From the October/November 2013 Issue:

Design Destination Frenchtown

    Writer: Robin Amster |

This lovely Delaware River town is prime territory for leisurely weekend explorations. Visitors will find several unique home décor shops tucked in among the clothing boutiques, antiques stores, sidewalk cafes and historic inns.

22 Bridge Street

There’s an unusual mix of home and garden accessories, gifts, accent pieces and even a unique line of eco-friendly paint at this shop run by Jack Weeks and John Hindman. Both owners are interior designers who’ve worked in various positions on the commercial side of the business.

“Our approach when we go to the [design and gift] shows is to focus on putting together collections. When we’re at different showrooms, we’ll see something and then look for something else to coordinate with it,” Weeks says.

The pair use the same approach to purchasing for the holiday season, an important time for the shop. “We go to the shows with a specific theme in mind,” Weeks says. “Last year, for example, we did a crystal theme so we sought out crystal garlands, long icicles and mercury glass objects.”

Thistle’s eclectic collection of gifts and accessories includes frames, colorful catch-alls, exotic urns, candles, customizable signs, lamps and rugs. It features Dash & Albert rugs, a line of cotton-hooked and fine rag rugs adapted from antique originals in a wide range of traditional and unusual patterns.

“We’re not the place to go for a dining room set,” Weeks says, but you will find accent pieces such as vintage chairs to enhance an interior.

Thistle is one of only a few distributors of the eco-friendly Caromal Colours paint line in the area. “We’re passionate about this paint product,” Weeks says. People are looking to economize, he adds, and the company’s decorative finishes have multiple uses, including refinishing kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities and bedroom furniture.

Thistle offers a wide range of price points, from a $3 votive to a $1,100 piece of furniture.

Store hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 908-996-7080,

Two locations: 19 and 33 Bridge Street

Molly Kirchoff bought this store, formerly called The Studio, six years ago and promptly changed its name to Left Bank Home to reflect its riverside location and her interest in things French. A former French teacher, Kirchoff says her success with the main store led her to open a smaller Left Bank Home location here instead of moving out of town.

The stores bread and butter, Kirchoff says, is Lee Industries furni�turea line of American-made, eco-friendly leather, custom-upholstered and slipcovered furniture. Rounding out her offerings are accent tables, lamps, rugs, artwork, accessories and gifts. The latter products come from all over the world, but all have a European air, she says.

The two stores offer slightly different styles: The main location at 19 Bridge Street is a tad more traditional, while the smaller shop at 33 Bridge Street has a more urban vibe.

Kirchoff accidentally wound up specializing in smaller-scale furnishings, she says. We have a lot of clientele in apartments and townhomes in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Philadelphia as well as local residents who have older homes with smaller rooms. Recliners and sectionals with smaller, trimmer frames, for instance, are what people respond to. People are fatigued by big furniture.

Kirchoff and her staff are not interior designers, but they offer what she calls mom-and-pop design services. Left Bank also has a designer program: commissions and discounts for designers who prove their professional status.

Scale is the thing people have the most trouble with, Kirchoff says, adding that her team is adept at working that out. The focus is also on Comfort, comfort, comfort. Today, thats how we live.

Because were a small store in a small town, we tend to be 20% t 30% of list price, she adds. For furniture you cant find any better quality at this price point.

Store hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except closed on Tuesday.

10 Bridge Street

The accent in Pardon My French is on textiles, everything from placemats and table linens to bedding, throws and throw pillows. Youll also find one-of-a-kind pieces crafted by the owners carpenter husband, accessories and some antiques.

Owner Lynn Sweeneys special focus is on high-quality bedding. Thats where I really enjoy putting things together, she says. The shop carries distinctive lines such as Taylor Linens, which produces hand-stitched quilts, antique-style laces, delicate embroideries and fine fabrics; Pom Pom at Home, known for a crib and adult bedding line of 100% crtified organic linen with delicate embroidery, crushed velvet and hand-crocheted lace; and Brahms Mount, whose blankets and throws are heirloom-quality, natural-fiber creations woven on antique shuttle looms.

Sweeneys background is in corporate banking, but her love of and flair for home design led her to open Pardon My French. The store and its Frenchtown location are naturals for her given her French-Canadian roots in Quebec City and Gasp� Peninsula.

The unique pieces crafted by Sweeneys husband feel right at home in the shop. These include wood tables and mirrors inset in wood framesboth fashioned from old restored doors and other salvaged wood.

As Sweeney says, People will find things here they cant find anywhere else. And while her featured bedding is high-end, for example, its not out of reach in terms of price, she adds.

Store hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday. 908-996-4442.