The great thing about small businesses is that we can be agile and respond quickly to questions and requests. So, this blog post (the first in a new series which, admittedly, has been slightly longer in the planning than the word 'agile' might suggest) comes in response to someone asking whether all of our customers lived in huge houses. The overwhelming answer is no! Although we love lifestyle photography and get excited about heritage architecture and thoughtful interior design, we don't really hold much truck for homeware brands that create images of their products in spaces most of us could never dream of setting foot in, let alone live in.
Aerende products are created with real life in mind and, although they are uniquely special, we think the best way to appreciate them is to use them. Preferably as often as possible. So we've scoured the country for Aerende customers who have created beautiful homes with a focus on warmth and intention rather than scale and awe. It's a pleasure to be kicking of our At Home With series (for want of a better title, but do send more imaginative suggestions), with long-time Aerende collaborator and customer Kiri McCale. Here she is in her own words...
Tell us a bit about who you are and what you doWow, this question was unexpectedly hard! I’m Kiri and I’m lots of things. Firstly, I am a mum to two beautiful sons who love art and science and ask more questions than anyone I have ever met. I work as a freelance photographer and filmmaker with my friend Emma Collins. I have known Emily (Aerende founder) for several years and have been involved as a friend and sounding board since the start. I am married to Ciaran who I met in Florence when we were 18. The trip was funded by my granny selling her house in St Albans and moving to Norfolk. She gifted her grandkids some money and told me to, ‘do something fun with it girly’ - turns out I really did.
Tell us a bit about where you liveI live in St. Albans in Hertfordshire. It's a market town outside London which attracts lots of people moving out of London who want a bit more space. I’m a rarity as I was actually born and brought up here, my granny lived just round the corner from where I live now and both my kids go to the same school as my mum and her siblings. I never thought I would end up here; I was certain I’d be living properly in the countryside by now. My husband's job and our wonderful friends have meant that staying has been what we have decided is best for us as a family, but that decision has meant we have had to compromise on space as St Albans is pretty expensive. I also love the part of St Albans we live in, its called Fleetville and its has a very village feel to it.
How would you describe your home?Our house is a really small victorian terrace cottage. As well as my husband and two boys, we share it with our dog Walter and our freakishly large cat. The house is a proper tiny two up two down cottage. We have one reception room and a tiny galley kitchen downstairs and three bedrooms including the loft upstairs. It is really too small for us now that the boys are getting bigger so we are planning on moving within the next year which feels rather sad, as although its tiny it has really shaped how we live.
How would you describe your interior style?I often joke its Maine in the 1800s - because it kind of is! The house being small means that we have to live quite simply and we spend a lot of time together because the space is so limited. We don’t have many cupboards so we made stylistic decisions to help living here run smoothly. We have painted floors throughout so that we don’t have to have a proper vacuum cleaner to store. We try to buy less but buy good quality beautiful things - again the house helps with this as things are often on display due to lack of storage . For example our broom and dust pan and brush hang on peg hooks on the stairs. You look at them when you sit at the dining table so we spent a bit more on them so they would look nice. We try to not have too much clutter because the space has to be very multifunctional. Downstairs we have one table two sofas, a wood store and an armchair and thats it bar two shelves on the wall. It means we can use the space flexibly both for Ciaran and I and the kids. I am English but a lot of my family are American and I spent a lot of time there growing up. My dream would be to live in a New England clapperboard house. Some of that feel definitely has made it into this little cottage in England.
What's your favourite places to shop for interiors and why?I love Aerende and I’m not just saying that. I’ve been involved with the journey from the beginning and Emily has such a great eye for design. It's always deadly when I go and look at new products as I always want them all and I have to remember I live in a really small space and have to be disciplined! My other go-to shops would be Baileys Home and Garden (a visit here is one of my favourite things) and Objects Of Use in Oxford (our cleaning things are from here on the whole). I used to love a shop in Norwich called The Bell Jar. The florist who did the flowers for our wedding worked out the back and I never went there without finding something I loved. Sadly it has now closed down, but all the quilts for our beds are made from fabrics from there. For bigger items I tend to look for second hand pieces, although our bed is from Loaf (a wild expense that we blew at the start of the loft conversion and then slightly regretted as budgets got tight! I totally love it though so it was worth it). I’m not averse to a bit of well placed Ikea. In a house with staircases as small and tight as ours sometimes that flatpack is a godsend.
What Aerende products do you own and how do you use them?I have two chopping boards that get used every day, a pair of brass trinket dishes which I keep my very small selection of jewellery on (it all fits on the bigger of the dishes) and we have the blue velvet cushion on my favourite wooden chair. We have tea light holders on the table all year round – most of the year they hold candles but in the late spring and summer I use them for flowers from the garden. Oh and I used to have an Aerende candle that I now use as a jar for my homemade deodorant (honestly its the best deodorant I have ever used!)
What would you never have in your home? My nine year old has suggested an elephant. I would be inclined to agree. Ciaran and my style means we also steer away from anything too white and shiny.
What’s your favourite thing about where you live?The community. We have thought of moving several times to get more space, but our community here is so wonderful I could just never bring myself to leave. I’m an introvert and it takes me a long time to make good friends. I’m not everyone's cup of tea and it's taken me years to find my people. They were worth waiting for though.
Who/what is inspiring you at the moment?My book club. The books we have read recently have just been such an interesting dive into the female psyche. My favourite of late has been, ‘We Have Always Lived at the Castle’ by Shirley Jackson.
Do you have a favourite design style or era? American colonial particularly New England American colonial. Think Little Woman or Anne with an E.
What’s your most treasured possesion and why?My wedding ring. It was my Granny’s and I loved her fiercely. Its now mine and it represents all of the love, determination and vulnerability it takes to get married and stay married.
Any interior dreams?To one day have a hall wide enough to hang coats in and have shoes lined up underneath. That would be bliss.