Jamie and Jessica Seaton are the couple behind the hugely successful catalogue Toast, which started out selling pyjamas and blankets, expanded into fashion, and recently launched into the home market with its wonderful mix of bedding, throws and accessories. To look at their catalogue is to desire to live in a rustic farmhouse snuggled up in a pair of cashmere socks under a striped woollen bedcover. And yes, their life is like that.
Jamie says: "We live in a 200-year-old farmhouse that we have sadly neglected over the years since we set up Toast, and have been too busy to do anything about. There's no question that Toast does reflect our style, but at the moment, it's more the style that we also aspire to rather than actually have!
"We are about to embark on a restoration programme using limestone plaster and repairing the wattle and daub to bring the house back to what it should be. While we like the earthy style, we also like things to be quite spare. I love to browse around shops and am always picking up unusual things. One day they will all be displayed properly in the house, but for the moment, many of them are piled up in my studio waiting to find their proper homes.
"Here is a selection of my favourite shops and markets around the world."
A great Parisian fashion, accessories and design store that manages to combine innovation and commercial success. On entering either of the Marais stores you find yourself in an apparently small room with a cash desk, a few accessories and nothing else. Those in the know walk straight towards the mirrored back wall, which then slides open to reveal the much larger store behind.
L'Eclaireur: Rue des Rosiers, Le Marais, Paris 7004 (00 33 1 48 87 10 22 www.leclaireur.com)
We live about 35 miles west of Swansea, but we often come here during the week to buy really good fish and other food. I like cooking, but Jessica is much better at it than me, so she tends to do the bulk of it. Whether you are after cockles and laver bread, farm-cured bacon or samphire, this is your place.
Swansea Market, city centre, Swansea
This is the best kitchen shop I know. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable and will find you the most obscure bits of kitchen equipment you can think of. We bought our pans from here – French stainless steel, but they also have copper pans and non-stick ones.
Peppercorn: 5 King Street, Llandeilo, Wales (01558 822 410)
Attached to the main fish market in Tokyo is an outdoor market; the stalls are open-fronted concrete cubes. One is staffed by a stocky, aproned man, in front of a table with a whetstone. The walls are covered with handmade knives for sushi, sashimi and vegetables. I bought a vegetable knife that's terrifyingly sharp. If I go back I'll buy another.
Knife shop: Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo, Japan
ESCERI FLEA MARKET
Open on Saturdays and Sundays, this is the best flea market I have been to. It has everything from army surplus to furniture, Orthodox icons, instruments, clothes and kitsch. I bought a beautiful Russian icon here. It's just beautiful and one day it will be on a wall in the house, slightly in the shadows, which adds to the mystique.
Esceri Flea Market, Budapest, Hungary
Hugh is an old friend of ours and a former monk. He is a highly skilled joiner specialising in tables, using English hardwoods. Although he has a selection of his own designs, he will also make to a customer's design. We use his trestle tables in our shops but they make the most perfect dining room table.
Hugh Croft: Badgercome, Twitchen, South Molton, Devon (01598 740 265)
I've known friends to visit the Grand Bazaar and come away unimpressed: the first few streets are quite glitzy and full of mass-produced stuff. Others, of which I am one, love the place. You need to really dig in deep, so you need a lot of time to explore. I spent a contented winter's day there once while the rain bucketed down outside. By dusk I had found a maze of courtyards right at the back and felt as if I was at the hub of all the ancient trade routes of the East; I bought a wonderful 19th-century coat from Uzbekistan.
Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey (closed on Sundays)
This is my favourite antiquarian bookstore, as well as the oldest. It's not necessarily the best priced but all the stock is well chosen. I love to spend a couple of hours browsing here. My favourites books are mountaineering literature, 20th-century fiction and, just at the moment, illustrated Russian folk tales. The books are all piled up on a table in the bedroom. It's supposed to be minimal with just an icon on top but the books are about three-feet high. I read about three quarters of what I buy.
Sotherans: 2-5 Sackville Street, Piccadilly, London W1S (020-7434 2019)Reuse content