FIELD TRIP – November, 2012
By Veronique Mcaree | Photography Amanda Kowalski
If you love color and want a really happy home, Chris Chapin of Company C is the designer to watch.
For a designer with three stores, over 300 products, and merchandise that’s featured in 800 retail stores across the country, Chris Chapin seems almost remarkably calm. At her six-year-old store in Portland, Chapin explains how her and her husband’s business, Company C, got its start nearly two decades ago.
Despite having studied economics at a small college in Vermont (where they met), she and her husband Walter were always drawn to other interests. Chris had a penchant for sewing and knitting, and Walter loved photography and traveling.
After pursuing business careers (the economics majors came in handy), the couple decided to take the leap and spin Chris’s love of textiles into a small rug business. She designed several fun styles based on early American hooked rugs and had their first collection made in India. Before long, the two were designing and selling rugs out of their garage in Concord, New Hampshire, for a handful of clients. Today, Company C has grown substantially: 53 employees, 43,000 square feet of office, warehouse, and retail space in Concord, and two other New England retail stores—one in Portland and the other in Hingham, Massachusetts.
Company C keeps the couple doing what makes them happy: translating color and design into beautiful and cozy rugs, bedding, fabrics, furniture, and accessories. Chris’s creative eye drives the product line, while Walter focuses on the business end of things, including the impeccable customer service Company C is known for.
The rugs and coordinated bed linens are cheerful, easygoing, and practical—they are ready to take on whatever comes their way, including the daily traffic of kids and dogs. Most of the designs are based on traditional patterns—floral designs, plaids, paisleys—culled from a variety of sources, including vintage fabric swatches, fashion design, discoveries from the couple’s travels, and more. But Chris and her design team always tweak the classic patterns with an infusion of unexpected colors and a bold scale that transform them into invitingly unique works of art.
A lovely example of her spin on tradition is found in Chris’s fall 2012 Devonshire rug collection. Customers are drawn to its modern interpretation of classic paisley inspired by fabrics commonly used in English country homes. Like all her rug and linen collections, the Devonshire line comes in two distinct color palettes—one warm, the other cool—giving the customer plenty of options.
“We want Company C customers to experiment and understand how to use color in their home,” says Chris. “We offer so many stylish variations and unexpected options to mix, match, and make it easy to create a happy, colorful home.”
Take a field trip to Company C, and you’ll find a dose of color, not to mention friendly advice, which is truly refreshing.
TIPS ON HOW TO DECORATE WITH COLOR?
“My best advice is begin with colors you love, first and foremost. Then play with a palette for the feel you want to achieve—bold and bright or warm and cozy.”
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE COLORS?
“My favorite colors are on the cool side of the spectrum. Pink is one of my favorites—I wear it more than decorate with it! And then, of course, I can’t live without blues and greens. Walter tends to live on the warm side of the spectrum—oranges and golds. So we have fun blending them all!”
“Walter and I love the creative vibe of Portland. We also love Maine—10 years ago, we bought a 200-year-old sea captain’s fixer-upper downeast. It’s our favorite place to relax, reenergize, and live and think creatively. Walter cooks amazing meals, while I love to paint and mix fabulous colors.”