Punk comes home

Posted by

this is the house of fuzzIn high school, I wanted so badly to be a punk — but I was a little too late and a little too located-in-Nebraska. Even so, I wore the safety pins in my head, connected with punks online, took on the DIY ethic, carried out bizarre projects (traveling lawn gnome! Performance art in the form of anonymous letters!) and learned just one dance: the pogo.

Then I grew up. Went to college. Grew my hair out. Got a job. And bought a house. What a fucking sellout!

But I promise you: it’s possible to keep punk close to the heart at home, even when you don’t live in a punk house. Or maybe this is just me trying to deny I’ve been a poser all along. Whatever: I’ve got a few ideas on getting punk as fuuuck at home.


I took a break from DIY after college because for a while, everything I made looked shabby and I was striving to be a Young Professional. When I realized I just needed more practice — that no one is born being awesome at making everything — it was a revelation. I again took up the hammer and the wood glue and attacked projects with a new vengeance.

Now, our house defaults to, “Can I make it/fix it/make do without it?” Even more than that, we are all about gathering lifehacks to make the house run smoothly, cheaply, and as intentionally as possible.

Take on vagabonds

Punks love the exchange of ideas. We love arguing, debating, and being self-righteous ideologues — but we also genuinely enjoy learning from other people who seem worth paying attention to.

More people mean more ideas, and more ideas mean more projects, and more projects mean more people… and so on. It’s easy to take on these punk-lite approximations of the punk house, all-squatters-welcome ideals:

  1. AirBNB and Couchsurfing. Get a little trusting and welcome strangers into your space. It’s fascinating.
  2. Take on a roommate. If you’ve got the space, make more of your home’s footprint by adding a new face. Married? So what!?

Mainly, it’s important that homes don’t become a static place of blahhhhh. People need to mix, to pass on ideas — teach them to the younger generation or share them between each other, or everyone goes stale.

Shrug off the status quo

Punk’s focus on living an examined life can be exhausting. What do you mean I can’t buy this vintage desk for $2 from a rummage sale because the proceeds benefit the establishment of the Lutheran church?? No I didn’t know lipstick can contain whale blubber!

There are so many punk subcultures — just about as many punk subcultures as there are punks. Vegetarians, straight edge, skaters, feminists, anarchists. Punk varieties all have in common a disdain for conformity and that unexamined life.

The crux of this is: a punk never stops learning. I know: lots of people never stop learning — but too many others leave school, get a job, and zone out. So punk it up. Read all of the internet. Learn about philosophers, old and new. Watch movies that spark your mind. Don’t eschew the media, but don’t stop questioning what you see, either.

Now see, my husband sees his side of the house as being influenced by rock and roll — all damn the man, save the empire, and MUSIC IS THE WEAPON. So I’m curious: how do your homes reflect your cultural influences? Did Mary Poppins play a role in how you shape your surroundings? Or maybe it was a TV show like Blossom. Extoll! In the comments.

Comments on Punk comes home

  1. I’m not really sure if I’m part of a subculture, per se… but I know that I, as a Jewess try to apply the golden rule to all situations, and think things though as if I was a person I admire, like my father or brother.

  2. Our house is a mix for sure, definite punk and music is everything influences from my boy and then its art equals life and homemade is the way from me. My sister says its a marriage between Punk and Indie hippie girl. I get scared of the Indie Hippie label becuase of that whole conscious consumption thing, I try but I’m not as awesome at it as i would like to be. Best descriptor is that we look like an art gallery and punk rock show exploded in a tiny house

  3. Huge mix in my apartment. Our walls are covered with movie posters, some neat patchy things I got at a garage sale, custom drawn anime characters of my boyfriend and I, and one GIANT Rush poster. One of our cats (Geddy) has a Rush name tag, and the other (Mike) has a Day of the Dead skull. I don’t think we’ve gotten anything from a chain store yet– it’s all thrifted or bought on Etsy. So it’s a mix; we buy what we like (and what we can find cheap!) and that isn’t limited to just one word.

  4. One thing about us and our values that our home (which we will be moving out of soon after we return from Turkey) reflects is our emphasis on the importance of travel – for us – in expanding our horizons and how travel and everything associated with it (new food, new languages, new cultures, new holidays, new shocks, new friends, new experiences, new philosophies and what one can learn from it all). So our decorations come from what we buy while traveling (and we try to support small businesses, especially women-run, eco-friendly if possible, charitable is great but if it is keeping a new entrepreneur afloat that’s just as good): batiks and weavings from women’s cooperatives in India and Laos, hand-embroidered textiles made by women earning a little extra money for their families in Xinjiang, a Turkish coffee set from a small metal shop in a bazaar in Turkey etc..

    We also try to live this out by opening our doors to travelers needing a place to crash (usually people we sort of know through various travel forums) if they decide to make time to visit Taiwan.

  5. We are punks I guess. Our house, its a pretty hippy afair 🙂 As much as my bf jokes that he hates hippies we live on a frigging boat its hard not to be atleast a little bit hippie.

    We can’t have an open door we don’t have the space but we’re looking for a bigger boat so we will have friends to stay then but I couldn’t do strangers in such a small space. I’ve loved hosteling in the past but I just like my own space these days.

    The way we live is very much anti “the Man” though. We are not entirely off grid but the thought of having to pay traditional bills in a normal house gives me the shivers. I’d love to be totally off grid, maybe one day.

  6. Kinda neat, my apartment reflects both me and my future hubby’s offbeat styles. As for his side, he’s really into cars (like a total gearhead). So there are randomly placed car models and car part furniture (like a side table made out of a rim off of a ford mustang placed on it’s side with a piece of glass).

    As for my side, I have artwork that I have created hanging throughout the space. For example, my kitchen has a birdhouse that I painted sitting on top of the fridge and I’m currently working on another painting for the living room.

    Also, we’re both gamers, so we have a working replica of the Scorpion tank and various Halo figurines scattered throughout the bedroom.

    Yeah, our decorating styles are a bit out of the ordinary but that’s just us. =)

  7. I have kind of a 1950s-Paris aesthetic going on, for which I blame my antiques-collector mother and the “Madeline” books I had as a child. But, if you look long enough, you’ll see some pieces reupholstered in plaid fabric and copies of “Please Kill Me”, “Girls to the Front”, and DIY books mixed in with the P.G. Wodehouse hardcovers.

    Stealth punks unite!

  8. We are total ninja punks. Yes, we sold out, bought a house, and I even work for the man! But we still hold our DIY roots near and dear, and get a little grunged out to go to shows now and then. I live in a place where punk is a little synonymous with hippies and hipsters, so it all works out in the end.

  9. I’ve said it before–my entire aesthetic comes from my mother. On one side, I inherited her love of old, solid pieces of furniture and rustic, country antiques (my mom restores furniture in her spare time.) She grew up poor in Eastern Kentucky, surrounded by people who had excellent furniture and beautiful glass bits and baubles. She’s filled her life with these things, and I have that bug.
    But a huge part of my style is a rebellion of that, embracing things that she was afraid of or thought were tacky. Bold Indian prints, Japanese-influence style and modern aesthetic.
    In a nutshell, I’d say my philosophy is “If you like it, decorate with it.” My bedroom is retro/country/vintage with pops of hippie, my bathroom is Japanese fun, my closet is India, my kitchen is random art/glassware/bakeware. And I make no apologies!

  10. Our place is a mix of hipster, punk, musician’s pad, geek, dia de los muertos that sort of spit up on second hand furniture, and it’s awesome!

    Also, my husband and I live with my brother, aw yea.

  11. As a domestic punk rock diva, I really appreciate this. My husband and best friend and I even ran a (mostly satirical) punk DIY home improvement/lifestyle webshow for a few years. We got called posers alot, but it was fun. I look around my house with chickens, composting, matching lamps and an organized system for inventorying groceries, and I sometimes feel like a sellout. But I did it on my terms, and I’m comfortable with the place my life has taken me.

Join the Conversation