For this House Proud interview, we are very excited to have Katie Pankowski. Katie is a writer, photographer, and founder of the online journal Neap & Spring, where she shares her collected tales from travels across the British Isles, stories of people and places that connect with nature.
Here she shares her love for thrift finds and what makes her lovely cottage in Wiltshire a home.
What makes you proud of your home?
I feel so thankful to be living in a little cottage in the country. I grew up in the countryside but moved to London for university and ended up sticking around for about 10 years. As much as I hold the city dear, I’d spend any free time planning trips to the coast or countryside and couldn't ignore the wave of relief that hit when I was away. My partner and I made the move to a village in Wiltshire last autumn and haven't looked back since. When we first viewed the cottage, the wonky stone walls and little garden studio really pulled at the heartstrings. We are now in the middle of slowly renovating and I’m proud of the work that we've done to try and highlight the cottage's quirks and make the most of any original features. We uncovered some unusual decorative floor tiles under the living room carpet that could be early 20th century. Another favourite feature are the original sash windows that we prised open and had restored after they had been painted shut for many years.
What one home essential could you not live without?
My first thought was the garden. After living without outside space for many years in the city, having a little green patch to call our own really means the world. Thinking practically, perhaps our scrub top table. The seller found it under a pile of junk in the outbuilding of a farmhouse. We were very happy to give the old girl a new lease of life. It has become the hub of our home. It's where we eat, congregate around with friends and family, as well as where I do most of my work from. I would also have to say a stash of candles, the log burner and a collection of books. Particularly for those long dark winter evenings.
What item are you most proud of in your home and why?
I’m proud that our furniture is all second hand. We’ve found some great pieces that I know we will treasure for many years from the likes of antique markets, charity shops, eBay and Facebook Marketplace.
The two antique beds spring to mind because they are beautiful and were such good value. We spent £100 on an original wrought iron Victorian bed. After treating the rusty patches we repainted the frame and built slats for it. Then the bed in the spare room was even more of a steal. It’s an old wooden frame that we sanded down. Incredibly it was only £20!
Most of all I’m proud of our little collection of artwork, picked up from here and there over the years. I can’t quite narrow it down to one piece. Perhaps a moody old painting of a Cornish shipwreck.
Are there parts of your home you see differently now that you're spending more time there?
Definitely. It’s been a year since we moved in and I now work freelance and from home, so it's where I spend the majority of my time. The winter lockdown gave us the chance to really get to know the cottage before we started any work on it. Just little things like learning where the light falls at certain times of the day, and how any wild weather chimes down the chimney or rattles the windows. I think the pandemic has highlighted the importance of quality time spent at home, tapping into a slower way of life that had been somewhat lost or left behind.
Have you come across any great eco-friendly home products that you'd recommend?
I love vegetable fibre sponges and scourers. They are such an easy swap and work a treat. Who Gives a Crap toilet and kitchen roll are also no brainers. No trees have been cut down to produce them and they are wrapped in paper instead of plastic. I’ve also started using ku.tis deodorant sticks. They are plastic free, vegan, work well and smell great.
What makes a house a home to you?
Personal treasures that tell a story, artwork and books. I think it's all in the detail and about those small but meaningful everyday rituals.
Katie is passionate about rustic interiors and simple and seasonal living. She will soon be launching a second-hand homeware shop that will be available to browse through the Neap & Spring website. Make sure you're following Katie through Neap & Spring on IG @neapandspring and her journal neapandsring.co.uk to be kept up to date!
Don't forget to let me know what makes me proud of your home in the comments below!