It is quiet in the small, unassuming structure nestled on Ninth Street. The sound of my cowboy boots on the deep chestnut-colored wooden floors echo — heel-toe, heel-toe, through the sparsely furnished store.
There are fabric swatches and wallpaper books stacked to the rafters, antique pieces, a Baker rose-colored couch and two blush chairs with eyelet holes in their backrests.
This is Elvira Angeletti’s interior design store. A slew of design magazines are available for my perusal on the black contemporary wooden coffee table, but instead I gaze out the window at the familiar Ninth Street scene.
No, the store is not a drug front like a preteen neighborhood boy once walked in the door and inquired. Angeletti giggles at the memory. Here, busy minds are transforming hectic homes into havens.
“We hear it all the time, ‘I’d love to do interior design!’” Stewart says. “But there is a lot of background work, and you really need the education to back you up. You have to be a great communicator. Our first visit with a client might seem more like an interview, but it is your living space, and that is very personal and private.”
Their goal is not to impose their vision onto a client but aid in creating an environment specifically for the individual.
“It is helpful if a client has some sort of vision. Photos help so we have some sense of their style,” Stewart says.
The duo will work within any budget and within any sensibility, although Angeletti has always leaned toward antiques and rugs.
“I’ve always been involved with antiques. The market is very low right now in for 19th and 20th century antiques,” Angeletti says. “Mainly because young people are more interested in modern furnishings — some of that is due to the popularity of places like Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn, which have a lot of clean lines. But, I’ve always incorporated antiques into my designs, although we sell new furniture as well.”
Because Angeletti and Stewart are well-versed in the old and new, the business took a turn to planning and implementing estate sales a decade ago. It was a natural progression as clients would remodel or completely redo a room or entire home, leaving them with no idea what to do with their old belongings or a firm grasp of their worth.
“We have an estate sale about every other month,” Angeletti says. “Since I work with both antiques and new furniture, I can pretty easily get a price. We do a lot of research. I do not, however, appraise art. We’ll bring in an expert for that.”
Angeletti and Stewart see plenty of trends come and go. Simplicity has always been a trend, but they claim the key to a simplistic home is fashioning it to not appear cold and stark but warm and inviting, which can be a challenge with minimalism.
Color has become a strong trend as well. The key there, Angeletti says, is “having an ease of going from room to room so it flows and the colors are not shocking.”
Angeletti thinks her forte is in sizing up the scale of furnishings in a room.
“Space for me is my favorite aspect of design, furniture arrangement,” she says. “People tend to have furniture that is too small or large, and then they’ll place everything up against the walls. There was a time for a while when all the furniture was huge and oversized. Thank God that is over.”
Stewart feels her design talent is in accessorizing.
“I’ll always ask the client, ‘What in the room is imperative that you keep?’” she says. “Accessories should really be a reflection of you. It shouldn’t look like a decorator was just here but that you did it. They should be a part of the room — casual, formal, accessories should fit the room but even more importantly they should fit the person.”