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Designers & Their Shops

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Picture yourself in a large, sterile retail store with fluorescent lighting. Salespeople, intent on making their monthly quotas, are pressuring you to buy some of the mass-produced furniture the store carries. Now, imagine a small, welcoming shop, owned by the sophisticated, creative mind behind it and filled with top-quality, one-of-a-kind items. That’s what you’ll find in four Santa Fe boutiques owned by design professionals who can also supply suggestions and advice.

RESIDE HOME

When you walk into Reside Home, you get the feeling that you’re, well, home. In fact, the boutique once was a home. The candles, music and vibrant décor can entice you to curl up on a sofa in the sun-drenched living room, sit down at the glamorous dining room table or head upstairs to check out one of the boldly decorated bedrooms.

“When you see furniture in a store setting, it can feel so anonymous. We want you to see how our pieces fit into a real house and real lives,” says Jeff Fenton, who runs the business with his husband, Chris Martinez. “We want each and every person who walks through that door to feel like they’re getting a different experience here.”

In November 2018 the boutique moved to its new location on Paseo de Peralta, a home built in 1911 by an Italian stonemason who came to Santa Fe to work on the Cathedral Basilica. Through their selection of furnishings and design, Fenton and his team express their modern-day interpretation of this historically rich home, while honoring its roots and story. The store is full of color, from brightly painted walls — and even some bold black ones — to the fabrics and accessories. “People need to learn to live with color. Don’t be intimidated!” Fenton encourages. “I think our space shows people that color is nothing to be scared of. After all, it’s just paint.”

Reside Home has recently launched a sidekick, Reside Casita. The neighboring structure features more affordable furnishings that are ready to pick up and take home. Fenton says he wants more people to feel that a beautifully designed home is within their reach.

“We are so passionate and authentic about wanting to help people live a better life. We want our customers to feel inspired and recharged by their surroundings. That’s genuinely why we are doing this,” Fenton says. “People tell us they never knew how they wanted to live until they realized what they were missing in their homes and lives.”

VIOLANTE & ROCHFORD INTERIORS: THE STORE

Michael Violante and Paul Rochford ask themselves a simple question when deciding on items to carry in their shop: If this piece never sells, will we be happy living with it forever? If they can answer yes, it ends up in their new retail store, which is tucked inside a charming 1906 Arts-and-Crafts-style home on Paseo de Peralta. Then they hope someone comes in who loves it as much as they do!

“We’re looking for items people won’t be able to find anywhere else, not even online,” Rochford says. “There’s a magic to coming into a place that’s special, where you can touch and feel the items and find something wholly unexpected.”

The business partners and married couple opened the store in November 2018 because they realized many people share their aesthetic but don’t need or perhaps can’t afford their design services. The shop offers items in a wide range of styles, functions and prices. Take, for example, the modern ceramic vases created by a Los Angeles artist Violante discovered on Instagram, or the Guatemalan dance masks from the 1800s and 1900s. The designers invite visitors to wander leisurely from room to room to discover all there is in their eclectic collection. Take a moment to touch and admire the handwoven Mexican baskets, pillows created from African textiles and bright, bold bird feeders made right here in New Mexico. “Whether it’s old and traditional or contemporary, made near or far, beauty is beauty,” says Violante. “That beauty is what fuels us.”

Many of the shop’s handmade objects are steeped in stories. For instance, there’s goat milk soap made by the person who raises not only the goats, but also the llamas whose wool is used in the accompanying washcloths. Or run your fingers over the intentional imperfections in the glasses created by a husband-and- wife duo in Paris who use ancient glassblowing techniques. You’ll be tempted to play with the adorable wooden animal puzzles made from fallen trees in Maine’s Acadia National Park (and whose sales help support forest sustainability).

“Find things you love and I assure you, you’ll find a perfect place for it in your home,” says Rochford. “Sometimes the things we love most are the ones we just stumble upon when we’re not even looking for something. Don’t be afraid to leave the main roads when you travel and let yourself be surprised.”

SAMUEL DESIGN GROUP

Lisa Samuel has coined a word: feelosophy. Instead of defining her design style with words commonly used within the industry, Samuel says her homes evoke feelings. “I had a hard childhood and quickly realized that my surroundings could make me feel better,” she says.

A walk through the Samuel Design Group showroom on Cerrillos Road is a peek into her team’s aesthetics. Samuel says the space inspires her and her designers as they stride through it each day on the way to their desks. “I love the feeling of something made with soul. That authenticity really speaks to me,” she says.

Samuel is deeply influenced by international cultures, and her global vision is evident in the showroom. You’ll find exquisite African fabrics incorporated in a cornice or a sofa. You’ll also find a unique table from East Timor, a small Southeast Asian country, that’s carved with a double-dragon design. “I just love this piece,” says Samuel. “There is the right place for it. I just know it.”

In addition to a global influence, Samuel is profoundly influenced by her heritage as a fifth-generation Santa Fean. She’s drawn to the art, culture and spirituality of her hometown, and the Northern New Mexico atmosphere and light play a big role in her design concepts. “Santa Fe is in my soul and blood,” she says. “It inspires me. Always has. That translates into my work.” She adds that when it comes to her clients, she wants to be immersed in their story and their vision: “I love getting inside their heads and hearts.”

K. O’NEAL

When Kelly O’Neal opened his wholesale furniture company in Dallas, he needed artwork to hang on the walls. Without thinking much about it, he tapped into his art education and quickly painted a few abstracts. Well, those paintings got more attention than the furniture. Now his boutique on Read Street showcases it all: custom furniture, paintings, gifts, antiques and textile designs for the home. It’s no surprise that O’Neal, a lifelong collector of fabrics and textiles, includes striking decorative pillows in his offerings.

“Santa Fe is in my heart,” says O’Neal. “I’ve spent many, many, many weeks and months here. I’ve worked with Native American artists. We’re very moved by the vibrant colors. The artist community is tight and inspiring. The style is colorful, rich and cultural. There’s no Restoration Hardware gray here,” O’Neal laughs. “Oh, and the surroundings are obviously not bad to look at either.”

The K. O’Neal shop is adorned with bold, bright, inimitable objects everywhere you look. From the fabrics displayed on racks along the wall to a turquoise concrete table and mountains of pillows, it’s nearly impossible to take it all in on a single walk-though. Interested in a bright purple chair? A lighted sign? Whatever your taste, it’s worth a trip to K. O’Neal. “We’re not trying to be the Saks Fifth Avenue of Santa Fe,” O’Neal says. “We’re down-to-earth. Stroll on in in your yoga pants and have a look around. There’s no pretense in here.”

O’Neal is a boutique owner who’s had a hand in nearly every item in the store — and more likely, his own two creative hands. “It’s rewarding on a level that people who don’t make things can’t relate to,” he says. “We live in a market where so much comes from overseas. It’s all just stuff. But in Santa Fe, people see the value of the handmade, the antique, the one-of-a-kind. It’s really incredible and worth the trip to Santa Fe.”

By Alana Grimstad

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Leah Pinkus