“Can I move in?”
That’s the funny question that Lynn Makiej says she hears a lot when people visit MAK & Co., the home furnishings, gifts, and accessories shop that she owns with her husband, John.
A single visit will tell you why. Strolling around MAK & Co.’s 3,600-square-foot showroom with a cup of coffee or a glass of champagne feels like dropping in at your most stylish and welcoming friend’s house. The space—housed in the refurbished River Bend Mill on the Shawsheen River in Andover—is both cozy and elegant, and it’s set up exactly like a home.
There are little sitting areas, complete with rugs, coffee tables, lighting, and couches, sectionals, and a variety of eco-friendly furniture from Virginia-based manufacturer Rowe. There’s a long wooden dining table (custom-made by a local carpenter) that’s beautifully set with servingware, wine glasses, and table linens. There’s clothing from Femme Boutique Boston, antiques from Carried Away Home, and a men’s area complete with leather arm chairs, grooming products, cocktail kits, watches, and other accessories. There’s even a kids’ area that offers blocks on a little table surrounded by pillow seats for playing, and books, games, and toys for sale.
“I feel like this is how you live,” says Makiej, gesturing around at the store, which is beautiful, with its old wooden beams and exposed brick and stone walls. Shoppers can find a mix of new and antique pieces from around the world with a sophisticated, but often whimsical and quirky, European rustic aesthetic. There’s a little bit of everything: furniture, lighting, rugs, home and personal accessories, cookbooks, antique maps, candles, vases, and much more.
The result is that MAK & Co. is an inviting and personal-feeling space filled with expertly curated finds ranging from furniture to home décor. There are items that can’t be found in big-box stores, like old European doors and shutters, rustic tabletop pieces, and rugs from India from vendors that give a portion of sales back to the villages where they’re made.
“It seems a little more personal and special here,” Makiej says. “I feel like every house should have a few pieces that are those amazing conversation pieces.”
If the store looks and feels beautiful, it’s all because of Lynn herself. “What you see here is really all of her ability to create a beautiful environment,” John says of his wife, who runs the day-to-day operations of the store. “I think we knew we were on the right track with this business because people were coming in and saying there’s nothing like this in town.”
MAK & Co. is the fruition of Lynn’s long-time dream of someday owning a shop just like this one. “I’ve been doing some interior design work for about seven or eight years now,” she says. “All along, I have wanted my own little shop.”
Her interior design career started organically, she says, and also a little unexpectedly. For 22 years, Makiej has owned the DNE School of Dance in Chelmsford, but she has also had a growing passion for decorating and design.
She started by simply decorating her own home, where friends would marvel at her knack for interior design. Eventually, those friends enlisted her help in designing and decorating their homes, too, and within a few years, Lynn was taking on clients outside of her circle of friends.
With her two sons, ages 11 and 6, both in school full-time, Lynn knew the time was right to realize her dream of opening a shop. The availability of space in the RiverBend Mill, right next to Oak & Iron Brewing Co., made the timing impeccable. “If I was going to do a store, this is exactly where it needs to be,” she says. “It’s this beautiful mill space on the river. It’s the perfect spot.”
It’s also the perfect spot to host events and make people feel at home. A work area in the back corner provides a table and chairs next to a rack with more than 1,000 fabrics, allowing designers and their clients to use the space to get inspired and brainstorm ideas. Special events (which are always free) might welcome interior designers, appraisal and antique professionals, home organization experts, or kitchen and bath specialists. It’s all part of an effort to help people make their homes more beautiful and functional and have a little bit of fun with friends in the process.
Lynn adds that the aesthetic and products at MAK & Co. speak to peoples’ values, placing an emphasis on special pieces that stand the test of time and become more treasured as the years pass.
“They want a custom pine table that they’re going to have for their whole family and pass it down,” Makiej says. “I think that’s how people live now.” makandcoandover.com