It’s hard to believe that 25 years ago just about this time I was collecting merchandise in my garage in preparation to taking possession of my first shop location in Chester on May 1st, 1990. It has been a wonderful 25 years and I have hundreds of photos taken of the shop over the years. So take a walk with me down M.E.M.O.R.Y. L.A.N.E…
The first home of The Whistling Elk was at 9 Main Street, Chester. I hung a lace ceiling in this shop…it had a really ugly ceiling and the lace really improved it but I still had to cut holes in the lace for the air conditioning vent… It was a small shop just three rooms in 800 square feet. In those early days I remember that we sold a huge amount of silk flowers and vines.
Sadly, I don’t have a lot of pictures of the 9 Main Street Shop – this was before cell phone cameras…gosh I didn’t even have a computer then!! This location had two entire walls of windows…no where to hang anything…hmmm that must have been tough for me!
Here’s a few more shots of The Whistling Elk at 9 Main Street.
Below is a shot taken at a Showhouse that we were invited to participate in – early 90’s. We painted Adirondack chairs for the pool area which was surrounded by a beautiful garden of rhododedrons…the chairs were painted a light blue to reflect the blue of the pool and had beautiful purple rhododendrons painted across the backs. It was a pretty effect!
Two years after I opened The Whistling Elk 44 Main Street became available and I was able to secure that wonderful location. 44 Main Street was about double the size of the 9 Main Street shop. This move entailed moving about 60 feet from the end of Main Street closer to the center of town.
I remember selling an iron canopy bed because someone drove by as we were walking the headboard down the street to the new shop. We were selling a tremendous number of beautiful hand wrought iron beds at the time. The iron beds were probably among the first larger pieces of furniture sold at The Whistling Elk.
Here’s a shot of the front of the 44 Main Street shop. On this particular evening in 2009 we were hosting our Charity Evening.
I remained at 44 Main Street for 21 years – it changed sizes a couple of times over that period going from 1800 to 3000 square feet. During that time we sold oh-so-many furniture lines along with accessories, artwork and mirrors and lighting. Many lines we still sell today. Sadly, some important vendors were lost due to the recession over the last 6 years. We are always adding new lines though so things are never dull at The Whistling Elk!
We have participated in many showhouses over the years…here’s a Showhouse photo taken sometime in the 90’s at a showhouse in Chester. The room was a garden room..I think it was called “Holiday in Paradise”…as I recall the event was in December.
I used a mop and a bucket of watered down green paint to swab the walls of this room…I was going for a watered silk look. The walls had cracks all over and I didn’t want to repair them so I used a feather to enhance and make them look like cracked marble. This was my second showhouse but it was the first time I did a whole room.
I regret that I have no pictures of the beautiful showhouse that I did with Patty Fastook a few years later called Brookwood…in Montclair. It was a spectacular room but somehow I lost the disk that housed the photos…*sigh*
Here are some shots of some of the beautiful merchandise that flowed through the shop over the last 25 years….
and by contrast here is the bedroom at 50 Main Street Today!
Below…our custom cabinetry model….a beautiful bookcase over cabinets with slider to hide the TV…we moved this piece from 44 Main Street and had it re-built into the 50 Main Street shop.
We had a lot of room at the 44 Main Street location so we had up to 9 sofas on the shop floor all the time…this is a beautiful Hancock and Moore sofa…and it looks beautiful in front the model of our custom cabinetry. We still carry Hancock and Moore and Caracole sofas today although it is definitely harder to display them! We are still creating beautiful custom bookcases and furniture for our customers today also.
Ah! and PARIS…who could forget our fabulous shopping trip to Paris and Les Puces de St. Ouen….we brought back so many beautiful pieces for the shop!
I still dream about all the beautiful items we had to leave behind at the Paris Flea Markets because there just wasn’t a container large enough (or a wallet for that matter) to bring them all back to the shop…
Then a little more than 2 years ago we moved again! This time the move was about 20 feet into the building right next to our old location at 44 Main Street.
I feel very blessed that I still see customers today at the 50 Main Street location who started shopping The Whistling Elk at the 9 Main Street store 25 years ago!!
Wow, that amazes me and I am so appreciative for the support of the community and also the whole state…and beyond! Customers come from all over New Jersey as well as from New York, Pennsylvania and as far as California & Europe! It even seems when people move they don’t forget you – they stop by and shop when they are back visiting…even when they have left the country!
Here are some shots of the 50 Main Street Location of The Whistling Elk…and I am not moving again!
You will still find lots and lots of amazing home accessories at the 50 Main Street shop!
We still carry sofas….the Caracole line is one of our favorites with great quality and fair prices – although we don’t always have room on the shop floor for one. This was one that we did squeeze in!
Over the years many merchandise lines have come and gone. There are some some products that we have carried for a very long time. Like Kennebunk Weavers (our famous throw blankets) – 25 years! and Mark Roberts Fairies – 20 years and Lampe Berger – 17 years! We still love them today!
Our Paint Couture!™ line of furniture and cabinet paints and glazes is new for us…and have been a wonderful addition to The Whistling Elk along with our Paint Workshops. Painted furniture though is something that has always graced the shop floor at The Whistling Elk…we were painting back in the 90’s when we opened!
I am also humbled by the 2007 Award the shop received – “one of 50 Stellar Stores – Nationwide from Home Accents Today Magazine. That was an honor I never saw coming but it was sweet. Here’s the link 50 Stellar Stores Nationwide in 2007 – Here’s a little bit about that from the press release at the time…
“CHESTER SHOP NAMED ONE OF TOP 50 RETAIL STORES
Chester, New Jersey – The Whistling Elk has been named one of Home Accents Today’s “50 Retail Stars” by editors of the premier trade magazine for the home accents industry. The Retail Stars List recognizes enterprising home accents retailers who are experiencing success in their respective markets with innovative strategies and creative merchandising while maintaining a strong presence in their communities.”
Very cool for The Whistling Elk!! One of my prouder moments!!
One thing is for sure…you will always find casual elegance at The Whistling Elk – It is interesting to me that in all this time I have never really changed my focus which was to provide “…distinctively different home furnishings and accessories…with an elegant European flair.”
They were mostly smaller boxes so it wasn’t as scary as it could have been…
But inside were t.r.e.a.s.u.r.e.s. Oh my!
Lots of pretty mercury glass…boxes, urns, tealight holders and frames. The little flag is from my new French company…
And wonderful little jeweled clocks…they are very sweet.
There is a very elegant small tray under the clock with the pink crystals. This tray is a champagne silver and has fabulous gold etching on the glass…the perfect piece for a dressing table or on the bathroom counter.
Of course we have more new artwork. This pretty piece has a mate…hidden behind it! You will have to come in to see how beautiful they are. The frame is exquisite!
Off to the right is another set of prints…gates with jewels and a unique ivy border.
Don’t forget to stop by and take advantage of the Mother’s Day Special from Lampe Berger. With the purchase of any lamp you will receive a free 500 ml fragrance!
I’m getting to be such a sissy. I think I used to enjoy the winter….now I only like it if I am skiing…
Well, at least it is good for getting those indoor projects accomplished.
I just finished putting the hardware back on this pretty chest. It was a medium brown stain when I started and of course I forgot to take a “before” picture. My client brought it in for refinishing…
We decided it needed to be black so I used my Paint Couture! Baltic Black then glazed it with Black Walnut. It really looks very elegant and the hardware which was a rich brassy gold looks perfect – I didn’t even embellish it!
Sometimes refinishing a piece doesn’t call for a lot of fuss…there really is nothing like Simple Elegance!
Chase Away the Winter Blues…
Make plans to take a paint class at The Whistling Elk!
Well, today I received a much anticipated shipment of new art! I have been waiting for it to arrive for about 2 weeks (chewing my fingernails off actually). One of the pieces (the Lady in Black) is sold and I wanted it to show up for my customer who wanted it for Christmas…talk about cutting it close!
I am so relieved that it is here for her!
Below is a sampling of the artwork…the Lady in Red is a new giclee that I have not had before…she is beautiful and the red is vibrant!
Here’s the Lady in Black….she is sooo beautiful…but say goodbye because she will be leaving tonight!
The Lady in White in the photo below is another new girl…
She has the most beautiful crystals in her dress! Gorgeous!
Sorry about the reflection of legs in the photo…(heehee)….I took these in a hurry! The background is actually a very lovely brown/gold haze.
I still love the Tuscan art….so there is some of that too! This a a lovely earthy giclee that draws you right in to the alley…it’s quite large…35 by 47 long.
A set of two beautiful French Gates….here’s one.
Quite a few smaller prints which are very elegant…
Enjoy! and come by to see it all in person…it’s much more beautiful than my quick photographs make it appear!
I really don’t like carrying anything heavy when I am shopping or even just strolling…
I love something small that will hold the essentials and will hang over my shoulders diagonally…It just feels safer that way!
So when I found these little bags I fell in love…they are small but will hold a smartphone and there is a side pocket that is zippered to hold money, credit cards and of course the most essential…LIPSTICK!
We have lots of these fun bags at The Whistling Elk in colors that are bright and really…just plain fun!
We have a special promo going on right now at The Whistling Elk.
Now is a great time to jump in and treat yourself…or purchase some early gifts for the holidays and take advantage of this great offer.
I am always saying that Lampe Berger is one of my favorite products…and it truly is.
I love that it purifies the air and eliminates odors. It floats on the air throughout my shop (and my home) and creates a delightful atmosphere. Sometimes the scent will “hang” in the air in certain areas and when I walk thru them I just smile!
The Lampes themselves are so pretty! Make a design statement with the Lampe you select for your home!
The tortoise / leopard lampe above is very elegant!
So, you say, what is the deal? Well Lampe Berger has provided me with Tri-Packs of scent to give away with the purchase of any lampe (excepting the entry price point lampes)! The tri-packs are a $25 value for FREE and there are two different versions of three different scents. Supplies are limited so don’t wait to take advantage of this offer.
Oooh, and here is one more new Lampe that I Love…called Traditions! Very Beautiful!
Already have a Lampe Berger?
Want a new scent? We are fully stocked and have “testers” here so that you can sniff a new scent before buying it. But if you are like me you already have a favorite scent…mine is Charleston – what is yours?
You see a customer brought me an old mirror with a top trimmed with lifesize acorns hoping that I could fix it….hmmm! She brought it all the way from Massachusetts! There were a couple of acorns missing so being commissioned to make repairs I took the challenge. Sometimes I wonder “what was I thinking”. My customer was totally thrilled that I would even try because she said she had taken it many places and no one would give it a shot!
After she left I was looking over the situation and got the idea to try to find some small wood component that I could “doctor” to fit the shape I needed. Ok the challenge was on!
First I went to Michaels and looked around and amazingly found some small pieces of wood that I could carve into the shape of an acorn. This was not easy as I am definitely not a carver and do not have “carving tools”…I used a sharp box cutter and sandpaper and hoped for the best. After I got the basic shape and size that I wanted…I used Paint Couture!™ Embossing Medium to enhance the shape and fill in where needed.
The Embossing Medium was fabulous because I found that when dry I could actually carve that too! Great! It really carves nicely!
Then I painted the acorns I made with Paint Couture!™ Pale Gold…let them dry and then sanded to smooth them as much as possible. I put another coat of paint on, dried them then used Van Dyke Brown Glaze to “dirty up” the gold.
Since my acorns weren’t perfect I moved the acorns around on the mirror so that the original ones were all in the front and put my “replacements” in the back. I think it turned out pretty good…here it is complete! My “faux” acorn is the one at the far right!
When you love something it is always better to paint it or repair it to make it “new” again! My customer loves this piece so I know she will be thrilled to see it repaired…glad for her sake that I wasn’t afraid to “bite the bullet” and give it a try!
You know how you always have a lot of little tiny pieces of gold leaf that are left over from a project…I can just never bear to throw them away…
Well I was painting up a finish sample that had gold accents and I thought I would try to use the gold leaf to highlight the pale gold areas. Wow I love it!
The finish sample is Paint Couture!™ French Putty all over, then accented in three areas with Pale Gold. After drying I applied a skant coat of Italian Ivory all over and then rubbed some of that off. To further increase the patina of the finish I brushed on a coat of Van Dyke Brown and rubbed that off. I love the way Van Dyke Brown looks in the cracks. It darkens the crevices like black but in a much warmer way.
I wanted the gold areas to pop so I took some of my tiny gold leaf pieces and applied them strategically to enhance the finish…then reglazed them with the Van Dyke Brown.
Voila…loving this finish! Hmmm I am looking around the shop right now to see what needs to have this finish on it…!
Join in the fun! Sign up for one of our Paint Workshops at The Whistling Elk in Chester NJ and learn how to create beautiful finishes for your furniture projects. We use Paint Couture! products and you will be amazed at the myriad of possibilities these wonderful products will make available to you!
I have decided to create “finishes” instead of “paint samples”. Hmmm, what does that mean you might ask…
Well I have a lot of paint samples that I created using paint stirrers…I have posted these at the time that I paint them. However, now when I “finish” something and I love the outcome – I paint a sample board too (for future reference).
This way when I talk to someone about painting a piece I can show them boards of more complex “finishes” rather than a sample of a color with a glaze. This may sound intimidating because the sample boards are usually combinations of more than two processes. But if you are going to paint a piece of furniture or an accessory dont’ you want that piece to be out of this world beautiful? Maybe its just me but I want something spectacular if I am going to spend the time – something truly unique – a signature piece!
so with that in mind….here is a white compote that I decided use as my first victim for this new philosophy…:
For my Signature Finish on this piece I decided to use Paint Couture!™ Pale Gold, Vintage Flair and Brilliant White paint and Amber Honey Glaze.
This was a 4 step process – Below is the compote after the first two steps. First I painted the whole compote with Pale Gold. When dry I painted portions of it with Vintage Flair. The Vintage Flair coat of paint was what I call “skant”…a very light coat of paint that did not cover the gold entirely. I chose accents to leave completely gold (arms and the decorative band on the base).
Then I put a dry brush coat of Brilliant White over everything.
When dry I glazed the compote with Amber Honey Paint Couture Glaze as shown in the picture below I glazed heavily over the gold and then only wiped some off strategically here and there to give a gold highlight effect.
On the portions of the compote that were painted with the Vintage Flair I wiped off a lot of the glaze. On the inside of the compote I used a swirling motion to apply the glaze. The inside reminds me of the Universe…! Only there are no planets…hahaha.
Here is a side view of the finished product!
Voila! A beautiful, rich complex Finish!
Attend one of our Paint Workshops at The Whistling Elk and learn techniques to help you create your own Masterpieces!
I have a door in the shop that leads to a little foyer and the back door.
The door is in my little “Paris Boudoir” so you can see that it just wasn’t making it in its “silly brown” color…
I like to show my customers what they can do with Paint Couture!™ but I keep selling the pieces that I paint so I decided to paint the door…my landlord would not like it if I sold his door so I figured it was safe to paint it with Paint Couture!™ in order to have a ready sample at all times!!! P.E.R.F.E.C.T.
So the door got a very light uneven coat of Italian Ivory with Dream in the area around the raised panels of the door and Pale Gold on the moldings around the raised panels.
Remember the movie Romancing the Stone when the smuggler says he’s going to get his “li’l mule” and smiles…well I feel that way about my li’l hand sander. So yup I got it out and beat up that door! I did get a little carried away on the “back side” of the door.
Yesterday I stenciled the front side of the door with Pale Gold…but I couldn’t decide if I was really done…that happens a lot when I paint.
Sometimes when I am not sure about how I feel about something – I go home and sleep on it – it never fails that when I wake up I have the answer…actually it came to me before I even got to sleep…A Door Has Two Sides…who said they have to be the same?
This morning when I came in I glazed the back side of the door with Light Brown Sugar on the raised panels…lightly rubbed in. Then I glazed everything but the raised panels in Champagne. Ha! I used some different stencil designs so it looks completely different than the front side.
So now I am having one of those moments where I am thinking, Yah, you can have your cake and eat it too!!!!
Mirrors make such beautiful design statements…now take this one for example….the top is just breathtaking.
And the finish is wonderful because its a champagne metallic….a little gold…a little silver.. and just the tiniest bit of black.
You can put it almost anywhere (that it will fit – it is tall at 63″) and it will blend into almost any color scheme. It will add an architectural element to your room. Of course the “old world elegance” makes it look like you carried it back from les puces de saint-ouen. Mmmm let’s go back!
There little ovals are perfect for powder rooms….at 31″ L x 25″ w but they will make for a pretty collage too mixed in with some great artwork.
This last mirror is one I have blogged about before. It is so elegant and versatile. You can lean this 73″high mirror or hang it. You can hang it vertical or horizontal – design your room around it! Simple.Beautiful.Elegant. Perfect!