DOWNERS GROVE – Visitors to Core Interior Design could walk out with a large mounted barracuda, bronze bookends and a elephant-shaped torchiere, or something completely opposite.
The eclectic selection inside the storefront of Gretchen Dockendorff’s business is testament to her 17 years of picking and vintage collecting.
“I think every room should have something funky in it, to set it off, or to cause a conversation,” she said.
Dockendorff moved her interior design studio to the current downtown Downers Grove location, 1005 Curtiss St., last summer because the new spot allowed her to add a storefront display area for both shoppers and her interior design clients. Though open since June, the new store front was officially completed this winter.
As picking has become more popular, Dockendorff said she often finds herself traveling further west and south to outreach city design studios’ ever-expanding efforts.
“So I hit Princeton, I go all the way to Peoria,” she said. “A lot of these river towns, where there was industry, are becoming really cool. Peoria’s got a really good movement going on because they’re stripping factories down. A lot of those river towns you can get some really cool finds.”
Turn-of-the-century, mid-century and the ‘70s all mingle comfortably in Core Interior Design. One of her favorite recent finds stood proudly last week on a glass, ‘70s coffee table – a brass and porcelain sunfish from the same era. She liked it so much that it may join the five-foot tall metal tusk standing near the front door on the “not-for-sale” list, she joked.
“The ‘70s is really sexy,” Dockendorff said. “Some of that stuff gets cleaned out really quick.”
Placing varied items in contrast and compliment within the same space was a large motivation for opening the display area, she said.
“I was finding that my clients had been designing very one-note,” she said. “And that for me to instill an eclectic design philosophy, they actually had to see it.”
Dockendorff also creates her own work, like the tear-drop shaped wall art cut from Indian sarees gracing the west wall of the store, and hanging in front window. The store offers re-upholstered chairs and other vintage furniture, along with framed art and prints.
“It’s great to see recycling and reusing … and giving old things new life,” she said. “That makes me happy.”
Her main business is residential consultation and design, but last year she also had the opportunity to conceptualize and design a restaurant on Navy Pier in Chicago named City Porch.
She said future restaurant or bar design would allow her to explore some of her bolder tastes, some of which she uses in her ‘60s, modern ranch home, she said.
“My house, if it was in here, I’m not sure it would fly,” she said.