Possibly the single best perk of owning a vintage-minded housewares boutique is the ability to pull stock for your home. Hosting a dinner party? Grab the plates imported from Brussels. Want an interesting vase? Use the silver pitcher from an old London hotel. Need to add whimsy to the kitchen? Display that ceramic rooster found in France.
So it’s surprising that Karl Sorensen (pictured left) and Steve Weigel, the co-owners of River North’s P.O.S.H., don’t often take advantage of the utterly charming and one-of-a-kind items they find in Europe and beyond. In fact, the pair exercise a healthy dose of self-restraint in deciding which pieces will be for sale in the store and which will be for their two-bedroom, two-bath condo bordering Lakeview and North Center.
“It would kind of be like the alcoholic running the bar if we couldn’t control what we kept and what we sold,” Sorensen says. And while the space is reflective of the style of the store—warm, flea-market chic, turn-of-century French and an effortless-looking mix of old and new—it’s only recently that the couple began to rethink selling the best pieces they find. “One day we’ll be done with the store and I’ll look around and ask, ‘Where did all the cool stuff go? Oh, we sold it all!’ ” Sorensen says. “So I’m trying to save a few things now.”
Sorensen is the creative force behind the store, while Weigel tends to the bookkeeping and business nuts and bolts. The pair met nearly 20 years ago while working as international flight attendants. One of their first outings together was a shopping trip in Manchester, England. As they fell for each other, they also fell hard for European flea-market finds, and the idea for P.O.S.H. was born. “The aesthetic of our home is like that of the store because it reflects our hearts. It’s an era and a look and a feel that’s always spoken to us—it’s about the golden age of travel, really,” Sorensen says.
Now they rent a truck once a year and travel around France to hidden markets and antique dealers to stock the store. Occasionally, an item will make it into their top-floor condo, which they customized when they bought it as new construction in 2000. They added a little balcony off the kitchen (in addition to a pergola-covered terrace off the main living room) for stashing Weigel’s herb garden, added wide kitchen cabinets and imported an antique wood fireplace mantle from England to supplant the builder’s modern
“We had to add vintage pieces to give the place more character, more soul,” Sorensen says. Just as the shop is a mix of old and new, so is their condo. A beautiful, worn French farm table is flanked with chairs from Pottery Barn.
“A lot of designers or dealers are about names. They want that collectible thing that’s hot. We are more about what’s beautiful, what has our look,” Weigel says. “There’s just a certain charm to it all.”
Visit P.O.S.H. at 613 N State St (312-280-1602).