We popped into ‘House of Linens’ a little while ago to get a few bits and pieces (we are going eco and are now fixing old clothes and buying ‘vintage’) and met the very friendly owner. He was talking about Billings so we told them about the What if Sydenham Project.

He looked all excited and rushed us outside to look at this sign which he wants to redo. We have been really busy and the few times we have had chance to pop by we haven’t seen him in the store. So before we show them what we have come up with I thought it best to get some feedback on this.

So here goes:

What if:


More sophistcated colours, the ‘stitched’ logo is on a raised enamel panel (about £400) on a wooden background with Vinyl applied lettering in gloss to make them look as if they are hand painted. The security grill and door etc have been painted to match the sign.

We aren’t sure when the business started trading in Sydenham but it’s been here a long time and the owners wanted to communicate this, hence the ‘trading since ’92’.


Or we could add an awning and raise the sign above. The awning costs about £1300.


The sign is based on a fabric swatch with the turned corner in a shocking pink to catch the eye. Again the design is retro with a twist and uses more sophisticated colours.

So which one feels the most like a small, family run, haberdashery that has been trading locally for many many years?

If you comment please say if you use House of Linens.

For more feedback visit the Sydenham Forum or VIrtual Norwood.



15 Responses to “WHAT IF no 15: HOUSE OF LINENS”

  1. 1 stylingual April 3, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Hi guys,

    Very nice indeed. I like the last one myself. Nice work!


    • 2 leenewham April 3, 2011 at 6:47 pm

      Thanks Christina, it’s always nice to get good feedback.

  2. 3 Tom April 3, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    The current sign may be tired but at least it has the correct spelling of “haberdashery” !

    • 4 leenewham April 3, 2011 at 6:46 pm

      Hi Tom,

      thanks for kindly pointing that out, it’s been amended already.

      Do you have anything to add about the design or the What if project?



  3. 5 Tessa Stuart April 3, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Hi lee

    I like the first design option – the blue one. I really like the thread stitch in the name you have chosen.

    I can’t read the writing on the awning on the second one very easily.

    By the way, it’s “haberdashery”.

  4. 6 leenewham April 3, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Hi Tessa,

    yep, I’ve updated the typo! The type on the second one was more to give a feeling of it being handwritten by the owners of the shop that give a personal service rather than something that was meant to be read, but we can tweak that if need be.

    Glad it’s positive though. Lets see what the owners think.



  5. 7 Katherine April 4, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Colour: I don’t like brown and much prefer the blue.

    Typeface: I like the idea of the stitched lettering (the blue lettering looks better than white) but I don’t think it’s easy to read (particularly the superflous bits on H and L, and the shape of the s (esses?)).

    Fabric swatch: I think I like it but I can’t get past the fact that it’s brown! If it were a different colour I’d probably prefer it to the stitched lettering.

    Awning: I don’t think an awning contributes much unless there’s a need for it, eg to provide shade. However in this case it means the shop sign is higher up, which looks nicer than where it is at the moment.

    Cost: however I assume the shop owner will want the lowest cost option so ignoring almost everything I’ve said above, could you do a fourth option, keeping the current shade of brown doors and shuttering, a new shop sign in a colour other than brown (or orange – even bigger yuck!) in the same place as the current one, and repaint the timber panelling above it?

    I’m an occasional customer (wool and haberdashery, never curtains) so already know what they sell, which is fortunate because the existing sign wouldn’t particularly tempt me in (and of course neither would the brown frontage). Actually I’ve just looked up the old frontage on Google street view and it was blue, so someone must have deliberately chosen the new one in brown. Which may mean they want to keep the existing colour and just get a new sign.

    • 8 leenewham April 4, 2011 at 11:43 pm

      Hi Katherine,

      again thanks for your comments. Just to give some background. We chose blue because the previous shopfront was blue and brown because the current one is. We quite like both colours, but I also like my dad brown Maxi from 1979 so I’m not so adverse to it!

      These are just visuals so we haven’t drawn the type properly which we would do if it was for a paying client or they choose a particular route.

      Regarding the awning, nearly all shops used to have them years ago and we think they look great. They are great for when it rains and if all shops had them out high streets would much better and may encourage more shoppers in poor weather. As you also noticed, in this instance it gives a reason to put the sign up where it used to be before the new shopfront was added and the ceiling lowered in the shop. Unfortunately many original shop fronts have been removed and signs altered giving out high streets an incoherent look.

      Hopefully as they aren’t paying for the design and as the shop owner invested many thousands in the new shop front and security shutter recently they may be willing to investing in the preferred scheme, but that’s up to them. We can only show them the feedback and give our advice and recommendations, ultimately it’s their money and their shop.

      Many thanks for taking the time to comment. I’d be interested to see your feedback on some of the earlier what if’s.


      Designed by Good People

  6. 9 akiko April 4, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    I like 1b!
    Nice thoughts.

    • 10 leenewham April 4, 2011 at 11:08 pm

      Thanks Akiko.

  7. 11 Louise May 4, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Hi Lee

    I can’t decide whether I like 1a or 1b. I love the colours and the design is reflective of what they do. A vast improvement.

    Keep up the good work ;o)

  8. 12 Penelope Else August 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    I think 1b (blue with awning) would be mostly likely to make me wander in. It looks cleaner and more current. I like the awning, both visually and practically.

    I don’t go to House of Linens because I don’t really know what they sell. I can see from your awning that they sell haberdashery and wools (which is of interest), but all I see is nasty netting (which isn’t).

    So, not just a signage revamp needed, but a proper window display (and a website…?) At the very least, make the list of products match your stock!

    • 13 leenewham August 4, 2011 at 4:26 pm

      Hi Penelope,

      I agree with you about the window display. Unfortunately their (House if Linens) lease is up for renewal and it’s been greatly increased so the owners have decided that it makes their business very difficult to run and are taking retirement. It’s a shame as the business has a great following, not just locally. There is a lot going on in and around Sydenham at the moment. We are taking a break from these What If’s for a little while as there are some major plans in the pipeline which are very exciting and we will divulge these when the time is right. Thanks for your comments.

      Designed by Good People

  9. 14 Lndy Zubairy January 10, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    I don’t want to rain on your parade but I think they need a professional designer to give them some visuals.

    It certainly needs modernising but in a way that retains a vintage quality about it as there is something delightully olde worlde about the whole nature of this, my favourite shop in Sydenham.

    They don’t just sell Sirdar yarns, by the way and for any ‘yarny’ this would be misleading. And they really do need to play up to the new wave of crafting and DIY that is trendy at the moment – while the going’s good. They’ve got a fantastic selection of yarns and buttons, needles and hooks, and it’s not at ALL evident from the outside.

    I’d change the name to Sydenham yarn and stitchcraft supplies (Or something much catchier…… ‘Sydenham Stitchers’, ‘stitchers drop-in’ etc etc and advertise the bespoke curtains service as secondary.
    Then I’d fill the window with lovely looking, high quality yarns and baskets of knitted and crocheted products. I’d sell /how to’ books and pretty printed fabrics a la Cath Kidston. I’d run craft classes in the back of the shop.

    That’s what I’d do.

    • 15 Lee @ Designed By Good People January 10, 2012 at 3:07 pm

      Hi Lndy,

      Thanks for your comment, we don’t feel rained on, although were not quite sure what you mean by the first line! We are professional designers!

      The What If’s for Sydenham we do for free. We did it because we believe that how shops look is important in a local high street and it’s often overlooked as an inconvenient expense. The new sign they have put up recently is nothing to do with us. We created the visuals on the what if site for the signage only, we didn’t touch the window display but I agree with you about this. That’s a more specialized field and something that is hands on, it’s not really what the project was about and not something in this instance worth visualizing. Window dressing works better as a workshop where they can discuss the various rules of window dressing such as the 3 visual planes, triangulation, grouping, repetition etc.

      Regarding the information on the sign, we asked the owner of the shop what was important to have on his sign and he said Sidar Yarns (and the other info we put on there) which is why it was on there. You can’t communicate everything that is in a shop on the sign and it’s definitely not advisable to list everything. Brands don’t do it and you are right, the window shop work harder at this. People don’t read, they recognize.

      As the business is now in different hands and you have some expertise in the field I’d advise having a word with the owner who may be receptive to your ideas. Or even better, why not start your own business in Sydenham doing the above. I know House of Linens main business was selling material and curtains, you could be a great compliment to their business by doing just what you want them to do, plus you seem to be doing this already with your website. There are empty units in the high street and I’m sure you can get reduced rates/rent with a bit of negotiating. It might be worth trying this as a pop up shop. I know they trialed this in Kirkdale recently.

      Hopefully you agree this what if is better than the old one, but of all the What If’s this one has been the most devisive with different people having different ideas about what the shop should be. This is interesting as it highlights that it is often better to narrow the focus of your business in the way you have highlighted. Toys R Us did that when it was a failing business and sold more than just Toys (they changed their name from Children’s Supermart which sold children’s furniture). Some people think it should be about the curtains, some the yarns, some crafts and others material. Just like Sydenham Road perhaps it needs to decide what it want’s to be.

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