Colours May Vary

Susie Stubbs
Colours May Vary Leeds

Colours May Vary is a design and print shop in Leeds that gives Manchester’s Magma a run for its money.

Being located in Manchester (the beating cultural heart of Britain, people) we’re not used to being bested. We like to think our city has it all. But every so often we come across a place that is, whisper it, slightly better than anything on our doorstep. Colours May Vary is a case in point. A design and bookshop located on the ground floor of an office block in Leeds and next door to a commercial gallery, it doesn’t look much. Step inside, however, and you’ll find a store stacked with contemporary design and photo books, magazines, artist-made and limited-edition goods, illustration, ceramics and homewares that say, very quietly, “Magma, eat your heart out”.

The shop opened in November last year and is run by Becky Palfrey and Leeds City College arts librarian, Andy Gray. They both hold History of Art degrees and have variously worked in record shops, interior and jewellery design, and it is this fairly wide-ranging background that explains a stock that jumps from embossed leather pencil cases by Present & Correct to prints by illustrator Eleni Kalorkoti, via vintage children’s books, one-off felt toys and the sorts of graphically-printed tea towels that make us want to do the washing up. Which is a novel feeling. “We both have a huge passion for the graphic arts, illustration and photography, as well as being magpies for the vintage and unusual, whether that’s stationary, ceramics or printed matter,” says Becky Palfrey. “We felt that Leeds just didn’t have this kind of shop, the kind of shop we love. We’ve been talking about it for about eight years.” After spending 12 years as a jewellery designer, Palfrey was offered redundancy, and it gave the couple the push they needed to stop talking and start doing.

Living and working together for most couples would be a shortcut to divorce but to Gray and Palfrey it appears to contribute to the ethos and atmosphere of the shop. “We both have to agree 100% on every item we stock,” says Palfrey. “We love books but we find a lot of bookshops so serious and unwelcoming. We wanted to create a space that was warm and made you want to stay and look around.” We can attest to the friendliness of the shop: the guy being served before us was mid-way through a very enjoyable conversation about vinyl when we started our lengthy browsing session (yes, we were listening); clearly, the time Gray spent working in record shops hasn’t been wasted.

The only downside to Colours May Vary is its out-of-centre location; it’s a ten minute or so hike from Leeds’ Corn Exchange. But even that is no big issue: the shop it sits inside Munro House, a building that is home to a gallery, the creative Duke Studios (where our friend, the Culture Vulture, lives) and is close to Leeds College of Music, Yorkshire Playhouse and the Northern Ballet. “We took a gamble but felt that the community that has been building in Munro House and the surrounding area would appreciate what we were doing,” says Palfrey. “Luckily this has turned out to be the case, and people are now making the walk across town – and even from surrounding cities.” That’ll be us, then, though we’re hoping that the imminent arrival of the shop’s website will save a few trips Leeds-bound.

Leeds Corn ExchangeLeedsLS1 7BR View map
Telephone: 0113 244 2704 Visit Now


Fully accessible

Admission Charges


Services and Facilities

Book and gift shop

Opening Hours

  • Monday10:00am - 6:00pm
  • Tuesday10:00am - 6:00pm
  • Wednesday10:00am - 6:00pm
  • Thursday10:00am - 6:00pm
  • Friday10:00am - 6:00pm
  • Saturday10:00am - 6:00pm
  • Sunday1:00pm - 5:00pm

Always double check opening hours with the venue before making a special visit.

What's on near Colours May Vary

Look After Your Knees at Leeds Playhouse
Look After Your Knees at Leeds Playhouse

Natalie Bellingham’s new show, tackling the pain and beauty of growing older, will preview at Leeds Playhouse ahead of its month-long run at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

from £1.00

Where to go near Colours May Vary

Sarto Leeds

Sarto, Leeds’s long-awaited pasta restaurant is a joint project between Laynes Espresso and The Brunswick.

The Gallery at 164, Leeds
The Gallery
at 164

The Gallery at 164 is an independent gallery in Leeds City Centre, exhibiting an eclectic mix of styles and media from both established and emerging talents.

Yorkshire Dance
Event venue
Yorkshire Dance

With three well-equipped studios, Yorkshire Dance HQ is a super performance venue for dance, theatre and spoken-word events.

Music venue
The Wardrobe

Located in the city centre’s eastern Art Quarter, The Wardrobe features a bar and kitchen on its ground floor plus a cosy dedicated event space in the basement. Dance, jazz and world music regularly feature on The Wardrobe’s gig calendar, while the venue hosts popular club nights and comedy too.

Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre building
Event venue
Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre

The Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre is located in Leeds’ thriving cultural quarter on Quarry Hill, offering an exciting programme of dance, theatre and family-friendly shows.

Leeds Playhouse

The Leeds Playhouse, formerly the West Yorkshire Playhouse is a producing theatre in Leeds with two stages at its disposal.

Event venue
Outlaws Yacht Club

A European style café/bar, exhibition space, record shop, hair salon and creative hangout tucked away on New York Street in Leeds…

Leeds Kirkgate Market
Leeds Kirkgate Market

Leeds Kirkgate Market is Europe’s biggest covered markets, featuring over 800 stalls, with goods ranging from clothing to fresh produce.

Leeds College of Music

Leeds College of Music (LCoM) is the largest specialist conservatoire in the UK, delivering expert music and performing arts education to a community of over 1200 students.

Food at Crowd of Favours Leeds
Crowd of Favours

Crowd of Favours is a relaxed, welcoming restaurant and pub serving a great range of beers, spirits and locally sourced food.

Art Hostel in Leeds

The UK’s first social enterprise of its type, Art Hostel is a pioneering new project by East Street Arts.

OPEN/CLOSED — lewdjaw, courtesy of Serf, art galleries in Leeds
Serf in Leeds

Underpinned by an open, inclusive and communal ethos, Serf facilitates a brilliantly eclectic, ‘non-curated’ programme of exhibitions.

Culture Guides