My house is clean but untidy… It is very lived in. Everyone who is passing by pops in, the kettle is always boiling. Lived in, it’s an open house. Everybody comes in here….. It’s an open door. Even years ago, no matter who want to they seem to knock on our door. I like it to be warm. Even though I aspire to be a minimalist, but that’s never going to happen. Modern, but at the same time cosy, without being, you know rustic Even the parochial house whose frontage is quite austere, is made welcoming. Callers comment on their delight to see a stove lightening in the reception area where they are welcome to chat and enjoy a cup of tea. Like the householders in House Portraits, several of our participants were engaged in processes of “freshening up” or renovating their properties. But as the portraits demonstrate their colour palettes and soft furnishings generally eschew the minimalist, modernist mood boards beloved of the style magazines. Participants reported that their homes are frequently visited by extended family and close friends. Those residing on or close to the Main Street also entertain people who just happen “to drop in.” Traditionally, the key would be left in the door: We would always leave the key in our door, but now lately we’re told not to. But, we do, like. The surgery is across the road, and people often come over and say “Do you know your keys are in the door Meals are prepared for special occasions, particularly family events. But they may also be provided as part of a generalised neighbourliness, continuing a traditional practice: My mother was in bed for seven years. And all these people used to come and visit her and most of them used to have their dinner here, and their tea sometimes, whatever would be going. So two of them have passed on, and I have two of them left. And one is just gone into a nursing home. The other lady she comes and visits regularly. Then I have nieces and nephews, they come and go as well. Homes often contain artefacts that represent the past and that are meaningful to people. As we noted in the House Portraits project, a home can be seen as a canvass for exploring one’s sense of identity. The significant amount of energy, creativity and time devoted to the composition of the home suggests that it plays a role in self-expression. As Hunt has observed through her research on the cultural construction of home: “the composition of the home, the colour scheme, the arrangement and selection of ornaments and furnishings, the use of light and shade and space combine to express the artistic skills of the home-maker” (Hunt, 1995: p. 308). Furthermore, Chevalier notes that: “It is relationships among the elements that create the specificities of every room and express the identity of its owners despite the fact that some features are common to every household’’, (2002, p. 848) What is put on the walls, how the room is furnished, what objects are displayed, makes particular statements about who lives there. For most participants family portraits (whether formal paintings in Stradbally Hall or professional photographs in a semi-d) occupy pride of place in the public areas of the home. These are the main way in which walls are decorated, a display of family, an affirmation of the life course and the intergenerational bonds that link older and younger members. These displays-or visual archives-provide an important sense of permanence and stability for the family, as well as marking significant events across the life course. 56