Shabby chic, or cottage chic, whatever you may call it, is a type of decorating idea that designer Rachel Ashwell came up with in the 1980s.
It involves using accessories, distressed furniture or imperfect furniture, vintage/antique items and flea market finds to create a comfortable and relaxing home. White and light pastel colors of pinks and light greens are the usual foundation for this design. Antique chairs, couches and pillows covered in floral (roses in most pieces) and striped fabrics are essential elements.
Relatively inexpensive, shabby chic is like antique shopping without high prices. A chip or scratch is not important as long as the piece is in relatively good condition.
There are several places to find furniture, antiques and décor by searching through salvage yards, flea markets, consignment and antique shops, sales at garage, estate and auctions. But a fun place to find items is along U.S. Highway 61 between Lake City and Red Wing in a place called Camilla and Me — The Shop, in Frontenac. Owned by daughter Camee Dugstad and mom Cindee Dugstad, it opened for business in April 2017. It’s open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. So far it’s open all year, but that may change this winter.
The building was once a general store, 1,500 square feet. Camee tells, “My mom and dad have owned the building since 1999 and updated it when they bought it so not much needed to be done. A house was attached in the ’60s and is where my mom lives now. We opened the shop as an antique and gift shop with repurposed, shabby chic, clothing and is more of an eclectic mixture of pieces. My mom has an eye for repurposing items. Our clothing is vintage and some new, but my mom is working on making her own items (which will be linen and silk boho chic style). We just put out some of her linen and canvas weekender bags (all handmade). We also have chunky statement jewelry pieces, that you don’t see every day.”
With the family being in the antique business for over 30 years you go everywhere for pieces. Camee said, “Some of our pieces are from different places we’ve road tripped to. We love going to auctions. We do not consign any items, everything is our own. The fillers within the shop are done by Mom, as she has the best eye and can turn nothing into something, her before and afters are amazing. I’m learning a lot from her. When we do find pieces, we look for pieces that we would keep for ourselves and want for our own homes. Since this has always been something that I guess just came natural to me, since my grandma was also a big influence growing up. She would take me to garage sales and antique stores with her all the time, her house was straight out of Country Living!”
To encourage folks to stop into the shop, Carmee said, “We are changing the shop constantly which helps us keep regulars. It’s important to display things how they would use them in their home. And yes, we are always changing and updating the outside as well as the inside.”
With a business such as this, many magazines can influence folks to come into your shop looking for vintage, shabby chic, retro, antique and collectibles.
Carmee told me, “I hope so, that is where we get our inspiration and the love of collecting and repurposing home decor as well as the want and the need to open a business to share the love of our skills with others.”
What makes them visit Highway 61?
I had to ask in a shop such as this what is it that makes the shop pop out from other shops with similar items and why would folks want to come to shop?
Carmee said, “Folks love that we painted the building pink! People always mention how cute we display things and keep things clean. Also the mixture of pieces that we have, there is really something for everyone. People say how we have good prices. The fact that we have Facebook and Instagram, as social media is a great way for us to get to other communities such as Rochester and more to show off our items. We are right on Highway 61, which is the River Road, so we get people from all over the United States.”
And so I asked, to what satisfaction have you and your mom found with this shop?
“Total satisfaction seeing people love the pieces that they leave with. This will always be a location for us and yes we would love to expand to a bigger city someday.”