Beth Cleveland: What ‘Home’ means to me

Beth Cleveland is a third year Middlesex University student on Dr Josie Barnard‘s Publishing course.  Here she used her memories of wallpaper as a way of thinking about what ‘home’ means to her.

Yellow and cream stripes lined the walls from the bottom of the stairs to the top. A border of painted lilies ran through the middle, distracting from the stains in the corners. The decor had remained for at least three decades. An unfamiliar smell of musky perfume and stagnant water hit my nose immediately. This was not my home.

For more than a year, walls were knocked down, wallpaper steamed and scraped from every surface and the strong smell of fresh paint lingered for days at a time. I helped my mum to paste bright blue wallpaper in my bedroom and gladly ripped up the dilapidated carpets. With my furniture in place, it finally felt like the room belonged to me.

It was a step up from my previous homes. I had moved away from the pale pink paint and ghastly green stripes, though I loved the golden sparkly swirls that glistened when the sun shone through the window. Hidden behind the wallpaper of my first home are the stains of baked beans from when I clearly didn’t know how to use a spoon, and I often wonder if the new residents have ever found it. My second home was a big building project, most of the walls were new and so our wallpaper was the first of many layers to come.

Now my current house has a mixture of old and new. It is still a work in progress, and each layer of our own wallpaper makes it feel more and more like home.


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