High Street Hero: Let's Talk About Matalan

When we lived in Reading and I had two children under the age of two, my shopping life was limited.  Major shopping centres were generally out of the question due to the huge double Mountain Buggy, capable of crossing the Gobi Desert, going on safari and climbing Everest but not actually capable of fitting down a standard sized aisle.  Joe's gadget obsession had extended into nursery equipment and this one was top of the range, imported from New Zealand and the price of a weekend for two in Prague.  The downside was it was too huge to fit into the boot of any normal sized vehicle.  

A new car was needed.  We visited the Mercedes garage and immediately spotted a Mercedes Vaneo.  Astounded by the very economical deal the garage put together, we decided we had ourselves a bargain.   What we had omitted to spot in our frazzled, sleepless, desperate parental state is that the Mercedes Vaneo is beyond doubt the least cool car ever produced.  It had sliding doors and a ramp at the back.  As the salesman waved us goodbye, we quickly realised that the price was reflective of the fact that nobody wanted to buy one.  But it was too late - the deal was done and we were stuck with it on a two year balloon payment bollocks agreement.  To be honest, I've never seen one since.   On the plus side, the buggy fitted beautifully and blocked out the hysterical laughter of our neighbours.

The Mercedes Vaneo.  Produced from 2002 - 2005, generally used for Motability and taxi cabs and ugly as sin.

The Mercedes Vaneo.  Produced from 2002 - 2005, generally used for Motability and taxi cabs and ugly as sin.

 My Mum and Dad would come and visit for the day from Pinner and we would launch ourselves plus buggy into The Oracle Centre.  When I say that my Mum likes shopping, she REALLY likes shopping.   She's Caversham's answer to Imelda Marcos.  She has an addiction to white t shirts and cannot go on a shopping trip without returning with one.  Short sleeved, long sleeved, sleeveless, no white t shirt is safe once my Mum has spotted it. She is also very partial to a Country Living/Spirit Of Christmas Show and many are the times that my sister and I have received Christmas presents picked up on her visits in the style of hair accessories that have 150 different variations or the scarf that can double up as a sarong.  We are so far yet to receive clip in hair pieces, another trade show favourite, although it's only a matter of time.

My lovely Mum and Dad on the one occasion that my Mum is not wearing a white t shirt.

My lovely Mum and Dad on the one occasion that my Mum is not wearing a white t shirt.

We'd hand the huge buggy to my Dad for him to push and abstain from all childcare responsibility for an hour or so.   Unfortunately, unbeknown to my Dad, the buggy doubled up as a getaway vehicle as my kids regularly proceeded to strip the kids accessories section of H&M of everything that glittered and stuff it in their seats.  My Dad would patiently stand by waiting for my Mum and I to finish shopping, blissfully unaware that he was in fact an accessory to theft by Readings very own Bonnie & Clyde.   Many were the times that we would return to the car only to find that we were now the illegal owners of five packets of hair bobbles, two pairs of frilly socks and a Hello Kitty mirror.  

Max and Ella at the height of their life of crime.

Max and Ella at the height of their life of crime.

So Matalan was always a welcome relief.  Despite the Reading one being on a slightly dodgy retail estate, it's department store layout was perfect for the Mountain Buggy and the wide aisles meant that the chances of being arrested due to the kids pilfering skills were limited.  As such, I spent lots of time shopping there and have been a fan of their homeware for many years.  Like my previous High Street Hero, The Range, you do have to search a bit to find the good stuff but it's definitely there, albeit disguised by an unfeasible amount of suitcases for reasons I can never really comprehend.

The Matalan in York at Clifton Moor is not the most attractive shop you've ever seen.  There are no window displays and it looks like it's been boarded over but once you are in, the layout is easy to navigate.  The range of homewares in my local isn't the greatest and there's much more online, which is where I've picked most of my Top Ten from.  I've also veered over into Matalan Direct which is where the furnishings are, a fact of which I had NO IDEA about until I investigated so I think their marketing department need to be a bit hotter on that one.  I also don't understand the fact that you need a card to shop there, it all seems a bit convoluted and I am always losing my card and having to give my details again.  Those are my only complaints.

But what gems I have found!  Without further ado, I give to you my Top Ten picks.  Let's do this.

Cement Hanging Planter - £6

Let's start with a goodie.  This is one of a couple that they have in their new Spring line.  You get both the pot and the macrame for the price and they are a total winner.  You couldn't weave the macrame yourself at that price.  The cement pot makes it a really textural combo.

Blush Pink Carboy Style Bottle - £6

Seriously.  Totally on trend with the pink, this beaut is perfect for styling your eucalyptus or Spring flowers.  At 26cm high, it isn't huge but who says that big is best?  Don't answer that question.  Fabulous against black, grey or green and a really tactile shape as well.

Palm Beach Towel - £7

Okay, so this ticks the box on many, many levels.  One, it has monstera and palm leaves printed on it.  Massively on trend.  Two, it is offset against black rather than the usual bright colours loved by colour blind beach towel creators.  And three, if you were lying on this on the beach you would look bloody cool.  LOVE IT.  PS:  They also do a similar one in a bag for £8 also worth looking at.

Rope Wall Hanging - £10

This one's a winner.  It's big as well, 74cm long, and is a definite improvement on my shoddy efforts.  Perfectly boho, it's a total bargain and immediately makes me want to learn macrame.  Although I feel it would be a crime against Instagram to subject you all to that.

Lola Chandelier - £169

So this is clever.  The top section of this gorgeous chandelier is exactly the same as my very expensive Heals Clarence light and they've added some additional bits beneath.  There's a definite similarity between Matalan's lighting collection and the gems we used to be able to pick up from the dearly departed BHS.  Check it out.  

Tribal Green Embroidered Cushion - £8

This fab cushion measures 45cm x 45cm and is a winner all round.  It's a perfect green for the Pantone Colour Of The Year and would look great in any scheme.  There's a few within this range that are well worth looking at.

Half Size Welcome Door Mat - £5

I like this - the typography is really cool and is simple yet effective.  I struggle with doormats as they are not the most exciting item to buy but this one is appealing and looks way more expensive than it is.  If you are in the market for a doormat, then this is a good choice.

Leaf Print Duvet Set - £10 - £18

Okay, so I'm not influenced by botanicals at all.  That's a lie, obviously.  There's something about the combo of greenery against natural textures like brick and bamboo that goes straight to my heart.  Love this duvet set and the price is just madness.  An easy bedroom update that will barely notice on your bank statement.

Woven Ombre Cushion - £8

Once again, I've gone for two cushions but it's difficult not to list them as they are both fab.  This cushion is huge.  It's nearly 50cm and I absolutely LOVE the red ombre. They also do it in orange and it looks just as good. 

Robin Day Polo Dining Chair - £69 - £115

So Matalan have an entire range of Robin Day designed chairs, from dining chairs to bar stools.  Who knew?  And even better, they are all in the sale.  There are four designs and loads of colours to choose from.  A brilliant investment from an iconic designer.



So there you have it.  My Matalan Top Ten that will update your home without accusations from your spouse that you are spending too much money on home interiors.  Which, let's face it, is my main aim in life.  Perfect.