a shelf together. The result? A museum of my friend, which I’ll aim to capture in a photo for the blog.
My friend Andrea
Who better to launch this series with than with my longest-standing friend, my bestie from school days, Andrea. Andrea, very conveniently for us, married my husband’s best friend Paul. (They got together at our wedding – how amazing is that?) The friendship is being passed down the generations with our youngest having a great bond with Paul and And’s boy, Lucas. Although they live a couple of hours’ drive away in Laurencekirk, a pretty village in the heart of the Mearns (think rolling rural landscapes of Lewis Grassock Gibbon’s Sunset Song), we see them often. Hanging out with them in their beautiful cottage, and walking our dogs on the idyllic deserted beaches of the Angus coast, is one of our favourite ways to spend a weekend.
Though their house is gorgeous, Andrea is not interiors obsessed. (Unlike me. Andrea is a normal person.) So, having explained what a shelfie is, she was surprised with my suggestion that we create one using her things. She didn’t think her stuff was special enough.
Yet as soon as I declared my love for a vintage turquoise melamine plant pot of hers, a beautiful story emerged. The pot had belonged to her late Nana. It was a keepsake that Andrea had taken from her Nana’s house following her death, along with a tiny cutting of a succulent. She’d cherished the pot and nourished the cutting ever since, and has been rewarded by a healthy trailing specimen.
My friend’s shelfie
Also featuring in Andrea’s shelfie is the ceramic bull (bottom middle) bought on Paul and And’s first family holiday with Lucas which, despite Andrea initially mistaking as a dog, they both loved.
The print (top left) was bought in memory of their much loved Border Terrier, Archie, who they’d then just recently lost.
The wooden Japanese lady figurine (middle right) was a gift from Andrea’s mum because it reminded her of Andrea!
The shelfie is colourful, eclectic and has a great sense of fun and adventure. Very much like Andrea in fact.
I started this blog series purely as a bit of fun, to reclaim some valuable friend time and hopefully create some interesting content in the process.
However through sharing stories about cherished items, I hit upon a way a new way to connect with a very special friend. I learned things about Andrea that I never knew and would probably not otherwise have found out. It was a privilege to be included in the memories, and the emotions, held previously unseen in her things.
From Andrea’s perspective, I hope I helped her see her possessions afresh, fall in love with them all over again, and relive some happy – and some bittersweet – memories.
I think you’ll agree that Andrea’s shelfie makes a beautiful museum of her.
Would any of my other real world friends like to do a My Friend’s Shelfie with me? I’ll bring the prosecco, of course.
I’m posting Andrea’s shelfie on my Around the Houses Instagram gallery with the hashtag #myfriendsshelfie. If you’re in danger of becoming an interiors addicted recluse, please feel free to join in. I’d love to see the museums of your friends too.
You can also use #myfriendsshelfie to regram your favourite online friends’ shelfies that you think best sums up their personalities and style.
PS: If you’re new to shelfies, for some very practical advice on how to create a perfect shelfie take inspiration from the very lovely Lisa Dawson, Insta Queen of vintage and retro styling.