Kathy and Karyn  are Home at the Beach

<p>Karyn Zigler (left) and Kathy Mathews welcome you to their gift shop and new interior design business in Long Beach, Home at the Beach.</p><p></p>

    “It’s a perfect day at the beach when the sun’s out, the breeze is blowing, the fish are running and the lawn mower is broken.”

    And as another saying goes, “If you’re lucky enough to live at the beach, you’re lucky enough.” So bayside or seaside, count your blessings, I’ve been counting mine.

    This past week I had to hightail it to Yakima, where it was a blistering 88 degrees and everyone was smiling but me. The next day, approximately 337 raindrops fell, and everyone turned grumpy fast. These Eastern Washingtonians don’t seem to understand the beauties of water. Having grown up in Yakima, where every summer I stood on hot cement lifeguarding with sweat dripping down my nose, I’ve had my fill of baking — except in February when wouldn’t it be great if Yakima could pipe a little sunshine our way?

    At any rate, I know now that I’ve fully completed my conversion to cool: when the rain started I yearned for home and our 39 shades of green. Which brings me to Home at the Beach, a new interior design business that occupies what has been a long-empty corner in downtown Long Beach at 620 South Pacific Ave.


Kathy and Karyn

    The energetic duo of Kathy Mathews and Karyn Zigler will greet you at the door and welcome you into a jam-packed-with-charm shop containing all things beachy.

    Karyn talks about their genesis, “Kathy and I met through friends but we were neighbors in Ocean Park. I had just retired and moved to the Peninsula full-time in December. We moved here [husband Bob still commutes to Kirkland every week] and I met Kathy and we had so much in common in terms of design and décor. My background was human resources, but I always did design on the side.”

    Kathy said, “I’m a transplant. I grew up here but I moved away to raise my family. I taught school in grades one through five in Olympia, and I returned about five years ago.”

    “We started in the Antique Mall in Seaview,” she continued. “My husband Mark and I had things that we’d made and sold there. When I met Karyn, she participated too and then we expanded and had two booth areas. Our furniture started to fill up both spaces so we just started thinking, ‘Where do we go?’”

    “So we contacted some gift stores and rental properties,” Karyn picked up the tale. “We both enjoy helping other people. We get inspired decorating so we just thought, ‘What if we take the plunge and open our own shop?’ Then we found the perfect space.”


Calming seascape

    So what do you do after you sign the lease on a long empty corner shop? No problem for Kathy and Karyn — this is their business!  They took four weeks to paint and decorate.

    “These stores were empty for quite a while,” said Karyn, “but we found the perfect color — seascape. Then we found this bead board wallpaper for a tenth of the cost of bead board.”

    “We added a chair rail at the top of it,” said Kathy — no secrets here. “We always like to give our customers little hints when we’re decorating. This high-gloss Seascape is a calming color. Everybody compliments us on this color.”

    And it’s a perfect backdrop for the cozy jumble of items they carry in their shop: hand-built tables of drift wood; Martha Lee oils; Susie Howell’s postcards and photography; Diane Jackson’s etched glassware; themed furniture; shelled mirrors and boxes made by Kathy; Duke DesRochers’ repurposed Barbie dolls as mermaid sculptures; custom-made driftwood signs; and all manner of beach tchotchkes.

    As Karyn said, “We have items from every price point, especially if you’re visiting and just want to take back a little bit of the ocean.”

    “One of our heroes is Nate Berkus [an American interior designer] and he says whether you live on the coast or not, every home should have a little piece of the sea in it. You can have a shell on a table or a photo or bead board in a small bathroom or just a piece of coral. I thought that was a lovely way to say you don’t have to live at the beach to have that coastal feel.”


Nautical or coastal?

    I got a short lesson on beach décor. Kathy said, “We want people to know that just because you want a beach design it doesn’t have to be greens and blues. The palette for coastal is very broad from beach grasses in tans and browns to the deepest blue of the ocean to clouds and greys.”

    “And there is a difference between nautical and coastal,” said Karyn. “With nautical you could have reds, blues and yellows. Nautical mostly relates to ships and sailing.”

    “We do have some nautical items — rings and oars and beach bags and things like that,” Kathy continued. “But we’d been looking for a coastal store and didn’t find one, not without driving to Seaside or Cannon Beach. Coastal is not only a style, it is a décor.”

    And Home at the Beach is not only analog, it’s virtual as well. “We have a Facebook page with close to 2,000 fans,” said Karyn, “some from as far away as Florida. We got a call from a client in Marysville with a home on Camano Island. We have a Facebook fan from Vietnam!”

    Kathy and Karyn also offer interior design consulting, staging services for real estate sales, and construction consulting. They have a partnership with Randall Lee in Seaside, who can supply contractors to manifest their designs.


Coastal customers

    “We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t like it,” said Karyn.

    “It’s important to be available to the customers,” said Kathy. “We love the interaction. This time of the year you get people from all parts of the country. A couple weeks ago we had these two ladies from Iowa.”

    “They said they’d been on the road for 11 days. They bought a camper and put it on their truck — it took up almost two parking spaces. They just took off and left their husbands behind and were enjoying the Peninsula. They’d never been here before.

    “They ended up buying some things to tuck away in the camper. They were going to Seattle to ‘have dinner at the top of that thing that goes around.’ They were a hoot.”

    “And I can’t tell you how wonderful business owners are here in Long Beach,” said Karyn. “People come in and introduce themselves and say, ‘Oh we’re so happy to have you here because for so long these stores were empty. It’s so great to have a quality store in this space.’”

    “It gives more variety to the loop that visitors walk,” said Kathy. “There’s clothing, kites, candy, ice cream and, here, you can find a gift. Our store compliments what’s already here.”

    “It fills a niche,” said Karyn

    “We want to have fun with it,” said Kathy.

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