“If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris.
In my mind, everything in your home should be useful or beautiful – ideally both.
In permaculture, we think carefully about every element in any system – be it a garden or a living space or a community. Permaculture often shows us now utility and beauty can go hand in hand.
This weekend, we are preparing a wall in our stone barn conversion prior to installing a wood-fuelled Rayburn that will be used for cooking, heating and hot water. We added some tiles yesterday and today will grout, and finish the rest of the wall with clay plaster.
I’ve been thinking about utility and beauty, and imagining what my home will one day be. It will take us a long time to get to the point where we can actually move in. We’re doing most of the work ourselves (alongside our full time jobs). Finishing this one wall will be a big step – it is the first thing we’ve done in the conversion that will actually be visible and gives us a glimpse of what our home will be like when finished.
One of the things on my mind as I’ve thought more about my finished home has been the idea that a great deal of beauty comes from utility. Something can be beautiful because it is useful, not just an addition to being so. We choose deep green and copper tiles to work alongside copper piping that, due to the restrictions of the old building, will be visible.
I like the honesty of visible elements of the ‘workings’ of the home. (I’ll also be having open shelving etc..)
Why do we tend to think of things as either useful or beautiful? In my mind, there are plenty of things that can be both.