Spend a day shopping in Hinsdale, and one thing quickly becomes clear: French country style couldn’t be more popular in this western suburb. Sure, you can find sleek Scandinavian kitchen accessories, plush bath towels from Portugal, and furniture that’s pure Americana. But if your dream home is a country estate set amid the fields of Provence, many shops here will be right up your allée.
Hinsdale’s central shopping district is easily walkable. The main intersection, at Washington and First streets, is about a block from the Metra station. If you drive, park at the metered spots. But don’t stray too far-meter readers here make their rounds briskly.
At the top of Washington Street’s gentle hill, Les Tissus Colbert is one of three U.S.-based locations for this European fabric store that specializes in French textiles, with in-house interior designers to provide assistance. Many of the fabrics are based on designs found in 18th-century pattern books; you’ll see cotton toiles and matelasses, bright silk checks and stripes, and a variety of florals. Lots of the bolts come 110 inches wide, a hard-to-find width that’s advantageous for avoiding seams down the middle of draperies or duvet covers.
|Above: Small treasures at Trousseaux include hand-blown Juliska glassware from Prague (Amalia carafe set, $98) and Parisian ceramic candle pots by Homeart, $7.50 each.|
Charming ArtQuest Gallery brims with one-of-a-kind objects for the home, many of them functional, made by artistans with a rustic, folk-art sensibility. Simple, hand-hewn birch bowls by Keith Jones look like something the Pilgrims might have used; the butler’s island, hutch, and side tables from Cocopa incorporate recycled barn wood and hand-forged steel bases; Craig Windom uses copper to create lovely framed mirrors. Hot-selling decorative items include Mary Teeter’s wall hangings, which combine vintage fabrics, embroidery, and buttons, and Woof Works Studio’s hand-painted ceramic blocks engraved with encouraging words such as "abundance" and "say yes."
The eclectic assortment of home accessories at Design Toscano can be overwhelming, but it’s worth a stop if your taste leans toward the medieval or Egyptian. This large store is chock-a-block with hand-carved oak replicas of Gothic-style chairs and benches, gold-leafed columns embellished with hieroglyphics, floral tapestries, fiberglass-and-resin religious statuary, and assorted fairy, dragon, and gargoyle tchotchkes.
Across from the train station, on Hinsdale Avenue, Gebauer Tile & Marble specializes in tile and countertops made from marble, granite, slate, limestone, and other natural materials; you’ll see glass and ceramic options, as well.
|Upstairs from Fuller’s Hardware, The Second Floor kitchen store offers all manner of gadgets, linen, and china, including bold-patterned Sabre porcelain dinnerware (dessert plate, $24.99).|
Around the corner, on Garfield Avenue, is Bedside Manor, overflowing with high-end bed and bath linens made from natural fibers. The store’s private-label, Egyptian cotton Capistrano sheets have a luxurious 460 threads to the inch; other choices include Christian Fischbacher, N.C. Souther, and Yves Delorme. For punches of color, pick up funky, hand-embroidered Ankasa pillowcases or ruffly silk taffeta "sea flower" pillows by Ann Gish. The shop also sells brass bed frames, and it’s one of the few places in the Chicago area that carry Vivetique organic wool mattresses.
Next door is Fuller’s Home & Hardware. Upstairs, you’ll discover a 7,000-square-foot gourmet kitchen emporium, The Second Floor. In addition to the necessities-small appliances, bakeware and cookware, chef’s knives, gadgets, and an enormous assortment of kitchen and table linens-the store carries some unusual items. Check out Emma Bridgewater’s whimsical china and clever serving dishes (designed locally, by Nora Fleming) that feature interchangeable, seasonally themed ceramic decorations. Bonus: a dozen or more cooking classes are offered here each month.
|At Stockholm Objects, Stelton vacuum jugs by Erik Magnussen, $61, sit above Iittala glassware and china.|
Also on first street, The Garden Gallery is a new store that sells furniture, lighting, grills, cooktops, refrigerators, beer taps, and anything else you can think of to create upscale outdoor rooms. Even the rugs and artwork can stand up to the elements.
Hop across the train tracks to Chicago Avenue and Stockholm Objects. This diminutive store carries mainly clothing and just a few home goods, but it’s worth a stop if you’re interested in some bright, stripey dishes from Iittala, an etched glass schnapps bottle and shot glasses, or a very handy stainless steel "soap" bar for ridding your hands of pungent kitchen odors.
It would be easy to overlook the shops at Gateway Square (777 N. York Rd.), a strip mall whose stores face an interior plaza that’s not visible from the street. But several home stores make the quick trip up York Road worthwhile.
|A silk pillow, $105, is among the Stockholm Objects selection of home accessories.|
Hinsdale Lighting carries high-end lamps and chandeliers, including some from John Richards and Fine Art Lamps. Hanging among the traditional, French country-style options are surprises such as a Lady Be Good chandelier decorated with colorful glass fruit and a Curry chandelier, enhanced with crystal beads and amber pendants, that could work in both traditional and artsy interiors.
Family-owned Roecker Cabinets does custom cabinetry and woodwork, mainly in the-you guessed it-Provençal style, though the firm will work with any design. Besides kitchen and bathroom cabinets, Roecker creates custom dressing rooms, libraries, wine rooms, mantels, even ceilings. Examples on display show the high level of craftsmanship.
At first glance, Trousseaux appears to be mainly a sophisticated gift shop, brimming with delicate Juliska glassware hand-blown in Prague, handmade pillows, and antique French desk accessories. But shoppers in the know ask to see the binder with photos of antiques housed off-site, all of them for sale. The owner of Trousseaux has a passion for 17th- and 18th-century antique tables, chairs, bed frames, and armoires, and she regularly scours France for such treasures. She is particularly fond of mirrors, which you’ll see mounted in everything from an antique window frame to a high-backed bench-just the thing for bringing a bit of Provence into your home.
Both Corner Bakery and Così have locations here, but if you hunger for something less predictable, head to Embrace on First Street, an old theatre converted to a restaurant-boutique. One side sells hip, urban clothing and home goods, while the other offers a wine bar and bistro fare. Save room for dessert and coffee at Toni Marie’s Sweets & Savories, a cute shop with heavenly, made-from-scratch pastries and chocolates.
1. Les Tissus Colbert
2. ArtQuest Gallery
3. Design Toscano
4. Gebauer Tile & Marble
5. Bedside Manor Ltd.
6. The Second Floor
7. The Garden Gallery
8. Stockholm Objects
9. Hinsdale Lighting
10. Roecker Cabinets
11. Calico Corners
14. Toni Marie’s