Color Me Happy
Company C is Portland’s mecca for textile lovers, offering custom upholstery, interior design services, bedding, rugs, and more.
When you walk into the Company C store on Commercial Street in Portland, the first thing you notice is the colors. Dove gray and buttercup yellow floral coverlets sit stacked alongside creamy white sheets and coral pink throws. Teal and burgundy velvet pillows decorated with intricate geometric patterns pile high on shelves, while rainbow-hued woven rugs beckon customers to stop and feel their soft, hand-tufted wool piles.
While the Portland retail location has been a waterfront shopping destination for a decade, Company C is even more established. Founded by husband-and-wife team Walter and Christine Chapin in 1994 in Concord, New Hampshire, the business has made a name for itself supplying wholesale textiles to designers around America. “Over 60 percent of our business is still wholesale,” Christine Chapin says. “But when we wanted to see what it would be like to open our second location, Portland was at the top of the list. We just love Portland.” At the time, there were few home retail shops on Commercial Street, but Chapin had a hunch the retail location would work out. “We get a lot of traffic in that store, both from tourists stopping in for something to bring home and from locals who know our brand,” she says. “Now we’ve started to get people who grew up spending their summers in Maine, coming in as adults to bring a piece of Company C home with them.” (In addition to their retail locations in Concord and Portland, Company C also has a Studio Store in Wayne, Pennsylvania.)
Chapin says the secret to the store’s success comes from their “neurotic” approach to color. “It’s all about how colors mix together,” she says. “We take the time—and it is a painstaking job—to make sure every shade works together.” Even colors that one might not normally pair can work in the right context, she says, such as mulberry red mixed with mellow orange and navy, or saturated pinks melded with light turquoise. “You can tell when something is off,” she says. “But color in general just has this amazing effect on people. Customers tell us over and over, ‘This color just makes me happy.’ It’s different for everyone, but each person has a happy color.”
Another important part of Company C’s business model is a commitment to producing eco-friendly and worker-friendly products. The Chapins are proud to work with GoodWeave, an organization that works to end child labor in rug manufacturing and production through monitoring, product certification, victim assistance, and grassroots social programs. The Chapins regularly visit the factories in India where their pieces are produced, and a portion of the sales of Company C rugs goes back into the local communities where the rugs are made to help fund educational childhood programs. Several years ago, Company C also began featuring a higher percentage of organic textiles, and Chapin hopes that soon all of their sheets and bedding will be 100 percent organic.
Another goal for Chapin is to expand Company C’s product range to offer even more furniture and household goods. But textiles remain her first love. She’s excited to see the resurgence of macramé, which “was so big when I was young,” she says. “I just love the texture you can bring to a home by adding macramé or embroidered pillows.” In the Portland shop, you can purchase a throw pillow decorated with intricate French knots in all colors of the rainbow (the Marimba pillow) or one covered in nautical-inspired woven cotton strips (the Starboard pillow). For Chapin, these detailed accents are the perfect way to style a bed or a sofa. “You see a bed piled with colors and textures,” she says. “And you know it will be a scrumptious place to cuddle up.”
HOW TO JOYFULLY MIX & MATCH
- It can be challenging to choose a variety of colors that work together well, so Christine Chapin suggests using an “anchor hue” to tie the room together. “For those who love saturated bright colors, use navy as a neutral and pair with purple, deep pink, and fuchsia, orange, jade green, or teal,” she says. “Use these color pairings with updated traditional motifs to create a modern ‘preppy’ look.”
- Good news for those who adore color: “While neutrals have been a trend for the past few years, we are definitely seeing color coming back strong in 2018,” says Chapin. Many homeowners feel more comfortable using neutrals as the foundation of their design, but you can still have loads of fun with a fairly mild palette. “Try mixing cool and warm shades. Copper and camel add warmth and dimension to a neutral room design,” suggests Chapin. “These combinations work especially well with modern furniture.”
- If you want to stay on trend, try a pop of bright red. Chapin predicts that 2018 will be all about this shade. “Red is a power color, and it is coming on strong,” she says. “Mixed with black and charcoal gray, red looks modern and sophisticated—even in the ever-popular farmhouse style.”
- One of the toughest design problems involves mixing color and pattern. Here are a few tricks from Chapin help you rise to the challenge: “One of the easiest ways to overcome this is threefold. First, select a multicolor design that you love as the foundation for the room. This can be the rug or a colorful pattern on the seating upholstery. Step two is to add a geometric design that might have two or three colors from the multicolor pattern. The last step is to add a textured solid in colors from the multicolor design.”