The Midlife Dream Home

When you got your first place, you had nothing to furnish it with save a camping stove, a futon and some Reject Shop crockery in primary colours.

These days you want quality. You want craftsmanship. You want character. You want a handmade oak table that’s been sanded to perfection and a pepper mill with a state-of-the-art grinder.

Marketing people reel you in with phrases like ‘dream kitchen’, but have you ever stopped to wonder when you last had an actual dream about a kitchen? One that didn’t involve sharp knives or unrealistically good-looking tradesmen?

Here is The Midlife Manual’s checklist of the ultimate midlife home:


Serious pepper grinder (preferably with grinding mechanism engineered by someone who also designs cars)

Cast iron casserole dish (you have read Elizabeth David)

Teapot (even if you then fill them with teabags)

Aga (country aspirations); Smeg (urban loft aspirations)

Breadmaker/slow cooker (which you’ve dug out from the back of the cupboard now that you have to economise to pay school fees)

Double sink (what on earth did you do when you only had one bowl?)

Task lighting (because your eyesight is on its own dimmer switch)

An apron (delivered with your veg box)

Area of wall painted with blackboard paint to draw up family schedule and write messages for spouse you never see

Living Room

A chair whose designer you can name (eg Eames lounger or Matthew Hilton Balzac chair)

Jo Malone/Diptyque scented candles (at a pinch a Glades Plug-In)

Very expensive speakers (nothing less than a grand)

Proper art (alongside your arty b&w shots of Whitstable beach printed onto canvas)

Standard lamp (overhead light is so unflattering)

Bespoke shelving (by that Oxbridge educated carpenter you met at a dinner party)


A proper mattress (you’ll need to know what ‘pocket sprung’ means)

A quilt/bedspread (a bed is naked without one)

Proper wooden coathangers (at some point you’ll have read an article about the importance of actually looking after your clothes)

An extra sofa or armchair (bought for relaxed reading; in fact piled with ironing)


Heated towel rail (hanging things on radiators is very student-flat-share)

Mood lighting (installed back when you thought you’d have time to linger in the bath surrounded by scented candles – as if)

A spare radio (permanently tuned to R4)

A free-standing bath (salvaged, or ordered from the Elle Deco classifieds)

Home office

Piles of unfiled bolls (next to empty hanging files)

Dumped sports equipment (squash racquet, mini dumb bells, possibly an exercise bike if you live in a home counties commuter village)

Cheap sofabed (relegated from the living room when you bought your Heal’s one)

Clothes dryer (plus random socks, pants and Tshirts in various stages of dampness)

A small portable telly (with aerial and video slot, highlighting the fact that a) you are in denial about digital takeover, and b) you have already seen both the innovation and the death of video tape in your lifetime)

Laptop (so that you can actually work from a much warmer, less cluttered room than this one)

Things you should have thrown out by now

clip frames; joss sticks; novelty anything; wine bottles used as candlesticks; lava lamp; exposed clothes rail; wire coathangers; laminated kitchen worksurface; futon; obsolete iMac G3; Che poster/music poster (unless original print); woodwork painted in rainbow gloss colours

Adapted from The Midlife Manual (Short Books) avail Amazon and all good bookshops.

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