I have become obsessed with soft furnishings

11 October 2019

Edmund Greaves is all set to live alone – he just needs to buy one or two essentials


I’m moving into my own place for the first time in October, and it has sent me down a rabbit hole of shoe racks, Ikea cutlery and colour palettes.

Yes, for the first time in my life, I will be resident in a property by myself. Unfortunately, it’s a rental (I’ll never be able to afford to buy in south London), but it is just me. No parents. No housemates (until my girlfriend moves in). Just me.

As soon as the deal was done, it dawned on me that I had rather a lot of things to buy (and money to spend). I don’t really own anything, save a random selection of bits I’ve accrued for my current bedroom: a footstool, desk, chair, bookshelf, TV and some mugs.

Until the age of 12, I lived under the thumb of parents. Then I was packed off to boarding school. At university, it was halls or scuzzy accommodation. Then it was back in with my parents for a few years, and at the ripe old age of 27 I moved into a shared house in Brixton.

I have made it 30 years now without ever having lived on my own. Every place I’ve been in has been fully furnished, with knives, forks and plates to boot.

But now, I’ll have to buy all this stuff myself. And it feels quite daunting.

Most of these kinds of items that my parents own they’ve had for 30-odd years since they performed the exercise I’m about to carry out. Anything I buy now is likely to stick around for a long time. Or at least until my girlfriend decides its in poor taste and chucks it out (not an unlikely outcome).

So the pressure is on. I’ve consulted my group of mates who are more embedded in their own places and are well kitted out. Ikea, I am told, is the go-to for this sort of situation. Who knew?!

I’ve spent far too much time browsing Ikea’s website now. And isn’t it great? A cutlery set for £3. A 26-piece crockery set for £26. I thought this was all going to cost rather more.

But then there are other fancier looking websites. Made.com is one I get served a lot of online ads for now, and, my, isn’t their stuff nice? It comes at a pretty penny too, but I am frozen with indecision as to whether I should just stump for the similar-but-cheaper Ikea things.

This is my life now: endlessly scrutinising the best metal colanders and debating the consequences of buying four glass tumblers instead of six. What if I have five friends around for a meal? My dinner party will be a humiliation!

I’ve squared away a war chest of £400 for the new place. It’s a blessing and a curse that the place is mostly furnished already. This means I don’t have to buy a bed or a sofa and coffee table, etc. But the furniture in the place is slightly too big and mismatching. They clearly weren’t bought for this place but were hand-me-downs from the landlord.

Needs include: a whole kitchen’s worth of utensils and crockery, a cabinet for the bathroom plus toilet brush and bin, and free-standing lights so I don’t have to  sit with the glare of the ceiling lights over me.

Wants include: A nice armchair (I’ve always wanted to have a reading space in my own place. Yes, I’m that pretentious), a shoe rack for the hallway, side tables for the bedroom and a spiraliser for the kitchen.

I’m also under orders from my other half to populate the apartment with plants. This makes me nervous, I’ve never looked after anything that’s living in my life. It will be a French bulldog next, then babies, loads and loads of babies.

Ultimately though, I’m chuffed to bits to be getting my own place. It is a rare thing these days, especially in London, what with our broken property market. Young people are forced into making lifestyle decisions they don’t necessarily want because of it, and delayed-onset adulthood is real as a result.

I’m now one of the lucky few who gets to have the enviable conundrum of whether I want Dunelm cushions, or if those Ikea zigzag pattern jobbies for £13 a pop will do the trick.  

Kitting out

Get stuff from Freecycle and Charity shops. That gives one more cash to spend on essentials; like beer...

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