Myquillyn Smith, who posts as The Nester, is one of my favourite home bloggers. Seriously, this woman has her head screwed on right. She tinkers with her home, often big style, but keeps a minimalist look that is totally liveable in. I first read her book, Cosy Minimalist Home, and loved it. Nobody wants to live in clutter, right? But not everybody can achieve the bare walls, bare floors, bare hardwood seating minimalist look. Along with Marie Kondo, she made me look at how I decorate my house and with what.
I’m struck by her ability to point out small things that can make a big difference: on her blog, The Nester, in 4 Simple Spring Cleaning Hacks she recommends swapping scents seasonally (a trick I also love to use) so that your house smells of the season. I like to use floral hand wash in the spring and summer, and spicy ones in the winter. Zoflora, God bless them, do seasonal collections so pine, cinnamon and spice come out at Christmas while hyacinth, honeysuckle and cottage garden clean my sink in the spring. It’s a simple, cheap and effective way of nodding at the seasons and saying “We see you: we love you.”
Her most recent book is called Welcome Home and is subtitled “A Cosy Minimalist guide to decorating and hosting all year round.” It’s a welcome change from heavy interior books that are filled with lavish full colour illustrations but actually very little text and no advice on how to achieve the look yourself. Here, what Myquillyn writes is as important as the (beautiful) illustrations, because this book is about freeing us from the feeling that we need to buy stuff seasonally to decorate, and store bins full of pumpkins, flower garlands, plastic trees or other large items to decorate the house and about sending us back to basics on how to decorate and how to host seasonally that won’t leave the home over-stuffed or us too knackered to enjoy the season!
The book is a lovely hardback 10 inches by 7, with good quality glossy pages throughout. It has a very beautiful vibe, with full colour illustrations of Myquillyn’s home that have me itching to paint my house white (I won’t, because my heart is a colourful heart and I would hate the upkeep in a white house, plus the light flooding the rooms where I live means they can take a good colour!) and go full minimalist. Or at least, full cosy minimalist.
It’s very clearly organised, with a short introduction and four seasonal sections as well as hosting advice at the end.
Each season is split into two sections: one dealing with seasonal decorating for the house, and a second concerned with holding a seasonal celebration. The seasons start with Fall, which may seem strange at first, but being honest they could have started this book at any point in the year since it is, after all, a cyclical rhythm. Fall is a good place to start because, like Spring, it’s a natural reboot in life. After the summer holidays comes a time of return, settling to routine and looking forward to the celebrations ahead.
The seasons have a fair amount of repetition in them, in as much as every season you are asked to consider what the difference between a consumer season and a creator season would be… a consumer season is one where you focus on buying the decorations from the shops, where excess happens because “if one pumpkin is festive, why not use ten or twenty or, by golly, forty-seven pumpkins?” Myquillyn is quite sharp about the Insta-perfection of some accounts (is it a shop or a family? she asks) and I agree that Insta is often a world of perfectly tweaked and filtered flatlays and framed shots. Myquillyn’s own Insta is a good mix of (perfectly pretty) shots of her home and inspirational quotes.
She asks you to consider the sensual nature of each season as well: what scents, textures, tastes and sights conjure up each season, because knowing what ‘means’ Spring or Autumn to you will form the base of how you seasonify your home. That change from light linen throws to darker wool or fur throws to signal the serious change from summer to Fall, perhaps, or the use of colour from purple in the spring to summer blues.
And after you’ve decorated, she encourages you to open up your home whatever it looks like to host friends and family at seasonal events. Perhaps a Christmas party, a spring Barbecue or an Autumn cider meet. Myquillyn’s advice on holding an event is laidback, setting out to have the right blend of three items: the right mood, good food and relaxed people. The advice on hosting is mixed throughout by Myquillyn’s telling of personal anecdotes. If she ever invites me, I’m saying yes.
It’s a very accessible book: the writing style is down to earth, the attitude very direct. You come away inspired, but not in the must-get-to-target way that Instagram can sometimes leave you. She advocates shopping your house for display items, reusing some year after year, focusing on found or foraged decorations and keeping life simple for yourself, with little storage needed afterwards. You don’t need to be rich to follow the advice, which is great for the frugal.
All in all, it’s a very good book: it has plenty of illustrations to inspire, with plenty of text and thinking to do. The big message I took from the book was that I didn’t need to aim for my house to look like Myquillyn’s, I needed to know what I wanted my home to look like. And my celebrations would have to suit me as well. It’s no use throwing a Gatsby-style party if I’m really more tailgate after swimming, is it? A good interiors book has space to inspire and let the reader develop their own ideas. This is a good interiors book.
The header photo for the post today is another shot of a page from the book. I love this hymn, a proper reminder for Christians that we all live a cyclical, seasonal life and that, in every season there is beauty and joy that we all share in. And the price for us sharing that joy? We need to care for the world, and make sure that those of us who live in countries where conspicuous consumption is the norm remember to stop and step away, to stand with Nature and appreciate the wonder we see around us every day.
How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.
I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human.
Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better.
How to Hygge Your Summer: Hygge isn’t just about candles, throws and fireside cuppas (if indeed it is ever actually about them) and this book gives you ideas for creating hygge ready spaces and paces of life throughout the summer.
If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.
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