Furniture was always part of the plan when Lucy Dearborn opened her sparkling lighting emporium in Lynn in 2006—after all, the store’s name is lucía lighting & design. And much of the store’s impressive inventory adorns the ceilings and walls of the 8,000-square-foot mansion-turned-showroom, leaving plenty of floor space. But it took respected interior designer Eileen Patterson’s retirement to help owner Dearborn take the leap.
“I knew Eileen couldn’t just retire [when she closed her showroom in the Boston Design Center] ,“because she is in constant motion,” says Dearborn with a laugh.
Patterson and Dearborn had worked together on several projects, developing a friendship over the years as well as discovering a shared philosophy of design and customer service. So, when the opportunity came along for a more formal collaboration, Dearborn jumped at the chance, bringing Patterson on as creative director.
“I trusted her to help us make it happen,” Dearborn says. “It’s not something we could have done on our own.” While Dearborn is passionate about design, she is the first to admit that her expertise lies with the lighting industry, where she has spent more than 25 years honing her craft. Thus, designer Patterson chooses every piece of furniture in the showroom and helps the team identify furniture brands like Gus Modern that offer unique looks at reasonable prices.
“We want to have an eclectic mix of fun things,” Dearborn says. “We don’t want to look like a big-box store.” Indeed, the inviting displays evoke sleek mid-century modern with a soft, playful edge, but the pieces are easily combined with accent items to fit a wide variety of tastes.
Take the Margot, a Gus Modern sofa in dark blue, currently the centerpiece of a beachy, casual living room display on the first floor. Prior to that, the couch was on the second floor, with accents that made it look a bit more modern and formal.
“That blue sofa turns out to be a beautiful neutral,” Dearborn says. “Seeing it makes me happy every single day.”
Dearborn hopes her showroom does exactly the same thing for each person who walks through the door.
Combining lighting and furniture can also save a stop in the sometimes-hectic work of pulling together a home, Dearborn says. “People are already stressed and rushed,” she says, adding that furniture and lighting pair well because they come at the same time in the design process. “People are in ‘finishing touch’ mode.”
The sofas, tables, and chairs also help customers understand scale in a way that just seeing a chandelier alone doesn’t—and vice versa. “Visual scale is the most important thing,” Dearborn says, noting that lucía has a variety of ceiling heights in its vast space, from 7 feet up to 12 feet, to let homeowners get a sense of how the items will work in their own homes.
Lighting remains the shop’s core business—the furniture displays have had little impact on the selection of more than 1,000 different fixtures from 40 companies. This vast assortment makes lucia a worthwhile trip for consumers and designers across the North Shore and well beyond, and regulars have not noticed any diminishment in the store’s shining offerings.
While customers don’t notice a difference, the planning for displays takes more time and thought now. Dearborn says Patterson works closely with their showroom manager to craft the appealing displays, which bring together a variety of different lighting styles with couches, chairs, accent tables, rugs, and decorative items.
“With lighting displays, we can just wing it, but furniture needs to be more planned,” Dearborn says, adding that furniture will change about once a year, but accent pieces will change much more frequently—sometimes surprisingly fast. If a customer really loves an item on display, they can walk out the door with it “if it can fit in their car,” Dearborn says, adding that delivery is always available, too, of course.
A surprise hit among the new additions will fit in just about any car. Dearborn says the popularity of the shop’s whimsical array of throw pillows was unexpected, but makes perfect sense.
“The gratification is instant [with a pillow],” she says. “No electrician, no one has to install it—you don’t even have to plug it in.”
And that makes people happy, Dearborn says. “Which, at its core, is what we are all about…. What we do isn’t that serious, but we take what we do very seriously.”