When it comes to interior design, sometimes it can feel a bit like a closed shop. Finding where those elusive but oh-so lovely paints or pottery are stocked can be a bit of a mission.
Here’s where you can find some of those high-end delights – right on your doorstep.
Farrow & Ball
Iconic British brand Farrow & Ball began in the Forties as a small firm specializing in paints made in the traditional way with traditional ingredients.
Used by royalty (Prince Harry decorated his living quarters last year with a gray-and-pink color scheme, according to a consultant for the company) it offers a distinctive palette of 132 paint colours and handcrafted wallpapers.
Indeed the colour names, such as Elephant’s Breath and Arsenic, have become something of a talking point in themselves.
There are a mere 31 showrooms across the UK… but Gardners Shop, in Rectory Road, Leigh-on-Sea, is a stockist and the store offers an exceptional shopping experience with staff skilled in interior design.
Emma Bridgewater began in 1985, after Emma tried and failed to find a birthday present for her mum. “I was looking for a really special cup and saucer, but everything was either too formal or too clunky. That was my eureka moment,” she explains. “I realised there was a gap in the market for pottery that was beautiful and practical – pottery for a relaxed, colourful, mismatched life.”
All Emma Bridgewater pottery is made from cream-coloured earthenware – a traditional Staffordshire product made in their own factory in Stoke-on-Trent. Most of the production work is still done by hand, and all the pieces are individually hand-decorated, so every one is very slightly different – and spongeware is always signed by the person who painted it.
There are just five Emma Bridgewater stockists in Essex. You can find the cheerful range at King & Co (The Tree Nursery) Ltd, Braintree; the Blue Egg, Great Bradfield; Amy Louise, Epping; Natural Edge, Leigh-on-Sea; Simply Living, Colchester.
Laura Ashley, one of the world’s best-loved fashion and home furnishings companies came from humble beginnings. Laura and Bernard Ashley started printing fabric on their kitchen table in London in 1953, following a Women’s Institute exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum on traditional handicrafts.
Now, the brand characterised by romantic English designs — often with a 19th-century rural feel — has become one of the UK’s most quintessential. And, you may not know it, but they offer an interior design service (from £100 for a two-room consultation) to take the stress out of creating your dream home.
Staff at any of the three Essex stores (Rayleigh, Basildon or Brentwood) will be able get you started with the design service.
Launched in late 2014, Frenchic offers a huge range of high quality chalk and mineral paint, helping DIY enthusiasts give old or unused furniture an entirely new look without skimping on style or substance.
Natural and eco-friendly, the paints require no stirring, shaking or the addition of water. Rigorously tested it’s EN:71-3 certified to ensure it’s also safe to paint children’s toys and nursery furniture. Plus there are no added VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds), toxins or solvents – and the paints have virtually no smell, making them perfect for painting indoors.
Essex has a growing number of Frenchic stockists, including Made@94, Leigh-on-Sea; Nanny Twinkles, Romford; Coastal Bliss, West Mersea; Paints Preserve Us, Colchester; Shabby Chic Country Furniture, Clacton; and Lolah’s, Ipswich