Running an online design store gives Karine Köng an inside track on homeware. She picks her favourite shops – in Britain and beyond
'I grew up on the Atlantic coast in France, so at home I aim to recreate a kind of Continental, relaxed family atmosphere – there are lots of greys, blues and whites to remind me of the beauty of the seascape. But that doesn't mean that I buy everything in France.
I moved to London 15 years ago, and for the past couple of years I've lived in Bristol, where I set up my online design shop, Bodie and Fou, in 2005.
Now I shuttle between the two cities. Weekends usually start with breakfast at the communal table of the Monmouth Coffee Company in Borough Market, in south-east London, then I head off to the Columbia Road flower market in the East End. It's a good hunting ground for homeware – there are lots of amazing little home shops with great character. Sunday is usually split between Notting Hill and Spitalfields market, both of which are very creative and inspiring places to be. But wherever I am, I'm always on the lookout for good shops.
Labour and Wait is just around the corner from Brick Lane, and sells French hardware and clothing. I get my French "Le Parfait" jars from there to display pasta, rice and muesli in the kitchen, and they have great striped Breton T-shirts for children. A little way down the street, there's Shelf, a cute shop selling decorative items by British designers. Go there for 3D letters made of plaster.
I never get bored of the clean lines of the products from the Japanese chain Muji. The Independent once referred to Bodie and Fou as a "posh Muji", and I take that as a huge compliment. Muji has a stunning yet simple white tableware range, and I love their clothes as well. I get little notebooks and pencils for my daughter Mila from there. Last year, I fell in love with its white piggy bank and bought 10 at once for all the kids I know.
If I'm after a quirky, fun gift for a friend, a wedding gift, or even just something practical for the home, I go straight to WhereDidYouBuyThat.com. It's like a funkier, younger version of John Lewis, and has a fantastic range of products, with free UK delivery, and great customer service.
I love shops that inspire me, and Bamford Barn, in the Cotswolds, is one of the most stylish shops I have ever come across. It's a long, impressive barn, beautifully converted into a light, contemporary space that reminds me of the style of my design hero Jacqueline Morabito, the French interior designer. Whenever my mum comes over, we go there to lust over the Bamford homeware. If I could move in there after hours, I would.
Another shop on the top of my list for cool vintage and home accessories is Baileys Home and Garden in Herefordshire. I'm totally in awe of this shop, another old barn converted into a beautiful, eerie modern space, with a concrete floor and lots of distressed wood. Mark and Sally Bailey take the retail experience to the next level, and I have huge admiration for what they have achieved. I think mixing vintage with designer contemporary pieces and a bit of Ikea is the best way to create an individual and relaxed look at home.
The other place I love going to in Paris is the Côté Bastide showroom. Bodie and Fou is the exclusive online retailer of its bodycare range and home accessories. It has some very French, chic and stylish pieces, and the showroom itself is bliss. It's like walking into a stunning home in Provence.'
From left to right clockwise: Flor lamp by Flavia del Pra, Cote Bastide bedhead, vintage crockery cupboard from my house in France, Elodie's childhood bed, Ikea duvet cover and kids cushion, vintage jars found at Columbia Flower market, Fou and Vert lettering from Shelf, crosses from Bamford Barn, vintage trolley and cobbler's shoes from Baileys Home and Garden