About Me – Julia Lane
I grew up in creative but chaotic houses. I witnessed my parents succumbing to the stress of not knowing where anything was, boxes from previous moves lying unpacked for years but never thrown away-“never know when we might need that”-the logic of the war generation. The house was also ruled by the underlying belief that we were too clever really to be tidy, tidy was for Marthas missing all the fun. So we frantically searched for passports and keys and were over-joyed at the miracle of finding anything at all.
I was the kind of child who submitted technical drawings for her proposed bedroom upgrades. I was the kind of young girl who was always tidying up. Making order out of chaos, maybe trying to make things a bit better at home. I was rewarded with gratitude and praise and the peace of serene surroundings, until stuff started piling up again. That’s me,sitting on the floor.
Guess what? I grew up to be a very tidy person, helping my friends and family rearrange and sort their spaces, for sale, for rent, for their own changing needs.
One of the most poignant projects was redesigning the ground floor of my parents’ rambling Victorian house as a living space for an elderly and infirm person, tidying them up again into a space that maintained their independence for a while longer.
Untidiness was certainly an influence, but House Counsel is also inspired by the thrift I witnessed growing up , by the philosophy of making do, of gratitude for what we had, of a distrust in consumerism. I used to tease my parents with:”The war is over!” when I found the hoarded pencil stubs my father had carefully sharpened or the tins my mother stacked in the larder that were years past their sell-by-date.
But now, a return to thrifty ways is thrust upon many of us, because of straitened circumstances or because of awareness of the injustice and foolishness of the ecological spend thriftery of the First World. Now, I find myself eating humble pie and saluting my parents and their parents before them, for all that they knew and were grateful for.
I designed and built my own homes over the years, acquiring expertise and a pleasure in the process of a build, the idea, the design, the costing, the project managing, the result!
I left London for Ireland to marry an Irishman, had two daughters within 13 months- moved down to The Hook Peninsular to seek a wild childhood for them, planting a forest garden and adapting a cottage acre by the sea to an eco design with solar powered electricity and hot water and our own wood to burn in our stoves.
I started House Counsel part-time, advising local people, often bartering for payment- my favourite exchange was House Counsel for half a lamb and a box of homemade jams.
Now those daughters are nearly full- grown and so is my forest. My marriage ended and we three moved into Waterford City. House Counsel is now my living.
To know we have enough, to realise our homes and possessions are perhaps more than adequate, if we can just see them in a different light: that is House Counsel’s inspiration and offered service. I dedicate this story to the memory of my dear parents who now lie together in the family cemetery in the Moravian mountains where they loved and walked.