When I first moved to London, I was very much babe pig in the city. It was loud and crowded and shiny and there were beautiful things to buy. One of those things was a delicious velvet tub chair that sat in the window of Oliver Bonas.

Oliver Bonas was started by Olly Tress who opened his first shop in Fulham in 1993. His parents lived in Hong Kong and Olly would visit them and bring things back for his lucky lucky mates. This gifting was obviously very popular and he thought “there’s something in this” so started making a bit of money to get him through his Anthropology degree. A couple of years after he left uni he opened the shop, which was repainted by his mates and featured a second hand till Olly bought for £60.

He says they sold “a magpie collection of seemingly random lifestyle ‘things’ including furniture, gifts, jewellery, bags, accessories and homeware” and “that was pretty unusual for a shop at the time, some people were confused by it, others loved it” Of course they did. The name comes from Oliver’s girlfriend at the time, Anna Bonas who let him use her surname and “very kindly hasn’t demanded that I change it.” I think having a shop named after you by your dearly beloved is one of the greatest romantic gestures of our age.

In an interview with London Loves Business, Olly says he found opening a second shop “much, much harder.” He admits he didn’t have many business skills and his “execution skills were very poor and it just meant it was very stressful… I should think the business grew much less efficiently than it could have done.” I always assume anyone with a phenomenally successful business knew exactly what they were doing all along, so  I think it’s inspiring to know Olly learnt as he went along.

Now Oliver Bonas have 60 stores throughout the country selling clothes, homeware and quirky gifts like Cat Bingo, just the sort of thing The Museum of Sarah loves. What’s interesting is whereas they used to just sell things from other designers, they now have a whole in house design team. One of whom drew my portrait last week at their Christmas press day.

At that press day I fell upon their gifty bits and realised I was wearing a dress that matched the whole range perfectly. They also had a drinks trolley, sushi and afternoon tea. I could have happily stayed there for the rest of the day.

These designs are based around a speed sketching session done by the design team, drawing portraits of the everyone in the company. The designs were simplified, dreamy colours were added and they created this heavenly range of glasses, makeup bags, phone covers and my favourite, trinket dishes. It’s the first time I can say honestly be thrilled to get a laundry bag for Christmas.

I also love their “Confident” enamel pins, which have messages like “looking good” and “fairest of them all” instead of the usual “sorry not sorry” they seem to be selling everywhere else. The 2018 diary come workbook is to die for and emblazoned on the cover is the Oliver Bonas motto “Work Hard, Play Hard & Be Kind” which I think says it all.

xxox

Look, I’m over on Bloglovin!

There has been an ongoing debate between my sweetheart and I for some time now: whether cushions actually make a sofa more or less comfortable. Of course I have always strongly fought the side that cushions are brilliant so of course they enhance a sofa. My boyfriend claims the aesthetic does not outweigh the fact the sofa is better to sit on without them.

This may be because he’s not actually allowed to sit *on* them. Cushions are too nice to go under a bottom, no matter how lovely the bottom is. They are to be sat in front of and leaned back on to. They are not there for comfort but to look good. Cushions are to be admired and not plunge a hand into as you get up off the sofa. You can see the trouble we’ve had.

I have cushions of every size and shape. Of every pattern and colour. Cushions that look like a bag of chips, several in various 70s patterns bought from eBay and one in the shape of a dinosaur, named Dougie. These have covered my teal two seater entirely from left to right, reducing the actual sitting space by about a third. Even if you are the only person on the sofa it was crowded.

Every time we want to use the sofa bed the cushions have to be taken off and stacked neatly beside the sofa, a process that takes far longer than it should. After the bed has been used, the cushions need to be unstacked and placed back in a suitable order. However what usually happens is someone (me) loses interest and they remain on the floor until lunchtime. This meant they would inevitably be stood on. It is gave my boyfriend’s kids the idea for a stepping stone game involving the floor as the sea. Later on, when one was being used a booster seat for dinner, I decided enough was enough. I needed a cushion cull.

It was hard to choose which ones to keep and I couldn’t look Dougie in the eye as he was packed into a suitcase to take to storage. But there were two cushions I knew would always stay. Both of them were presents and both of them are fabulous women.

The first one is from one of my favourite shops in London, We Built This City, which is on Carnaby Street and you also buy everything online on their terrific website. WBTC are “revolutionising London souvenirs” and they have everything from full English breakfast pencils to pigeon washi tape. They also have work with loads of brilliant artists who are all inspired by the city.

My Queen Elizabeth I cushion is made by Victoria Crossman, who sadly seems to be offline at the moment but does promise she’ll be back soon. It’s a fabulous depiction of Liz in a very ornate ruff overseeing the empire, one hand on her globe and watching her ships coming in. I love a queen and also The Queen so anything royal I’m up for. I saw this cushion, screamed that I loved it and forgot about until my birthday when it was bought for me as a present. People who remember things you point out should always be treasured. I love it because it’s so detailed, the colours are thrilling and it’s got a terrific sense of humour.

I bought the other cushion when I’d been doing some work on the Southbank and wandered into The National Theatre for a cup of tea and their wifi. Their shop is also well worth a browse and they had a huge display for their 2015 production of The Beaux Stratagem. There were tote bags and notebooks and right in the middle, this sumptuous cushion. I bought it immediately and then went to the box office to book tickets. I love a bawdy restoration comedy and every time I see this cushion I think of fans, big wigs and high class jinks. I’m looking her in the eye right now and she’s willing me to have a G&T and a French Fancy.

I’ve been forced to concede a life with less cushions is better and these ladies are more than enough lounging on the sofa. Though I do think this Oliver Bonas sheepskin number would just sit with them nicely.

xxox

God I’m in love with this bag.

You know when you own something and it makes you happy every single time you look at it. You can’t even properly explain why you love it so much. Maybe it’s because of where it came from or how it’s made or the feel of it in your hand but it just brings you joy? That’s exactly how I feel about this bag. It’s a lovely thing for the sake of being a lovely thing. It’s something I like just because I like it.

I do love a clutch bag. They finish an outfit and look so bloody cool. I shove all my bits in a clutch and then put it in a bigger bag or leave the Filofax at home and just take said bits out in it. This one is by Venessa Arizaga, who says “I like to think of each piece I create as a treasure and a good luck charm, something special  to keep close to you to reflect upon good times…” Amen Venessa. It came in a white box with heart covered tissue paper and was the best kind of birthday present, one that you could never justify buying for yourself. It also has everything one could need in life: colours, prints and chips.

The official name of this darling bag is the “Snack Time Clutch” and to be honest, she had me at Snack Time. It’s made of teal denim and is covered in tiny brilliant food charms. There’s a donut, ice cream, burger, strawberry, hot dog and the aforementioned chips. I have looked at this charms and turned them over in my fingers so many times and I still look at them now like I’ve never seen them before. They actually physically excite me, who knew a mini taco could do that?

As if it wasn’t dreamy enough, the lining is a bright juicy halved oranges. If it’s a crap grey March day you can open this bag and you are the man from Del Monte. It is of course the ultimate holiday bag; perfectly sized for a debit card, Nurofen, a tube of suncream, a box of plasters and a Twix. I took it all round Argentina terrified of dropping red wine or mayonnaise on it.

Venessa also makes beautiful jewellery and very cool bracelets (Jules Von Hep is a big fan) The company is based in the states but they ship internationally or you can buy it on Amazon and several shops in London, including Selfridges and The Conran Shop, where this one was bought. It’s subtle, chic but still super fun and the best thing is, it’s in the sale. Go go go love.

xxox

I think if I had to choose one favourite thing at home it would be this table.

I work at it, eat off it, I rest cups of tea, G&Ts and my feet on it. My boyfriend’s kids play on it and I push it out of the way to get the sofa bed out or do a Davina DVD. This table is usually littered with laptops, placemats, post, books, mugs, records and right now, a tin of shortbread. It also has a giant ashtray which has a quote from Pierre Berge “Embrace Reality Even if it Burns You” PREACH Pierre.

This table has got history. In 1989, my mother June and my dad went to a large pine warehouse in Stratford-upon-Avon. June says you couldn’t move for pine furniture in the late 80s and they wanted a table and chairs for the kitchen. As they were paying my sister went over to a little coffee table and sat on it. June says this is because she hated walking and would sit on anything but my mother wanted to stop us drawing all over the Habitat dining table and new carpet so she bought it. She had planned to put a cloth over it but never quite got round to it so play dough, paint, and fuzzy felts were all crushed into the wood.

The table moved house with us and had a tartan cloth thrown over it to “tart it up a bit.” It became a homework table, somewhere to put the ironing and rest a stolen beer from downstairs on. It has had just about every drink you can imagine spilled on it and been biroed and crayolaed within an inch of it’s life. The table was eventually donated to me as something to eat my tea on when I moved into somewhere unfurnished. It was still covered in the same old scribbles my little brother put there twenty years ago. Everything had been thrown at it but it stood solid and proud against it all.

It was whilst I was looking for a sideboard on eBay (which no doubt we’ll come on to later) that I met Seb. Seb owns Cocoon Furniture who renovate old and pre loved pieces and believe “noble but weary furniture deserves a second chance.” Typically they do beautiful vintage restorations so when I told him I wanted it pink on top with orange legs he was surprised but absolutely up for it.

One of the things I remember most about playing and doddling on the table was a small groove on the surface. It’s a flaw in the wood that wasn’t sanded off and it was irresistible to stroke or rub a pencil into. To honour the table’s long fought battle to survive, I asked Seb not to fill it in. It’s still there to slide my finger across and make me feel 6 years old again. I think having things in your home which are covered in childhood history or memories of brilliant times is so important, even if they sit hidden under pink paint.

xxox

Oh well hi there! Welcome to The Museum of Sarah. Pop yourself on an ornate cushion, help yourself to tea and take a little look around.

The Museum is a showcase of gorgeous things, clothing, homewares and miscellaneous items that have caught my eye, curated for you to delve into. Always colourful and occasionally garnish, these bits and bobs are accompanied by stories of how they came into my possession or why I wish they would.

There are also my own articles, words and general musings for a bit of light reading while you’re here.

I have wanted to do a blog like this for so long, to create a place for all the things I love. Some I already own and others are things I’ve seen or found which made me squeal so I have to tell you about them.

A few months ago my friend Tess came round to my flat. She hadn’t been here since I moved in so was having a good look at my shelves full of knick knacks, teacups, flamingo glasses and elaborate footwear. “It’s like The Museum of Sarah!” she exclaimed whilst fingering a gold pineapple trinket pot. I declared that evening, after several Disaronnos, that I would create The Museum and I am delighted that here we are in it.

I have always loved big colours. My style is somewhere between a summer fete, Skittles and Dame Edna. When I was 15 I painted all the furniture in my bedroom powder blue and wrote song lyrics all over them in black marker pen. It didn’t look great but it made me VERY happy.

Ever since then I have refused to believe things need to be cream, pine or neutral. Kitchen utensils don’t have to be stainless steel, door knobs don’t have to be brass and truly, nothing has to be brown. In my kitchen I have a bright pink clothes airer, a teal mixing spoon and a yellow kettle. In fact I’m currently gazing at a bright pink colander hanging over the hob and it makes me ecstatic.

I’ve been asked why everything I own has to be quite so loud and I think it’s just because life can be very serious. Work, careers, exercise, dates, plans, figuring when you can and can’t have cake. It’s exhausting. It’s a joy to look up from doing emails and see a rainbow tea cosy on my shelf. It’s a relief from how draining everything can be.

As well as the high street and big stores, I love independent shops and brands as they usually have the most exciting and unconventional things. I’m also really interested in British made products and companies so there is a whole section of The Museum to celebrate these brands called A Brit Excellent.

This blog is a celebration of the things I love and the story behind them. Wherever possible I’ll show you where I got things from and link to items you can buy. There will also be other gorgeous things showcased on my instagram, where I’ll be using the hashtag #TheMuseumofSarah if you want more.

The Museum doors are now open, I’m very excited you’re here.

xxox