How to Shop for Homewares Like A Pro

Anyone who has hosted family and friends on a Bali holiday will be familiar with the question, “Where did you get this plate/painting/basket/chair (fill in the blank), and where can I buy it?” How do you help people shop for homewares and lifestyle treasures to take home with them? Who better to ask than my friend Karen, the creator of the six-bedroom boutique hotel Kano Sari – No 1 or No 2 on Trip Advisor since 2016 — and organiser of epic shopping trips for her guests.


Give us some background to Kano Sari

I fell in love with Bali on my first visit in 1977 and returned regularly over the next three decades. In 2010 we decided to create a holiday house that we could come back and forth to and eventually retire to. But the project took on a life of its own, became something bigger than we would ever need, and eventually evolved into a luxury guesthouse.


What was your initial inspiration?

Old Bali luxe – the relaxed vibe of lovely old guest houses, notably Honeymoon Guesthouse where I lived for six months while we were building. I wanted to create somewhere intimate and timeless. I also wanted to feel part of the community, part of our village streetscape. So we were sensitive right from the start and keen to get our local community and craftsmen involved. We also sourced nearly all the building materials from Bali, as well as the furniture, soft furnishings, and light fittings. But the marble came from Sulawesi, where my parents lived in the 70s. How poetic that Sulawesi marble is the foundation of Kano Sari as well as the foundation of my love of Bali!

One of the joys of building in Bali is that so much can be done on the fly; instead of regulatory hoops to jump through before making changes to the original plan, you just scratch your head and get on with it. Even as it was morphing from holiday home to guest house, I knew what I wanted it to be: a true home-from-home. Each time I hear a guest exclaim “It’s like staying in our own villa”, I know we have succeeded.


What makes Kano Sari so special? What keeps you a Trip Advisor favourite?

For guests, it is all down to attention to detail, the little things. In designing the rooms I took into account those details I appreciated in a hotel room, as well as what annoyed me …. And I asked friends what they would want too. With only six rooms, we could individualise each one, from the floor plan itself to the furnishings. But common to all six are high quality amenities, power adaptors, a plentiful supply of filtered water, wet wipes, excellent WIFI, sarongs for the swimming pool and different adat sarongs for temple ceremonies. “You have thought of everything” is what I like to hear guests say”!


Why did you start offering shopping trips?

Because so many guests asked us! As Kano Sari seems more like a home than a hotel, I think guests are very attracted to what we’ve done and want to bring something home with them.

When we first opened in 2014, all the tableware came from Bali Zen in Ubud. I can’t remember how many guests we have taken there to buy everything from napkins to breakfast settings in our turquoise and blue colours!

On her own admission, a recent guest from the UK had been ‘stalking’ us on Facebook before her stay, professed to love our style, and asked for design tips for the new home she and her husband had moved into a few weeks before… she had even brought the house plans! The upshot was that, a couple of shopping days later, nine cubic metres of Bali products – bar stools, dining chairs and cane pieces – were on their way to Birmingham!

More often than not, guests are wanting to buy something for their own homes. We have had guests on a buying trip for their upscale homewares shop in New South Wales. They were intending to buy at high end retailers in Seminyak, so were thrilled to discover that we could lead them to the manufacturers themselves.


What is the benefit of shopping with Kano Sari?

In a nutshell, contacts, credentials, and buying power; we know where to shop, and how to get the best price that are fair to everyone. It’s the difference between shopping retail or wholesale. Business owners know us as long-standing customers; they accord our guests the same courtesies – and still give a great price even for a small order. This cuts through all that angst of not knowing what a fair price is.

What’s the most unusual piece you’ve helped a guest buy?

Recent guests loved their suite bed so much that they wanted one for themselves. We ended up sourcing and shipping six King Koil beds to Australia; even with shipping, it was so much cheaper than buying a bed of comparable quality there.


What are your favourite shopping destinations?

It’s always nice to visit Seminyak stalwarts like Kim Soo and Bungalow Living; they both have a cafe, so you can spend a pleasant few hours whetting your appetite with beautifully curated homewares over a coffee and cake. But really, there’s not much you can’t find in and around Ubud. Sometimes we will take guests on a drive down the Mas road to see the glass-blowing – you’d be amazed at how many people want to take home our artisanal glass vases and candle holders! We’ll inevitably pop into The Object to admire their amazingly inventive objects d’art; most people wouldn’t have the space – or funds – for one of their collectibles, but it’s a great place for inspiration. And a reminder that you can find practically anything in Bali, however whacky. Want a life-size patchwork-metal giraffe? A hippo carved out of wood with a leather padded seat hand-painted with orchids? No problem!

We’ve taken at least six sets of guests to In Design, where they’ve purchased the same copper pendant lamps that hang over our communal dining table. And two galleries in Sanggingan are popular with our guests who like the paintings we have in the communal areas. But most of the homewares they like have been custom-made to our design, so can’t be bought ‘off the peg’. We’re happy to share our resources with guests, so we take them to Sukawati for quilted bed covers, to Gianyar for beautifully caved teakwood bedheads, to Alta Moda and Jalan Sulawesi for fabric – and then to D&L who transform the fabric to Kano Sari-designed cushions and bed-runners.


What is the one thing you think a guest should buy for their home while in Bali?

This is so personal! I would say anything that makes your heart sing…. that you know will make you smile every time you see it, and will bring back happy memories of your holiday in Bali.


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Copyright © 2019 Ibu Jenny


Copyright © 2019 At Home in Bali

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