Kingston Design Showhouse Pt. 3
For years we've been following the Instagram channel of an antique shop in Andes - Kabinett and Kammer. They carry a particular vintage decor element that I'm obsessed with (I'll leave you guessing on that one), so I'm a big fan. I was so excited to hear that Sean Scherer the shopkeeper of Kabinett and Kammer was a member of The Kingston Design Connection and was going to take part in the Kingston Design Showhouse. He has a style that is wholly his own and I knew whatever he did would be layered and unique. Seeing his room, I was not disappointed. I got the chance to chat with him about his shop, how he found Andes, and his involvement in the Kingston Design Showhouse a few days ago. His story is so like so many of our stories, we left the city either from exhaustion with the pace of life or after the life-changing events of 9/11 and found a home in the Hudson Valley. Here's our chat:
An Andes NY Antique Shop (Sort Of)
Me: Sean, thanks so much for talking with me. I have to tell me I'm one of your many internet groupies but I'm embarrassed to say I've never actually come to your shop, Andes isn't in my daily trajectory and my husband has seen your instagram and he's afraid if I go there our house will never be the same. So, tell me a bit about it.
Sean: Well it opened in 2007 and it's an antique store primarily. I sell vintage and antique items, mostly 19th century, but also up through mid-century. It's more like a representation of a lifestyle or a brand then your average antique store is. I have a background in art and art history and I'm a contemporary painter, and when I opened up the store I really wanted it to be contemporary, not old fashioned. I wanted it to feel more like a gallery, you know? So, everything's arranged in vignettes throughout the store. You enter, and you enter a space. It's very curated and it's geared towards a modern sensibility. It displays how people can appreciate history and antique items but don't have to have a "country home", or embrace the style that people still think of as "antique" or "primitive".
Me: So, this is NOT your Grandma's dusty attic that's been shoehorned into a shop.
Sean: This is the funniest thing; I have had people come in, look around and say, "Oh, so you really aren't an antique store, are you!?" And I'm like, well...it's all antique, but I guess not in that traditional sense.
Me: I know exactly what you're talking about! So tell me why you chose Andes.
Sean: Well, Andes kind of chose me. I was living in lower Manhattan in the Seaport area, and I was at home on 9/11 and of course witnessed, up close, both the events of that day and then the year-long constant recovery and rebuilding. And prior to 9/11 one of my best friends had bought a place in a town called Andes. I'd never heard of Andes before, and after 9/11 she said, "You need to get out of the city, come visit." And it took just one visit and I realized, wow, this is pretty beautiful up here. Peaceful. And, and that's basically how it happened. I realized for half of my rent, I could have a farmhouse. I had never heard of or been to the Catskills before until that visit, and a year later, I wound up moving up here; that was 2002.
Me: Was it your intention when you moved up to open a shop? Or did you see an opportunity, or get obsessed, and you had to do it? How did that come about?
Sean: No, I had no plans to open up a shop. I have always collected antiques. I bought my first antique when I was 16. So, I loved collecting, and loved decorating, and I had done some styling work before, but I had always been focused more on my art career until I moved up here. Then I met a group of friends, or people who became my friends, and one of them was a Brook Alderson who had an antique store at the time and Andes, and she had an available space upstairs above her shop and she encouraged me after coming to see my house. She said, "Why don't you give it a try? I think people would really like your aesthetic and respond." So, that's how I did it. And people did respond immediately. It was an immediate success.
Me: So, where do most of your customers come from now? Is it through your social media or is it through word-of-mouth, or just people around town?
Sean: I've been in this location for 11 years, so I think it's word-of-mouth. I opened up pre-instagram, pre-social media basically, so a lot has changed. Instagram has been a big game-changer. I have people who come in who have been following me on Instagram, there was a woman in from Rhinebeck who's been following me on Instagram for a long time and made the trip last Sunday to come in. Social media has definitely broadened the base and over the years I've just been fortunate to get a lot of really great press - blogs and The NY Times, things like that.
Me: Tell me, before we move on to the showhouse, what is your favorite thing to do in the area when you have free time, which you probably don't have that much of. I always ask that question, because people's answers are always totally different.
Sean: Yeah, I don't have a lot of free time. My favorite thing to do is stay at home and not doing anything. But I know that's probably not good for your readers.
Me: No, I actually love it.
Sean: I also love going for a drive, in fact, after we hang up I'm going to go to a little farm store called Lucky Dog Farm Store in Hamden. It's all organic and local and they have a little cafe. So that kind of thing, just going out and supporting the local area businesses for lunch or dinner, and I like going to other antiques stores too when I get a chance.
Me: Onto the project! How did you come to the Kingston Design Connection?
Sean: It was through Kate Cummings who has the space next to me in the house; she recommended me to Maryline Damour. We knew each other through Instagram and she thought I'd be someone who'd be interested. And I thought, "Sure, sounds like fun. Cool."
Me: I know that you all collaborated a little bit while you were putting the house together, so what has either been really surprising or just super fun for you as it has come together?
Sean: I think my collaboration with Kelly from Hops Petunia; she did all the florals, and she did the amazing window treatments in my room. That was the nicest surprise because Kelly was so busy, we were all so busy putting it together and it was also like crazy time of the year with Columbus Day weekend which is a huge weekend for my business. So, I had talked to Kelly and I knew she had the right idea, but I wasn't there when she installed it. When I showed up and it was all done, I was like, "This is way better than I could've imagined", and it fits so perfectly.
Me: I understand the concept is a dressing room?
Sean: It's a modern take on a 19th century gentleman traveler slash explorer's one room pied a terre. It could be a one room cabin or a one room apartment they have in New Orleans, and that's why a table, and a comfy chair, and a day bed, but not a real bed. There's one wall that's covered in my photographs blown up as a wall treatment. So it's sort of personal but not directly personal. He's a collector. That's also how Kelly got the inspiration - what if this person collected all these dried flowers and palm fronds and created these window treatments. He's an explorer, but obviously a gentleman of some means.
Me: Cool! I love that there's a whole imagined person who lives there, and that you've created his history in order to make the room come to life. I love that you've gotten that specific about it - it's not just a style, it's a particular person.
Sean: Thanks! And because it's the front room of the house, with big old arched windows - it feels like a Southern plantation room. People have said as soon as they walk in that they feel transported, so it really worked. One of the things that's nice is that most of the other people designers are more mid-century, or a mix of mid-century and modern with a dark pallet. Kate has that great dark hallway with the crazy wallpaper, and then her room which is also a dark rich color, and then my room is connected to hers and it really is like walking into a portal to another world, we've totally contrasted one another, and it worked really well.
Me: Here's a question I've asked the other participants in the showhouse; what is your hope for the outcome of this project?
Sean: I've already had a number of people come through my shop who have gone to the showhouse then come to the shop. Some have found me through social media posts by the other designers involved. So, I guess, just more outreach. Lots of people from the region may not have made the trek to Andes yet, so the showhouse is providing them a little outpost; it's a mini-Kabinett and Kammer.
Me: So here's my last official question...if you could move to any other town in the Hudson Valley, which would it be and why?
Sean: Oh My, I love Andes. I don't know. That's a hard question. Athens. Yeah, I think Athens is really wonderful, and I'd love a house on the river in Athens - that would be pretty amazing.
Sean's shop Kabinett and Kammer is located at 7 Main Street in Andes. Hours are Saturdays and Sundays 11-5 and Holiday Mondays 11-4:30. More information on The Kingston Design Showhouse including hours and admission can be found here.