Leaving Laburnum Street

by Brenna Holeman

Laburnum Street 6

View from Laburnum Street

How quickly a place can feel like a home. I’ve been thinking about that a lot these days, especially as I’ve now lived in London for nine months, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I remember, years ago, reading the book Zeitoun by Dave Eggers while lying under a mosquito net in Thailand; in it, Zeitoun speaks of his travelling past, and that he knew he’d always settle down somewhere if he either found a woman he loved or a port that he loved. While I won’t speak on the former at the moment, I can certainly speak for the latter. I love London.

When I first moved to London, I moved in with my friend Mark, who had a spare bedroom. I was only in that flat for about a month, and its setting in Canary Wharf did little to inspire me. From the first night there to the last, it never felt very comfortable, though I was so grateful for the place to stay while I looked for a more permanent solution.

It turns out I didn’t have to look for long. On my third day in London, I went to a small dinner party held with a few London-based travel bloggers. Among those wonderful people, many of whom are now very close friends, was Jaillan of Savoir There. We started talking, and it all turned out to be quite serendipitous – she had a room in East London she wanted to sublet as she was moving to Canada. I, a Canadian, was looking for a room in East London to sublet.

Laburnum Street 5

Along Regent’s Canal

I arrived at the flat one very rainy night in September. I didn’t have my bearings yet. I couldn’t grasp how close I was to Broadway Market, or Columbia Flower Road Market, or just how interesting and inspiring the area would be. All I really knew was that I needed a place to live, and the flat seemed really nice, so I agreed to sublet the room.

Two weeks later, I knocked on the door. Mike, a tall Californian with an infectious smile, answered. Later on that evening Richard, an inspiring and adventurous travel blogger himself, came home. After only one night in the flat I knew that I would love it, and that we would all get along.

Laburnum Street 2

Laburnum Street 3

Laburnum Street room

That was last September. Over the past eight months I did indeed fall in love with that flat, with its location and, especially, with its inhabitants. Mike and Richard became great friends, and there were so many laughs shared in our place overlooking the canal. Sadly, our landlord sold the flat a few months ago, and we all had to find other places to live. As my work is picking up a lot and I’m now working on a book, I needed an office space at home, and I decided to find my own place. I moved in on Monday, which is (on top of that work and that book) why this blog has been a little bit quiet lately.

New flat

New (empty) flat

My new place is not far from Laburnum Street; I’m not quite ready to leave my beloved East London. Its walls are bare, and I’m still sleeping on a mattress on the floor, but it has already had laughs and bottles of wine shared within it, and I know it will very soon feel like home. But part of my heart will always be in that little flat on the canal, the one where I fell in love with London, the one where I wrote countless words, the one where I ended up making two friends for life. Thank you to Richard and Mike for a great eight months together, and thank you to Jai for subletting the room and providing me with her furniture. How quickly a place can feel like a home.

Laburnum Street 4

With lovely friends (and flatmates) at Laburnum Street

Have you ever fallen in love with a city or a flat? What makes a place feel like home to you?

For some of my tips on how to make a place feel like home, click here.

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Oneika the Traveller June 4, 2014 - 10:37 pm

This ode is so beautifully written, Brenna! As a former/current East London resident (I put the current because we still have our flat in Brick Lane and I’ll be back there in a little over a week!) I totally get what you mean about the neighbourhood fitting like a glove. Were I to move back to London on a permanent basis I’m not sure I could see myself living in a different area. At any rate, congrats on the move and hope to see you soon! Would love to meet up over the next few weeks when I’m in town!

Brenna Holeman June 5, 2014 - 1:57 pm

Aw, thank you Oneika! I am SO EXCITED that you are coming back to London soon as I was so sad we missed each other last time. Just let me know when you’re in town.

Oh, and I’m jealous of your Brick Lane location, I love that area so much. I’m not too far from there now (20 minutes walk) so we should meet up for some bagels! x

Nikita June 4, 2014 - 11:09 pm

It is crazy how quickly we adopt homes. Hopefully your new place will start to grow on you soon enough!

Brenna Holeman June 5, 2014 - 1:56 pm

Thanks, Nikita! As I sit here with a cup of coffee and the sunshine streaming in the window, I’m sure I’ll do just fine in the new place. 🙂

rebecca June 5, 2014 - 2:56 am

You are in for some fun times! I love London, my favorite city in the world, specially East London – such a cool area! I cried when my visa was up and I had to leave. Super jealous, keep the stories up so I can live vicariously through you

Brenna Holeman June 5, 2014 - 1:53 pm

Yes, I love living in East London! The first nine months were fabulous, so here’s hoping the next year is great, too. I hope you get to live in London again one day…

Laura June 5, 2014 - 12:16 pm

This rings so true, Brenna! I have been thinking about this a lot lately too. I have only been in Korea for 2 short months and I’ve already settled in. I think people always make it feel more like a “home”. When you are happy and laughing in your new home, you feel more at ease. London is an easy city to love. I was there for only three days this year and I dream about going back. I’m so happy for you and your new places, looking forward to another of your fabulous interior design posts.

Brenna Holeman June 5, 2014 - 1:55 pm

Thank you so much, Laura! It’s really amazing how quickly we can feel settled, and, you’re right, it’s definitely the people that help that.

I hope you get to spend more time in London soon! Have fun in Korea.

Zalie June 5, 2014 - 10:57 pm

I am so glad that you are taking so many amazing memories from Laburnum and especially that I got to visit you there! I can’t wait until I can see you in your new place xoxo

Brenna Holeman June 5, 2014 - 11:59 pm

Thank you Zalie! Hopefully you can come visit me in my new place soon. xoxo

Richard "Inspiring Adventures" Brownsdon June 6, 2014 - 10:47 am

Brenna! Miss you already!! Our place was great – so many happy memories.

Meet you for coffee, on the Market? 🙂

Brenna Holeman June 6, 2014 - 12:10 pm

I miss you, too! Yes, let’s do coffee 🙂

Expatkerri June 7, 2014 - 4:01 am

Congratulations on your new flat! I know you’ll make it feel like a cozy home, since you seem to have a knack for turning any space into a beautiful warm space. From your apartments in Halifax, in Toronto, in Tokyo; they all had shelves of books and art on the walls and felt like homes. Your picture from the room on Lanburnum looks gorgeous too. Can’t wait to see what you do with your new own space!

Helen June 10, 2014 - 11:40 pm

So glad I got to spend a good few happy times with you there too! Lovely post! xxx

Brenna Holeman June 11, 2014 - 10:17 am

I’m glad you did, too! You’ll have to come to my new flat soon. xxx

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[…] mix of riot grrrl and 60s girl groups. I hadn’t even thought of attending a rave again until my former flatmate Mike mentioned […]

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[…] With the Laburnum Street gang […]


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