Quite simply, Urban Dwellings is one of most unique stores in Portland. What you’ll find: a curated collection of objects (handpicked by designer Tracy Davis) both old and new, from here and abroad. Go dwell. You’ll be glad you did.
Tracy Davis, principal designer and founder of the interior architectural design firm Urban Dwellings, likes a good story—whether about a recent project or a beautiful object discovered on one of her many far-flung adventures. Her work is in part about storytelling, translating clients’ stories into luxurious, supremely livable spaces that showcase Davis’s clean, blended aesthetic.
Recently, Davis added a new chapter to her design story. She moved her Portland studio (launched in 2005) from the Old Port to a first-floor space on Munjoy Hill (on the corner of St. Lawrence and Congress streets) and expanded to include a gorgeous retail shop. “I wanted to extend my business by offering an ever- changing collection of one-of-a-kind objects,” says Davis. “It’s an opportunity to showcase things I love—and in turn makes design more accessible to the community.”
The shop is a unique destination specializing in vintage and modern goods. You’ll find Davis’s meticulously edited collection of home furnishings and decorative objects. And, of course, every piece has a story. Davis loves the rich history behind the products. Whether it’s an architectural detail salvaged from a Parisian building or a set of 1930s goblets, each piece is unique and will add interest to any home. “I truly believe a space can instantly be enhanced with the simple addition of one or two really interesting elements,” says Davis. “And I’m always on the hunt to find those perfect elements.”
All of the objects at Urban Dwellings are discovered by Davis and her team. Some are culled from local artisans, while other pieces have traveled farther—like a set of gorgeous French turn- of-the-century chairs that were sourced abroad, then wonderfully restored and reupholstered by a local Maine craftsman. Gorgeous pillows come in loads of sizes and are so deliciously substantial, they could, as Davis suggests, eliminate the need for a headboard. There are stunning wool throw blankets, gorgeous decanters, garden urns, and much, much more.
Davis is also interested in branching out to the community through a variety of partnerships and activities. During the holidays, for example, she partnered with neighbor Rosemont Market and Bakery. Customers who bought a platter (at a discount) could take it down the street to Rosemont to have it filled with delicious cheese, also at a discount. Other projects include a collaboration with GroMaine, a family-run farm in Aroostook County, to create beautiful, custom holiday wreaths.
Urban Dwellings is a great introduction to Davis and her aesthetic. And for those looking to go a little bit deeper, Davis offers a whole menu of interior services.
A little more shop talk.
Keep the details simple, clean, and uncomplicated. Create visual flow and balance using the beauty of materials as the focus.
THREE TIPS ON DESIGNING A BEAUTIFUL SPACE?
- Spend time on the front-end design. Don’t rush through the design development process.
- Create visual layers that do not compete with each other/
- Reduce visual noise.
DURING YOUR DOWN TIME YOU?
I enjoy working on my historic home. It’s a labor of true love!