Sometimes small ventures lead to big adventures. Just ask Elise Boyer, owner and principal decorator at Veranda, a stunning two-building, four-showroom home furnishing, art and accessories store in downtown Bracebridge. Now housed in a historic Muskoka building at 24 Manitoba Street, Veranda began as a straightforward retail endeavour in Huntsville fifteen years ago.
A walk through Veranda's four distinctly-themed showrooms (Retreat, Home, Lakeside and Cottage) provides an element of theatrical allure to the retail experience. Carefully preserved details of the original building - including a meticulously restored tin ceiling, original wooden doors and stained glass inserts - complement the Veranda collection, making the store a destination in itself.
Customers are impressed by Elise's unique collection of affordable, high quality items sourced from Canadian artisans, trade shows, and international locales. Furnishings include everything from hutches to complete bedroom and dining suites as well as a tremendous selection of sofas in all sizes and styles. In addition, the store has a wide range of rugs, including sample tiles that can be taken home and tried out. The textile line includes tablecloths, placemats, and bedding. Elise's design flair and heartfelt enthusiasm are so apparent that visitors have began to ask Elise to come to their homes or cottages to provide design guidance.
A few doors down the street, a recently opened fifth showroom displays a collection of predominantly Canadian made items in a Woodland theme. Rich in rough-sawn and live-edge wood pieces, the outlet location indulges in the iconic Canadian "lodge ambience" and features recognizable Canadian lines such as Red Canoe clothing and HBC accessories and decor.
The enthusiasm of Bracebridge officials for revitalizing the downtown core has contributed to Elise's business. A combination of loan and grant program has helped to fund facade renewal and other upgrades to her buildings as well as others on the street.
Elise has also discovered that Bracebridge has extensive market pull. Former customers from Huntsville and north Muskoka readily make the half hour drive to visit her store while new customers arrive from other communities for something they can't get elsewhere. Despite the success of the store and thanks to her very knowledgeable staff, Elise is still able to pursue her passion as a decorator and consultant. "Great interior decor must come from the heart of those who occupy that space," she explains. "There are no rules. If clients want or need direction, we are here to help, but we do not tell people what they should or should not like. This is what I love to do!"
For a truly memorable retail experience, visit Veranda in downtown Bracebridge.