Swanky St Albans shops get celebrity visitor

CELEBRITY designers dropped into a host of St Albans shops as part of a TV show which came the city last week.

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen was one of the interior designers pounding the streets as part of the ITV show House Gift in which three experts have four hours and varying budgets to find the perfect item to rejuvenate a home and give some inspiration into its owners, who then choose just one of the gifts to keep.

The first stop for the extravagant designer, who shot to fame in the show Changing Rooms, was the Rug Gallery in Verulam Road which has been in St Albans since 1989.

The visit came as a complete shock to joint owners Julian Blair and Richard Mathias, although they said they are used to celebrity’s dropping in from time to time.

Richard said: “He came in our showroom and was bowled over by it. He found some fantastic things that he said he had never seen the likes of in London.”

Laurence also stopped up at newly-opened boutique Chloe James Lifestyle in High Street and spent a further hour-and-a-half interviewing owners Donna Nichol and Maria Allen and filming in their gift room, upstairs interiors room and fashion area.

Donna said: “It was great to have such a renowned designer in the shop, and for him to be so complementary about us is a real boost considering we had only been open seven to eight weeks at the time.”

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Although taken by many of the items, Laurence returned to the Rug Gallery to buy a �950 hand-made Nepalese rug woven with silk from the Rug Gallery

The programme featuring St Albans is expected to air in November.