Anyone who has nipped across the Atlantic and sampled the delights of American homeware stores such as Williams-Sonoma, Restoration Hardware and Ethan Allen will lament the lack of affordable equivalents over here. The wide selection of beautiful design available at reasonable prices in the US has for some years been responsible for British tourists doubling the return weight of their suitcases. As a result, the arrival in London of West Elm, owned by the same brains behind Pottery Barn, has sent out a ripple of excitement among home décor lovers.
In a particularly brave move, the brand have chosen to position their first UK store just a few metres away from their British competitors Heal’s and Habitat. 12,000 sq ft on Tottenham Court Road has been dedicated to inducting the British public into the brand’s New York understated chic. Across two levels the space houses everything from cushions and cookware to bedding and furniture an emporium of tasteful quality at an accessible price. The shop atmosphere is a relaxed and friendly one, where shopping is made easier by attentive staff and a beautifully curated selection of stock that makes you want to chuck out everything you own and start again.
The space also also boasts an in-house café as well as a ‘Design Lab’ where customers can benefit from an in-store stylist and their design wisdom. A free Christmas Gift wrap service is also on offer, as well as a wide selection of foodie gifts. On top of this, the brand are keen to integrate themselves into their new location by supporting local business, and a corner of the shop features artwork created by local artists as well as furniture produced in collaboration with UK-based designer James Harrison. However, the biggest draw is possibly the company’s green credentials. Dedicated to supporting artisan hand-crafters, West Elm’s rugs are hand woven in India by craftspeople protected by the All India Artisans and Craftworkers Welfare Association. Their range of organic cotton bedding and towels as well as furniture crafted from sustainable wood and renewables such as bamboo also help enforce the company’s ethical and environmental interests.