With large tables made from durable quality woods, pottery crafted by local artisans, imported handmade decor and so, so much more, Phoebe & Belle in Cutchogue is a must-stop for curating your perfect North Fork retreat.
Whether you’re looking to spruce up your personal space or are searching for one-of-kind fashion accessories, the Main Road boutique offers high-end goods that — to borrow a term from Marie Kondo’s über-popular book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” — “spark joy.”
The shop, owned by Kathy Perretta, who’s long had a home on Nassau Point in Cutchogue, is now closed for the winter, but will once again be selling furniture, home goods, jewelry and more come May.
We sat down with Perretta recently to talk about design and running a business on the North Fork.
Q: How did you get into design?
A: About 30 years ago I had a design business with my sister in New Jersey, but then I moved to Europe. Design and food were my passions. When we moved to France, I followed my other passion, which is food and they are very similar actually. I went to cooking school when I came home from France and I pursued a career in public relations and food and worked for Charlie Palmer in New York and did public relations for his restaurant group.
And then I needed to spend a little more time with my kids and I got very involved in their school. And then I had a few years where I wasn’t doing anything. We always lived here part-time and I drove by this building all the time and it’s something I always wanted to do. I’ve always loved design and one thing led to another.
Q: What is the North Fork aesthetic?
A: It’s coastal. It sort of encompasses what’s around us. The farms and the coast and the country and the wine. We do a lot of natural woods. We like to mix texture. We like to keep simple, clean lines. I’d say comfortable, casual elegance. In the summer, blues and turquoise really sells well for us.
Q: Is this style something you incorporate in your own home?
A: I do, actually. It’s very much the same as how I describe the store. I think less is more. I think a clean aesthetic is just beneficial to the mind, body and soul. I don’t like “too much.”
Q: Where do you source your inventory from?
A: I try to keep it as local as possible. I would classify us as a lifestyle store so people come to us for the style I just described, but we try to keep it as local as possible. Sometimes with furniture it’s tough, but with pottery, art and jewelry and food we try to keep local.
The furniture, our upholstery, we get from one company out of California called Cisco Brothers. It’s a very high-end
This is something [gesturing to a sofa for sale in the store] you might want to invest in. It’s not a sofa you want to throw away in three years. And yet some of our casual side tables tend to be less expensive since you might get tired of that.
We try to do lots of different price ranges, too. Something for everybody.
Q: What are some trends you are seeing in home decor?
A: We’ve done a lot of gray. Gray does not seem to be leaving as a trend. It definitely is “the” color for background. It’s still the neutral color. This year gray flew out the door.
And in the summer it was the light blues and teals and sea greens. Back with gray is the background neutral. I think natural is still in, earthy natural woods. But last year there was a little bit of bling added to it.
I think mixing textures doesn’t seem to go away. I think mixing texture on the wall, fabric art on the wall, is going to be big and continue to stay.
I also see people incorporating things from their travels.
Q: What’s the best part of owning a business on the North Fork?
A: There are so many great things. You work close to home, you get to see and meet people — locals, tourists and second homeowners. I love, love, love meeting everybody. We have such a loyal client/customer base and that’s been one of the most enjoyable things.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge for your business?
A: Being a stand-alone store is very difficult. It’s hard to make that stop for the first time. We’ve been open two seasons now and it’s amazing how many people still come and say, “I’ve been meaning to stop by.” And then they say, “Oh, I love your store.”
Another challenge is it’s hard that we have to close in the winter. We just can’t stay open with the snow. It is just so dirty.
[On the other hand], we have a lot of parking and that’s what makes it easy.
That’s what great about being a store between Cutchogue and Greenport. People on the weekend find that they can just come and find a parking spot and find a gift. Greenport is just impossible to park in the summer. Our parking has been a great asset.
Q: What are your plans for the business?
A: For next year we will try to keep our pantry section stocked with 80 percent local products. More artisanal products, things you won’t find at the grocery. Definitely North Fork sea salt and jams.
We always change it up. One of the reasons we have this huge, huge sale at the end of the year is so we can bring in as many new products for the next year. We have such a loyal client base that they come in to see what’s new.