Currently in the midst of a year-long slow living project, Melanie Barnes – mother behind lifestyle blog Geoffrey and Grace – is a writer and photographer embracing a wholehearted and creative approach to everyday life. Like with our linens, Melanie’s ethos celebrates imperfections and beauty in the simplest of forms; where timeless, moments are cherished and traditions are born and treasured, lasting for generations.
We spent some downtime with Melanie to delve into the mindful outlook of slow living - from its blissful benefits as well as its hurdles in today’s hustle and bustle - including how our linens lend themselves so perfectly to Melanie’s pared-back, infinitely inspiring style.
1. When did your focus on Slow Living first begin?
It’s always been my natural rhythm, but I started to look into ‘slow living’ as a concept more consciously during the summer of 2015.
2. We can see that your daughter is the biggest inspiration to you. Where else do you find your inspiration stems from?
Nature and the need to be creative are really big inspirations. I am always looking to the seasons to shape our family life, and the things we do, and that’s reflected in my photography and writing.
3. Do you have a favourite place to ‘escape’ to?
Since we are so close to the coast, the sea is a favourite spot. However, anywhere wild, where I can feel surrounded by nature helps me relax. The downs are great, and there is nothing quite like going deep into the woods. Being outside in a big expansive piece of nature puts everything into perspective for me, it grounds me and reminds me that any problems we are experiencing aren’t really important in the grand scheme of things.
4. The Linen Works owner, Larissa, values the importance of uncluttered living, as do you. Do you feel that this simple approach is something everybody should try to adopt into their home/do you have any favoured tips?
We're constantly trying to simplify and de-clutter our home, and I find it’s a bit of an ongoing project, but every time we have a sort-out and reorganise things I feel better for it. Like everything though, you have to figure out what works for you. Some people like collections, and having lots of things around them brings them joy. For me, I find that I am happier if there are less things around, it keeps me calm and allows me to focus in on what’s important. I have also noticed it makes a big difference to my daughter’s behaviour too.
5. Linen is one of life’s simplest pleasures. What would be your must-have item from our collection, and why?
I am so in love with your tablecloths, and love to lay the table at the weekends for a long, slow, family lunch.
6. How would you incorporate linen into your home?
I am a big fan of natural fabrics, and am trying to get as much linen in our home as possible. We are gradually buying more pieces of linen for our bedding since I have discovered how well it wears. I hardly iron anything, and would definitely not go to the trouble of ironing our duvets, pillowcases or sheets. I love the creases and texture of the bed linen, cotton so often looks like it needs a press, whereas linen never does. I am also planning to hang linen curtains in most of the rooms.
7. More often than not, our linens become keepsakes that last for generations. What are your most treasured items at home?
We have some wonderful pieces of furniture that were hand-me-downs from mine, and my husband's grandparents. I also really treasure the old black and white photographs that were taken of my grandparents in the 1920s, 30s and 40s.
8. Describe your place of rest and its style.
I am most at rest at home, and really love time in the house by myself. To have a long hot bath, and then read a book in bed, are simple things that bring me a lot of joy. We are currently in the process of renovating our victorian house, so lots of it is far from finished, but there are little nooks here and there that feel like home. I like a lot of wooden furniture, and wood floors, and I like to bring nature inside when possible. I am drawn to simple things that have character, and love to look for unique and vintage pieces of furniture.
9. We love your word of the year, ‘ease’. Define how this epitomises your humble outlook.
Life can be serious enough, sometimes it feels like it’s going by so fast, really I want to make sure I’m as present as possible and get the most wholehearted moments from my days. A lot of the intention behind choosing the word ‘ease’ for the year, ties in with slow living really well. There is a common misconception that you have to do everything slowly if you are an advocate of ‘slow living’ and that you avoid stress all together. This of course isn’t true, so I wanted something I could focus on, even on those busy days that would help me relax, and breath a bit deeper. If I can mindfully tackle any difficult bits in my week by being open, calm and light-hearted, then that’s a pretty great start.
10. Tell us more about your year-long slow-living project.
I started the project with Danielle from Hippie In Disguise, as we wanted to inspire others to slow it down and make space for those wholehearted moments in their days. The project runs over on Instagram and it’s a great way to find some inspiration and a community of folk interested in slow living. Initially, the project focused on different themes each month, and people would share photographs on a particular aspect of slow living. Now, all pictures are shared using the hashtag #slowlivingforlife . Anyone is welcome to join in, all you have to do is type the hashtag in the comment of your photograph. Every now and again I will share a selection of my favourite images from the gallery on Instagram and on my blog.