West Elm at Virginia Beach Town Center
We’re just getting over last week’s winter storm in Hampton Roads, but near the corner of Main Street and Constitution Drive in Virginia Beach’s Town Center, spring is already in full session. The welcomed shift in seasons comes with last Thursday’s opening of West Elm, a modern furniture store featuring inspiring home décor. The store is based in Brooklyn, N.Y. and has stores scattered throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, Australia and the U.K. Their Virginia Beach location is the 71st store to open in the U.S. and the second in Virginia (the other is in Tysons Corner).
West Elm has its own in-house design team to set up mesmerizing displays found throughout the store. During a pre-opening visit last Wednesday, the paint is drying on a nautical display of sailing ropes as a member of their visual team sits in the floor cutting fabric for another display. Fanciful strands of oversized wooden beads—handstrung the night before—hangs whimsically from the ceiling above a plush bed.
This store currently features a full layout of spring, with a bit of summer layered in. Walking through the doors is nothing short of refreshing, as guests become immersed in a palette of the season’s hottest hues—a muted mix of orange, ocean blue, mustard yellow and blush pink.
West Elm collaborates with different designers, seeking out artists who are like-minded but with different points of view. One of their newest partnerships is with Kate Spade Saturday, a collection with bright and spirited pops of color that channel spontaneous weekend fun. Mixing and matching colors, textures and fabrics can be seen throughout the store—a little decorative driftwood next to chic vases and a stack of books over here, porcelain bowls sitting on slate placemats over there, and extravagant Belgian linen sheets atop a gorgeous reclaimed wood bed.
While the West Elm visual team makes it seem effortless to combine various colors, textures and styles, those who don’t possess the eye for interior design may feel overwhelmed at the thought of redecorating—but they don’t have to feel alone. During a trip to West Elm’s design center, visitors can meet with store associates and bring in their floor plans to discuss decorating options. There are also home stylists that will come to your home to help with floor planning, figuring out how to set a gallery wall, choosing paint colors—completely free of charge with no commitment to make any purchases.
The prices at West Elm range from modest—ideal for the newlywed couple looking to decorate their first space (they even have a wedding registry option)—to more upscale—pieces that would appeal to the more established home. Rest assured, however, that the products are well crafted—some even by hand.
In 2014, West Elm made a commitment to spend $35 million in hand-crafted products from artists all around the world. These products range from jute rugs to hand-woven throw pillows and baskets. Their website features videos that explain how some of the products are assembled. West Elm’s Director of Public Relations, Nicole Sutliff, explains that as people are becoming more interested in the back story of where their food and makeup is coming from, they’re taking an interest in their home goods as well. “People [are] really wanting to know how things are made, how they’re crafted,” she says.
With this added awareness in home décor purchases, shoppers are conscious about supporting the local industry as well. West Elm makes it easy with their Local initiative, featuring a section of products crafted by artists in the community. “It really gives an entrepreneurial feel to the store because the store is dictating the product, so they’re in their community looking for crafters and makers,” Sutliff says. Some of the local businesses currently featured are: Maple & Belmont, a Norfolk couple who creates hand lettering on stationery and tea towels; Twittering Bird, a Virginia Beach artist who designs prints and tote bags featuring a colorful collage of landmarks from various local cities; and an assortment of rope knots from Chesapeake’s The Perch Shop. Sutliff expresses that the local initiative isn’t something that can be dictated by someone far away. “You have to be here; you have to really get an understanding,” she says. “It’s exciting to be able to offer that to local artists.”
Visit West Elm Monday–Saturday 10 a.m.–8 p.m. and Sunday noon–6 p.m. at 4511 Main Street, Virginia Beach.