When family and home have to come first

Its with much sadness that I have to close my beloved shop.  Its not a decision I have made easily and have shed more than a few tears of late trying to make the final call to the Landlord.  Its been a glorious if not stressful ride for the last year but I really didn't appreciate how much time and energy it would take.  My family and my health have suffered and you don't get a second chance with either of those.

I've been lucky to have the opportunity to realise my dream and whose not to say I might even return to it down the line, but for now I am taking a bit of  rest when I close up.  I will then return to a job I know well, with people I like and respect and which will give me much more time to spend with my young family.

I've met some pretty amazing people over the last year in Exmouth and I will certainly miss all the chats and laughs.  I think good old fashioned customer service is sadly lacking in this country these days so hope at least some of those customers will appreciate the service I gave them.

Its not the end of  The White Approach brand and after a break I will be returning to select fairs and events.  I might even get my website back up and running properly too.

At the moment I am feeling very fragile and just a bit of a failure but I know I have made the right decision for my family and myself and hope I will feel it is the right decision at some point soon.

Anyway, the last day I will be open is .Saturday 29th March so if you are in the area, please do pop in for a browse and a chat before then.

Many thanks indeed to all the lovely friends and customers who have taken the time to search out my little tucked away piece of heaven over the last year.  I have truly appreciated each and every sale.

Karen XxXx

IKEA in Exeter

Many, many years ago whilst serving in Germany I came across a store which was way ahead of its time in terms of design and product innovation called IKEA.  You could shop for everything you needed for the home, following a pathway around the shop past every kind of room design and fill your basket to overflowing with affordable homewares and gadgets you might not really need or even know what they were for but they were cheap and looked good.

About 20 years too late for me, IKEA it seems is finally coming to Exeter.  There was a time I would have been ecstatic about this, no more long drives down the M5 to Bristol or Birmingham to shop this iconic brand.  These days my taste has evolved and I prefer to spend my hard earned cash more wisely and buy sturdy, solid wood, usually, English made items I can lovingly restore to fill my home with one off unique items.

It occurred to me that instead of fighting the inevitable exodus of customers from my little independent shop, I embrace the Aladdin's cave of ideas and items IKEA has to offer.  So off I popped to Pinterest to get a bit of inspiration for just what you can achieve with a bit of imagination using items bought from IKEA.

Metal mesh lace planters made into  wonderful downlighter lamps.

This style of bookcase is always available at IKEA and very affordable.  Pop it on its side, upholster the top and add some feet and you have a bench seat which is not only attractive but comfortable and practical too.

Always lots of plain wooden furniture at IKEA perfect for painting and decoupage.

Chairs like this are perfect for this imaginative transformation

The vidja lamp perfect to add silhouettes to.

Just a few examples of what a little imagination can do.   So I say bring on the IKEA store !  I look forward to trawling their goodies and if you have a piece of furniture you would like me to transform for you, please do get in touch.  email info@thewhiteapproach.com  

Original piece of art GIVEAWAY

To celebrate the beautiful coastal community I live in and to cheer everybody up with this awful weather and strees many people are suffering, I have decided to have a giveaway.

 I am really excited to offer this wonderful piece of original artwork by the very talented Linda Bartlett who sells a selection of her coastal themed work in my shop.  Linda is inspired by the beautiful seaside towns and villages of Devon and Cornwall.  Each painting is unique with its own individual design, colours and features.

The piece measures 12 inches (31 cms)  by 16 inches (41cms) and is painted in oils (I think)
Worth £100 it can be yours !

 All you have to do to be in with a chance to win is one of the below. 

Leave a comment below

Follow this blog

Like the white approach living the vintage life  facebook page

Follow the white approach on twitter

Giveaway closes on Tuesday 25th February at 4pm.  Open only to entrants from mainland UK only (sorry).

Winner will be picked by a random automated selector.

Good luck and Thank you.


The winner of the artwork giveaway drawn from all entrants on the blog, facebook and twitter is Kerrie Louise Preston.

Congratulations Kerrie, its a wonderful piece.  Please contact me with your address details .


This giveaway is now CLOSED

Thank you to all who took part.

Karen xx

The Spring Fair - NEC Birmingham

As a  new, small, independent retailer I wasn't sure how relevant the Spring Fair at the NEC Birmingham would be to me.  A huge event aimed at almost every kind of retailer I nevertheless thought it would be worth a visit if only to see what their trends were and what was being sold.  I was pleasantly surprised how organised and painless to enter the event it was.  We drove easily into the carpark, took a small coach ride to the main entrance, no huge queues and once inside easily scanned our (previously downloaded ) tickets to convert them into badges.  After a small wait we moved into hall one - Kitchen, dining and homewares.  It also included a new ecommerce section.

You might want to make use of the large selection of free guides on offer.  But beware, carting round all the literature you can't resist picking up throughout the course of the day, becomes a job better suited to a weigh lifter !  Those more experienced at these events can be seen smugly pulling bags on wheels ! 

Arriving at 9am on a Sunday morning was definitely a good idea, but I will say even when we left footsore and exhausted at 4pm it wasn't a huge crush of people.  The aisles are wide and the whole event feels spacious and well thought out.  Plenty of toilet facilities and a huge choice of food and outlets.  You actually don't even need to spend any money on food if you play it clever, many of the exhibitors have free food, sweets and snacks on offer and you can even pick up vouchers for free coffee !  Well who doesn't love a bit of free  (especially poor independent retailers like myself).  

I had been told that it was a vast event but the sheer amount of beautiful wares on offer had me gasping like a child in a sweet shop!   There were 20 halls from kitchen and homewares to toys and Christmas to art and framing, body and bath, outdoor living, gift and volume it went on and on and on.  I was told over 17 miles of exhibitors!  I must admit the Christmas section was lovely but in February my heart wasn't quiet ready to start looking at all that sparkle again.

I was hoping to see lots of new trends and ideas to take back to give me food for though for my own shop but sadly I didn't see anything new or inspirational in the nautical, French/Rustic home styles on offer at the show.  I did love the display the Spanish company above had but they seriously let themselves down with the member of staff I spoke to who had absolutely no idea about the stock or the price points of the items. 

This company interpreted the French rustic look beautifully and their display had many reproductions of the (authentic) items I sell in my shop.  I was interested to see the much sought after French bottle drying rack making an appearance.  This item is destined to be copied and appearing on the mass produced high street soon I am sure.  I did love the spiral egg rack too.

They also had this great table, very similar to the wood and slate table I have in the shop.  I think we will see more and more of these multifunctional tables appearing on the high street and slate was everywhere.

Although I met lots of British companies who make and sell only British made products, I was disappointed that the exhibition didn't make more of the "Made in Britain" companies.  I would have expected to see a showcase of these companies as the show was open to many international visitors.  There were a good number of British companies exhibiting, but they were dotted around the vast halls.  I actively sought them out as I try really hard to sell only made by and in Britain products and particularly support small independent businesses.  I really liked buttonbag especially as they just published this great book of crafts just for boys !

Other beautiful independent British companies many of them located in the Summerhouse I will certainly be following up on  included :











 I am so glad I made the effort to attend this event and although I didn't really see too much I would consider innovative and was saddened to see so many people buying the mass produced cheap stock like lemmings.  I did meet lots of small independent retailers exhibiting who felt it was a good platform for their products and most of whom were feeling positive and optimistic about being there.

oh and one last thing, forget about OWLS !
PENGUINS are the next big thing !