Interior designer Amber Lewis is accustomed to meeting the demands of people who want the Malibu native's discerning eye and laid-back style to enliven their home environments. With her first commercial retail project, however, the needs and requirements were different.
"I was my client," she explained with a sly grin. "Everything I love is right here."
Shoppe by Amber Interiors, which opened on the main drag in Old Town Calabasas across from the historic Leonis Adobe in mid-September, is a case of build it and they will come, too. Lewis, with her husband and business partner, Mike, are "trying to build our own community" in the western San Fernando Valley; these former Santa Monica and current Woodland Hills residents noticed a yawning gap in the area's eclectic, contemporary home design and accessory shops that reflected their own sensibilities. And they knew they weren't alone.
The physical boutique concept grew organically from Amber's online presence. Her frequent blog posts chronicling her projects, including houses around Southern California and the Lombardi House hotel and event space in Hollywood, attracted a readership that expressed interest in buying some items she'd feature. Four years ago she started occasionally selling goods, and when online sales became "a bigger beast," she set up a well-trafficked e-shop.
Earlier this year, Amber finally decided to go brick-and-mortar and seized on the opportunity to lease the space she'd been eyeing in a charmingly kitschy Old West-inspired building. The Lewises took on a down-to-the-studs, four-month-long renovation to create a bright and airy retail space with Amber Interiors' studio behind the storefront.
Amber breathed new stylish life into the white-walled and exposed truss space with wide-plank wood floors and built-in shelves. The stunning counter with a concrete top — a current favorite material of hers — is clad with "Native" series tiles from the Commune for Exquisite Surfaces line.
Amber delights in setting out her favorite accessories that "I like best, and what I get for my clients," such as Hannah Trio and Creative Women throws, and a constantly changing inventory of vintage rugs that typically sell in a flash online. She sets up welcoming areas with custom furniture available for ordering, and surfaces covered with some choice decor and art books, and tableware.
And then there are the many pillows, as well as other soft seating accessories such as vintage Indian batik ottoman cubes and inviting floor cushions. "We hoard textiles," Amber joked. Local makers include lighting by Park Studio LA, and evocative L.A. photographs by George Byrne, with whom the Lewises have a series of exclusive prints planned.
Amber Interiors' social media channels and online retailing remain active, but she's happy to add shopkeeper to her portfolio. "I had no aspirations that this would be what we'd do," she said. "It's been a great progression."
23528 Calabasas Road, Calabasas, (818) 888-8083