In the third of our series meeting Aerende customers at home (click here for the first and second ones), we're in London, in the beautiful Victorian flat of Huma Qureshi. Although she lives with three children, Huma's family home has an air of serenity that is both individual and peaceful, an example of how to use space and tone to great effect. We love how she combines natural textures and gentle colours for a soothing feel in the middle of the city, and shows that making a home is about more than just floorspace. Read on to find out more.
Tell us a bit about who you are and what you doI’m Huma. I’m an author and freelance journalist. My memoir, How We Met, a coming-of-age story of love, family and grief, will be published next year, in February 2021. My first book, a collection of creative non-fiction short stories came out in 2015 ago and is called In Spite of Oceans. I also write at Our Story Time, where I run online writing courses.
Tell us a bit about where you liveI live in Crouch End, north London. It’s a special part of London - close enough to the city but equally lots of green, open spaces, a sense of neighbourliness, independent cafes and shops.
How would you describe your home?I love coming home; it always feels calm. This may sound impossible - I have three young children all under six - but somehow it does. It might be as simple as the white walls, the clear spaces, the fact that I am one of those people that likes living tidily, so as such, everything has its place. But I don’t know; it’s also in the way the light falls, the big back doors that brighten up our living space. I would not describe myself nor my home as minimalist, but I do believe that less is more, and I suppose this feeling of having room to breathe runs through our home.
Tell us about your interior styleSimple, unfussy, calm, organised.
What are your favourite places to shop for interiors and why?I have a streamlined list of go-tos for shops. Labour & Wait for simple and practical kitchenware and functionality; Present & Correct for clever and unusual small storage and bits and bobs for my desk; Tea & Kate for the choice of independent brands under one roof; Camomile London & Aerende for bed linens.
How did you discover Aerende and what do you like about it?I remember reading an interview with Emily online and falling in love with the serenity of the Aerende photographs. There’s so much I love about it - the curation of the products, the simplicity and functionality of them, and also of course the ethical and social stance of the company. Most brands want to just take your money. Aerende wants to do good with it.
I recently treated myself to a pair of Jute espadrilles. They are butter-soft and the tan colour is the perfect companion to my vintage jeans! I also invested in two lots of Aerende bed linen last year. An upgrade on our sheets was overdue and it seemed a good opportunity to buy something long-lasting. I love them and alternate between the blue-grey striped cover and the natural one. The stripes are pleasingly neutral, but it’s the texture I love the most; the weightiness and the nubbiness which only grows softer with every wash.
What would you never have in your home? Meat - we’re vegetarians! Also, anything too “matchy.” I like things to be a little less perfect. With the Aerende bed linen I purchased, I swap the pillow cases over or contrast with coloured linen ones. A year ago, I would have said no garish plastic toys but they’ve crept in. I don’t even mind so much as long as they are put away behind cupboard doors at the end of the day!
What’s your favourite thing about where you live?We live in a Victorian conversion which occupies two floors and the garden of a house. What I love about our home specifically is that because it has been cleverly converted by architects, there is a real sense of openness and space that traditional Victorian properties don’t always have. Our entire back wall is a huge glass door, with a sky light right above, and I love the way this captures the sun and the shadows. When the time comes for us to move, I hope we’ll be able to recreate this sense of light.
Who/what is inspiring you at the moment?I’m inspired a lot less by Pinterest-aesthetics these days and more by the stories and lives of families who make homes, real homes, for themselves - homes which retain a sense of fluidity and grow with their needs. I read an article once by a writer called Christine Chang Hanway who described living in a 1,500 square foot London house, which is roughly the same size as our flat, with her (then) teenage boys. They assumed they’d have to move somewhere bigger but her children put their foot down and said: “Why would we want to move? This is home.” And so they stayed, and made a forever home. A refusal to see a home in terms of merely floorspace inspires me greatly. Though, practically, a little more space would be helpful, it is this is the sense of belonging, this sense of home, that I want to create for my family too.
Do you have a favourite design style or era? I am partial to a little mid-century, though not the dark, heavy kind of style. I look instead for lighter mid-century touches that don’t overwhelm or define a space or style as “mid-century”, like the simple tapered legs on our Ercol coffee table and the elegant minimalism of the String shelves we have in our lounge. I recently discovered Pluck Kitchens and I love the mid-century yet contemporary vibe of their designs.
What are you reading/watching/listening to right now?As a writer, I naturally love to read and always have several books on the go. I believe strongly that the more books we read by authors of different backgrounds, the richer our lives will be for it. At the moment, I’m currently reading a proof of a novel called David & Ameena by Ami Rao, which is beautiful and comes out next year; The Blessed Girl by Angela Makhowla, which was longlisted for the Comedy Women in Print Prize and Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee, which I must have read about twenty times already in the last ten years or so - I return to it a lot because there’s something about the main character, Casey Han, that just shows so much strength and courage. I come back to her a lot.
What’s your most treasured possession and why?A photo of my parents from the seventies, before my siblings and I were born. It’s a humble reminder that they had each other before they had us; that they were young once, and in love.
Any interior dreams?
I’d love to one day buy and then live in a property from The Modern House, the estate agency which focuses on beautiful designed and often mid-century homes. Browsing their website is my not very secret guilty pleasure. Any one would do!