Californians, Here They Come

FINDS THEY’VE ENDURED FLOODS, FIRES, AND earthquakes. So you’d think that by the time California merchants reached Dallas, their home furnishings might be a bit bedraggled.

Guess again. These invaders from the land of Pacific sunsets and movie star dreams, who are about to make a couple of big retail splashes in Dallas, have bright, beautiful, and altogether beguiling wares for home and garden. The two side-by-side blocks of Knox Street where Pottery Barn and Smith & Hawken will open this month may never be the same.

Like Smith & Hawken, Pottery Barn has picked Dallas as its first Texas retail location because of brisk catalog sales here. Its store will be neither small (9, 709 square feet) nor pottery-filled (look instead for handsomely slipcovered sofas and chairs, rugs, lamps, gorgeous Finnish pine tables, beds, linens, and drapes). Owned by Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn aims to provide home furnishings shoppers with “everything they need in one place, ” says executive vice president Gary Friedman.

Just a few steps away, Smith & Hawken will tempt shoppers with its garden furniture, tools, clothing, bulbs, seeds, and plants spread over 4, 000 indoor square feet and an outdoor nursery. The look of the merchandise merges English tradition with California ingenuity-with a few international touches. (For example, the plantation teak used for the graceful benches, tables, and chairs comes from Java. )

Another California purveyor of great-looking furnishings actually heat the newcomers to Dallas. Kreiss, a furniture maker known tor its elegantly oversized contemporary pieces, opened a retail store last fall on Oak Lawn in the wholesale design district. President Michael Kreiss says he’s happy with the response from Dallas. “We love the attitude here; it’s a can-do place, ” he says. Thus the family members who run the company chose Dallas as part of a national expansion to showcase the comfortable hut decidedly upscale furnishings. “Our furniture is tough, ” Kreiss claims. “It’s not frou-frou. ” That, in a nutshell, may be the key to making it in Dallas when you have the California wind in your sails.

Pottery Barn, 3220 Knox.

Smith & Hawken, Knox at Travis.

Kreiss Collection, 1628 Oak Lawn, 698-9118.

Polished Perfection

ANTIQUES Helen Buchanan certainly never expected to become one of America’s grand dames of antique silver. It just happened that way.

In 1960, Buchanan, who answered the phone at her husband’s plumbing company on McKinney Avenue, decided to go into the antique business with an aunt. Sharing space with the plumbers, the ladies founded the Copper Lamp and began enjoying a brisk business. Soon a specialty emerged: antique silver, which American families once ranked as second only to the Bible as a permanent possession.

In the ensuing years Buchanan, now 71, has learned that nothing’s permanent, particularly the ownership of silver, but the public’s appreciation of antique sterling and silverplate comes pretty close to being unshakable. She and several friends and family members who work for her (but not her aunt, who retired a few years back) preside over a glittering, always polished empire and stay busy manning a 1 -800 line for calls from people across the country who are trying to match outdated silver patterns.

Customers wanting to buy or sell silver heat a steady path to the Copper Lamp’s door, located rather incongruously in the contemporary, plaza-style Old Town shopping center. “There’s a vast audience for silver, ” says Buchanan, who’s a great conversationalist, “and that makes the items we can find easy to appreciate.

Buchanan reports that 95 percent of her vast inventory falls in the category of American silver, which is easier to find and sometimes more affordable to own than its European counterpart. “It’s what we can find and what our customers want, ” she explains. Her customers range from brides-to-be to grandmothers, plus a few men as well. All share an appreciation tor this art form. “I think people today are more and more inclined to use their silver rather than store it for the next generation, ” Buchanan explains. “And that seems right to me. I say to people, ’Use it, polish it, and use it again. ’”

The Copper Lamp Antiques and Estate Silver, 5500 Greenville, 521-3711, 800-765-6519.

Sunflower Power

GARDENS WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THAT the chic flower of the ’90s would be the same old sunflowers that have been growing for years in Texans’ vacant lots and cow pastures?

All the rage in Dallas, sunflowers seem suddenly ubiquitous in places ranging from supermarket checkout lines to nurseries, and from upscale florists to fabric shops. Even some Dallas brides request wedding arrangements of sunflowers, reports Judy Blackman, director of Zen, A Floral Design Studio. “We import giant ones from Holland or California and wrap them up with big bows for our weddings, ” she says.

Gardeners who will settle for nothing less than home-grown specimens may want to turn to the tempting selection of mail-order seeds from Shepherd’s Garden Seeds. Selling for $1. 85 or $1. 95 per package, the seeds can he planted as late as June in Texas. The flowers require full sun. Sizes range from mammoth to dwarf, and the dozen or so intriguing varieties include Van Gogh and Italian White with lemon-custard petals.

For a more permanent addition to your home, the sunflower fabrics and matching papers from Carey Lind Designs for York Wallcoverings seem certain to brighten many a kitchen, bath, or sunroom. The suggested retail price by the yard on the all-cottan fabric is $27. 99, the paper is $21. 99 per roll, and the border paper, $19. 99 per spool.

Zen, A Floral Design Studio, 526-9736.

Shepherd’s Garden Seeds, 203-482-3638.

Carey Lind Designs for York

Wallcoverings; call 800-238-9152 for nearest dealer.

Hanging In There

SERVICES Don’t expect Willie C. Waters to give up his hang-ups. They’re his stock in trade-in fact, his livelihood.

Waters, who calls his business Hang-M-High, hangs interior art: paintings, tapestries, mirrors, sconces, brackets, draperies, blinds, whatever. Interior designers, art dealers, and just plain people hire him for $35 an hour by himself or $65 an hour with one assistant (one hour minimum in both cases).

His clients say he’s just as particular as he is efficient. “He knows when something looks right and when it doesn’t-even if it’s only 1/8 of an inch off, ” says one Dallas decorator who employs Waters regularly.

Formerly a stockroom manager for a North Dallas furniture store, Waters started his own business two years ago. A nerve disorder had been causing a facial tic and such severe pain that Waters, by his own admission, contemplated suicide. Doctors prescribed effective medication to calm the pain, and he focused on the involve-ment of self employment. Now he’s hanging in there with the best of’em.

Hang-M-High, 239-0314.


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