I suppose that if I start at the very beginning, the history of IO&OI goes back to when I was a little girl. I think I’ve always used space to make safe and comfortable places for myself. My sister and I had little cupboard houses and we climbed up the shelves of our built-in cupboards to the top sections that were meant for suitcases and the like. We filled our cupboard houses with blankets and pillows and sat in these cramped quarters sending each other written messages on a string pulley system for as long as we could bear to be hunched up. (Perhaps that is why I like high ceilings now!) I remember also that I liked to tidy my cupboards and would offer to do likewise for my siblings – at a price! At a slightly older age I dreamt of having a ‘club house’. This was something that the young people in Princess Tina had. It looked unimaginably glamorous and wonderful to me and for a few weeks I remember setting my siblings and friends the task of scouring our suburb for bricks, so that we could build our own club house. I’m sorry to say, that project never got further than a circle of bricks in my brother’s sandpit. As I think back now I can remember several ways in which I expressed myself in my living spaces over the years. Even in institutional settings like boarding school and university residence, I always managed to do something to make the space mine – even if it was something as small as having a flower in a jar on my desk.

Of course I wasn’t particularly aware of what I was doing; I just did what came naturally to me. The years rolled on and I have now been fortunate enough to have lived in several homes of my own – a couple of which have required extensive renovation. I can’t tell you the pleasure that I take in making a home. I love the swatches of colour and the feeling as the first roller of colour makes its mark on the wall. I take an absurd amount of pleasure from my home – how it welcomes me when I’ve been out, how it shines when it’s clean, how it responds when I change things around – and lots more!

It is only in the last few years that I had the idea that this passion of mine could be combined with my profession of psychology. And the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to be a very good idea to use people’s living spaces as a medium for doing therapy.

As a therapist I consider that one of the most important parts of my work is to help people embrace their uniqueness. Wouldn’t working in people’s homes provide a fantastic context for doing that? We can’t help but express ourselves and I thought that people’s homes might be able to tell some interesting stories that wouldn’t necessarily be told in the therapy room. It could be very interesting to have someone talk about why they had chosen a particular style or piece of furniture. Was the choice based on the latest trend? Did it just happen? Was this a choice of the heart? What parallells could there be between these kind of things and the way in which the person lives their life?

If we started becoming more aware of the relationship between ourselves and our homes, could we change things in the home so that we could be helped to change things in ourselves. And if we changed things within ourselves, how could we express those changes in our homes?

It is these kinds of questions and these kinds of ideas that were the birth of IO&OI and I can’t wait to discover more about the fascinating relationship between the inside out and the outside in.

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