9 online homeware stores that deserve a little attention 

 

I keep googling ‘homeware stores UK’ in the hope of finding some new places to shop from. I’ve found a few round-ups and lists of online homeware stores that aren’t just Ikea or John Lewis or Oliver Bonas (not that I don’t love all of those – I just want some different options) but then I get to the sites themselves and often find my status as a non-millionaire a problem.

I have a whole new home to fill very soon as I’ve managed to accumulate basically zero furniture in my 26 years (adulting like a pro) and I don’t want to buy EVERYTHING from Ikea.

I say this, I will buy many things from Ikea.

While I don’t want to overload and buy loads of stuff I don’t need, having lots of empty space to fill seems as good a reason as any to get some shopping done. After many weeks scouring the internet, Twitter, Instagram, blogs and magazines I’ve put together a list of homeware websites/shops that are affordable, sell all the things you’ll likely need to function and plenty of pretty bits for staring lovingly at too.

1) M&S

Okay, now this is probably obvious to everyone and I thought I’d get it out the way, but I honestly never really thought about M&S for homeware. I love their food and I love their clothes but that’s always been the extent of my Marks and Sparks browsing. Turns out they have a lot to offer.

What they’re good for: KITCHENWARE! The above spring coffee mug was brought home by my boyfriend the other week and they have loads of similar, lovely kitchen/cookware bits.

2) Wayfair

This is my current favourite website. They sell practically everything in the home world and they change their offerings so often you’ll never get bored of browsing.

What they’re good for: Sales – they have a new sale every couple of days on different products or themes or even by room. They do a good selection of contemporary sofas and lots of lovely light fixtures too.

3) Red Candy

The point of Red Candy is to be bright and bold and buy less beige and they can certainly help there.

What they’re good for: Clocks and photo frames are especially worth a look.

4) Lo and Behold

I found this site through just typing ‘homeware’ into the Twitter search bar, and while they don’t actually stock that much, you can find some gems. Very modern, very smart and all of the colours and patterns are understated and chic.

What they’re good for: Throws, bedding and lights.

5) The Range

I feel like maybe most people know about The Range, but late to the party as ever I only found their site a few weeks ago. Lots of furniture – big furniture, small furniture, they sell everything. It’s not all my cup of tea but there are some really nice storage pieces and coffee tables.

What they’re good for: Reasonable prices, good storage and lots of selection.

6) The Little House Shop

A lot of the stuff on here reminds me of H&M’s home offerings, but they do a bit more in the way of jazzy lights, bigger selection of prints on cushions and random stuff like toys.

What they’re good for: Lights, hanging mirrors, cushions and planters.

7) Cuckooland

I came for the name, stayed for the wooden storage. When I first landed on this site I wasn’t really sure it was really for me (although they the most amazing kids teepee beds that make me want to be 8 again), but they have some really nice stuff.

What they’re good for: Chests of drawers, storage units, garden stuff, kids furniture.

8) Howkapow

Expect bright, cheerful and quirky.

What they’re good for: Unusual candles, pretty mugs and cups, quirky kitchenware and fun gifts.

9) Bouf

Not the cheapest in this list, but it’s the bigger stuff you’d pay more for anyway that they win at. Lots of trendy hexagonal shaped furniture and really nice  painted wood.

What they’re good for: Bookcases and dining chairs.

Adoration for the most average weekends

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I adored the weekend just gone (please come back) yet I did absolutely nothing special during it. I didn’t go out out, I didn’t do anything to my hair or put on much make up, I didn’t celebrate anything, go shopping, drink wine or try anything new apart from putting cheesy nachos inside a fajita which was a dream come true.

Happiness at the weekend can still be dancing until 4am, trying to phone the ‘Night Tsar’ on a help phone at Bank tube station and getting in round after round of Cafe Patron. All of that is still fun, I still like doing it and I get genuinely excited about the prospect of going out somewhere which requires me to think about my choice of shoe and sharpen my eyeliner, but there’s a whole new contented feeling in town come 5pm on a Friday.

These days, weekend satisfaction and all round happy feelings include:

-Cleaning things with bleach that smell like citrus fruits and then commenting on how fresh everything is for the rest of the day.

-Homeware shopping online until I realise I don’t need any of it, saving a few links and then repeating the next day.

-Walking. Walking anywhere with water, trees, ideally swans and maybe a nice photogenic bridge.

-Not sleeping in. The me of five years ago wants to slap the me of right now hard around the face and throw a glass of water over me, but it’s true. Being dressed, functioning and coherent outside of the house by 9am makes me feel like I’m coasting through life as opposed to the desperately treading water and shaking my head feeling I have most of the time.

-Drinking enough wine to feel warm and fall asleep easily and doing it because FRIDAY, but not so much that I wake up and need to stick my head out of a window at 7am and do the ‘phone, keys, bank cards, ID’ bag check that follows a heavy evening. (I haven’t actually had to do this in so long and I sort of miss it but also NO).

-Being able to get in on a Saturday afternoon and stay in where there will be no wind, no rain, no chance of being failed by public transplant, no queues, no general public and no need to have clean hair.

I know the ‘being a granny’ in your 20s thing is hardly groundbreaking but being a bit boring and predictable has never felt better. I also think that after a long time and very up and down 12 months, I’ve finally embraced a better mindset and a rosier outlook, which makes lovely weekend all the more lovely.

5 little coping mechanisms for when life gets you down

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I was supposed to spend the weekend just gone catching up on various stuff, blogging included, after a stressful couple of months but it didn’t happen. Since I’ve been blogging less, I’ve used social media less and I’ve gotten used to being detached from my phone and the internet more and I think that change will stay. It’s no lie that social detoxes do wonders for the mind and for anxiety. I’ve been ill the past week with some sort of virus and cough and stayed inside for 48 hours, so rather than stare at screen all weekend, we drove down to Worthing to visit Dan’s dad and had a lovely, fresh and airy little break. (Thanks @Dannyboyjnr for the photo skills displayed above).

We’ve managed to get on top of  most of our issues including living situation, home buying, car owning and storage issues in the past ten days, but it hasn’t been the prettiest start to the year. I definitely think adult life should come with harsher warnings, or even just a good sit down in a pub for half hour where someone tells you that things will get shit, then probably worse, then be really hard before they get better. Insert mum, dad, Hermione Granger, a wise cat – whoever you like.

These are the things that have got me through this irritating little patch of life and I can confirm they have all eased my woes for at least fifteen minutes, but some for much longer.

1) Walking

You cannot beat literally walking your worries away. The further into my twenties I get, the more I seem to want to go for walks. Obviously countryside and sprawling views of natural beauty would always be preferred, but even walking round the block or a longer way home from the station will do it. We blew away the cobwebs on the Sussex Downs on Saturday then spent Sunday morning strolling around Arundel and I feel a million times better for it.

2) Paying closer attention to sleep

I’m quite bad for letting myself get overly tired then having a casual 12 hour sleep marathon to try and fix it, but it doesn’t work for me. Being extra strict on bedtimes and setting alarms even on weekends (I mean, nothing before 8:45/9 because I’m not an alien) stops me from over-sleeping, which just makes me feel gross and lethargic and is all a bit sad.

3) A ‘three things to accomplish’ list for every working day

I’ve actually found work a relaxing escape from dealing with daunting admin and life decisions lately (no YOU need to sort your life out) and I saw someone on Twitter going on about hand-writing three things you want to achieve every day when you first sit down at work. I did every day I worked last week and a couple the week before and it’s quite nice, if not just because ticking something off a list is satisfying as hell.

4) Separation from the news

I can’t ever be that far from current events partly because I work in a press environment and partly because I just don’t like it, but a little bit of down time is good for the soul. The news is freaking mental 99% of the time at the moment, and when I’m not pulling ‘WHAT THE F’ faces I’m feeling sad about the state of the world, so time away from Twitter and news sites has been cathartic.

5) Eat better, feel better

Yeah, yeah, yeah I know, LAME. But as someone who doesn’t really have a bad diet anyway, I really notice the difference in how I feel physically when stress eating kicks in. Roaming the kitchen looking for anything carb-laden and chocolate covered has been a 2017 hobby of mine. I need to stop though, and I have mostly (apart from this weekend because cake and red wine and life) and when I eat well, I do feel a billion times better for it. Now I just need to dose up on willpower and I’ll be dandy.

Books and Netflix shows you should get involved with

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At the start of January I signed up for a Goodreads account, in the hope it would push me to read more and so far it’s working. I’m on my fifth book of 2017 already, and I’ve read some seriously good ones so far.

I’ve been spending much more time with a book (or the Kindle app) in hand, which has meant less Netflix viewing, but still enough to recommend some good stuff available on the UK version. If you’re spending time indoors with your duvet and Netflix or if you’re looking for new reading material, I give all of the below many shiny stars.

READ The Vinyl Detective by Andrew Cartmel

I read this because my boyfriend had downloaded it to Kindle and I liked the cover. That was it. No other reasons, but I’m so glad I did. I enjoyed this book from cover to cover. It’s a properly good novel with some mystery, likeable characters, a few laughs and a lot of is set on the streets of London which I love. It’s about a guy who tracks down rare records for people, and gets hired by a secretive Japanese man which leads to a wild goose chase all over the country and eventually to the US. The next book is out in May and I will 100% pre-order it.

WATCH Hunt for the Wilderpeople

It’s worth getting a Netflix account solely to watch this film. It’s an indie New Zealand flick and I laughed myself stupid watching at the cinema last year. It’s heartwarming, hilarious, brilliantly acted and extremely feel good. One of the funniest thing I’ve watched at the cinema ever.

READ Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

This book gets rave reviews all over the place and for good reason. The story follows a group of people who are brought together during a disaster and delves into what their lives were like before and how they change drastically after.

WATCH Curious and Unusual Deaths

Another documentary recommendation to add to my many (find more here) but this is something a bit different. It’s really weird. When I saw the title I immediately thought yes, this is me all over (not that I’m really into death just FYI, I just find this stuff interesting), but it’s very odd. Odd in a way that after one episode- only 20 minutes, you’ll feel like you have to watch more. From the cheesy narration to the comical/disturbing re-enactments, take it with a pinch of salt.

READ The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes

I didn’t think I would last through this when I first started. I found it hard to get into but after about 25 pages I got there. It’s far from my usual type of novel but it’s written to perfection and you feel like you’re being made more intelligent as you read. It’s set in Russia under Stalin rule, and is definitely one for any history lovers or those who like the arts and a good gritty life story. It’s also quite sad and shocking to think life was really like this for people.

The ‘January started quite badly’ note to self 

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The January blues have been running high so far in my world. I tried really hard to be all gushy and optimistic for the new year but instead life just got in the way. I’ve been walking around scowling with the temperament of Argus Filch and a grey cloud above my head for the past week.

I’ve been seeing all these positive posts on social media about owning the year and being successful and making all these grand plans and I’ve just been sat in the corner, drinking tea and death-staring my phone screen. I reached the point of “you dare try and tell me to cheer up man who clearly wants to speak to me” while fighting life and limb to squeeze on a train during the glorious strikes this week.

I am ready to get over myself though. I’ve had good reason to feel as grey as the sky has been this week, but as my boyfriend keeps telling me, being glum won’t help matters. To try and shake off the negativity and feel better about the start of 2017, I want to do things.

I don’t mean just get out or make plans, I mean have stuff to fill up practically all of my time so I have less hours to spend stressed and less nights filled with teeth grinding and dreams about becoming an unsuccessful farmer in France (no idea). I would be a bloody terrible farmer.

And these are the things I will do (I say will because then I feel more inclined to do them rather than go back to the tea, death-staring and Filch vibes from under my duvet)

1) Up-cycle a piece of furniture

I dragged Dan into a charity shop near my house last weekend that has been there for years and I’ve always ignored, and we found loads of really rather nice furniture. Some of it was a bit too pastel coloured and time machine looking, but there were a few little bits like lamp tables, little shelving units and small cabinets that could be stripped and painted and made to look brand new. I don’t even want to do this because it’s cheap, I want to do it because it’s a project and I’ve always loved the idea of up-cycling, I just fear I am inept at DIY. We will find out.

2) Give blood again

3) Make a new financial planning spreadsheet

My life is a thrill a minute. I stopped using my old one when we finished saving but it turns out I really like living my financial life through the medium of Microsoft Excel. I spend far less on seemingly nothing when it’s all there in black and white.

4) Run 5k (nearly) every Sunday again

I stopped this over Christmas partly through laziness, being put off by the cold and dark and also because I had an injury to my shoulder which put me out of action. Now though, apart from the odd snow flurry, I have very few excuses. Running is as good a stress-buster as I’ve ever found, so I need to get back to it pronto.

5) Get another five books ticked off my Goodreads challenge

If you read, or you want to read more, I cannot recommend Goodreads enough. It’s making me read every single day and instead of mindlessly scrolling on my phone on the train or in the evenings, I’m reading instead.

6) Make appointments for all my niggling health problems

As someone who suffers with bad health and chronic illness, you’d think I’d be on top of this sort of thing, but I’m quite the opposite, and that needs to change.

Keeping busy is a good antidote to feeling like the world against is you, so if I don’t do these things, I only have myself to blame when I morph into Filch.

 

5 times the internet has been good lately #9

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I haven’t done this in a while because I’ve been busy stressing over mortgages and then Christmas happened and now it’s nearly mid-January. Time really does scare me. I’ve been doing loads of reading since Christmas, but it’s mostly been on my kindle as I got a Goodreads account and am determined on hitting my ‘read 40 books’ target for 2017, which is probably a bit of a push, but we have to aim high don’t we?

Anyway, other reading including blogs I love and articles that I’ve seen on Twitter and loved are below, should you find yourself with some spare time and somewhere comfy to lay (or a packed train carriage with your phoned wedged in someone’s spine #London).

A recipe for happiness – Sophie Cliff

I read this just this morning and it was the last pose I needed to complete this. It’s as good as ever from Sophie. I love her blog and everything she’s written in this post.

When it comes to motherhood, career and, well, life, I’m a late bloomer – The Pool

I absolutely loved this. It’s a short read (my favourite thing about The Pool is the fact they give you an estimated read time on articles!) and makes me feel much calmer about the life targets I try and impose on myself. It’s a nice little reminder that there is no ‘good time’ for life’s big milestones, you just have to let them happen.

8 things every girl did when she went shopping in the 00s – Cosmopolitan

This is a little lighthearted nostalgia which I thought I was mostly over reading, but clearly am not. It mentions meeting at a designated bank and Bay Trading, so you really should have a little look. I laughed.

My predictions for blogging in 2017 – Hannah Gale

I really like reading stuff like this, as I work in social/digital media I often go looking for predictions on how the landscape of these things will change and I’m invested in blogging now, so really am intrigued. Plus, let’s be honest, Hannah’s probably right about all of it.

A look back at 2016 travels – Suitcase and Sandals

I like being nosy in regards to where people travel to and this little round-up on Hannah’s blog made me remember to get back into researching another trip to Scotland and also made me want to be on a beach quite badly.

Simple, little and achievable aims for 2017


I don’t like making resolutions because I never stick to them. I also can’t face going on Facebook on New Year’s Day to see all the ‘new year new me!’ or ‘leaving all the fake friends behind this year’ style status updates. Thanks for that update hun, but no thanks.

Last year my main goals consisted of telling myself I will get more than two haircuts, to focus on my health more and cut down on drinking coffee. All of which I have achieved (I got three haircuts, high five) although the coffee drinking slowly started to increase as December neared.

I actually think goals help most people to achieve more and I do like ticking things off a list, so I am making one. Health is continuing to be my number one goal. Ehlers Danlos syndrome makes life hard at the best of times, and the bad times seem to get worse the older I get, despite being more infrequent, so I want to be as healthy as possible to combat the symptoms. Aside from making more progress on being well and getting stronger, these are my little aims for 2017:

Learn to knit – Yes, I say this every year, but this time I mean it. I WANT TO KNIT.

Master at least 10 new vegetarian recipes – I’m not a big meat eater at all, so I eat mainly veggie dishes already, but it’s getting repetitive. I would say I had lentil and chickpea curry at least 10 times in December, so I need new food in my life.

Join a club/team/activity of some kind – When I move, I want to find something local to do so I a) meet people in the area and b) spend more time learning new things and being sociable.

Start making packed lunches at least three times a week – I’ve gotten so bad at making healthy lunches at the tail end of 2016 and have started spending more money than I care to think about on Pret soups and salads. I also tend to add more unhealthy snacks by strolling through Tesco and deciding I definitely need a Milky Bar AND crisps AND chocolate raisins AND biscuits to dunk in tea during the 3pm lull. 

Get into gardening – I’m not sure how well I’ll cope with a reasonably big garden because I have zero gardening experience and no idea how to help plants thrive or whatever happens out there so I should probably buy a book or something.

Do life admin when it needs doing, not when a paperwork avalanche happens – I should learn to file.

This is me going pretty easy on me for next year, so here’s hoping I finally buy some knitting needles and learn to do more things with lentils. The excitement never ends. Happy NY!

Between Christmas and NYE – 10 things that always happen


I sort of hate the bit between Christmas and NYE. I always feel bloated, end up walking the family dog in the rain a lot, and I miss the Christmas build up. The build up is the best bit. I see more people in the month of December than I do all year round and I love it. There’s better coffee to be drank, everything looks a bit nicer with fairy lights on and you get some tinsel obscuring your search bar at work. It’s just a nice time, and yes I do like wrapping presents. 

Last year I spent this bit really ill with a gross cold and tissue stuffed up my nose, but I feel this year will be a return to classic happenings. These classic happenings: 

1) I will go for my second run of the festive period (the first being Boxing Day) and then come home and refuel with cheese balls or salt and vinegar sticks. 

2) I will find myself in the kitchen talking about the fact we need to buy more Wednesleydale with cranberries next year, but we won’t and the cycle will continue. 

3) I will see more family and receive a key ring. Last year I got a fairy one, complete with glittery wings. Previous years include a Westie ( which I love and use) and a cactus with dimples.

4) “I’m going back to 4 gym classes a week as of Wednesday.” 

5) I’ll try and create a fancy coffee with alcohol in. It’ll be disgusting. 

6) I will wear several pairs of different coloured slipper socks and slip on the wooden floor at least once. 

7) I’ll write my annual health and fitness goals then immediately eat a buffet meal.

8) I will do a core workout following a YouTube video and kick the Christmas tree. 

9) I will take the dog to the park with my dad and she will roll in muddy puddles or poo until she’s brown and then we’ll bath her while she growls. Her very own festive tradition. 

10) I will wake up really early and think about all the rare sleeping in opportunities I’m missing and resent myself. 

PS. That is not my house. 

8 things I want in my kitchen

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The closer I get to actually moving, the more I keep letting myself look at homeware. One of the only rooms we have stuff for is the kitchen, so it feels easy to just build on that rather than face facts that we have other entire parts of a functioning home missing. These are all the fruits of random phone shopping on the train this week, apart from the teapot, which I found in Westfields. I’d never heard of  T2 before stumbling upon it a few weeks ago but I can see myself getting VERY well acquainted. If you know of any other places that sell homeware that I can browse online during my train strike fun times, link me up.

1) Printed porcelain mug – H&M – £4.99

2)  Stripe gold rim mug – Matalan – £3.00

3)  Salter vintage scale – Dunelm – £16.99

4)  Skyscraper coasters 4 pack – H&M – £1.99

5)  Leaf salad servers – H&M –  £12.99

6)  Agate bottle opener – Anthropologie – £16.00

7)  Dazed & Dazzled teapot – T2 – £46.00 Salter vintage scale

8) Denby halo cereal bowl – Dunelm – £8.99

5 things worth watching on Netflix right now

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I’m doing the opposite to what I usually do at this time of year at the moment- planning lots of exercise and outdoor running. As much as I love a good winter hibernation period and annually purchasing festive fluffy Primark PJs to wear around the house, I feel like I need to be out and active to stop myself waking up in January feeling awful about myself in the post-Christmas lull.

Now, as much as I am committed to this, I am also still committed to lots of Netflix watching and hanging around under blankets etc etc. I’ve watched a few really good things on the old Netflix lately, and while I’m hardly ahead of the curve I feel a couple of them aren’t being watched/discovered enough. So if you’ve got some solid plans to spend some quality time with N coming up, I can highly recommend you give the following a watch:

1) Love Sick

I’ve been trying to talk everyone I know into watching this. It’s on its second season, and both are on Netflix but it actually started life on Channel 4…and it was called Scrotal Recall. I think the name might have put a lot of people off, which is a shame, because it’s absolutely brilliant, perfectly hilarious and very endearing. Season two is funny on a whole other level. It’s essentially the story of a group of uni friends continuing life after the student dream ends, and the main story is of Dylan, the main character, who has chlamydia and has to track down his past conquests to let them know. It develops into more of a failing love story as the show goes on and it’s brilliantly done. Plus the episodes are short- around 25 minutes, so it’s binge perfection.

2) Catfish

I’m unashamedly thrilled this is now on UK Netflix, and I don’t use the word thrilled lightly (or very often). I LOVED this when it came out on MTV. I’ve mentioned it on here before, probablt more than once, but I’m doing it again. This is a documentary more than a film, and is about falling in love online with a person who turns out not to be what they say they are- or more to the point, who they are. It inspired the MTV show Catfish, which is also really good.

3) Force Majeure

I started watching this with my housemate back in 2014 and having remembered it exists after seeing it pop up on Netflix I will be revisiting it. The idea of the show is to explore ‘adult responsibility’ and it gets pretty much every issue it looks at perfectly right. It’s funny, but is definitely a dark comedy and certainly not all light laughs. The first episode really dives straight in and while the humour is strong, it’s also really quite dramatic. Massively recommend this.

4) An education

This came out when I was a student and I went to the cinema to see it at 11am on a Wednesday. Remember when you could just do that? It’s a film starring Carey Mulligan looking incredibly young and it’s absolutely brilliant. It follows the story of very young woman who is all set to go to Oxford, but gets swept up by a man twice her age. It’s funny, relatable and weirdly feel-good.

5) Clueless

Because obviously, duh.

Image: Pixabay