Sun04202014

Business & Real Estate

Traditions creates the Peninsula "look"

Business Profile

Looking for a tasseled pillow, an antique English garden trug, or a casual loveseat in blue and white plaid? Traditions in Menlo Park offers accessories, antiques, and furniture of character.

"People tell me they love to walk through here just to see what's new. Our vignettes are always changing," manager Vonnie Stoia said.

Understanding their Peninsula customers' tastes and lifestyles has made Traditions a Santa Cruz Avenue success story. Its 5,000-square-foot showroom is an eclectic mix of casual elegance. "Nothing here ever says, 'Don't sit on me,'" Stoia said. "We emphasize comfort and livability."

Stoia and her fellow buyer Joan Papathakis are both long-time Peninsula interior designers who enjoy working together. They coordinate European antiques with new furniture and accessories to create the comfortable Traditions "look."

"We don't carry entire lines of new furniture, only the pieces we know will work for our customers," Stoia said. She has just returned from the spring furniture market in High Point, North Carolina, where she selected the latest in both furniture and accessories.

One of Traditions' specialties is helping customers create dream rooms over time, adding pieces as budgets permit. Besides Stoia and Papathakis, Traditions also employs designers Cathy Ettel and Danell Walker Tait, all of whom visit customer's homes for personal consultations. "People can buy progressively or all at once. Or they can arrange for us to accessorize existing rooms; the right accessories can make a room sing," said Stoia.

Also popular are Traditions' seasonal workshops by designer Katie Millhiser, who teaches crafts, flower arranging, and decorating classes held in the showroom. Using new and antique accessories, Millhiser covers topics like portable plantings which can be moved around the house; how to use antique roses in wreaths, centerpieces and shell scenes; and how to make mint vinegar and mint sauce to give to friends in special bottles.

Upcoming workshops by Millhiser will include how to make ornaments of natural and dried garden bounty; ribbon projects; and pyramids of flowers for fall. Class schedules are available in the showroom or by mail.

Coming up: in May, Traditions puts entertainment centers and home office centers on sale; in June, fresh antique containers from England arrive.

This summer, the store will premier its own line of upholstery fabric "with a refined, tailored look." Also on the way are containers of Oriental antiques and a major purchase of Italian antiques.

"I'm so excited about our expanding opportunities to give our customers the warm, yet elegant look they like," Stoia said.

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