Out East in Long Island, the quiet town of Quogue, a hamlet that shy's away from the spotlight, has always been a destination known for its peaceful totally under-the-radar manicured beauty. Known far less than it's shopping-saturated neighbor Southampton, Quogue recently got a chic home decor store worth detouring for called Q44. You can find it at the intersection of Jessup Lane and Quogue Street, in a beautifully restored building. The shop, opened by Katie Barbatsuly and her interior designer mother and sister, shares the triangular-shaped brick building with Austin Patterson Disston, the architects that renovated the building, as well as a wonderful Quogue art gallery and polished preppy men's clothing and accessories store, Mr. Q. Part of a trio of home design stores in Delray Beach, Florida and San Francisco, Barbatsuly has captured the easy breezy coastal lifestyle in all of her shops, and they are filled with everything from entertaining pieces to living room furniture, with an informal, easy style. I caught up with Katie recently, and she shared her tricks of the trade with me, which you can discover below.
Large blue doors welcome visitors alongside a beach cruiser, ready for a spin around town
Katie Barbatsuly, her sister Lisa Richardson and their mom Betty are constantly on the go, looking for great finds with coastal flavor
What have been your bestsellers this summer?
Our custom pillows have been flying out the door! Artwork has done really well and a lot of decorative objects. Hostess, birthday, engagement gift items are always bestsellers.
What is the secret to making a shop a must-see destination?
We have a lot of merchandise to display so we show a lot of our smaller accessories and gift items by categories so the customer does not have visual overload when they walk into our shop! For furnishings, lighting and decorative pieces we work to create small vignettes that invite customers to visualize a color and decor combination that they may want to replicate in their homes.
Describe your style
Q44 Decor is a collaborative effort by my mother, sister and I, but we each have our own spin on traditional style. I love color, sophisticated beach chic. I appreciate Chippendale, Chinoiserie, Palm Beach Regency so am always on the lookout for those vintage chic style pieces as well. Our overall aesthetic and combined style at our Quogue store has coastal colors and layered textural elements - rattan, grasscloth, white washed, linen, driftwood and lacquer pieces can be found throughout the store. We love to mix vintage with new and offer a range of price points with our merchandise. Our home decor stores are curated to express a combination of our three styles and present our collective visual creativity in design.
What did you want to stock the store with for summer living and gift giving?
Serving pieces - trays, bowls, plates - beautiful handmade ceramics as well as the melamine pieces which are fantastic for boats and sunset cocktails at the beach - we try to keep those items stocked for summer. Hurricanes, lanterns, tealight candle holders for outdoor entertaining are essential for summer living so we offer a variety of options there.
Will the Quogue store be open all year?
Q44 Decor is open 7 days a week all summer and goes to long weekends and holiday weeks until the end of December. We will take a little winters rest until March then reopen for Spring.
What can we expect for fall and does the merchandise change over by color or season?
We definitely focus on the summer home and beach lifestyle at Q44 Decor, but the fall season absolutely brings in new colors and merchandise. We have fabulous gifts coming in for the holidays!
Tell us about your retail experience, what you have learned and what you keep in mind as you go into the market to buy each season
I have learned a lot from everyday conversation with customers in my retail experience over the past few years and am always paying attention to their wish lists and special requests on furnishings and decor. The one thing I know is that you can't buy to please everyone’s styles and tastes. I buy pieces that I would love to have in my own home. I also go into market looking for unique objects and accessories that I would love to give as a gift, to a friend or to myself!
What color combinations are you loving now?
I love just about any hue of blue! Aqua / Sea Foam, Navy / Mint, and Peacock Blue with anything! Tangerine with Teal, Tomato with Turquoise, Coral with Caribbean - I love to color block blues and on the heels of summer it's with a big pop of color!
What is the trick to mixing vintage and new items together?
Balance. Shapes, size, legs, material, fabric, patina, good bones - all need to be considered when pairing vintage items with new, but these elements can really come to life when balanced well in a home. Vintage items can be refinished, reupholstered, repurposed to be incorporated into a home so everything isn't new and family heirloom or an inherited piece is preserved. I love that every vintage piece has a story. Mixing vintage with new creates conversation and brings something unique into a home. Anytime a vintage decorative object finds its way from a flea market, estate sale, or thrift shop onto a cocktail table or bookshelf I love to tell its tale and retrace its steps - it's all part of the thrill of the find. I am a brass-aholic and always on the hunt for brass animals and trays. A vintage brass piece on a glossy lacquered teal tray - so chic! I also love vintage glass bowls and dishes - you will see them scattered around Q44 Decor overflowing with mints!
Like me, our mothers and sisters are also interior designers. How has that affected your style, eye and what you have learned along the way?
My mother and sister are interior designers that have taught me so much about the business and the design industry. They both have their own unique styles on projects, but it's amazing to see them put all of the elements together with their individual stamps of design. They have years of experience and I only dove into the industry about five years ago so I am always learning something new from them. The three of us love sifting through estate sales or vintage and antique stores. I am always amazed to see my mother take one glance at a piece of furniture or decorative object and name the manufacturer or origin in minutes. I follow her around High Point market as she navigates our way around all of the furniture showrooms that she has been visiting for years, but I can barely keep up!
As a tri-coastal gal, what do you think plays well in each part of the country you work in?
The common theme in each part of the country is just that - the coast! Quogue, Delray Beach and San Francisco are all surrounded by the ocean and I think of a coastal lifestyle expressed through home decor in each of the three locations. Shells, oceans, waves, sea creatures are seen throughout each store and of course a ton of blue!
How does Florida style differ or resemble Quoque's and client needs and purchasing patterns?
We carry a lot of furnishings and decorative items in Quogue and Delray Beach that are oriented towards the resembling beach lifestyles and coastal living in the two locations, but definitely see some differences between them as well. Florida clients look for brighter punches of color in their decorating styles and accessories. Quogue brings clients looking for more textures and softer tones to layer into a home. A lot of our clients have homes in Florida as well as Northeast towns so it is nice to have our stores in both locations and offer so many design and decor options for everyone.
Mixing woven pieces, cerused woods and pops of color, the edited assortment of gifts to furniture is beach house ready
Large-scale photographs and sea-themed line the back wall of the shop
Easy-to-give items like candles and lanterns are on offer next to patterned throw pillows and accent tables
Looking for more substantial pieces? The shop offers design services along with practical pieces
Pick up a party platter or melamine, entertaining basics are aplenty
Classics with a fresh take are what these ladies do so well-- take, for example, these striking blue-trimmed wing chairs with bobbin legs.