Interiors: An Aladdin’s cave in Hampstead, bursting with home gems
- Credit: Archant
Sat unassumingly just a few doors down from Finchley Road Tube Station, the exterior of Hampstead Emporium might look a little ragged, but inside lies an Aladdin’s Cave of adventurous interior decoration.
I don’t use the phrase lightly: in one corner, a host of glistening Bhudda statues meditate patiently; in another, a plethora of cushions with plush, paisley designs boast every colour under the sun and dazzle with their delicate Indian stitching. If ever an Asian prince was to lose his magic carpet, chances are it would turn up here.
Mick Leigh, who lives in Kentish Town, have actually owned this spot on 187 Finchley Rd for 18 years with his wife. For the first seven of those it was a gift shop, but through good service, competitive prices and an eye for the unusual, under Leigh’s helm it has become a local treasure trove for everything from teacups to bedroom cabinets.
“The idea behind the Hampstead Emporium is quite simply to bring together good quality products, whether they’re new items or old antiques, that help people express themselves in their home,” says Leigh, who works with suppliers to ensure new furniture is ethically sourced.
The styles themselves derive from the many countries Leigh travelled around in his youth, particularly reflecting Asian and African cultures. “We tend to favour lots of hard woods,” he adds. “There might be rugs from the Middle East in one corner and cow hides from South Africa in another.”
This diversity is apparent not just in the stock, but in the shop’s clientele. While it naturally attracts wealthy customers from areas like Hampstead, St John’s Wood and Belsize Park, Leigh remarks he is just as likely to be welcoming in residents from council flats.
As you might expect from a store on Finchley Road, the nationalities that come through its doors range from French to Italian to Somali and as such they are prepared to ship products to countries as far as Africa.
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Its loyal customer-base proved strong enough last summer for Hampstead Emporium to undergo refurbishment: a move with one eye on the future which has seen it become “bigger, brighter and certainly more inviting than it was previously”.
“I like to think we act as a resource for people who have a degree of individuality,” Leigh adds. “For me, people’s homes should be an eclectic mix of the things they like, not just the same colour or style throughout.”