Sag Harbor, New York
Three years ago, Stephanie Michaan moved out of New York City in pursuit of something greater. She recently opened a shop in Sag Harbor that's stocked with everything from textiles to kitchenware. Theory of Place asked her about the inspiration for the store and how it came to be.
Describe yourself and your aesthetic. How did you get into design and what keeps you in the creative space?
I moved out of New York City almost three years ago. I went to design school but was having a hard time feeling inspired in the city. I draw so much inspiration from nature; I love going to the beach, seeing open space and connecting with each season. When I moved to Bridgehampton I felt renewed. It took me a little while to start designing and eventually opening a design studio and shop. I have felt most inspired by the vendors I began to carry in the store and my customers. It’s such a satisfying feeling coming up with a general concept, creating a store and having people enjoy it.
Walk me through your typical day at work and home. How do you keep yourself on task (or not)?
Since opening a retail store this summer my typical day has changed a lot! I used to work from home and focused only on interior design projects. This summer my focus has been on opening and running the store; I’ve had a lot of fun buying and seeing the space come together. There haven’t been typical days yet running the store – some days are filled with people and others are quiet. In the last month or so, I have met some amazing new people who appreciate my design sensibility and they have really inspired me to stay on task.
What inspired you to open the store in the Hamptons. Why did you choose this location? Can you walk us through the process of design to the grand opening of your store?
I’ve always dreamt of opening a small shop. I wasn’t planning on doing this for a few years but my fiancé was looking for a new office space for his building company and came across this hidden gem in Sag Harbor and we went for it! The space has three rooms, one room is his office, the other is our shared work space and the third has become the shop. Since we moved out East three years ago, Sag Harbor has been one of my favorite areas. It’s such a nice community and very year-round. I liked that it is a walking town and filled with so many shops, a lot owned by inspiring women. I designed and renovated the store in two months. We signed the lease quickly and I wanted it to be open for the summer, so we got working immediately. Because it is a small store, I wanted it to feel as open, light and serene as possible. I worked with an amazing wood-worker who created custom shelving and benches throughout. We went back and forth for weeks before landing on the perfect light stain. I wanted it to look natural and raw, but durable and functional at the same time. The space was previously a kitchen and bathroom showroom, so the walls were a mess. I wanted to clean everything up and simplify as much as possible so I could let the art work and products be the focus. We painted the walls Simply White by Benjamin Moore, kept the existing floors throughout (stripped and stained them light of course!). I wanted to incorporate some black in the design so I used all black hardware and one of my favorite industrial lights from Workstead. The space is clean and simple and has been functioning as a blank canvas. When I get new products in it really highlights each designer. From the beginning to where we are now, it continues to change which I am loving.
What is one thing you want visitor to take away after visiting your store?
Someone came in this past weekend and told me that the space relaxed them. It was such a compliment because I am always aiming to create spaces that evoke a sense of calmness. I also get so much joy out of sourcing, so I want people to appreciate the pieces I carry as much as I do, even if they just come in to look.
Tell us more about your consulting services. Where do you work and what is the typical process from the design phase to completion?
In addition to the store, I do full service interior design. I used to work from home, but soon the office section of the space in Sag Harbor will be completed and I will use it as my workspace as well. Since I work alone now, I am selective when it comes to projects. I only take on one or two projects at a time so I can execute properly. To me it should be a fun process and becomes a partnership with the client. I love working on projects in the Hamptons because I am so inspired by the beauty out here. I love the water and natural elements so I try to incorporate that as much as possible. The process varies so much. Some projects I simply assist with a room or two to make it feel more completed, others are ground up and take much longer. Lately, with the store I’ve been helping with smaller projects to refresh beach houses. It sounds small, but I really enjoy it!
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photos by: The Interior NY