It’s a little-known fact that nearly nine years ago I had a fashion blog. OK, so the blog lasted all of about three months, and ended abruptly on the day I discovered I was pregnant with my first child (after which I never wrote one more word on the blog, obsessed as I was with what was growing inside me).
But yes, I wrote a fleeting fashion blog under my alter ego Kate Loss, describing myself as “A girl with Miu Miu tastes and TopShop money”. The catalyst for this blog? The purchase of what I can only describe as a life-changing pair of shoes. Specifically, the much-copied Chloe Susannah boot, in emerald green.
Because while the blog was short-lived, the boots went on to be admired in restaurants, bars, tube carriages, streets and offices from London to Edinburgh, and remain one of my all-time favourite clothing purchases to this day.
They also massively raised the bar when it came to my view on an ‘acceptable’ amount to spend on a pair of shoes/article of clothing, costing *cough* hundreds of pounds as they did. Since those boots I’ve welcomed into my wardrobe such hefty-price-tag items as a Burberry trench coat, Matthew Williamson silk dress, and Charlotte Olympia velvet flats. Ooh boots: look what you made me do!
So there I was last week, sitting on the tube on the way to a dinner, wearing THOSE boots and remembering how I’d done a piece for Grazia magazine on my ‘gateway’ Chloe boots designer buy that broke the shopping seal and transformed my fashion purchasing habits forever. Then I thought: I wonder what my home décor equivalent is? It took me all of three seconds to answer my own question: a pink velvet (quelle surprise) armchair I bought in one of Matthew Williamson’s favourite shops, the fabulous Tann Rokka in Primrose Hill, back when the Pink House Husband was still the rented flat boyfriend.
But what about you, I wondered? What are your gateway purchases when it comes to home décor? I asked this question on Instagram Stories (sharing my own gateway purchase in the process) and was rewarded with a flood of fascinating, inspiring, shocking, heart-warming answers (and a whole host of monkey-covering-eyes emojis), a selection of which you can read below…
“When my husband and I were poorer than poor and surrounded by nothing but used Ikea furniture we’d scavenged from the streets of Munich, we walked past a shop in a snazzier part of town and stopped dead in our tracks. There, in the window, was a Flos Arco lamp. The price was miles out of our range and we hadn’t enough room for its huge steel arc, but dammit we’d fallen in love and somehow had to make it work. And so we bought it, and this lamp became our inspiration to ditch all our crap — there was so much crap! — and surround ourselves with beauty. Years of empty rooms later, we find we can afford a timeless classic every now and then (we still grit our teeth paying) knowing the Flos lamp was the spark that ignited our love for really gorgeous furniture. Now, the Flos eats up half the space in our 15-year-old daughter’s room. She loves the decadence of giving over half her living space to a lamp that gives off very little light but brings such bad-ass attitude. As my friend says, 'Only buy things your kids will fight over when you’re dead.' Here’s to the gateway pieces. They’re so, so worth it.”
“Funny you should mention Tann Rokka. I bought some metre-wide wallpaper from there when we lived in Primrose Hill. He told me Sadie Frost had it in her living room and I was sold (monkey covering eyes emoji). Definitely a gateway purchase, but I haven’t looked back.”
@luciemilton [I’m now wondering whether I was conned by the ‘Matthew Williamson shops here’ story – EM]
“The Gubi Beetle chairs with brass legs. It’s been ££££s on furniture since then. And nothing on clothes (monkey covering eyes emoji).”
"We bought some artworks that are so big we can’t ship them from New Zealand to Dubai so they are in storage! Epic fail but they are stunning and special. We will eventually be back in New Zealand and have walls planned especially for them."
“My gateway purchase was my first Peter Blake – a Peter Blake Pop Art IV – it was about £3500 I think. My granddad, who was my favourite person in the world, had just died and left me £3000. I knew he’d be OK with me not being sensible with my cash! It started a terrifying chain of art buying: Brainwash/Eine/Magda Archer/Anne Klein etc – my house looks like a gallery! I LOVE it all though. Love it.”
“My gateway purchase was a blue velvet sofa, which I bought eight years ago for about $1000. I’d only ever bought Ikea before, but I custom-designed this because I moved out of college housing and all of a sudden realised I had no furniture! It still makes me happy every day.”
“Our Graham & Green Aurelius pendant chandelier. We rarely turn it on but it looks so darn good!”
“A footstool covered in Wee Archie fabric by Bluebellgray, for £600. I just loved the multicoloured velvet – how I could I not indulge slightly! Before this most things were bought ex display or just because they were on offer, rather than because I loved them."
“A John Rocha glass lamp when we got married 16 years ago. Has been with us on every house move and is switched on every night.”
“Mine was the Volieres bird cage light. I’d lusted after it for four years. Finally gave in and bought it for our new house renovation and I LOVE it!”
@_onehundredandtwelve [I love mine too! EM]
“I bought a genuine Tolix chair which cost me £220. I used them in a lot of design schemes for my Interior Design Diploma and blog. I got sick of always announcing how much I loved their industrial aesthetic while never actually having one. One day I just thought, 'fcuk it, I deserve this!' and clicked "buy"! Before that, the most expensive décor item was probably a cushion costing £45.”
“Mine would have to be the Hua Trees wallpaper in grey by Sian Zeng – I think it was around £800. It’s just stunning – although it’s in my daughter Willow’s bedroom and not mine (monkey covering eyes emoji). Hubby took some convincing but every time someone sees it for the first time and says how lovely it is, he settles into the splurge a bit more.”
“Studying architecture I was introduced to the work of the Eames and vowed one day I would own one of their rocking chairs. When I moved to London for a job I happily realised one was within my grasp at £355 (!). BUT the day it was delivered the woman in the ground floor flat below me decided to burn her house down with an unattended candle on a wicker table (needless to say, wicker has never featured in an interior scheme of mine). So as smoke came under my front door at 1am I ran out into the street barefoot and watched the flames licking the ceiling of her flat. While we waited for the fire engine to arrive, I thought my £355 had literally gone up in flames. Thankfully it was just smoke damage and my Eames rocker is still here to tell the tale.”
“My kitchen island from Peppermill interiors. I bought the reclaimed, zinc-topped island as a starting point for our freestanding kitchen. I think it cost around £1000 and it really was the gateway to our whole kitchen refit. It’s on wheels too so bloody bonus!”
“Mine would be my sofa.com lagoon blue 2.5-seater Isla that I bought three years ago for £1,200 – I factored in the time I’d spend sitting on it versus the cost. Comfort is key! It opened a dangerous gateway to my Swoon marble side tables (£229), my Loaf side table (£275), Swoon bedside table (£180) and my balloon dog lamp (£109).”
“Definitely our dark blue velvet sofa from Loaf. I will never purchase a cheap sofa again. We asked for money as a wedding present to buy it. So it feels like it has the collective love of our friends and family with it too.”
“I bought a House of Hackney lampshade which was such an extravagance…now I have the sofa, curtains and cushions too! Eeeek!”