On the street: Upper Street, N1

Super-charged with boutiques, bars, good-quality pubs and even a couple of theatres, Islington's Upper Street is full of life and packed with handsome homeware hits
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1. Smug (13 Camden Passage, N1; 020 7354 0253; ifeelsmug.com) gets its name from the 18th-century term for "fitting up a room nicely" and is very nicely filled by designer Lizzie Evans with hand-picked home treasures.
Love: its pop-up print shop, opening Saturday, prices from £6 to £45.

2. Abigail Ahern (137 Upper Street; 020 7354 8181; atelierabigailaherne.com) - whose A Girl's Guide to Decorating makes it seem so easy - trawls the world for stylish stuff. She's just back from New York with recycled glass and vintage prints.
Love: bookcase ladened with books wallpaper, £179 a roll.

3. Aria (Barnsbury Street, N1; 020 7704 1999; ariashop.co.uk) is in lofty 1850s Barnsbury Hall and boasts design goodies that include Kartell & Driade furniture, whimsical Alessi; accessories by Vivienne Westwood and Orla Kiely.
Love: a 40cm square cotton cushion with wild pigs hunting for truffles, £31.95.

Twenties-style chair
Twenties-style chair, £648, at After Noah
4. After Noah (121 Upper Street; 020 7359 4281; afternoah.com) has lovingly restored furniture, a basement workshop, furnished garden and heaps of toys.
Love: antiqued-leather Twenties-style chair, £648 (left), and delightful little wooden train sets, from £14.50.

5. Ray-Stitch (99 Essex Road, N1; 020 7704 1060; raystitch.co.uk) the new haberdashery-cum-café, is great for ready-to-go fabric bales, ribbons, sewing kits and courses.
Love: fine-weight fabric bundles ready for quilting.

6. Loop (15 Camden Passage, N1; 020 7288 1160; loopknitting.com) is where Susan Cropper fuels London's knitting revival with yummy yarns and creative patterns.
Love: hand-spun Welsh Colinette yarns dyed intuitively by artists — Giotto and Monet anyone?

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