As Jane Austen said: "There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort." Throughout our lives our homes are our havens, the place we rest, recover, entertain, laugh and live. And as we grow up our homes evolve with us.
Whether it's a rented flat or your first house, our homes speak volumes about us. The front door swings open and the world is able to instantly assess: Does a grown-up live here?
Here are the top 10 things we think your abode should contain by the time you are 30.
1) A proper sofa.
Not an uncomfortable futon covered in a colourful blanket, not a misshapen hand-me-down and definitely not a pile of giant pillows. A sofa is the hub of your social life, where friends gather to talk and hangout. It's where you spend most time alone when you are awake. Buying a real couch is an investment and one that shouldn't be rushed into lightly.They need to be tested for nap-ability, should be stain-resistant, and of course must fit the space. They shouldn't dominate but need to reflect personality -- yours.
2) Your Grandma's china.
Of course it has dainty little flowers on it, and you'd never in a million years have picked it out on your own to buy. But it's time to keep quiet and take it before your sister stakes her claim. Grandma's china will grow on you. You will come to cherish it and the family connections it represents. You will value it and pass it along to your children and hopefully they will pass it along to theirs. Just package it up carefully, stash it away and reopen it in a decade. (You may delay thanking us for this advice until then.) The more enlightened among you will, of course, gush with gratitude that you were given such an incredible gift and use it regularly.
3) A Slow cooker.
Slow cookers are great for working people. You toss in the ingredients, plug it in and go off to work for the next 12 hours. Voila! You come home to a gorgeous slow roasted stew that isn't take-out.
4) Everyday dishes that you love.
You've chucked out the mismatched crockery that you some how managed to acquire along the way. Gone is that free mug from Weetabix you had growing up and those dodgy charity shop side plates you picked up at university. If you open your kitchen cupboard you may just find that as cool young thirty-something you have some stylish Habitat plates, matching pasta and pudding bowls and even some top notch designer cutlery.
5) Posh pet dishes (Plastic of course).
Nobody in their right mind gets ceramic dishes and bowls when there are slippery hands or paws in the household. And the high-end plastic ones are not only durable, they are great-looking.
6) Candles that you actually burn.
Candles, for years, have been your go-to decorating cliche, right? And even when they got covered with dust you didn't burn them. Time to burn, baby, burn. The thing about candles is you can replace them with other (undusty) candles. Plus there are some fabulous scented ones around. Enjoy them.
7) A washing machine.
OK, this may seem obvious but just take a moment to remember a time when you lived without a washing machine. And didn't going to the launderette seem like and arduous chore? Plus, when you got it back everything had shrunk! The joyous convenience of being able to throw in a load of laundry while you cook dinner cannot be overstated. And 30-year-olds shouldn't be bringing it home to Mum any more (you know who you are!)
8) Fresh flowers.
Buying yourself fresh flowers is an affirmation. (Especially in the dead of winter when, in many parts of the country, is an unending tundra of desolation.) Plus, friends always assume someone brought them to you and will never believe that your secret admirer is you.
9) Matching wine glasses.
It used to be that the only time someone had actual matching wine glasses was for about a week after their wedding. Then one would break. Now, we don't need to wait until our nuptials to just get a set. Matching wine glasses are a definite sign of growing up.
10) Matching towels.
See matching wine glasses: same principle. The thing about towels is that we only tend to replace them when we move. A new colour scheme requires a couple of new towels. So by the time you are 30, chances are you have two white towels, two brown towels, two towels in four shades of green -- none of them match and all of them have some life left in them. Just drop them off at a charity shop on your way to a great homeware shop or wherever you find linen bliss.