Going With the Flow – The Classic Mission behind Maison Envie
Profile and photos by Rona Mann
A beautiful, livable home that bespeaks the people who live there…it’s not complicated; it’s really all just a matter of going with the flow.
When you first drive up to Maison Envie, conveniently found right on the Post Road in Old Saybrook, you’ll see four distinct words printed on the outside of their building:
If you think this is just a casual addition to their signage, you’re wrong; for once you step inside and meet Erica and Ed, the owners, you’ll realize this is not an advertising slogan at all, but a classic mission statement…a mission they strive to accomplish every day with every customer.
Although Maison Envie is barely three months old, the talent and experience behind it span decades. Erica Donnelly is the owner of Maximus on Main Street in Old Saybrook, a multi vendor antique and home décor shop well known for its eclectic assortment of treasures. Donnelly has been at this helm for the past twelve years and is known throughout town for her keen eye and knowledge of quality home furnishings. Thus Maximus has garnered a fine reputation along the shoreline and continues to flourish.
In May Erica joined forces with her father, Ed Lombardi, the tree from which her apple didn’t fall far. Ed had previously operated galleries and a frame shop in Hartford and had enviable interior design experience. Maison Envie therefore provided the father-daughter duo a fortuitous opportunity to combine their considerable talents and work in tandem. In just a short time, this partnership has attracted both retail customers and people in the trade to the store, marveling at the mix of old and new. “We have everything from mid-century to brand new,” Donnelly says. “We like an eclectic look, like to mix and match because we find our customers are going in that direction as well in their home decorating preferences.”
Ed adds, “We will happily come to your home to help with the color flow.” When pressed about what this is exactly, he continues. “It’s mixing different styles and colors to still have a nice look. It’s perhaps picking up a color in a pillow on the sofa to match a color in the painting that hangs above that sofa. We try to educate our customers to have a soft flow rather than a stark collision of color going from one room to another.” Education is paramount to Lombardi who believes, “First we try to develop a relationship so that we’re able to make their personality blossom in the home. It’s not about what we want, it’s about who they are and what they want in their homes.”
Erica shares her father’s philosophy adding, “Things need to be built around color and texture. It has to fit together.” And that is precisely the vibe of Maison Envie. The literal French translation is “Desired Home,”and that’s what this store is all about.
With most every item crafted in the USA, Maison Envie features classic pieces with an inventory that changes frequently, since many items are one of a kind treasures. Erica and Ed are particularly proud of their Quickship Program, in which custom made, bench built furniture from North Carolina with the customer’s choice of style, model, and upholstery is created and delivered in just a short two weeks.
Frames and framing are a major part of Maison Envie. The sales floor features classic style frames in both wood and metal, but the back room is a custom frame workshop where both Lombardi and Donnelly can do their magic. State-of-the-art equipment allows them to cut, staple, stretch canvas, and preserve most any item a customer can bring in, from objets d’art to paintings, prints, or whimsy. They have mastered both the art and science of framing over a number of years and now boast archival framing that is acid free. Archival framing uses the highest quality materials to surround the artwork. Special techniques and procedures are used to protect the work with regards to mounting, yet the integrity of the art is never compromised.
Just walk around the shop, and you’ll find soy candles, lamps, pillows, furniture, framed art, statues, museum glass, tabletop decorating pieces, and more. “We are very careful of what we bring in,” Erica says…and it shows! This unique collection of curated items appeals to the person who may wish a complete makeover of their entire home, or perhaps just a refreshed and “new” look in one select room.
“People are attracted to quality, so that’s what we focus on,” Erica says; and it’s obvious in the way the store is both laid out and appointed. There is no “junk” here, nothing is crowded together. Rather, each piece stands out on its own and holds its own, thus directing a customer’s eye directly and purposefully to the display.
As the business day is about to begin, Ed concludes,“We believe in timeless decorating. You don’t always have to change the sofa; sometimes all you need is to change the pillows to achieve a new look. We want people to know they can come here and buy something and not feel they have to spend $2000. We have beautiful things for their home or for hostess gifts that start under $10.” Erica echoes this statement by adding, “We’re a museum quality gift shop, but with better prices.”
Then both father and daughter smile and nod and get ready for the day as the first customer comes through the door to be graciously welcomed and most likely impressed by all that Maison Envie offers.
Maison Envie is located at 875 Boston Post Road in the strip center next to Fromage Fine Foods and Coffees.. (860) 339-5579 www.maisonenvie.com