Over the years at Aero in New York City, I’ve thought a lot about how to bring tradition into the modern home—both for my clients and my own life by example. I am fortunate enough to have a beautiful home outside the city in Bellport, New York, that I share with my husband, Dan Fink. There’s no place we’d rather be. Downtime for us is also creative time, as we garden, cook, live with the seasons, spend time with family and friends, and search for quality over quantity in each aspect of what we bring home.
What I’ve learned is that the old lessons of home care still have a lot to teach us. And there is a new movement of classic elegance to be found in connecting the whole world of garden, kitchen, cooking, and entertaining, with very real spaces and products that aren’t just for show.
I do believe that people want to get back to these simple foundations of living well, and to rediscover what’s finely built, detailed, proportioned, and made the right way—because there is an honor and actually a practicality in choosing authentic, wonderful things that will last.
The thought of creating a new venture around that quality of life has been knocking around with all these ideas for some time. Then,a few years ago,we discovered that a faded but handsome, vintage 1930s former grocery store might be available right on the central street in Bellport. The market had been closed for many years, and we’d been watching it, thinking of doing something with it, because of our interest in food and cooking and markets of all kinds. The building was an orphanthat had a special local history. And so it came to pass that we took the leap and chose this space to be the hub of a new home brand that we call Copper Beech.
Copper Beech is focused on everyday provisions for the table and the larder, simple furniture, and easy off-the-shelf furnishings. It’s about putting together a collection of inspiring, solid, tried and true favorites that we like for home caretaking, all the things that we would want or pick for ourselves to help create a lovely home life.
This past summer we launched the store over a series of weekends. The shop design is based on the inspiration of vintage artist studios, and there’s the imagined feeling of an artist space in that lofty room, which flows through our ideas for the brand. Dan adds a perspective on the natural abundance in Northern California indoor-outdoor living, based on his work and years on the west coast. The artful style of the south of France is another influence on the easy seaside spirit of Copper Beech.
In the first round of restoring the building, our solution was to create a wall of canvas to partition the store, and on the adjacent walls, long, vintage-style pegracks for everything from chairs to sunhats. We reused the old checkout counter that was inherited with the space, in a tribute to the original market. It remains an ongoing project to uncover and refurbish all of the wonderful original tin ceilings.
The shop has shades of pale green, dark green and gentle pink, all based on the original colors we uncovered in the building. And those colors will remain with Copper Beech. They are the flavor and character of the business to come.
With a rotation of houseware on plentiful shelves, we envisioned a multi-purpose mix of good things, useful, attractive tools, and ideal ingredients. Our friend, chef and nutritionist Laura Geraty, provided healthy and delicious prepared foods to the store each weekend.There will always be classic things but also charming and humorous finds. Like Aero in New York, the goods will be ever-changing and interesting. Antiques and other furnishings will come in and out; the food will change with the seasons.
The aim is to create a true emporium, like the old general store, the family hardware store or grocery—the cornerstone shops that are getting harder to find nowadays, yet are the places that local people can be really proud of in their town. Copper Beech is about being a trusted resource that invites members of a community to know each other better.
Putting together a new home store does remind me of the original downstairs shop at Aero on Spring Street years ago. That annex was originally a destination for the kind of home goods that Copper Beech now represents. So, as my work in the city and this shop in the country develop together, there is an interesting relationship to define—the balance of Aero and its interior design focus, with Copper Beech for more casual homeware.
They’re two parts of one story.