My Favourite London Shops
If you’ve picked up a copy of our January Trends issue (currently on newsstands), you probably couldn’t help but notice the fantastic home of NH Design’s creative director Colette Van Den Thillart on page 78. I went over to London for the photo shoot and when the film came in, all of the design editors flipped over her rich teal walls, gorgeous antiques, stunning fabrics and interesting art collection. I travelled with Gluckstein designer Michelle Hanna and over the course of my stay there, became fast friends with both of them.
And who better to show Michelle and I the ins and outs of home decor shopping in London than Colette, who works with the famed Nicky Haslam? Here is a list of my favourite stores — use it as a mini travel guide the next time you’re on the other side of the pond, or just live vicariously through the photos and be inspired by the design and style this vibrant city has to offer.
One of my favourite shops was also one of the first places I visited: Daylesford Organic Farmshop & Café. There are actually a few locations, including one in Notting Hill, but we visited the one on Pimlico Road near Sloane Square and the NH Design offices. (This is the main floor/downstairs pictured.) The lower level of the store is entirely swathed in Carrara marble, including all of the shelving units, giving it a clean, elegant, and very impressive look.
Daylesford grows all of their own produce, makes their own cheeses and raises their own livestock on a stunning farm located outside of London in Gloucestershire. H&H will be running a food story in our April 2011 issue about the farm, so keep an eye out for that!
You can imagine how fantastic the food was! They also have a café where you can have lunch or dinner. I ate there a few times!
The upstairs is dedicated to cooking classes and their home collection, which includes beautiful ceramics, wooden utensils and simple, organic linens. I loved the window seats loaded up with gorgeous linen pillows and the stunning creamy grey paint — so on trend.
Just down the street is their garden shop with even more inspiring ideas. That’s Michelle and Colette at the entrance. And the big elephant off to the right is part of a huge London outdoor exhibit called Elephant Parade, in which various artists donate their time to paint an elephant (kind of like the moose that Toronto had a few years back). It’s to raise money for Elephant Family, an organization dedicated to saving endangered Asian elephants. Goldie Hawn is one of their spokespeople.
Highlights inside included the horizontal slatted walls and checkerboard tiled floor.
Just down the street from Daylesford is Howe, probably my fave shop, which I stumbled upon when I was on my own. I recognized the sign from seeing their advertisements in British House & Garden magazine.
Whoever sets up the store is fantastic at the art of display. This vignette in a back corner of the shop feels very much on par with the vintage trend we referenced in our January issue: stacks of books, distressed antiques, painted floors, deconstructed chairs, and an edgy industrial vibe.
I loved the elegant legs on the wooden table in the front window — a perfect mix of modern and trad lines. And if I could have stuffed that stunning grey sofa with the patterned seat cushion into my suitcase, I would have!
Also in Sloane Square is the aptly named Soane. (FYI, Lynda Reeves also loves this store). They have a great mix of antiques, including this amazing wicker swan baby bed, and new designs. We featured one of their gorgeous leather chairs on our Trendwatch page in the January 2011 issue.
I was particularly impressed with their hardware collection and especially the large, centre-style doorknobs.
Of course you can’t go to London and not stop at the The Conran Shop. I checked out the flagship store in Chelsea. At this location you enter through this flower market and café, which of course was gorgeous and smelled amazing.
Inside, nothing really stopped me in my tracks this time — just the usual classics and great design. I did snap a photo of this giant wine glass used as a dramatic centerpiece. I love the greenery paired with the bright green Thonet chairs.
One thing that Conran’s carries that I’m dying to bring back home is this classic (and totally affordable) outdoor folding chair. Every time I’m in Europe I try to figure out how to get a whack of them back home without spending a fortune on shipping. The Conran Shop in New York carries them, but they are a summer item so they come out in the spring and sell out quickly, as you can imagine. For the life of me, I can’t find anything like them in Canada. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know!
Later on in my trip, I had brunch with an old friend at a Conran Café, on the ground floor of his Boundary Hotel, one of several restaurant hotels that exist under the Conran name. It was fantastic to experience the Conran’s brand in a complete space, and not just the store display. This is the front of the café where there is a bakery counter and to-go section.
One of Colette’s favourite shops is Talisman (it’s more of a showroom than a store), located in Westminster. It is massive! There are four floors of unbelievable furniture and a huge mix of styles: Deco mixed with mid-century modern, French country and a myriad of unusual artwork and collectibles.
They carry a lot of large-scale pieces, like these massive blue and white urns…
…plus some unexpected sculptural artifacts. I love these purple and chrome lounge chairs.
Of course, Colette had to take us to Selfridges, the famed U.K. chain owned by Canadian Galen Weston (of the Westons who own Holt Renfrew). There is a substantial home section in their basement and a strong vintage, industrial vibe going on.
The great thing about Selfridges is that they carry a ton of great lines and have a few “store within the store” displays like this one for Pedlars.
The White Company is on the top floor of Selfridges and is known for a clean, classic and slightly French country vibe. I loved it there — I stocked up on white, fringed towels, and gorgeous soft baskets that I squished into my suitcase.
At the end of the day, Colette took me over to the NH offices for a sneak peek of their new fabric line set to launch this spring. Stay tuned for the March 2011 issue when we will give them a proper introduction and feature an interview with Nicky Haslam himself.
After the shoot at Colette’s and shopping at her top spots, I did some shopping of my own with my old friend and chef extraordinaire, Andrea Stewart. She shared one her fave shops with me: Ben Pentreath Ltd. (they have a great blog too, check it out on their website). It is super tiny but superbly styled and they have a great art gallery next door.
I think my favourite part of the trip was hitting the open food markets on the weekend with Andrea. In certain neighbourhoods, the roads are closed off to cars and stall after stall of gorgeous food is set out in the middle of the road. It was the perfect end to my London shopping experience.