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Home decor business finds new old-fashioned home

The Haskell Collection is a new creative retail studio in a 70-year-old house on 17th St. in Costa Mesa.
(Don Leach / Daily Pilot)

When Laura Haskell and Andrew Stoneman looked at the old wooden house, even with its massive beehive, they saw art.

The married couple who own and operate home decor business Haskell Collection stumbled upon the wooden-clapboard structure off busy East 17th Street in Costa Mesa and imagined a time when farmers planted citrus trees and crops.

They were intrigued by its charm, despite the building being nestled in the rear of a busy shopping center, and thought it would be the perfect place to expand their e-commerce site with a brick-and-mortar location.

“We always thought it was a cool building,” said Haskell, who noted that they came across the property four years ago when her husband had a haircut at a salon in the shopping center. “It was such a unique and old-fashioned building set back on 17th Street and it has this calm and cool vibe, like you’re in a hidden area.”

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A neighbor asked the couple if they were interested in opening a store within the building since it was available. The two signed onto the project, but time had taken a toll on the structure.

After assessing the structure and deciding it was worth fixing, Stoneman demolished mounds of dry wall, hired an electrician to install lighting, repaired the concrete flooring and carefully removed an inactive beehive within 10 weeks. The result was rewarding in more ways than one. The family filled three to four Mason jars with honey.

“It was really good,” he said with a laugh. “There’s just such a sense of personal history and intrinsic value to this place.”

They heard stories that sailors would huddle within the building, drinking during raucous gatherings, and that in the 1970s, a hair salon would use the extra space to host parties.

But Haskell and Stoneman wanted to know more about the building’s history. Stoneman had estimated the structure’s center cut redwood and cedar floorboards were something that couldn’t be purchased today, but were once readily available in the 1940s.

Costa Mesa Historical Society’s search on the property came up empty, but offered a description of what the land was like at the turn of the century.

In 1906, the Irvine Company sold 1,700 acres, including the property located at today’s 445 E. 17th Street address to a developer. The Newport-Mesa tract was born and the people who purchased the lots engaged in small-scale farming such as growing fruits, vegetables and chickens.

“A row of tall trees appears at that address, along with outbuildings across the street,” said Art Goddard, a Costa Mesa Historical Society volunteer.

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The building that has already stood for a couple of generations, was a familiar theme of sustainability and durability embodied in their home decor firm, the couple said.

“People tend to buy something to dispose of it,” Stoneman said. “We wanted to offer something that has longevity and could be handed down.”

For their collection’s casually elegant lounge chairs, outdoor tables and benches, Haskell uses steel that is up to 85% recycled content, avoiding synthetic rattan and wicker. The hand-crafted pieces, all manufactured in Southern California, is powder-coated and cushioned with and Green Natural foam, an environmentally-friendly flexible product containing organic, halogen-free fire retardants.

Driven by a desire to create, Haskell began repurposing and refinishing furniture.

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Ask about a set of side chairs, for example, with its wooden legs and tweed fabric and she’ll tell you that she pulled the chairs from a flea market, sanded and glazed the wood and upholstered it to its current condition: a stylish, masterfully crafted, one-of-a-kind seating for two.

“I like things that are old but can come to the present and feel fresh and new,” Haskell said. “I look for that something that doesn’t feel vintage but can go with today’s aesthetic.”

The storefront also carries collectibles, including Peruvian rugs, Turkish saddlebags, Japanese porcelain, Middle Eastern brass bowls, jewelry and clothing.

Haskell, who has worked in the fashion industry for 22 years selling everything from vintage fabrics to clothing, said she finds it satisfying to know that customers purchase furniture she and her husband designed and handcrafted.

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“We love what we do,” Stoneman said. “This is an opportunity to open a retail spot and bring unique pieces to Orange County, and it’s all about originality here.”

If You Go

What: Haskell Collection

When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

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Where: Rear of the building at 445 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa

Information: (949) 355-4634 or visit haskellcollection.com


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