My shopping habits have changed.
My shift from spending on fashion to splashing out on furniture is fairly well documented; that’s not what I mean. I’m talking about the fact that I hardly ever go into real shops any more – I buy nearly everything online. After all, which of us with two kids, an attention-starved Pink House Husband, a business to run and a house that’s being renovated has time to go shopping? Why would you even BOTHER when you can just click an Instagram bio, and - BAM - bought!?
So when Marks & Spencer asked if I would go into their Westfield Stratford store to choose my faves from their new SS18 Home collection, I was all like, er…can’t I just go on your website? But the lovely Sophie at M&S was very persuasive: “You’ll love it!” she said. “There’s a new layout and it makes the whole shopping experience really fun.” And then there was the fact that I could spend a few hours without the kids...
I’m a sucker for fun (I did design a neon sign declaring 'play', after all) and will do nearly anything to avoid spending prolonged periods of time with my offspring (love them really), so I grabbed photographer Jane Looker (I've been keen to work with her since seeing the fabulous shots she does for Zoe Dress Like A Mum) and together we jumped on the Jubilee line, to do some actual shopping in an actual shop (screamface emoji)…
…and guess what? It was GREAT! Here are 6 reasons why…
1) It's soooo relaxing
The thing about online shopping: it might be convenient to shop in your own home, but the problem is that there are often OTHER PEOPLE in your own home, and these people are often small, noisy and demanding of Cheerios every 20 minutes. This was not the case in the M&S store. Which meant I was free to laze about in peace, pondering the softness of beds, the bounciness of sofas and the comfiness of cushions at my leisure.
ITEMS IN PHOTOS:
2) It smells so good
Did you know that M&S has a whole fragrance library, where you can mix and match (they call it 'layering') different single scents to find your perfect blend? Nope, neither did I before I went in store. And it's WELL posh - they have the different candles displayed under glass cloches, which you lift up and sniff. This would not work online - after all, you can't sniff a screen, can you? (Well you CAN, but mine smells of mouldy breadcrumbs and ancient soup, so I wouldn't recommend it.)
My favourite scents were Pomegranate and Petals, and that's not just because they alliterate - they're proper dreamy. Click here to see the fragrance range for yourself (though if you want to smell for yourself you'll have to head in store) - the glass cloches are even sold with the candles so you can do posh fragrance sniffing in your own home. Sweet.
3) Shedloads of interior inspo
As soon as we walked into the Home department, I spotted the beautifully laid dining table, above. The combination of blue-glazed bowls with the faux greenery table centres drew me like Boris to Brexit and I was driven to inspect, stroke and admire everything I saw.
Then there was the enticingly styled display, above, which suddenly engendered in me an urgent desire for a pretty copper-and-glass lantern to brighten up my still-beige bathroom. And a new soap dispenser. And some new towels. And...
ITEMS IN PHOTOS:
4) Beautiful booze
My view on booze is that is should look at least as good as it tastes. You might not think of Marks and Sparks as a place to buy attractive alcohol but let me - and the pics above - assure you that if you like your gin Pinterest-worthy, you're sorted at their Stratford store.
As someone who always has half a mind on their bar cart, this section of the store was particularly pleasing - not only could I stock up on pretty booze bottles, but I finally managed to find the gold cocktail shaker of dreams after two years of searching. That, and the perfect pastel wine glasses. Yes; this area goes down as some of my favourite square-footage on planet earth.
ITEMS IN PHOTOS:
5) Fabulous fauxs
Turns out my mum was right (SO annoying): as I've gotten older I've become increasingly keen on plants. Not so much in an outdoor sense (though according to my mother the gardening obsession should hit in about 10 years time) but in a styled-on-shelfies kind of way. And although I've become a little better at looking after them, the reality is that there are only so many plant babies I can care for at one time. Which is where the faux foliage comes in.
Problem is, it's very hard to tell the quality of a faux on a screen. If you really want to know if a fake cheese plant could pass for the real thing, you need to stand right next to it. And I tell you what: M&S has some killer faux flowers and plants (though not in an Attack of the Triffids way, luckily). Here's a click-through list of my fave fauxs:
6) Colour heaven
In the same way I'm attracted to streets of multi-coloured houses and colour coded bookshelves (despite lacking the discipline to have one of my own), there's something about a colourful shop floor display that I just can't resist: towels, vases, flowers...you name it: if it's rainbow-hued it puts me in a good mood. And there was plenty of colour catnip to be found in this M&S store. In the end, I had to be dragged away from the displays, still hugging a pink towel...
So thank you M&S for convincing me to swap my on-screen shopping basket for a real one. My final verdict on shopping in store? I'm SOLD.
This post is part of The Pink House's paid partnership with Marks & Spencer. As always, all opinions, thoughts and obsessions with beaut gin bottles are entirely my own.