Alice Leigh, a London interiors maven and personal shopper, tells us where to bag the most stylish buys on the high street.

Interior designer Alice Leigh is a top London designer, as well as having bagged a coveted spot in The List by House & Garden. Her eye for detail has ensured the success of her London-based business, which she launched in 2010, and whose onus is on the fresh, the chic and the practical. Over the past ten years, she has been busily building a little black book of skilled craftsmen and trade suppliers – a few of the latter of whom are more accessible than one might imagine. Here, she picks out her very favourite shops, as well as her top buys right now.

Skandium




The epitome of Nordic cool, Skandium is an inspirational hub for Danish and Swedish lifestyle products. It’s a joy to visit the store; the staff are always so knowledgeable and the environment so very well-presented. It also has a thriving and user-friendly online presence which offers an even broader range of products than those found in store. Among the edit of brands, you will find design classics from Carl Hanson and Louis Poulsen sitting comfortably beside some of the lesser known and more affordable brands. My go-to is Hay for its simple clean-lined aesthetic, which celebrates well-priced modern Danish craftsmanship.


The Conran Shop




Sitting at the higher end of the spectrum, The Conran Shop has to be my all-time favourite store. It is a fantastic place for finding gifts and furnishings, from quintessential brands to lesser-known boutique artisans. It is always my first stop when helping clients to accessorise their homes. Right now, I can’t get enough of the jute braided rugs, which are available in various sizes; they’re great on their own or layered with other rugs. I’ve used them in numerous projects; they’re wonderfully textural and at a great price point too. I was also thrilled to discover this year that The Conran Shop is now representing Lrnce, a Marrakesh-based brand which supports local artisans, who produce funky textiles and ceramics.


Zara Home




My favourite Spanish high street retailer has a strong and ever-growing home store presence in the UK. It has achieved a clever fusion of Spanish chic and Nordic simplicity in a haven of whites and taupes. I appreciate Zara for the basics, from storage basket staples of every size and description to simple knick-knacks. Zara is great for children's’ melamine tableware and fantastic affordable fragrance. On the latter, one of my best loved is Pure Gardenia, which is a fraction of the cost of some pricier brands. It has also recently introduced a super-stylish kitchen range, which I’m fully lusting after. Do check out the earthenware and table linen collections, too.


Design Vintage




A new destination hot spot in Chichester and London, Design Vintage stocks an eclectic mix of vintage and industrial furniture and homewares. There is a big emphasis on natural materials, simple design and rusticity, with a dose of Scandi cool too. It has nailed it with a fabulous range of woven hanging shades, natural rugs, while its Vintage Elm Benches are so useful for behind a low-backed sofa for books and plants. It represents Danish supplier Tine K Home, a favourite of mine for gorgeous homewares.


Caravane




French design store Caravane is my latest obsession and I revel in visiting its London Marylebone Store, as well as a larger flagship in King’s Cross. It has wonderful array of trendy home furnishings with well-considered shop floor layouts. I’m hankering in particular after its bed linens, cushions and bright floral quilts which it does so well in that effortless French way. A mention also to its lighting, which is cool without trying too hard. French style at its best.


Anthropologie




This US fashion and lifestyle brand never disappoints in its homewares department. I love browsing through its bohemian table-top collections, stacks of ikat and floral-etched serving bowls which sit comfortably beside all the floaty frocks and fashion jewellery. It also has a strong furniture collection and offers a made-to-order service too. It has such an eclectic vibe yet is very thoughtfully planned to enable a delightful shopping experience. Simply, a brilliant place to pick up gifts.


H&M Home




H&M Home has brought fresh energy to the high street; it caters for every trend and is always so on point. I’m keen on the rattan line, which offers a lovely selection of coffee tables and mirrors. H&M Home also scores highly on gorgeous bed linen, playful storage solutions for kids and a fantastic line of outdoor homeware, all at very affordable prices.


IKEA




Ikea has filled a home ware void at almost every point of my life, from the obligatory trip furnishing student digs to our first kitchen (which was souped-up with a good worktop and kitchen top). More recently I have installed its Pax wardrobe carcasses throughout our home, which has saved us a lot of money on the alternative of bespoke joinery. I’ve combined these with custom joined doors, inset with wallpaper panels to give it a more luxe feel. I wouldn’t advise going all-out in Ikea, but the odd piece here and there can work really well if thoughtfully mixed in with other items old and new. In my own office, I’ve mixed in Ikea’s Klimpen desk with an antique investiture chair. The flat pack Swedish giant recently celebrated its 75-year anniversary and, in doing so, has brought back some old classics which have really stood the test of time. The Ekenaset armchair and Lovebacken range look way more expensive than they are, and I’d happily incorporate them into a client project.


Rose & Grey




Not strictly a high street shop – more independent with a strong e-commerce presence – Rose & Grey oozes style and personality. It offers a diverse mix of the industrial, the vintage and contemporary homewares and furniture. The website is really fantastic and the customer service is excellent, but I urge you to visit the store in Altrincham, Cheshire, to really appreciate the quality of product and clever curation. It's a feast for the eyes, with each area offering a tantalising mix of texture and colour. Online, I love the ‘Trend’ section, which embraces the latest looks from ‘Desert Boho’ to ‘Mid Century’, giving the buyer a really great shopping experience. I’ve got my eye on a Mustard Made Locker for my son’s bedroom


Graham & Green




Graham & Green has been synonymous with diverse west London style since its first store opened in the 1970s, and it caters to a wide client base. I love the often fun, quirky and colourful range of eclectic homewares it offers, each reflecting the individual artisans and suppliers from around the globe. I often look there for children’s bedrooms or for an area of a house that needs an injection of interesting curiosities or playful lighting. I used these oversized lamps with custom shades in a recent project to add some wow factor to the room.

By Alice Leigh
October 2020

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