The national treasure that is Mary Berry has released a new book. A book that I’ve already read cover to cover and loved every single page. Either I’m actually a middle-aged woman who loves gardening and baking, or I’m becoming a real-life grown up. Since I hit my mid-twenties I’ve been obsessed with homemaking and creating a beautiful living space for myself. When I lived in the Gypsy Van alone it was very much everything just for me, and since Dan moved in over a year ago it’s become a combination of what we both need and want.
Queen Mary’s latest book, ‘Household Tips & Tricks’, really is the best guide to homemaking I’ve seen. There’s none of the awful sexism and prescribed gender roles of the manuals of the 40’s and 50’s, and unlike Anthea Turner’s ‘Perfect Housewife’, there’s a real element of realistic expectation in Berry’s version. Turner just makes you feel like a terrible excuse for a human who can’t clean a toilet correctly, whereas Mary Berry’s manual for keeping a clean, tidy and welcoming home has all the things you can do to create a home like it, but she even says on more than one occasion that she’s very bad at doing certain things she knows she should. The phrase “do as I say not as I do” appears more than once in this book. I love that about her – she’s so real, and so human, it’s pretty rare to read a book like this and not feel totally inferior to the author, but she manages to make it so attainable and real.
I love making my own home cosy and beautiful for so many different reasons. First and foremost though, there’s something so relaxing about opening the front door after a crap day and seeing a home that you’re proud of. It’s meant to be a haven from the rest of the world, a place where you can really relax, and if that’s possible for you in a messy, dirty environment then more power to you; I’ve just found that as I’ve gotten older I can’t stand seeing something in my home not being clean. Mess has started to stress me out, which makes it really hard for me when we’re working on something to do with the renovation. Dan’s currently building a coffee table for our living room and it’s a messy business, luckily he’s good enough to not just leave all the mess behind him!
Berry’s new manual is also great for me because her house is both stunningly photographed, and stunning in it’s own right. She’s got a very similar aesthetic to me, just on a much larger scale. There’s very little bright colours in the rooms of her gorgeous country home, just pops of colour from flower arrangements she’s put together, and everything looks so bright, clean and crisp that it just relaxes me looking at the pages. One of my favourite parts of creating a home I love is when I sit down at the end of the day and look around the space; it’s bright and cosy all at once, and by keeping on top of the housework I don’t need to panic when someone pops by (not that any one of my friends would do that without texting me first).
Even if your home isn’t decorated similarly though, I still think a good manual for running a home is essential on anyone’s bookcase. Millenials in particular in my opinion, because we’re the first generation who weren’t raised to be housewives while the men folk worked, and also because with Instagram, blogging and cute boutique homeware everywhere, having a beautiful living space has become a huge thing for us. Some of us, like me, might just need a little help with the essentials of housekeeping and homemaking though!
Your home should be a reflection of who you are, what you love, and what you want from life. If you love having people over, Mary’s got some great tips in her book for how to host and ways to make it easier; if you love being on your own and simply having a calming space to yourself then there’s advice in her book to help with that as well. There’s even a chapter on gardening, which I love because I’ve been wanting to learn more about that for a few months now but haven’t known where to start. Mary makes it all so easy and it’s not daunting when you’ve got her handy tip boxes every few pages as well.
I will definitely be coming back to this book again and again, even if it’s just for inspiration, and if you need some inspo too, I strongly recommend this is the homemaking manual you get. The Queen has spoken, and she says we can all have gorgeous homes to be proud of.