Just like old friends who are perfectly in tune with us, some home stores seem to know exactly how we want to live, and become favourite destinations for browsing or buying.
The enduring success of four of them is reflected in their ages – John Lewis is 150, while Lakeland and Habitat both celebrate 50th birthdays this year, and relative new kid on the block, Oliver Bonas, has come of age and turned 21.
Instead of celebrating with cake and candles, they’ve treated fans to new pieces and ranges. Join the party and gift your home some ‘birthday’ presents. John Lewis Offering everything for the stylish home, the store has won a place in our hearts over the past century and a half.
The formula is simple – an insistence on top quality at the right price, summed up in its company motto, ‘Never knowingly undersold’, and ranges that appeal to a diversity of tastes.
How it began: A humble draper’s shop in the cobbled streets of London’s Victoria, where John Spedan Lewis had the revolutionary idea that all workers should be co-owners and share in the success of the company.
Birthday buys: A collection of homeware to mark the anniversary includes much with an appropriately retro feel. An Ercol Studio Couch upholstered in a silver Archive Cummersdale print, £2,750, is an iconic piece. A bestselling Daisychain print by Pat Albeck, first sold in the ’60s, now adorns a Daisychain Cushion, £25, which may appeal to nostalgic baby boomers. It could be nicely matched with an Emma Bridgewater Daisychain Teapot, £59. Lakeland Lakeland, 50 years old, could be said to offer products you never knew you needed, but once found, you discover you can’t live without.
The Banana Tree, for instance, or the genius Stay Fresh Longer bags, to keep salad leaves crisper for longer.
How it began: Three young schoolboy brothers – Sam, Martin and Julian – in need of pocket money, started counting and collecting plastic bags which they ended up supplying to the poultry trade, under the name Lakeland Plastics.
Birthday buys: Its new autumn range has a host of desirable items. Coffee lovers could opt for a state-of-the-art Sage The Oracle Espresso Machine, £1,599.99. Baking enthusiasts are among the company’s biggest fans, and a Lakeland Adjustable Nozzle set, £9.99, is a typically smart piece of kit.
Habitat Fifty years ago, Habitat helped changed the face of Britain’s homes, and although it was nearly sunk by the recession in 2011, it’s been successfully revitalised. The store’s now wooing and winning a new generation of fans – the grown- up children of the ’60s’ generation, its original devotees.
How it began: Designer Terence Conran’s winning formula, launched in 1964, was selling an easy-living but stylish, colourful lifestyle, characterised by affordable modern design.
Birthday buys: Seating’s always been one of Habitat’s strongest suits. A Natalie Sofa, £1,200, captures the familiar sleek look which has characterised the brand, and this piece is comfort enhanced, with large pillow-shaped cushions in striking red.