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.

Some favourites on a Friday

Where else am I going to bore people with how much I loved a dairy-free yogurt I bought accidentally in a lunch break panic? Exactly. So buckle up for all things currently in favour in my life including tea that won’t upset your bladder.


The Coconut Collaborative 

This was the panicked lunch purchase I made when there was a queue of people building up behind me in the tiny Sainsbury’s in Waterloo. I wanted a yogurt, felt under pressure from lots of angry looking people in suits trying to squeeze past me, so grabbed this thinking it was natural yogurt. Well it’s better than natural yogurt. It’s delicious. So delicious that I went back the next day for more. Then also the next day. I probably will also go get one today. It’s dairy-free, made from coconut milk and is so creamy. Highly recommend it especially if you’re a dairy-free eater.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople 

This little indie film is absolutely incredible. I laughed so much I got pains in my stomach and I also did a small cry at one point. It’s set in the New Zealand bush, involves a dog called Tupac and a genius little kid in a variety of bright hoodies, who likes gangster rap and sausages. It’s hilarious and pretty heartwarming and if you can find it still showing in a cinema then go see it. Watch the trailer here.  I really want to go to New Zealand.

NYX Concealer stick

As basic NYX as you can get I’m sure, but this doesn’t make my eternally oily skin more oily, or make the random dry patches look like a beach on my face. Also, there is actually a shade that matches my skin tone, which is frankly miraculous for a pale-but-not-really-fair girl. You really can’t beat NYX.

Rooibos tea

This is caffeine-free tea which doesn’t taste like grass in a mug- miraculous. I try to not drink too much caffeine because of cystitis and general bladder problems and this is a good alternative. I tried to get into proper green tea and I can’t, but this is really nice. I’d never heard of it before I found it in the kitchen at work, but if you’re a hot drink lover try it. It’ll never be Yorkshire tea, but it’s not half bad.

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Adidas runners

I took my new running shoes out for their first 5k this week and after years of wearing Nike trainers for exercise, I’m a convert. I need a lot of ankle support when I run and shoes that are very cushioned for my hips (I am actually 100 years old) and these tick the boxes nicely. I got my immensely bright green ones abroad from the Central Adidas store in Cyprus, and they’re not online anymore, but if you’re looking for a change, I’d try Adidas. I’d always only been recommend Nike or Asics. Also go to Runner’s World (the store) and get on a treadmill and run- they can tell you which shoes you need based on the way you move. Science.

 

Learning about money and not needing it for happiness

This year has been a year of saving. I’ve saved and saved and saved and saved some more. I’m sick of saving, but I need to carry on just a little bit longer. Partly so I have some money when I do move (the reason for the saving) to use for food and to do other quite important things- like a buy a fridge to eat said food from. Oh and a chair to sit on.

I’ve learnt what living on an incredibly tight budget is like, which can be no bad thing. I have gone from having a a lot of disposable income, to so little that I’ve had to make every penny count- literally. Even buying a coffee in a groggy state on a Monday morning has had to be accounted for, as has the kind of food I eat and the way I get to work.

When I first graduated and started looking for jobs I thought the only way I could make my life go in a good direction was money. This is probably because I didn’t have any at the time, and wanted a taste of not having to avoid cash machines and bank statements at all costs. When I did start earning enough to pay rent and still live comfortably, I just took having loads of disposable income for granted. I just spent it because it was there and had the privilege of not needing to worry about it much, if at all.

Taking this away and having to budget for everything has cut my social life, meant I haven’t been able to join in on events all the time and has meant waving goodbye to some hobbies for the time being as well as other stuff I didn’t even think about like my diet, healthcare (things like paying for extra physio if I really need it) and the strain it would have on relationships with friends. But I have realised that all the worth I put on money and my constant niggling ambition to keep earning more was and is never going to equate to happiness.

I was dreading this year. I was dreading moving home. I was dreading having so little money to spare, but I’ve actually felt really content from making the most of this situation. I’ve enjoyed finding ways of spending weekends for free. I’ve enjoyed being at home, I’ve enjoyed interacting more with family and I feel better about myself. I don’t feel like I don’t have enough, aren’t buying enough new clothes or aren’t keeping up with everyone around me because I can’t, so what can I do about it?  I don’t even miss that money anymore, because as spoilt as it might sound given I am in a very good situation and am incredibly lucky, I was so forlorn at the idea of giving up all the stuff money gave me. It seems ridiculous now, as I’m saving it  to get myself a home- how could I possible have felt so negative about it?

A ‘money detox’ (sorry, I hate myself too) has been a really good thing. I’m not suggesting you try it by hiding your money from yourself, but I’m happier for realising money doesn’t make the world go round.

I went out with my sister last week to get some stuff I had run out of/broken/had holes in and I spent not even half of what I saved to spend, which shows my attitude to spending has changed, as previously I’d have parted with the lot. I want to keep a bit of this attitude up from now on.

Also, look at the pretty cheap things you can buy if you try:

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Lightning toiletry bag (£4) & yellow shoulder bag (£5) are Primark
Mugs (£3.75 each) are from Nordic Style in-store sale
Scarf is from a charity shop
Shoes are from the Oasis sale

Online sale shopping made delightfully easy

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This has been the ultimate year of thrift in my life. Six months of relentless saving and bank balance checking and cutting back has not exactly been the best news for my wardrobe. Clothes were the top of the list on things that had to go from monthly spending which was obviously sad times, but thank the garment gods for black skinny jeans. I love those dark clingy things more than anything and they have been my best friends during these adulting times.

Anyway, it’s been a bit hot for black skinny jeans lately and I am taking off with my family for two weeks of immense heat very soon, so I decided it was acceptable to buy some clothes that won’t make me look like a sad beetroot after walking 10 steps in the sun. I discovered Love The Sales at the start of the year after seeing someone talk about getting jeans from there on Twitter and had a little nosey. It’s  pretty much your best friend if you want to shop on a budget. It basically lists all sale items from a whole load of stores including TopShop, Misguided, Boohoo, Mango, French Connection, Roxy, ASOS, New Look… and take a look at their Phase Eight sale for wedding guest style dresses especially. I don’t have the time or the patience to list them all, but you name it, you’ll most likely find it.

Oh and it’s not just clothes- it’s all manner of beauty, electronics, homeware and stuff for kids.

It bypasses all the other stuff you’d buy if you were rolling in it, and leaves you with a realistic page of shopping options and is completely up to date. You can do all your usual price filtering, item type, brand etc and I love it quite a lot. It’s seriously worth checking out for bargain hunting. Once you’ve found what you want, it transfers you to the retail site to buy it. If you need swimwear right now, get involved. It does high end and high street priced sale items, so whatever the hell you need or just feel the urge to own, you’re covered.

Dress- Mango- via Love The Sales

Glasses and sunglasses from Firmoo


Anyone who’s got bad eyesight will be well aware of the perils of buying glasses. Oh and the cost. I remember getting a new prescription at 19 and needing new glasses and basically grovelling with my parents to help me pay because my student loan couldn’t stretch to the £90 it cost just to thin the lenses.

I’ve only bought new glasses once in the last 6 years, which for someone with eyes as bad as me is either impressive or really quite bad. I love trying them on and actually like wearing them, I just don’t like how much all the extras mount up to and also the part where I go in after and get told my ‘odd shaped head’ means they’ll need serious adjusting.

I’ve never considered buying glasses online because I couldn’t imagine getting them without trying them on. I still feel like this is a weird thing to do, but a couple of few ago I got the chance to try some specs from Firmoo, an online fashion glasses and sunglasses site, and I’ve worn glasses over contacts more than I have in years since.

They offered me a pair from a massive range of either prescription frames or sunglasses. They have glasses for basically every face shape and style and importantly lots of info on size and width of frame, for those of us are sitting in front of screens a lot and need good coverage. They also sent a handy how-to guide for measuring your pupillary distance (the distance between your pupils) so you can do it at home. The whole thing made me miss my uni job as an optical assistant where I basically told people if they could pull off bright blue glasses and sat in the dark monitoring field tests.

Anyway, long story short, I picked a pair of glasses that Harry Potter would be proud of and that make me look a bit like a scientist, and I love them. The ordering process took about ten minutes, and the delivery was amazing. I got tracking updates for every leg of the journey including when they had boarded the plane and when they got off. Considering they flew across the world from China to get to me they arrived at my door in just shy of 3 days, with a free map case and cleaner.



Seriously impressive service and seriously nice glasses. They were bigger than anticipated but after I repeatedly asked if I looked stupid at home I’ve grown to be a huge fan. The glasses are strong, light and the lenses stay smear free for ages, which for me is a huge bonus.

Considering how against online buying I was, I would definitely do it again. The lens quality is better than store bought glasses and Firmoo charge half the price. I’m 100% investing in their prescription sunglasses, which I’ve always needed but never wanted to pay out for.

Oh and if you want sunglasses for summer, take a look. I want about 10 pairs of the wayfarers and cat eye range.

* Items given for review are written about honestly and all opinions are my own

5 April favourites 

  
1) Waffles at Village East, Bermondsey 

I went here on my birthday for brunch with my family and considered getting a burger for about seven seconds, then obviously ordered these instead. If you have a sweet tooth and you’re into brunch, you need to experience them. The coffee was absolutely delicious too. 

  
2) Map floors

I saw a map floor a few weeks ago in a shop and then stumbled upon this in a pub in Waterloo during Friday night drinks. Just going to turn my house into one giant map probably.

  
3) Tesco gym leggings 

If you would never think of looking in Tesco for your gym clothes, well, you should. Dressing like the sky makes me happy and they were a total bargain at £9 in the sale. Their gym leggings are all pretty tasty right now. 

  
4) Brixton Village Market

My boyfriend had a photoshoot here and I tagged along to look around and the market has changed so much. It’s full of cool and quirky little breakfast places and weird and wonderful clothes and food shops. There’s also an amazing beer garden if you walk out of the back and go right with live music and cocktails every weekend. 

  
5) Glasses from Firmoo

I got these last week and having never even considered getting my glasses online, I’m so impressed. The frames are amazing value and the process and delivery was so fast. They also came in a free leather map case with cleaners. Highly recommend. Their sunglasses range is also pretty amazing. I’ve got my eye on these babies for my summer stint in Cyprus. 

  
*sometimes items get sent to me, but all opinions and feedback are honest. 

5 places to shop and do good at the same time

 Pact coffee– If you love coffee and endeavour to make it yourself rather than buying a cup every morning, you could do a lot worse than ordering from Pact. Their coffee is, and I’ve drank it many times so I can confirm, absolutely delicious. The good part is, the company deals direct with farmers worldwide, which cuts out the middle man and allows them to pay more to those growing the beans- which is in fact 25% more than fair trade. 

Sniffy Wiffy moisturiser– This quirky company are one of my favourites. They may be quite small but they are mighty. The moisturiser- including body and hand cream for men and women, comes with labels which illustrate exactly how to check yourself for lumps and signs of cancer.  A portion of the profits go to two charities- Cancer Research UK and Balls Brothers.

H&M conscious‘Looking good should do good too’ is the strap line for H&M’s conscious campaign. The idea is that they will work to make their fashion sustainable, which we should all be on board with. They don’t have factories mass producing their clothes, which is hugely positive for a highstreet chain store.

Unique Beauty– This company don’t do sustainability by halves, so much so that they get all their power for production from windmills. Yep, windmills. I mean, 10/10 for effort. They also include unusual but sustainable ingredients in their products, listed on their site. They also package everything simply but beautifully so it’ll look nice on your dressing table. I saw the products when in Denmark last year and they currently don’t have shops anywhere else, but you can buy online.

SCT Charity shops– If you’re in East London and you’re a charity shop fiend, look out for Spitalfields Crypt Trust shops, who put their money into local addiction recovery and homelessness, including providing services like drop-ins which offer a place for those recovering from addiction to seek advice and support. They also use the shops to fund therapy sessions for the people they work with. They’ve been providing a service to the local community for 50 years now.

14 things to do, eat or treat yo’self to this Valentines

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I’ve never been a big V day person and I definitely will not be found on Sunday rolling around in rose petals eating heart shaped things and wearing pink underwear. My boyfriend genuinely sent me an iPhone calendar invite for a meal on Sunday. That’s where my life is at. Romance is not dead, and on Sunday I intend to eat my bodyweight in Turkish food and then nurse a food baby on the sofa.

Through the years though, it’s given me some great nights out, hilarious ironic cinema trips (all the single ladies) and most importantly- damn good food. Even if you aren’t going to be rolling through town on a whirlwind of romantic drinks, candlelit dinners and cocktails with your significant other, here’s 14 V day bits to do, eat or treat yo’self to:

1) Breakfast for dinner at the Breakfast Club. Nothing says true love like a stack of pancakes as big as your head.

2) Cocktails at the Shoreditch Grind.  The apple of my eye martini is well worth a purchase.

3) THIS JUMPER– My boyfriend is so handsome looking all invisible and shit

4) All of the chocolatey goodness and tips to make someone VERY happy from Thorntons.

5) Anti-Valentines nights out. Because sober Monday mornings are overrated.

6) Battersea Cats and Dogs home- feline lonely? Hang out with cats, get some complimentary bubbly and find the little kitty of your dreams.

7) Flight Club, Shoreditch. For anyone who wants to forget about love and throw sharp things. This is place is ridiculously fun.

8) Bottomless brunches in London. This will make someone love you if they don’t already, or just please mates enormously.

9) Proper tasty– I’ve just discovered these food geniuses and basically want to stay in forever and make every single recipe. You do not need to go out to eat well.

10) Bloody Valentines Cabin at The York and Albany. Twisted, anti-love fun. No romance, just a blood-spattered room and food to die for.

11) This ASOS heart sweater, just because.

12) Documentary day indoors with your one true love- bed.

13) Rock N Rose red rose flower crown because you should be able to wear flowers on Valentines day. Or just buy and save for festival season, obvs.

14) The Hotel Chocolat Hearts and Truffles box. Aside from their Gin Puddles, the truffles are the BEST sweet treats they do.

Exploring London and dressing cosy: Autumn in the city

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My boyfriend bought this book recently called London’s Hidden Walks, and it was made for Autumn. We’ve been on two so far. One for me to have a not so successful DSLR photography lesson, and one with friends. On Saturday we did a Docklands walk, somewhere I’ve never really explored, and it’s SO pretty around there. Even more so with loads of lovely autumn colours and fallen leaves.

While Autumn is delightful and everyone’s losing their shit over pumpkin spiced lattes, it’s gone and got a bit nippy (that thing that seasons do). Walking round the Docklands was chilly business, as are early morning walks to work (with a blistering hot tropical bit in the middle on the tube) so it’s officially time to bring out the big, cosy staples.

I’ve recently started a new love affair with Uniqlo and when I got an email showcasing their new legging trousers I was in there within a week adopting some into my life. I’ve never been too much of a legging/jegging person because of all the clinging and lack of room to eat loads and get bloated, but these are my new staple. I wear them everywhere. To work, to bars, on long London walks, around the house. They’re a delight and if you need some cosy but not too casual threads to cover your legs, I couldn’t recommend more. They’re also a very good price at £14.90. Very good indeed.

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On the subject of leggings, American Apparel do some top notch black ones (arguably the best, if you’ve ever owned a pair) perfect for the autumn/winter but they come with a fairly hefty price tag. You can snap them up on eBay though like my lovely friend Kay did below (I had massive leg envy when I saw hers) and they’re quite frequently sold on there, so get searching.

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Wearing dark colours only when it’s colder is too depressing and I have about four really brightly coloured bags along the lines of this one on my shopping list (check out New Look and Zara, they have some beauties):

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If you find yourself in or near London with a spare afternoon, you should go to the Docklands. You don’t need the book necessarily, just get off the tube at Tower Hill, follow signs for St Katherine’s Dock and keep wandering. We also did a lot of ‘omg imaging living here’ at all the amazing flats and riverside apartments. There’s loads of history around these parts too, if you’re into that.

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A-Line for autumn: the wear with everything skirt

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A-Line is everywhere. Which is good, because I love it. I was meant to buy new shoes the other day to replace a pair that literally disintegrated in the rain last week but what happened was, I bought zero shoes and two A-line skirts instead (plus two tops and some trousers) and I am very happy about it. The skirt in these photos is my favourite of all my skirts at the moment. It’s stretchy, comfy, black and it was only £19.99, which seeing as you can wear it with basically everything, seems like quite bargain. Cheers New Look.

I’m trying my hand at the whole capsule thing at the moment, and getting rid of clothes in preparation to move, and this is going to be at the heart of it. I can also wear it to work, which is always a massive tick for any clothing I buy. I know I can wear this with basically every shirt and jumper I own or even a crop top for times I’m not being an old lady and actually going out. I imagine it’ll look nice with gin splashed down it.

Also massive yay it’s scarf time of the year again. I bloody LOVE scarves. I found the one above in an amazing flea market in Rome a couple years ago.

I spent my Sunday morning exploring Brompton cemetery, which sounds morbid but it’s actually really quite beautiful and on loads of lists of places you should go in London. It’s also the perfect place to go to and then wonder through Chelsea looking at houses you’ll buy when you find a million pounds on the floor or finally become a world famous singer/actor/dancer/chef. We can all dream. So yeah. Cemetery photos happened and in one I look like a moody child, but I was actually looking at an old couple who were looking at a man who was sunbathing. In a cemetery. With very few clothes on. It was quite the morning.

Oh and if you’re looking for a leather jacket that’ll actually keep you warm this winter, the TopShop in these photos is the one you need. It is SO thick and cosy and has detachable fur, which when you leave on the floor does look like a mystery cat and will make you jump out of your skin.

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Skirt: Newlook

Jacket: Topshop  

Top: H&M

Scarf: Amazing Italian flea market buy

Boots: Forever 21

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