Thank You

Win a FREE blow dry!

We love local businesses

Our latest collaboration is with the talented hair queens of Saffron Walden….Penney’s! They tame my mane every week, and now they’re offering you a CUT & BLOW DRY for just £15! (worth £35).

“What’s the catch?”

No catch! All we ask is that come and say “hi” to us at the shop, and check in to Design Essentials on Facebook. What’s even better, is tag 2 friends and they will be in with a chance to win s FREE Blow Dry worth £20! The draw will take place every Friday and is valid until the end of August.

A Massive Thank-You: Design Essentials Opening Weekend

For months at Design Essentials now we’ve been building up to the grand opening of our brand new shop in Saffron Walden,  and finally we were able to open its doors to our customers.

We hosted two fantastic preview evenings on the 12th and 13th August, where we were not only able to give our customers a first look at the new shop, but also a sneak-preview of our new collections before the opening to the public on Saturday 15th August.



front of the new shop


Thank you so much to everyone who came in to see us – we were blown away by the response and the support from our lovely customers, who seemed to love our new shop on Market Row just as much as we do.



 customers on the first floor of the shop



chatting on the ground floor of the shop


 admiring our new stock

We really enjoyed our preview evenings, which couldn’t have been possible without brilliant photography from Joe Higham or fantastic live music from Tony White.



we enjoyed live jazz from Tony at the events


Of course we must thank the customers who came in… even if it was just for one of the many glasses of Pimms that were drunk on the evenings!



 customers enjoying a drink on the evenings



Wendy waiting excitedly for a glass of Pimms


We had a great first day of trading too, with Howard Rolfe, leader of Uttlesford District Council, opening the store on Saturday 15th August and praising independent shops like Design Essentials.



Wendy with Cllr Howard Rolfe opening the new Design Essentials store 


It was a lovely busy Saturday in the new shop like normal! Lots of our existing customers came in to see us at our new location, and we had lots more new customers who loved our new shop and said they would return.



winner of one of our best prizes, a mighty bean bag

On the day of our opening, we gave envelopes to the first 50 customers who came into the shop. Inside the envelopes was a “golden ticket”, which gave each customer a very generous gift either from Design Essentials or another local business in Saffron Walden.



the golden ticket (well, magenta really!)


kids collecting their golden tickets






Even if you couldn’t make it to the preview events or our opening day, we look forward to seeing the rest of you over the next few weeks. We’re keen to keep our walls and shelves looking fresh, and we are getting new products and entire new collections into the shop all the time.



new pendant lighting collection at our new store


We’re very settled in now and loving our new location. If you haven’t already, do come in and say hi to us at our new home in Market Row.



the beautiful interior of our new shop

Photo credit: Joe H Reportage 

Design Essentials: From Pop-Up to Permanent

We are delighted to finally announce the name of the location we will be moving to – Design Essentials will be moving from 13 Market Hill to 5-7 Market Row in Saffron Walden. We are so excited to start setting up in our brand new location and we can’t wait for you to be able to visit our new shop, which we will be opening to everyone  on August 15th.

Saffron Walden’s first pop-up shop, Design Essentials, is about to become permanent for the very first time. Two years ago, we had just got ourselves a pop-up exhibition at Johnny and Jenny’s in Saffron Walden. Fast forward to the present day and we’re preparing to sign a lease for our own shop!


 Artist’s impression of the front of the new Design Essentials shop at Market Row, Saffron Walden

When Wendy had the idea for the Design Essentials brand, she could only dream of having her own permanent shop where she could sell her unique homeware pieces and gifts. Wendy is thrilled with the success of the Design Essentials concept, which started out as a simple idea she had while on holiday in Bali, Indonesia. She was looking for pieces to finish off the renovation of her own home when she spotted a gap in the market for unusual yet affordable homeware items. Her instincts were correct, and when Wendy displayed her selected goods in pop-ups all over the Saffron Walden area, the customers loved it, and the Design Essentials name was made.



Celebrating the opening of one of Wendy’s first pop-ups at Johnny and Jenny in Saffron Walden

design-essentials-michelle-thompsonThe success of Design Essentials and the creation of its reputation for providing customers with something ‘a little bit different’ has allowed Wendy to support and showcase local artists and designers both at the shop and on the Design Essentials website.

Some top creatives include Michelle Thompson (featured right), who has designed for big names including White Stuff and The Guardian and been featured at Design Essentials since the beginning; Oliver Boyd whose lighting designs we had at the shop in Summer 2014 and whose ‘pimped up’ barbecue for supermarket giants ASDA has just made national headlines; Becky Creed who was a finalist at the prestigious Delight in Light 2014 competition with her unique Turned Paper Lighting Collection.












Designer Oliver Boyd with his ‘pimped up’ barbecue                                    Becky Creed’s Turned Paper Lighting collection




There have been so many highlights for Design Essentials over the last two years, but our biggest has got to be the Tour de Essex range we launched in collaboration with Gareth Wild, a local designer who produced an exclusive range of Tour de Essex mugs, tea towels and prints which celebrated the route of the Tour de France 2014 coming through Saffron Walden and the surrounding area. This time last year, the Tour de Essex mugs and tea towels were flying off the shelves in anticipation of the Tour’s arrival. Wendy even managed to get on BBC Look East talking about Gareth’s collection!




The day the Tour came sprinting through Saffron Walden was a great one for Design Essentials. Locals and visitors alike were getting into the TDF spirit and absolutely loving our mugs and tea towels, which we were selling all around the town as well as in the shop throughout the day.



From left to right: Design Essentials’ Charlotte, Wendy and Lauren selling TDF mugs and tea towels on the Tour de France day.

Since Wendy’s original concept for the shop has been so successful, she is now on the lookout for new up-and-coming local artists, designers and creatives to fill the shelves and walls of our new shop. We want Design Essentials to be ‘the place’ for local, talented people to showcase their artwork alongside our unique and affordable homeware, gifts and lighting in the new

Artists impressions of the back of the new Design Essentials shop at Market Row, Saffron Walden 

We still get asked by our customers whether we are a pop-up shop, and soon we will finally be able to tell them that we’re not! Our permanent shop is set to be the next big step for Design Essentials. From our very first pop-up at Goddard’s in Saffron Walden, our permanent pop-up at Johnny and Jenny’s, and then signing our temporary lease at 13 Market Hill, where we have been for the past year and a half, the Design Essentials journey has come a very long way since it began in 2013.  We’re very excited to be settling down in Saffron Walden for the next few years, and look forward to what the future holds for Design Essentials.

To stay updated with what’s happening here at Design Essentials over the next few weeks, do follow Wendy on Twitter (@WendyHowell) and ‘Like’ Design Essentials on Facebook for exclusive pictures and updates.

Onwards and Upwards: Design Essentials is Moving!

What an amazing couple of years it’s been for Design Essentials! From pop-up shops in Saffron Walden to getting a short-term lease on a shop at 13 Market Hill in December 2013, we’ve been completely overwhelmed by the interest, support and commitment our customers have shown us over the years.

However, the time has come for us to move from Market Hill onto bigger and better things. We can’t say exactly where we’ll be moving to yet (as it’s still all being finalised with our new shop!) but we WILL say that we will be located more centrally in Saffron Walden, and excitingly will have our very own front door to the shop this time!

The Design Essentials Journey…

Design Essentials’ journey started back in 2013 with Wendy hosting viewing evenings and setting up various pop-up exhibitions all over town, spreading the Design Essentials name and showcasing the amazing collection of interior products and lighting Wendy had imported all the way from Bali.

Here’s a photo from one of our very first collections, including sculptures and home accessories, that we showcased during a day pop-up event at Goddard’s Interiors for a day in March 2013! We still love that heart sculpture now.


Popping up all over the place!

We also lit up the windows of many other independent stores in Saffron Walden, including The Sweet Shop and  Beauty Bump and Baby, with our best selling colour therapy lamps. Design Essentials was quickly becoming known as the name of the shop that provided ‘something a little bit different’.


While Wendy was looking for pop-up spaces to showcase the Design Essentials pieces, she turned to Twitter… and actually got a reply from Mary Portas, the queen of retail herself! Pretty cool, we reckon.


From Johnny + Jenny…

But temporary pop-ups in the town weren’t enough for Wendy, and out customers seemed to want something more permanent that they could buy Design Essentials pieces at. We were lucky enough to land ourselves a spot upstairs in Johnny and Jenny for a month which was extended for another 4 months. We even helped them win the Saffron Walden Maze Festival competition for best window!


… to 13 Market Hill

To Wendy’s delight, we managed to get our very own pop-up shop for Design Essentials, which opened in December 2013 –  just in time for Saffron Walden late-night shopping and the all-important Christmas period. Wendy filled her new shop to the brim with her new and unique interior pieces, including lighting, home accessories and work by local artists and designers. Who remembers our very first shop window display?


Having our own shop has allowed us to collaborate with so many people – from local artists, photographers, lighting designers, mosaic artists… we’ve literally had it all here at Design Essentials. Every few weeks, we change the walls and shelves of the shop to display new exhibitions of local creatives’ work.

Over the past year Design Essentials has been home to Michelle Thompson, Helen Wiseman’s illustrations, Celia Bartlett’s photography, Oliver Boyd’s lighting creations, Anne Cardwell’s mosaics, Tony White’s prints and so, so much more. We love our unique ability to give local artists a platform to show their amazing creative work that may otherwise not get seen by local people or visitors to Saffron Walden.


clockwise from left: pendant light by Oliver Boyd, print by Michelle Thompson, glass coasters by Katie Lynn at molten wonky, mosaics by Anne Cardwell

The Tour de France

Our collaboration with Gareth Wild from Apropos in celebration of the Tour de France 2014 coming through Saffron Walden is definitely a Design Essentials highlight.

Customers came streaming into the shop wanting to buy TDF themed prints, mugs and tea towels designed by Gareth, which featured the names of all parts of Essex that were a part of the Tour route as well as the surrounding areas.


Wendy got her 5 minutes of fame on the local news when she went on BBC Look East talking about the range of products we had to celebrate the Tour coming through Saffron Walden. The legacy of the tour lives on with these pieces still proving popular now. Take a look at all our TDF products on our website here.


Here’s our favourite picture from the day of the Tour de France. From left to right: Charlotte, Wendy and Lauren with the Tour mugs, t-shirts (also designed by Gareth Wild) and a table of Tour tea towels set up outside the Design Essentials shop throughout the day.

National recognition for Design Essentials

More recently, we’ve been enjoying some national recognition. We know our customers absolutely love our bean bags, and so we decided to do something a little bit different with our window display. Extreme Lounging chose Design Essentials as the winner of their national competition for best window display, which has had some coverage in the Saffron Walden local papers! Click here to read the Saffron Walden Reporter’s take on it, or check out my blog post about our fantastic win here.



Also very exciting was the news that Design Essentials was going to be mentioned in Your Home, a national interiors magazine.

A customer, who bought one of our beautiful glass pendant lights for her kitchen, was getting featured in the magazine’s May issue – and they wanted to know where she got it from.

Not only did our pendant light get photographed, but our name was mentioned in their directory at the back of the magazine!

Here’s a picture of a very happy Wendy with our copy of Your Home.

To read more about this story and for other exclusive photos of our Your Home feature, see my blog post here.

So there it is: the Design Essentials journey right from the very beginning! By no means is this the end for us though – just a new beginning. Wendy and I are both very excited about the shop move, and I for one cannot believe I’ve been working in the shop and writing my little blogs on the website for over a year now – wow!

More details will be revealed about the new shop and its location very soon, but in the meantime make sure you keep up-to-date with Design Essentials via our Facebook page, Twitter @WendyHowell1 and Wendy is now on Instagram as @designessentials_ so make sure you give her a follow.

Your Home Magazine Feature for Design Essentials


We were very excited last week amidst all the national recognition we’ve been getting!

Not only did we win a national competition for our latest window display (which we also blogged about here – give it a read!), but we also received the copy of Your Home magazine that one of our customers’ kitchens was featured in.

We love getting mentions in the press, but this is particularly special for us since it’s actually an interior design magazine!

Little throwback moment… anyone remember when our fab pumpkin light was featured in Vogue magazine?! Remind yourselves and check out our blog post about it.


Here’s a picture of a very excited Wendy with our copy of Your Home magazine.



Our name was mentioned in the directory, and you may be able to spot our gorgeous glass bubble pendant lamp featured in the image below too! It’s a lovely unique piece, and at just £110 perfectly captures what we do here at Design Essentials – giving you beautiful yet affordable pieces for your home.

We were overwhelmed with support from our Facebook friends when we posted this update on Facebook. We’re even more excited than our customers to see what mentions like this could mean for the future of Design Essentials – hopefully all of it very exciting! (:


To see more news stories like this, as well as exclusive updates and special offers, ‘like’ us on Facebook or follow Design Essentials on Twitter @WendyHowell1.

Le Tour De France Launch Party

Sunday saw the ‘official ‘ launch at Design Essentials of our special edition commemorative mugs to mark the Tour de France journey as riders come hurtling through Saffron Walden, Essex, designed by Apropos owner Gareth wild.

The beautiful sunny afternoon saw many people arrive to purchase these unique, commemorative, affordable products which will make such great lasting souvenirs. Continue reading

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Design Essentials Pop Up Shop

mary-portas-pop-upThe search for pop up space started over 12 months ago when myself and another retailer Nikki Finnemore from online boutique Curious Orange trawled the streets of my beautiful home town of Saffron Walden. We hoped to receive one positive response to our enquiries to host a pop up shop for a 2-4 week stint in one of the many vacant premises. This was not the case and despite the pop up space having gained traction from Brighton to the well trodden roads of the Kings road and vacant shops in Rochester love nor money could not secure us a space.

I was totally dumbfounded at the reaction, as we walked from agent to agent without any success. The shock as is often normal for me wasn’t tears, but hysterical laughter at the frustration of our mission. There was I thinking that pop-ups could be one of the saviour’s of our High Streets. Continue reading