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Issue: CC111
18th August 2023

I made him a little hat

Inside the home of Mrs June Brown

All photography by Kara Lines

If it doesn’t look nice, cover it up. It’s a philosophy that could happily sit alongside those of great interiors thinkers William Morris (have nothing in your house you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful) and Marie Kondo (every item should spark joy) but it isn’t one you’ll find in a book or a meme. This way of living belongs to June Brown, a 95-year-old lady living in Ruislip, Middlesex.

June’s home is a feast for the eyes. After climbing the stairs to her modest first floor flat you’re greeted by over a hundred ornaments, they are absolutely everywhere. But this is no Victorian parlour. The rooms are light, united by a harmonious colour palette of ochre, pale jade and rose quartz set against a white backdrop (the exception being the cheerful lemon-themed kitchen).

It goes without saying that June’s home may not be to your taste, especially to those who are accident prone or averse to dusting, but as a portrait of its owner it is beautiful. If you look closely, as you can do with this selection of photographs, you will see that every piece has a personal touch. June spots opportunities for adornment in throwaway objects.

Shells, felt furniture pads and acorn cups cover bald heads. Doilies cover old pipes and light switches, and a delicate butterfly applique covers a small tear in the curtain lining nobody but June would know was there.

June applies to her home a level of detail that one would usually only see applied to a dolls house or miniature railway. If we can learn one thing from June it is to enjoy the home we live in and make it a monument to the things we love.

“Don’t get the idea that I’m loaded with money ‘cos I bloomin’ well am not. You know, it’s just one of those things, isn’t it? How you choose to spend your money. I spend a lot of hours here on my own, a lot of hours, it doesn’t bother me, I’m used to it. So at least I’ve got something to look at in there, and I’m not one for holidays, I don’t go out and buy makeup and things like that, so with what little bit of money I save I’ll have something to look at and I’m quite happy.”

The following photos were taken in 2011. Since then, ornaments have been rearranged or added with many more little hats being made.

I like to look at nice things.

Those little hats, that’s a little shell and that’s just a little flower I picked out and put on her head.

He hangs around and I put a little hat on his head. I’ll tell you what they are, little acorns. You know, what acorns come out of? I found them on the road, I picked them up and so he’s got a little hat on, little monkey.

I hadn’t changed the bathroom, I haven’t had it done for years, it’s a bit old fashioined, people wouldn’t like it, but it suits me. I’ve just kept it plain and jigged it up a bit with bits and pieces.

I used to look after a neighbour until she died and there was a clearage and I didn’t want anything but that, I brought that little rubber dolly back. ‘Cos horrible old pipes they are, otherwise I wouldn’t put all that there.

I went out to buy a television and I bought that instead. My husband had gone fishing and when he came back he thought he’d sit his bum down and look at the television. Well, of course, there wasn’t one there, was there?

When I’m sitting here I feel relaxed, I feel that I’m where I want to be. It’s quiet and I have all my nice things around me and I feel at ease.

So what’s going to happen to all that stuff in there, I just do not know what’s going to happen to it… so I like to think, before anything happens, I like to think it’s gone somewhere that somebody would appreciate it.