Tuesday 17 February 2009

Department bores

I have yet to find a department store that truly floats my boat. Maybe it's the crowds and tourists (London is very popular for shoppers *sigh*) or my lack of interest in ploughing through jumble-sale piles of dull, dull, dull generic products.

Don't get me wrong I (generally) don't hate them, it is shopping after all, I am just yet to locate my true calling.

A good department store needs to be like Bloomingdale's in the US (from what I hear in the films natch) - clothes, beauty, food, electricals...blah blah blah and yes interiors! - everything under one roof to cater for all your interiors need ma'am. Maybe that's where I lose department stores really. I guess I much prefer stuffy little random shops, stacked to the brim with odds and sods, that have a gem of interiors-beauty hidden within (I definitely needed the ornamental birdcage).

Working in Knightsbridge gave me a hate for uber-department store Harrods that I didn't realise possible. It has an impressive spread, true, but I have never before seen so many fur coats or felt so many bony elbows in my ribs. They do have a pair comprehensive antique and contemporary furniture sections though, I'll give them that, with brands like the fail-safe Le Cruset - suitably expensive and good quality for Horrids - and cool modern furniture brands like BoConcept and Ligne Roset. Not worth the injuries and dirty looks all the same.

I do have some love for Selfridges and Liberty. The buildings are both hard not to like, but they have a tenancy to feel like Harrods Junior too often...Maybe they could be moved further away from Oxford Street for a start. Then I'd be more tempted.

John Lewis is always the fall back. Solid and dependable, it is like a trusty, cosy, old jumper that you can always rely on. Great for basics, low on glamour. Credit Crunch it ain't quite but you know you get what you are wanting: mugs, duvets, even curtains. No twinkle - close on my perfect...if it wasn't for the beige.

If Habitat was technically a department store I'd be sold. I *heart* Habitat. There I said it. Crush official.

Monday 16 February 2009

Bed linen maketh the man.

It isn't rude to judge people on a few things - shoes, handshakes, lack of eye contact and sheets, are some of the most important. Limp hands and bone-crunchers are on a par with sub-standard linen. So it is a home essential to start with replacing them.

The feel of crisp sheets is famously delicious, to keep this as an on-going delight invest in cotton sheets with the highest possible thread count that your wallet lets you get away with. The White Company have white (surprisingly) bed sheets available at reasonable investment prices. As do Muji's soft cottons in classic shades that creat a sophisticated simple design, with an addition worthy recycled element to gain you Brownie points all around.

We should all know better than to ever go over the top with gaudy patterns or anything (god forbid) designed by a former page three girl. But a reminder can't hurt. Colours should be neutral or pastels, how all men end up with black sheets at some point, is beyond me. Throw them straight out.

Keep bed linen subtle (and cuddly toys in the cupboard/bin) to start a sophisticated bedroom look.

A nod of humour in the right direction with your bed linen can just about forgive you for wearing a pair of last year's shoes (gasp!) A cheeky addition like Thornback & Peel's cushions could even let you get away with a lower thread count. It also helps you safely monitor any hint of a sense of humour in your visitors.