Monday, 17 August 2015

Diptyque Candles: Worth the Money?

Today we discuss Diptyque candles. They cost £40, and I have never seen one in a charity shop or when out thrifting anywhere, but I was very lucky at the weekend and was passed on a Diptyque candle which was someone's unwanted gift (Pomander, the Christmas one - which will be lit on Nov 30). LIKE OMG. So lucky. So you see, this does vaguely fall into the thrift category (especially for us thrifters who are more often than not also beggars, borrowers and stealers). 

As I have grown older, I have learnt that there are certain things which can't be scrimped on, and whilst second-handing feeds my soul (for the unique-ness, the history*), some things you just have to pay good money for: Sourdough bread, undies, wine, scent (perfume and candles), in other words, treats. Here is my rationale...

I visited the Diptyque shop in Paris this past February with my boyfriend, and this one heck of a shop; it feels lavish and has been decorated in a way that it feels like Marie Antoinette herself would have been right at home here. As it happens, the shop was created in the 80s, but it still feels like a beautiful old apothecary. The chap behind the counter was friendly and showed us the candles which I wouldn't be able to get back home as they were 'boutique exclusives'. We / I spent a while choosing the perfect candle, and the shop had this little cushioned pad which you knock the candle out onto so you can smell the jar - so much fun! I chose my candle and then it was beautifully wrapped in tissue paper and I was given some perfume samples - yes, thrifty.

So, in thrifty terms, here is what I got for my £40 (actually €40 - cheaper in euros with the exchange rate, THRIFT) candle: 
- a beautifully perfumed  boudoir
- a fun (for me) shop visit
- a great Paris memento (I remember our Paris trip when I look at the beautifully designed jar)
- Diptyque perfume samples which sat in my make-up bag for emergencies (USEFUL) 
- thoughts of oak forests. When I light my 'Chene' candle, it makes me think of this: 

Beautiful mural in the Diptyque boutique

Money might not buy happiness, but it can buy expensive candles.

And for more words of wisdom on the candle front, read this by clever, lovely Liz of Harcourt Crescent

* the smugness, not that I'm proud to admit, I just can't help it.. (when someone asks 'where'd you get that', 'oh, a charity shop' *smugness*)

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

London Kensington Charity Shops

I recently started a new job in a new part of town. Kensington to be precise,and I have some tough choices to make at lunchtimes as there are so many good options: Hyde park, of course, Kensington High Street, the Royal Albert Hall steps (when I have a good book), Kensington High Street - for TKmaxx, Wholefoods, COS, Zara, Gloucester Road charity shops.. ah yes, charity shops. I scoped them out early on.

So here is my round-up of Kensington Charity Shops (in parts):
1) Gloucester Road (SW7 4RB) 
2) Kensington Church Street
3) South Ken line-up

And so we begin with the Gloucester Road trio. Here they are on a map (click to see it bigger). Bear in mind, this is Kensington, as a rule the stuff in these charity shops will be more expensive than your usual, but keep an open mind and you are very likely to find something fancy for not as much as you might expect. The main thing to watch out for is garments from the cheap end of the high-street, which will be priced in line with the rest of the shop.

Fara (26 Gloucester Rd)
We begin with Fara which is the best (and biggest) of the three. It's over two floors and upstairs there are lots of lovely clothes - I still kick myself for leaving behind a Cabbages and Roses dress a few weeks ago. I missed out because I told myself 'it's too expensive at £15'. In reality, £15 isn't cheap, cheap - but for a Cabbages and Roses dress it's certainly excellent value. And, comparatively, I have seen the prices soar at my local Walworth chazza shops and wouldn't be surprised to see proper cheap high street dresses in there at that price. What's more, Cabbages and Roses dresses are made in London with lots of love, care and beautiful fabric. You can buy them new for about £200. Yep.

Below ground there is a good selection of homewares and bric-a-brac I bought a silly hand-made ceramic spoon in here for 50p a few weeks ago which I was pleased with. All good apart from their line in 'la fermiere' yoghurt pots - £1. A word to the wise, if you like these (and they are very pretty and useful) go to Wholefoods and buy yourself a new one so you can actually eat the yoghurt. This type of thing should really be 10p in charity shops in my opinion. The same with the glass Gu ramekins - I have seen those for sale at £1 - crazy! 

The mens clothes in this Fara are excellent - lots of pretty-much-new fancy shirts, and even fancier suits - I have seen Brioni in there for around the £80 mark which bearing in mind these suits cost somewhere in the region of £4000, is quite excellent value.

They also have nice designer ties for about £6. I have been eyeing up a Liberty print one recently, it's a shame my boyfriend claims not to like pretty patterns. 

Trinity House (28a Gloucester Road - next door to Fara) 
This CS doesn't have quite the same quality of products its counter-part next door, not a lot of bric-a-brac, the smallest book selection I have ever come across in a charity shop, but some nice clothes if you hunt a bit. The Trinity House on the Walworth Rd is in my top three charity shops of all-time-ever, I think the main problem with this one is that it doesn't have the space. Its saving grace is its selection of hats which always seems quite good. It's worth a visit since it's just next door to Fara and you never know.  

Oxfam (5 Gloucester Road).
This shop is, again, rather small and is priced in line with all other Oxfam charity shops (expensive, I guess they do strict auditing). This branch has nice a rather good selection of clothes from fancier high-street shops such as Cos and they often have some designer clothes which are priced accordingly. Unlike the other two shops of the trio, Oxfam has quite a good range of children's clothes, some of which are nice brands like Petit Bateau and often in very good nick. So far I have only browsed in here, but I'm sure I will find something worthy of my pocket money in here soon.

After your charity shop trawl you could stop at The Queens Arms for a half, a sweet pub down a little mews nearby.

Friday, 8 May 2015

What a lovely pair of drawers..

Having searched high and low for a suitable set of drawers, I was coming dangerously close to dropping £200 on a new chest. My patience was rewarded when I found not one, but two chests of drawers in my most prized charity shop down Walworth Rd a few weekends ago.

The first, the white set. I wanted a white chest to go on my landing. The sun comes streaming into this space every morning and it's so nice stepping from my bedroom onto the bright, pretty landing, so I wanted a practical set of drawers for storing linen which would add to this bright space. This chest is a little rough around the edges, a few chips, but that only adds to the charm as far as I'm concerned. Our old household mirror sits proudly on top among a selection of rather lovely bottles and flowers, a vase filled with my collection of pine cones, an old painting and a signature luxury candle.

The second pair, also £10, is a very smart set which is just the right height for sitting under the mirror in our bedroom. This pair really completes the place, and I was thrilled when I picked this up as they now complete the furniture arrangement in the bedroom. The room now looks so much bigger!

James and I had a real job getting these down the road, amazingly we managed it in one trip. I have also lined the drawers with some retro-style Laura Ashley drawer liners.

Drawers, £10 (Trinity House Hospice, Walworth Rd)

Drawers, £10 (Trinity House Hospice, Walworth Rd)

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Vintage Travel Posters

Could these be the second-hand score of the year so far? Yes - I think so.

The cost of these charming posters? £0 - free!

I picked them up a few weekends back at a car boot sale in Primrose Hill. James and I (my boyfriend, my long-suffering second-hand trawling companion), got up early on Saturday morning for a pleasant trip up North. I found out about this sale from Pretty Much Penniless and pictured myself returning home laden with Tom Dixon candles and vintage kimonos.

At first it was disappointing. All of the 'professional sellers' were there, with piles of old phone chargers and useless computer games. We were heading out when we spotted these posters and were told 'the frames are broken, they were originally a set of three, so you can just take those'. SWEET!

They look so good in my living room.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

London Street Furniture Find

One of the great things about living in London is that the street gives you things. I suppose it's because there are fewer cars to transport unwanted furniture to the tip or charity shop...

A few weeks ago I found this lovely (albeit rather rickety) wooden chair on the street with a collection of other bits and pieces (old mugs and plates - not as exciting) and a hand written sign saying 'take me'.

The chair makes a useful perch in my bedroom for when I'm struggling to lace my shoes in the morning, and goes perfectly with my sweet Marie Antoinette cushion!

Chair - down the street - for free!! 

Monday, 12 January 2015

Vintage Musee d'Orsay Poster

I bought this great poster from a charity shop in East Dulwich (St Christophers Hospice Shop 85-87 Lordship Lane, SE22 8EP) for £2.50 at the weekend. I really like that inquisitive little cat and the pinky hues. Impressionism is one of my favourite art movements, and I'm a sucker for images of interiors.

Exhibition posters (or indeed, theatre or film posters) are always worth keeping an eye open for - the older they are, the cooler they look. Put it in a cheap frame (or visit your local framer*) and you will immediately have a handsome piece of cultural history for your wall.

....And if your house is a bit rough and around the edges, work that bohemian look and pin straight to the wall like Jean Seberg in 'Breathless' (1960).

* My framer is retired from a notable London gallery, now he makes beautiful frames in his home studio and charges the most reasonable fares for frames that will last a lifetime.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Secret Santa Gift

We have a little tradition in our office which is Secret Santa but the rules state that the gift has to be from a charity shop, and cost under £5.

I was rather pleased with the gift I put together for my boss; a pretty 'floral alphabet' Ulster weavers t-towel (which had never been used) and a sweet edition of Madame Bovary.

My gift came well in under the £5 mark and actually made a rather smart little present. I would have been happy to give this as a gift regardless of what the rules stated about the presence of a charity shop in the gift giving process. Heck, this chic little parcel would please lots of fabulous ladies I know.

Lovely Jasmine, who I have mentioned before, gave me the idea to free-hand embroider names onto ribbon for the gift tags - a lovely little personal touch.