Just like 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, 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. It began as 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. Nowadays, there’s plenty to appeal to decor divas in its impressive range of fabrics, and furniture by celebrated designers, including Philippe Starck, Conran, Eames and Nick Munro. Those in search of purse-friendly interior pieces are even better catered for, with its House by John Lewis range of contemporary pieces.
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. 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. Over the years, the company grew, dropped Plastics, and now offers everything from home freezing - its original speciality – through to kitchen and home equipment for every room in the house.
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. Designer Terence Conran’s winning formula, launched in 1964, was selling an easy-living but stylish, colourful lifestyle, characterised by affordable modern design. It also popularised duvets, woks, globe-shaped Japanese paper lampshades, flat pack furniture, and Le Creuset casserole dishes.
Oliver Bonas brand comes of age, turning 21, in the autumn and it’s already become a favoured source for those who seek highly individual furniture and accessories. Founder, Olly Tress, was just 25 when he opened his first store on London’s Fulham Road, with a second hand till and a shoestring budget. As a student, he’d travelled abroad and discovered he had a keen eye for design and a talent for spotting unusual pieces, which he sold to his friends to supplement his grant. There are now 42 Oliver Bonas stores throughout the UK. Tress refuses to chase trends and plans to expand more into textiles and rugs too.