North London Food & Culture

The story of Insidestore – and a complete gift guide

How NW5's flagship lifestyle store came to Fortess - plus insider tips on what to buy this Xmas

“We loved our old space,” admits Insidestore founder Andrea Bates, of their previous location almost opposite Tufnell Park tube station. “We really did. The piano factory and the courtyard space were super charming.”

“But,” she adds, with a smile, “this became available – and we had to come and take a look at it.”

For years the Fortess Road outlet had been a William Hill. “And I was just like ‘oh god, actually this is really great’, and started thinking seriously about it.”

At the same time Fortess Road yoga studio Down to Earth really wanted to expand. “So we then started the conversation about them moving into where we were.”


Eye-catching: the new store facade. Photo: Insidestore

To cut a long story short, eventually the landlord agreed and a return to the vibrant street, where her original Future & Found store started out back in 2012, swiftly became an actuality. (Incidentally, you can find out why the name changed to Insidestore in our article here.)

“Yes, this is my third location within about a hundred metres,” she says, laughing. “But I think many customers never saw the full offer in the last location round the corner. So whilst we loved it, it wasn’t sort of playing to our strengths in terms of curation and clarity.”

Andrea, founder of insidestore
Owner Andrea. Photo: Insidestore

The new shop, which opened last autumn – before Covid disrupted everything for much of this year – is airy, with big street-facing windows and a deep rectangular shape that’s surely made for interiors.

“It’s a much more commercial conventional retail space, but it’s been really good for us. When we first opened I can’t tell you how many people thought we were a brand new shop, despite having only moved down the road. It’s also a simpler space for us to operate and it means we can focus on the product and display and, because it’s big and open and square, move things around a bit easier.”

Books, cards, stationery and more. Photo: Insidestore

The current product range is about 50% furniture and lighting, 50% accessories and gifts. “Obviously at this time of year we really focus on the gift side of things and Christmas. Generally though, since moving here we’ve really expanded the lifestyle product range, because we’re getting more customers through the door, and obviously we’re a local store which people are happier than ever to support. They also want to see new stuff so, as well as the firm favourites, so we bring in fresh stock much more frequently here.”

Finally, what’s the secret to surviving in 2020? “We take one week at a time, and split our time more between the store and online,” says Andrea. “We try to find useful, beautiful products that are high quality but with a quiet playfulness. I want the store to be an experiential thing – and perhaps a bit of escapism for people in these gloomy times, too.”

Insidestore: Andrea’s 7 top tips

Home fragrance

“We’re stocking some really high toiletries and fragrance brands. The new scented candles from Irusu, who are based in Stoke Newington, are already flying out and smell amazing. Even when they’re not burning, you walk into the room and can smell them.” £25, find them here.


“If you haven’t been in recently, you might be surprised how many books we stock. Most of the hardbacks are interiors and design-focused because obviously that’s what inspires people. The others are cookbooks with witty titles like How To Be Vegan and Keep Your Friends. This one, Be Well, is a recent release from the publishers Gestalten and is really well written, the photography great, and it’s one of the newer ones we’ve bought in on wellness, because at the moment people are naturally focusing on self-care.” £35, find it here.

Twist Candles

“The Twist Candles are currently on pre-order as they have been flying out the door thanks to the designer Lex Pott’s popularity on Instagram. He’s a Dutch architect who has designed product for brands such as Hay (see below) and we’re one of the few retailers in the UK selling the product. Luckily we have lots more stock arriving in time for Christmas.” £24, find it here.

Hay plant pots

“Our houseplants sell really well, as do these stylish pots, the biggest selling range from Hay, our key interiors brand, who are based in Copenhagen and make high-quality products at a pretty reasonable price. We stock slate and black ones of different sizes – suitable, of course, for all manner of plants to fit in them.” £11-69, find them here.

Jonathan Lawes screen prints

“These are exclusive to us and made by a Peckham screen printer called Jonathan Lawes. We picked up on him on Instagram a year or so ago when we first moved here: the first ones flew out, and he’s great, really clever with colour. These are the first limited edition ones that he’s done just for us. They’re £80 so a fairly affordable Christmas gift for any art-lover.” £80, find them here.

Neon tubelight

“One of our big sellers at the moment: this neon tubelight, another Hay product, you can lean up against the wall in the fireplace, or hang anywhere. We’ve got five colours to choose from.” £45, find them here.

Drum poufs

“These are an extra seat, a footstool and a coffee table rolled into one handy piece of furniture. And no hard edges make them ideal for households with little kids. They’re made to order in Denmark for us and come in lots of different colour and fabrics.” From £175, find them here.

STOP PRESS! InsideStore is offering readers a very special discount code to pick up a bargain before Xmas. Just use LOVENW5 to get a 10% discount on your order and select ‘collect from store’ to pop by and pick up, thereby avoiding any delivery charge. One use per customer. Find Insidestore, open daily 10am-630pm, 155-157 Fortess Rd NW5 2HR. Visit the website here.

This is a sponsored feature in association with Insidestore London. If you’ve enjoyed reading it, please share it and tell your friends to help our wonderful local businesses continue to thrive against the odds. If you or your business would like to work with us on a similar article and reach thousands of loyal readers, please email

Main image: Stephen Emms

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