Hello, Moksi readers! It is wonderful to be here again.
Today I am answering some of Maureen's questions about living in a rental house in a foreign country.
Maureen: Did you move everything with you from the USA to England?
Laura: We brought everything with us because we were not sure how long we would be abroad or where we would relocate to next. Our furnishings, artwork, and knickknacks make each house feel familiar and cozy even though location, views, house layout, and neighbors change with each move. Many of our things have a story or memory attached, so I have no regrets about bringing everything with us although it is a bit of a hassle.
As the kids get older, they have fewer toys. With each relocation, we purge a little more. And in this digital age, we have laptops, e-books, downloaded films, music, and photos. So we are fortunate that we are living in an era when so much of our 'stuff' is downsizing anyway. Moving gets easier each time.
Maureen: How did you cope with the domestic side of moving?
Laura: I'm a big list maker - I have notebooks for different lists (the designs on the notebooks make me happy). Having seen so many different types of personalities make international moves, I have realized that it all gets done whether you are Type A or not. So I really try to live in the moment before a move, and not spend too much time in the future. I try to keep my stress level down for the sake of my family, and get one task done each day well in advance so I am not overwhelmed by moving day.
I'm a quick unpacker because I just want to feel settled and nest. I love to unpack my paintings and decorative pieces in one room and 'shop' for the rest of the house from my stash. I let the kids unpack their own boxes.
Maureen: Have you had decor problems in any of the rental homes?
Laura: The washer and dryer have been the biggest adjustment. Instead of doing laundry once a week, I wash (or should wash) a little bit every day because European machines are so much smaller than American ones. I have to manually empty the water collected by the dryer, which is easy to forget.
Our previous house had a freezer that was so small, only an ice tray fit in it. Needless to say, we never had a frozen pizza on hand for those lazy evenings. But otherwise, we have been lucky with the neutral paint colors and curtains in our homes (or I learned to overlook them).
One advantage to living in three homes over the last five years is that we've learned what we like and dislike about each house. Having lived in so many spaces, we feel we could design the perfect house for us.
Here's a few of my favorite things about the house we rent now -
Conservatory: This room is incorporated into our kitchen area, so this is the heart of the home. It is the lightest area of the house and gets full use every day. We eat, read, draw, dance, sing, play games, and do homework in this room. Other than our dreamy semi-rural location, we chose this house because of the conservatory.
Rangemaster Cooker: I love the look of the four little doors on this oven, each compartment with a purpose. Besides good looks, the gas stove is the best one I've used, ever.
Heated towel rack: Seen as a luxury item in the US, a heated towel rack actually is quite common in many northern European homes. As the sole heater in our bathroom, its dual function to warm the room and a towel is quite functional and scrumptious.
Sunset view: I've realized how important it is that our house is placed where I can see the sunset from our backyard at the end of the day. This is one of my favorite things EVER - hanging out with my crew in the garden as the sun goes down with birdsong in the background.
Maureen: Since you moved to England, has your style changed?
Laura: To me, America is visually loud, whereas England is visually quiet. Few billboards, no bumper stickers. Similarly, English decor tends to be visually quiet with color themes that are easy on the eyes. Generally speaking, whites, greys and browns are commonly used. This is a change from my American house that had a red dining room that I loved at the time. I'm a bit anti-red at the moment.
My dream house right now would look very English - lots of natural light with white walls, old wooden floors, and ancient beams on a white ceiling and around windows. Add a fanatically old front door, a 'snug' to read in, a great fireplace, an English garden, and an area to keep chickens. Ooh, heavenly. In fact, we almost rented a 17th Century farmhouse that had many of these features - it was so incredibly lovely but not practical from a commuting standpoint.
Maureen: When you move back, how will your decor style be affected?
My decor style has always been a bit Anthropologie-esque, but now I like to add shabby-chic and market style to the mix. I continue to slowly add vintage finds to my collection. I love the hunt and the feeling of a good deal. Buying something from the Victorian era is easy to find, affordable, and no big deal around here - that still blows my mind.
I have learned how to use chalk paint since living here, and perhaps re-upholstery is in my future. I find decor blogs and Pinterest to be so inspiring. What I really like about good English design is how it feels - cozy, homey, 'textureful', earthy, casual, tasteful - and I'd like to hang on to that feeling as my style evolves over the years.
Thank you, Maureen, for hosting me today on your blog! It has been lovely being here!
* visit Laura at her blog: Travel with Lulu
* all photo's by Laura