K Colette: Style Equation
SHOP TALK – August 2014
by Veronique McAree | Photography Amanda Kowalski
A former math teacher offers the perfect formula to bring style and comfort home: eclectic offerings from around the globe as well as a wide selection of goods by Maine artists.
After years teaching high-school math, Karen Burke craved a more artistic day-to-day. So began a retail venture that takes her to local artists’ studios and trade shows, as well as further afield to New York and Europe, in search of the perfect artisan-made treasures found in her Portland shop, K Colette.
It all started just a few years ago, when a prime Commercial Street storefront became available, and Burke officially opened for business with the idea of mindfully curating a collection of her favorite products, as well as those she discovers and wants to share.
The space is a wonderful mash-up of French country house (bright, airy, and loaded with fine ceramics and exquisite textiles) and downtown loft (exposed bricks and beams, industrial touches).
Most of all, K Colette is a wish list come to life: glassware, paintings, pillows, pajamas, fine teas, and more.
The first clue that this is a shop that delights the senses is the intoxicating smell, thanks to all manner of soaps, lotions, potions, and candles, many of which are made in small batches by local artisans (Finn and Co. of Gorham,for example). Others come from international artisans who understand the power of scent—and packaging. Many of the items are so meticulously wrapped and labeled, you’ll hardly want to open them.
Filled with a constantly changing inventory, the shop is a go-to spot for decorating and gifts (those for yourself not excluded) — and the enormous space requires serious browsing. Plan to chunk out a good amount of time; it’s pretty much guaranteed that there’s something for everyone.
Highlights include John Derian decorative decoupage pieces, glass sculpture and vessels by a Rhode Island artist, vintage bookends found at the famous Brimfield Antique Flea Market, and a large collection of Astier de Villatte ceramics that range from the tiniest of teacups to voluminous platters.
The displays (by Burke and her team) are inviting as well. Special attention to scale and proportion is emphasized, and color is everywhere. A collection of orange pillows pops against a neutral-hued sofa while a behemoth blue cabinet serves as a striking backdrop for the all-white ceramics of Astier de Villatte.
K Colette is a destination in itself. Burke truly cares about where things come from, how they are made, and the behind-the-scenes history of each product. She eagerly shares the stories of the products with everyone who walks through the door.
In addition to the store, she and her team manage a website featuring plenty of products and a blog, The Revue, where they showcase photo stories about the artists and art found at K Colette. Plan a visit to the site or a shop—either way, you’ll score treasures culled from near and far.
K Colette, 100 Commercial St. Portland, ME 04101 tel: 207-775-9099 or visit www.kcolette.com