Boutique owner Sandra Harden reopens her doors and lets us in on her on some of her passions and aesthetics

Ponsonby Rd favourite Wallace Rose reopened its doors last month following a year's break for owner Sandra Harden. "It was a rather risky, radical thing to do but I wanted a complete break with family after 26 years running it," she explains. "My loyal staff and customers are all back with me and the feedback has been amazing. I feel very fortunate." Harden opened the store in 1987, developing a loyal fanbase with her passion for textiles and prints - interests reflected in her favourite things, from suede Prada shoes to intricate Bali beading.

Wallace Rose, 186 Ponsonby Rd.
1. Little Victorian table

I bought this table at Cordy's many years ago. It has an unusual combination of Maori and Victorian carvings. It's since revealed its own little secret: when we moved house, I found a handwritten note taped inside which reads: "This table was carved by Vida Pearce about 1894 to be given to her daughter, Mary Vida Hodson if she cares to have it".

2. Oval glass painting

This is a reverse painting on glass - a really tricky Chinese technique used around the 1800s. I believe it is the portrait of a diplomat's daughter, but what makes it special to me is its uncanny likeness to my own daughter, as my neighbour constantly reminds me when she comes over for a glass of wine. It's a standing joke when she comments, "is that child still up?"


3. Alfred Sharpe

We went to Webb's to buy a contemporary piece, but we came home with an Alfred Sharpe painting instead. It made a lot of sense; when I was doing art history at high school, I wrote a project on Sharpe and I remember thinking how wonderful it would be to have one of his works. So at Webb's many years later, this work came up. A scary skull-head painting was quickly replaced.

4. Biedermeier chest

I found this in Sydney, after Wallace Rose's first Australian Fashion Week Show; I had four hours to myself on Queen's Rd. Whenever I look at it, it makes me laugh. What a strange idea: designing drawers with no handles. But I have still managed to fill it up with stuff. I have no idea what's in there.

5. Rabbit on a stand

This is my daughter Lydia's first masterpiece. She was 3 years old when she did it. "Rabbit" sits on a framed mirror, made by my husband Andrew's grandfather. I rescued it from the family bach many years ago and reinvigorated it. So now we've got three generations in one installation. It's held the same spot in our house for a decade.

6. Prada shoes

I bought these in Hong Kong in 1993, before I had children. They were Miuccia Prada's first footwear collection. It really was love at first sight - despite the impracticality (cream suede) and the price. I justified it to myself, knowing they'd last forever - and they have. That's probably because I only ever wore them twice. I've now let go and given them to my lovely niece Arna, no strings attached ... except that she just has to wear them.


7. Bear paw necklace by Jane Dodd

Andrew gave this to me for my birthday a couple of years ago, along with matching earrings. People say I'm hard to buy for and they're right - but I love these. They have a beautiful naivety to them; they are whimsical and clever. I'd love to build on this collection; I love every item from her Leuchterweibchen range.

8. Curio cabinet

It's stuffed full with travel mementos, souvenirs and small, silly objects. Every house should have a receptacle like this where they can store their memories; it's like a bad taste time capsule. The great thing is it's a dust-free zone, because you can shut the door and never have to clean it.

9. Fresh flowers

If there's such a thing as an essential extravagance, this is it. My floral budget is not up there with Elton John's. I prefer clashing colours and I believe two bunches are better than one. It is my Friday pilgrimage to Bhana Brothers.

10. Beaded mat

I bought this at Ubud in Bali when I was pregnant with my first child, Louis. I love the intricacy of the beading, the colours and the image. It astounds me, the hours and patience involved.