Wednesday, 20 May 2009
Homemade Home - with a bit of help from her friends
Well now we've seen the rest of the series have we softened our tone about Channel 4's "Kirstie’s Homemade Home" after our rant following episode 1? Errr... no. Kirstie is a good presenter and we're glad she's trying to encourage us to think about traditional crafts. However she's missing the point of getting back to basics and using our own talents, creativity and more to the point, existing materials to create a fantastic home.
Over the last few years, television programmes have told us how make over our houses, but with other people doing the dirty work. Unfortunately this is true of Kirstie as well. Whilst claiming Meadow Gate is a "homemade home", she trots off to craftspeople for a brief lesson in basic skills, but never completes a project herself. She enjoys a cosy one-to-one tuition session and then pays her teachers to finish the projects off and deliver them ready for installation. Apart from the fact that this costs money that few of us have to spare these days, it also gives the impression that beyond the very basics skills, you need to have years of experience to be able to make anything. Not only is this misleading, but does little to encourage us to have a go at making things for ourselves.
With a little time and effort you can make some beautiful, practical things for your home. You may not get it right first time, but that doesn’t mean that you have to give up and pay somebody else to do it for you. You just need to practice a little first. Half the fun of creating something for yourself is the process of mastering the new skill. This is where the real sense of achievement comes from, not standing back as yet another craftsmen knocks on your door to present you with a finished item.
In one programme, Kirstie throws out a perfectly good fireplace because it doesn’t go with her design. But who removed it and how? She seemed to have a secret team of elves that came in when the cameras weren’t rolling and miraculously did all those tedious building and plumbing jobs. Which leads to a second question, how much did it cost her to have the fireplace removed? And what did she do with it afterwards? Sell it and recoup some of money she spent on refurbishing? Throw it in a skip? Why didn’t she reuse it somewhere else in the house or even in the garden as an unusual planter, or change her design to fit around it, or make the fireplace over?
What's really frustrating is that it was meant to be about inspirational sustainable living, but there was nothing sustainable about it. Spending £100 a roll on hand made wallpaper, when a paint effect might have sufficed, is not sustainable living. In the final programme Kirstie made over the garden, using lots of professionals to do it for her. The garden was transformed without her having to take off one of her fabulously bright coats or get a fleck of dirt under a fingernail. Yet again her invisible trusty elves rushed to her rescue and laid a York-stone terrace that didn’t even merit a mention. And where was the vegetable patch? Yes this is a holiday home, but she could at least have given a nod to the idea of putting one in. We should be encouraging people to grow their own vegetables. It's not just satisfying, but good for us. Research has shown that children who are involved in growing veg are fitter and healthier and more likely to eat vegetables. I appreciate that Kirstie wanted a fabulous entertaining space, but vegetables can fit into this notion brilliantly. Vegetable patches don’t have to be boring, they can be bright, colourful and excitingly designed. I think she missed a trick here.
The final irritant was when she audibly whispred, while dressing the table with someone else's flower arrangements "Eat your heart out Martha Stewart". At least the old jailbird does know how to do her own flower arranging and ice her own cakes! Overall, Kirstie – good work for showcasing some talented British craftspeople, but homemade it aint!