Labour of Love
A DESIGNER COLLECTION OF FURNISHINGS, ART, AND ACCESSORIES FINDS A HISTORIC HOME IN DOWNTOWN BRACEBRIDGE
Sometimes small ventures lead to big adventures. Just ask Elise Boyer, owner and principal decorator at Veranda, a stunning twobuilding, four-showroom home furnishings, art, and accessories store located in downtown Bracebridge. Now housed in a historic Muskoka building at 24 Manitoba Street, Veranda began as a straightforward retail endeavour in Huntsville fifteen years ago. Customers were impressed by Elise’s unique collection of affordable, high quality items sourced from Canadian artisans, trade shows, and international locales. That part went according to plan. But her design flair and heartfelt enthusiasm were so apparent that visitors to the store soon began to ask Elise to come to their homes or cottages to provide design guidance. Thus, a new, unexpected career was born. Showing the utmost respect for her clientele regardless of their budget, Elise quickly built a reputation and a loyal following as a decorator and consultant.
A DESTINATION IN ITSELF
Jump ahead to the present day and Veranda has moved from Huntsville to Bracebridge, where it now occupies the old Odd Fellows Meeting Hall, built in 1904. Displayed in four distinct themed showrooms (Retreat, Home, Lakeside, and Cottage), a walk through the Veranda collection adds an element of theatrical allure to the retail experience. Carefully preserved details of the original building—including a meticulously restored, expansive tin ceiling, original wooden doors, and stained glass inserts—complement the Veranda collection, making the store a destination in itself. Just in time for Canada’s sesquicentennial, a few doors down at 40 Manitoba Street, a recently opened fifth showroom displays a collection of predominantly Canadian-made items in a Woodlands theme. Rich in rough-sawn and liveedge wood pieces, the outlet location indulges in the iconic Canadian “lodge ambience” and features recognizable Canadian lines such Red Canoe clothing and HBC accessories and décor.
The careful restoration of the Odd Fellows Hall is just one example of Elise’s determination to be part of a larger revitalization in the downtown core, and to contribute to the cultural dynamic of the region. As the central Muskoka retail branch of Muskoka Books, Elise proudly advances their mission to “preserve, expand, and share with as many people as possible the rich saga of Canada’s renowned Muskoka District.” Veranda’s extensive book collection includes fiction and non-fiction about the area, as well as numerous titles written by local authors. Also in partnership with Muskoka Books, Elise offers a collection of Muskoka Heritage Photo Art—enlarged heritage prints reproduced on canvas.
EVERYTHING BY DESIGN
Th e collection on display in Veranda’s showrooms is impressive, but Elise’s reach extends well beyond what you see. Thanks to an expansive network of suppliers and contacts worldwide, she and her staff can help you track down the item you’ve got in mind, or modify an existing piece to suit it to your unique space and vision. With an enormous supply of fabrics at a range of price points, plus the services of a team of seamstresses and upholsterers, just about anything is customizable to your home or cottage. Furnishings include everything from hutches to complete bedroom and dining suites and a tremendous selection of sofas in all sizes and styles. In addition, Veranda has a wide range of rugs, including sample tiles that can be brought home and tried out. The line of textiles also includes tablecloths, placemats, and bedding. Accessories and décor range from the eclectic to classic and everything in between.
Despite the success of the store, thanks to her very knowledgeable staff , Elise is still able to pursue her passion as a decorator and consultant. “It’s what I love to do,” she says. Her own taste favours European fl air, but as a decorator she is careful never to impose her vision on her clients. “Great interior décor must come from the heart of those who occupy that space,” she explains. “There are no rules. If clients want or need direction, we are here to help, but we do not tell people what they should and should not like.”
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