During Swenglish I lived in many different ways. I stayed with singles, couples and families. I stayed in everything from nice villas to houses that were falling apart. One week I stayed in a caravan, another week I stayed in a community. I slept on floors, on kitchen sofas and spare beds.
Where I felt most at home was often due to whom I stayed with. But sometimes it was just the environment that got me hooked. I felt very happy in the room in the picture above where I stayed during week 3 and I wanted to settled there and give up the rest of the project. Even if there was no central heating. One reason I wanted to stay was that the furniture reminded me of my grandma's house and there was so much space. And I could both smell and hear the sea. My host lived two floors below me, she had a whole house to herself as her landlord had died and the property was up for sale.
At the moment I live on my own for the first time in my life and I already feel settled in my new place. (Even though I sometimes forget in which cupboard my plates live.) Among the project participants who lived on their own there were mixed feelings. Some of them didn't feel very settled even though they owned their own flats and could do what they pleased. Instead they felt lonely or afraid of the dark. Then there were the ones (two Swedes actually) who said "my home is my castle" and found it hard to share with others. In England many people shared with strangers and despite some conflicts they didn't want to live on their own. Partly because of money of course, but they also wanted the company.
A couple of families and some of the couples I stayed with, associated feeling settled with how much they had decorated or done their house up. Two different mums said they would feel more settled if they had a room of their own where they could have space for their own projects. (Just what Virginia Woolf was on about!) One person felt settled because of his record collection and his furniture. For me there are often details or a certain atmosphere that makes me feel at home. A poster on the wall of Axl Rose could be enough.
This study is by no means scientific, the answers are based on interviewing 15 people in England and 15 people in Sweden, aged 22-59. Look out for the next question: What do you feel most proud of in your home?