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Home, Kiss House Team, Wellbeing in the home  |  20 July 2021

Our relationship with home.

Taffy Jacob wanting to get outside during lockdown
Emma Bradbury's girls getting messy and painting at home during lockdown
Some of the Kiss House team working outside during lockdown
Art and developing new creative hobbies boosted the health and wellbeing of many people in lockdown, art in Emma Bradbury's garden
Gardening boomed during lockdown with those of us lucky enough to have the space getting outsdoors
The interior of this 4 bedroom Kiss House is designed to enable different activities within a large open plan space, essential in lockdown!
Carli Jordan's girls enjoying their own space in a garden playhouse in 2020
Ruby Narbrough's working from home space
Emma Bradbury's girls getting some fresh air on a local walk

Team members share lockdown stories and reflect on their changing relationship with home.

“Our flat... has become the place where every element of life happens — a place to work, exercise and (virtually) socialise, as well as eat, sleep and relax.”

Journalist Elizabeth Metcalfe — Toast Magazine.

We decided to explore how our team’s attitudes to home have changed over the past 18 months. We wanted to consider what we’ve appreciated about being at home so much and what we’ve struggled with and couldn’t resist asking if they’ve dreamed of living in a Kiss House during that time.

Ruby Narbrough: HR

I loved being at home. It really is my sanctuary and in the depths of lockdown I loved having the time and space to give my home some TLC.

However, I definitely noticed the difference in having the home in constant use. I loved spending time with my family but missed having time completely to myself. The mess drove me nuts and prompted a brutal clear out (I’m a massive fan of decluttering) which felt great.

“I think I would have been more productive and happier if we lived in a Kiss House. I would love the consistent, ambient temperature year round, plus the minimal heat and power bills!”

For me outdoor space was essential during the first lockdown when restrictions were at peak, and the winter was particularly difficult! Spring was the best time because I could watch the garden come to life and was very fortunate to have a beautiful view.

A big bonus was working outside as much as possible in the good weather. However, one thing that really affected me was my home overheating on hot days. I think temperature fluctuations affected my productivity; I enjoyed pottering about the house but felt horribly lethargic when it was hot.  I think I would have been more productive and happier if we lived in a Kiss House. I would love the consistent, ambient temperature year round, plus the minimal heat and power bills!”

Emma Bradbury: Design

“The experience of lockdown has helped me to love my home again.  We’ve been in our house for 20 years and hadn’t given it much love until recently.  All our energies for the past six years have gone into nurturing two small humans and now our home is working hard with the wear and tear, hard knocks and scribbles on walls that a family home has to endure.  Previously we didn’t spend much time in the house as a family. We were always on the run, escaping from the domestic chores, mess, clutter and toy mountains that come with small children. If I didn’t have to look at it, then it didn’t exist, right?

I started sorting, packing away, organising, mending and fixing during lockdown, approaching it in small chunks. Our house is still chaos and many jobs are unfinished, but I’ve learnt to embrace it now. Our lovely home which creaks and is a bit battered around the edges has seen many families grow over many decades and must have many stories to tell of family life. It serves us well, but we know our old friend could do with an update.

“Our house is still chaos...but I've learnt to embrace it now. Our lovely home which creaks and is a bit battered...has seen many families grow...it must have many stories to tell of family life.”

A Kiss House would be more in line with our environmental values, we would welcome its efficiency and I would love the natural light and sense of space. I would also really appreciate the lack of dust and ease of cleaning / maintenance as compared to a Victorian house! I could not promise we’d be able to keep it tidy or stop an enthusiastic young artist’s sneaky scribbles on the walls. What I have learnt over the last few months are these are the things that make a home.”

Nikol Genova: Marketing

“Pre-pandemic, my boyfriend and I barely spent any time in our flat. We’d be there from 8pm onwards after work. When, lockdown hit, we realised that our beautiful flat, close to all amenities and great transport links was not designed for actual living! Its sole purpose was to accommodate the busy lifestyle of young professionals who weren’t there much!

The small, uncomfortable couch, which was fine for the occasional perch, did not work for any lengthy stays. Being a rental property with limited storage, we couldn’t replace it.  Working from home proved difficult in the limited space we had, especially for my boyfriend who is a software engineer. Our living room was filled with his equipment, and we barely had room to move. My makeshift office was the kitchen. In fact, the only place we could freely move about in and effectively “live in” was our small bedroom. The cold spots in our flat meant our windows were usually dripping with condensation even when it was hot outside, and living opposite a hospital in the middle of a pandemic was not ideal. The blaring sirens did not create a peaceful living environment. At the peak of the first lockdown, we craved greenery but couldn’t go anywhere as only essential travel was permitted.

“I craved sanctuary and security. I wanted to shelter from outdoor noise and I know that living in a Passivhaus would give me the quiet I craved.”

A few months later our dog arrived. A bouncy new puppy who needed outdoor space. Luckily by then restrictions were relaxing but driving every day to get to a park was not feasible long-term. So, we moved to a house with a garden. Our new house ticked a lot more boxes. However, a few days before we moved in, our landlady spotted broken pipes and needed to replace the floor. Unfortunately, months later there were still many outstanding issues.

I longed to live in a Kiss house. I craved sanctuary and security. I wanted to shelter from outdoor noise and I know that living in a Passivhaus would give me the quiet I craved (and still do). I dream of a well-designed space where I can keep my cherished things neatly, not shoved in a tiny cupboard close to bursting. I’d like enough space to enjoy some alone time, away from my boyfriend and dog when needed. I’d love to live sustainably and particularly enjoy an environment built with materials. I think Kiss House  is beautiful, and I would feel proud to call it home.”

Aalia Bhatti: Thought leadership

“Lockdown forced me to question my relationship with home. I felt a strong need to demarcate my space, defining where my family life stopped and where my working life began.

Even when I wasn’t working I was with my kids all day, playing with them, cooking and cleaning, so I felt wiped out emotionally and physically and craved a quiet space for myself. Often, I’d find a room and sit to do nothing to recharge before it all began again. Lockdown meant less alone time. Any quiet space I could find at home became incredibly special to me.

“Lockdown forced me to question my relationship with home. I felt a strong need to demarcate my space, defining where my family life stopped and where my working life began.”

Pre pandemic we weren’t at home much between school, activities and adventurous weekends. Suddenly, after March 2020, there was nowhere to go. We were forced to re-connect with our home. My children really enjoyed being at home and found creative ways to entertain themselves like making dens and getting stuck into arts and crafts. My husband suddenly saw all the weeds in our garden, the dirty decking, the straggly, discoloured grass and took the opportunity to give the garden some love. We had never been into gardening, but suddenly grass seed, fertiliser and soil burst into our lives and for the first time ever, we had lush green grass that was lovingly cared for by my husband.

Being at home so much made me appreciate my home and assess what is important to me. I noticed how stale the air was at times and I had to make a conscious effort to open windows to get the air to circulate. The longer I work at Kiss House, the more I want a Kiss House for my family. I want to breathe wonderfully clean filtered air. I want great acoustics to not feel like we’re on top of each other all the time. My children want a Kiss House too so I just need to convince my husband to leave his grass!”

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