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Audrey and co

"Audrey" (as in Hepburn) as she got named on account of her elegant stance, came from a junk shop many years ago. She's a shop's hatstand. The lamp - amazingly - came from Sainsbury's, and the mirror (one of a pair) came from Graham and Green. It cost more than I should have paid for it - I just couldn't find a nice, solid, plain round mirror anywhere. Until, of course, I'd parted with £160 and they were suddenly everywhere. I'd tried to get the lovely Ikea Agnes one, but they'd discontinued it. If ever they come back in stock - a far more sensible (and, dare I say, slightly nicer) option.

Tasty table lamp

Continuing my obsession with lighting, this black table lamp is a modern addition to the secondhand homewares that dominate my house. It was a spontaneous purchase from a big branch of Sainsbury's, which has a surprisingly good selection of interiors additions. Right now, their sister outlet, Homebase, has some nice options. Currently the rather sleek Richmond Touch Lamp, a bronze and chocolate on the look, is just £8.49.

I spent far too much on my pair of round mirrors, which I bought from Graham and Green - why didn't I get these almost identical ones for just £24.99 each from Ikea?

Audrey - as I call my lovely swan-neck hat mannequin - was a long-ago find in an Oxfam shop. See if you can find one on the brilliant secondhand round-up website, Shopadilly, which I can't believe I've only just discovered, or buy a new one for just £14.95 from the sensibly named Equipashop.

Vintage Ebay lampshade

Buying vintage lampshades like this can be so cheap on Ebay - I think this one cost about £4.99, and it doesn't weigh much so postage was cheap too. Mine's on a dimmer switch and hangs over the dining table; feeling that you're being grilled by the Gestapo over a meal isn't good for the digestion.

People often don't pay much attention to lighting but it's so important - all the effort of making a room look lovely is wasted if it's then lit with a brutal overhead light. My mum was obsessed with lamps - the sitting room in my family home must have had about five; illuminating the room was a pain in the ass, but the resulting gentle, cosy glow was worth it.

Another great place for stylish old lampshades - though not as cheap - is The Peanut Vendor, one of my favourite online shops. Mark Parrish also has fantastic taste and a decent-sized vintage lighting section.

Get more tips on how to get lighting right.

Creepy dolls' heads

I've yet to meet one person who likes my creepy antique dolls' heads. 

I don't really blame them - I used to find them equally creepy when they lived in my mum's house, but was strangely moved to adopt them when she chucked them out.

Car boot sales are your best bet for finding something similar, or you could try Ebay but might end up paying more than is wise for something that will scare most of your house guests into another room. They sit on top of my grandfather's Victorian dictionaries, rebound for me as an 21st birthday present.

cheap vintage chairs

I bought four of these 1960s/70s wood veneer and black vinyl chairs from a junk shop in Thornton Heath for £20 (the lot). It's on the road back from Ikea to south London - and a great antidote to the great blue and yellow Swedish vortex.

They'd have cost about three times that in a specialist vintage shop. Thought they'd look great in the kitchen, and 'old' it up a little - but they didn't, so I've scattered them about the house. Piled high secondhand furniture shops are always worth a rummage. I also found a brilliant Stag three-piece bedroom suite for £60 in another junk shop - I'll post that up shortly.

Lovely shops

55 Max Amazing archives of photography available in all sizes and finishes. 
A Little Bit of Art Tasty printed wall art at mouth-wateringly low prices.
Adeline Country Cottage Cute vintage bits, wonderfully wrapped. Melbourne-based (perfect for Aussie rellies).
Airside Great graphic-y art, like my Always Look on the Bright Side of Life lyrics Monty Python print.
Alice Melvin The illustrator's cut-out-and-make menageries, prints and cards. Beautifully drawn.
Another Country Cool, contemporary craft furniture – lots of lovely wood.
Anthropologie Well-edited collection of swish stuff. Some brilliant gift ideas.
Aram Get your design kudos here – not often knowingly underpriced (though occasionally so).
Art Republic Loads of affordable wall art, as well as limited and rare edition prints.
Attic Interiors Mid-century furniture, ceramics, lighting and more.
Beetroot Home and living accessories with a Polish twist.
Bodie and Fou Chic, modern gifts and accessories – from out-there wallpaper to tasty tumblers
Bold & Noble Very British, very cool, and yet very affordable prints.
Bouf A showcase of a shop packed with affordable pieces by small-scale designers
Candy Pop Images Cheerful and bright images which can be ordered as cards or prints of different sizes.
Cath Kidston Her pretty florals are ubiquitous but there's much more to Kidston's store.
Cocoboat Super nice new stuff at super nice prices.
Couverture & the Garbstore A small but perfectly formed range of homewares from this west London store.
Culture Label Chic boutique stuffed with fresh design talent and cool classics.
David Mellor Designs Well designed home and kitchenware "to improve your life". Great for foodies.
Days Gone By Great vintage-inspired gifts, useful home bits and great for historic photos and posters.
Designers Guild Fabulous fabric, wallpaper, furniture and accessories from Queen of Colour, Tricia Guild.
Devon Driftwood Does what it says on the label – beautifully.
Donna Wilson She's everywhere now, but I'm still a sucker for Donna Wilson’s quaint creations.
Elphick’s Owned by the artist, Sharon Elphick, who has very good taste, it's packed with affordable art.
Etsy Worth knowing that many US sellers (the majority on this craft-tastic online store) ship cheaply to the UK. There's also a growing community of Brit sellers. Etsy also sells vintage.
Exit Quirky, contemporary accessories.
Fancy Moon Fabrics Acres of fab fabric (rare/retro/new/quirky). Do use the handy "shop by theme" tool.
The French House Salvaged gallic gems. For the blow-the-budget centrepiece.
Funky Little Darlings Cool stuff for kids' walls.
General Electric
Australian industrial chic (based in Sydney, so good for rellies' gifts Down Under).
Habitat Fresh, modern and still one of the best for stylish essentials.
H&M Home Super cheap, super lovely – see some in situ at Gaelle's flat.
Helen Minns Beautifully illustrated products from this designer/maker, who celebrates the art of imperfection.
Hey Pico! Bold, bright and beautiful hand-made cushions.
House Doctor Dazzling Danish design. Browse here, buy at Bodie & Fou.
House Industries Obsessed with fonts? Try this unusual US store and design agency, who also sell other objects.
Ikea Like crack, but great for essentials and often gifts, too. In emergencies, try Ikea Hacker.
Jane Foster Heavily retro and very cute screen printed goodies.
John Lewis Never knowingly undersold festive things, cool textiles and generally much great design.
Keep Calm Gallery Clever and cool wall art at super cheap prices.
Kidsen Lovely things to spruce up your little ones' homelife.
La Petite Congolaise Stunning West African wax print fabric turned into beautiful cushions.
Labour & Wait Timeless, simple and utilitarian products.
Lisa Jones Studio Beautiful printed designs on cards, tea-towels and more
My Fabric House Fabulous fabric.
Neisha Crosland Gorgeous, classy but quirky textile designs.
Nkuku Extremely stylish artisanal objets fairly traded from Africa and India.
North Rock Gallery Thanks Victoria's Backyard (great garden blog) for highlighting these new-designer goodies.
Not On The High Street Zillions of independent designers flaunt their wares here. Particularly good for gifts.
The OK Corral LOVE these well-picked, affordable vintage finds. Got half my Christmas presents there.
Outline Editions Limited edition prints from Britain’s most talented illustrators.
Oxfam Patience to wade through tat? You'll find gems in the homewares/books sections.
The Peanut Vendor Crammed with old-school interior loveliness.
Pedlars Specialists (with spectacular taste) in solid British design. Go with a full purse.
Penguin's gift store Their cool covers in many formats
Petra Boase Super cute printed textiles, mugs and more (and Petra's home, featured in the Caravan book, is lush).
Pip’s Trip Retro a-go-go!
Present & Correct Spectacular stationery.
Printed Wonders London-based illustrator, Xtina Lamb, specialising in printed art.
Pussy Home Boutique Cute gifts and accessories.
Quietly Eccentric Pretty printed accessories for pet addicts.
Rockett St George A brilliant, brilliant shop full of unusual and stylish home stuff.
Roddy & Ginger Sweet, chirpy retro-tinged prints
Rue du Chateau Fancy French furniture and decorative objects from 1900 to 1970. Most stylish.
SCP The super cool indy design store.
Seventy Tree Illustrator and brilliant blogger Kerry Layton's pretty prints.
Seamstar Fun and affordable fabrics.
Signature Prints This Oz site is licensed to reproduce the chic textiles of Florence Broadhurst (d. 1977).
Skandium I stick mainly to the accessories in this lovely but pricey Scandinavian-led design store.
Source Antiques Cuts out tiresome Ebay bidding and exhausting flea-market trawling.
Steptoe's Dog Old-school junk shop finds.
Supernice The east London store showcases sexy products by a range of hip designers.
Thornback & Peel Recognisable jelly mould, fish and pigeon prints.
Timorous Beasties Hip Scottish textile/wallpaper designers – you may know their brilliant 'London' print, featuring hoodies and guns.
Urban Outfitters The hipsters' fashion store also does cute homewares.
Viva La Frida Frida Kahlo inspired prints and textiles.
The V & A Shop A great go-to for gifts.
Wessel & O’Connor This gallery specialises in amazing vintage and contemporary photography.
Where Did You Buy That Celia Birtwell, Normann Copenhagen, FreshWest and more – all in one place (Bodie&Fou's sister site).
Winters Moon Lovely vintage or vintage-like bits – some of it recycled into swish new stuff.

Handy resources

  • Architect Your Home Can’t afford an architect to manage a whole project? Here you can pay by service according to your budget – from meeting and chat only to drawings, help with planning permission and surveys and more.
  • Attic Interiors As well as selling cool vintage furniture at affordable prices, this Brighton-based company also offers non-chintzy interior design ranging from small renovations to major refurbishments.
  • Bathstore Nothing uber-fancy, but great for simple, stylish bathrooms on a budget, with spectacular customer service to boot.
  • Boro Southeast London-based furniture pimpers and creators.
  • Crafty Bitches Upcycling workshops – learn online or in southeast London.
  • Dandy’s Want to make your home as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside? This site offers the best and cheapest selection in outdoor building materials.
  • Door Chimes UK Must all door chimes be so naff? Make the little details count and choose a design-led doorbell that won’t make you cringe.
  • E Frame An affordable and efficient online store – go ready-made or affordably bespoke
  • Funky Little Darlings As well as selling fun and fabulous kid’s wallpaper, FLD offer a bespoke design service for your little people's rooms. 
  • Lighting Direct A vast selection, not all of it beautiful, but brilliant for architectural stuff like ceiling spots, outdoor lights and wall-fitted lamps. 
  • London Design Festival The umbrella event for the capital's annual nine-day celebration of style – but the website is also packed with news and other happenings all year round.
  • Martha Stewart Living Wildly practical and exhaustive resource with instruction from the American queen of domesticity on everything interiors-y you could ever want to know how to do.
  • Own Art Scheme Ever wished for your very own masterpiece but couldn’t afford it? This scheme offers interest-free loans to help cover the cost of that coveted piece of art or craft.
  • Pugly Pixel Do you blog? Want to do it better? Check the design-savvy tutorials here.
  • Retro To Go Want to create the retro style of the 50s and 60s in your own home? This site pulls together the best of the internet and provides links to the relevant retailers. 
  • Screw Fix DIY nerd heaven, selling everything from nuts and bolts to paint and power tools – all at trade prices. 
  • The Shelving Company Floating, alcove, with doors... all your shelving needs covered here, plus lots of inspiring photographs.
  • Vintage Simplicity Planning a wedding, party or corporate event and want it to have a vintage feel? This event styling set-up will sort you out.
  • What a Find Much not-so-nice stuff to wade through but some brilliant end-of-line bargains in the mix from the likes of Graham & Green and Conran.

Stylish blogs

  • Abigail Ahern The designer of elegant, cosy interiors is full of home-loving tips 
  • APD Interior design advice from Andrew Dunning's consultancy
  • Atticus & Finch From Emily Blunden, Guardian Weekend and Homes & Gardens stylist
  • Bright Bazaar Will, aka Mr Bazaar, showcases the boldest and brightest interiors around 
  • Baby Style File Cool things for littl'uns. Always my first stop for baby birthdays (great discounts, too)
  • Confessions of a Design Geek Katie Treggiden shares her design passion brilliantly
  • Daisy Fay Interiors Infectious interiors love and expertise on London’s best quirky shops 
  • Decor 8 Vast, well-respected and lovely, this American blog is packed with great pics for inspiration.
  • Design Shuffle One of the best for ideas – tonnes of pictures organised into handy categories. 
  • Design*Sponge Grace Bonney's famous crafty, inspiring, entrepreneur-encouraging genius blog
  • Draw! Pilgrim Australian illustrator Pilgrim Lee has excellent, colourful taste
  • Etsy's blog The house tours are addictive
  • Fabric of my Life Interiors stylist Kate Baxter's inspiring, insider's picks 
  • Flowerona A blog dedicated to all things floral could be twee. This ain't
  • Four Walls and a Roof Follow this Brit ex-pat in San Francisco pimping her pad
  • Hackney Homemade Discover the east London craft markets – and more local info
  • Homebodies Journalist Liz Arnold documents the regular homes she visits
  • HouseDoctorDK Delve into the inspiring world of this Danish interior design company
  • Kickcan & Conkers A popular blog devoted to modern vintage living and cook kid stuff
  • Living Etc Super chic and unique design ideas and advice
  • Martha Stewart The mutha
  • My Friend's House Like your style with some attitude? Read this
  • Nest Goodies A beautifully edited array of stuff you'll want to buy
  • New York Times Great Homes & Destinations Check out their ace slideshows
  • Nice Day for a Sulk A most inspiring scrapbook of nice-looking stuff
  • Pippa Jameson Interiors Bursting with helpful advice and inspiration from stylist, Pippa
  • PoppyTalk Get multiple daily updates from this inspiring Canadian craft-loving blog
  • Present & Correct The blog of the gorgeous/eponymous stationery store. Much inspiration
  • Pugly Pixel Do you blog? Want to do it better? Check the design-savvy tutorials here
  • Readymade Excellently accessible and sexy upcycling and making action
  • Retro to Go A seemingly never-ending stream of everything retro. Fashion and homewares
  • SCP Blog Keep up to date with the Shoreditch furniture store's latest news and updates
  • Seventy Tree Illustrator Kerry Layton's gorgeously inspiring and popular scrapbook
  • Small Space Style So much clever storage! I'm a bit obsessed with slick small spaces
  • The Design Fairy Interior designer Michelle Chasey shares her inspiration
  • The Stealthy Rabbit Quirky maker/illustrator Emily Warren
  • Super Duper Things A sweet gallery of inspiring images from a Norwich design student
  • Twenty First Century Retro Tips, resources and inspiration for all things mid-century 
  • Victoria's Backyard Drool over her own spectacular outside space (and other soil-based brilliance) 
  • Wishwishwish Follow this young fashionista’s musings of life, shopping, people and places
  • 4Homes A great source from Channel 4 for easy DIY tips, inspiration and advice