If you want elegant and unconventional pieces for your home, a trip to Ohio’s Amish country is in order.
The happy hen on the sign out front is a nod to the fact that this two-story, almost 9,000-square-foot building was once a large chicken coop. Today, the place has become one of the area’s beloved home decor retailers. The store offers many rooster-themed items, including throw rugs, dishes, cups and saucers, decorative pillows, linens and figurines. But the sophisticated and beautiful wares are far more than just whimsical knickknacks. The Coop also keeps a large and frequently changing inventory of quilts, braided rugs, lanterns and small accent furniture pieces. The Find: A distressed earthenware rooster canister meant for decoration ($89.99), because what could be happier than a rooster in a hen house? “I see the rooster on a kitchen island or a dining room table,” explains Donna Hochstetler, lead designer at The Coop. “It doesn’t need to have a lot around it.” She points out that you could also take the lid off and create a flower arrangement. “But I wouldn’t add anything permanent,” she advises, “so you can change it out when you want.” 1373 Old Rte. 39 N.E., Sugarcreek 44681, 330/852-4026, dutchvalleygifts.com
Thomas Edison probably wouldn’t have been a big fan of Lehman’s lighting department and its variety of lamps and lanterns powered by oil, olive oil, carbide, solar power or candles, but rarely a light bulb. On the other hand, the famous inventor likely would have been impressed with how the old-fashioned hardware store’s products speak to ingenuity and survival. Where else can you buy lantern and lamp wick by the foot? Lehman’s giant and ever-growing, 35,000-square-foot complex (a new expansion will open this spring) features cook stoves, kitchen gadgets, toys, weathervanes and wheelbarrows. But the lamp department, filled with beautiful glass and stoneware lamps, is always a bright spot. The Find: A gorgeous cobalt-colored Bullseye lamp ($209–$244, depending on options) made exclusively for Lehman’s by Aladdin, a Michigan-based art glass company. “The lamp is inspired by one made in the 1890s by the Diamond Glass Co. in Montreal,” says Grace Unzicker, one of Lehman’s lamp specialists. “It has been very popular.” The store’s president, Galen Lehman, is credited for giving the old Bullseye glass pattern new life. 4779 Kidron Rd., Dalton 44618, 877/438-5346, lehmans.com
An elegant staircase leading to a 27,000- square-foot second floor immediately beckons visitors. But resist the urge to climb the stairs. Instead, head to the back of the first floor where huge and heavy live-edge wood slabs are propped against a wall. Created from cross sections of trees, the widest and longest varieties can be used to fashion tables, bars and desk tops. The unusual cut — often with its bark intact on the sides — also lends itself to beautiful kitchen islands, nightstands, fireplace mantels, end tables and even wall hangings. The slabs come from trees that are often 150 to 400 years old and are air dried for one to two years. Wood types include maple, oak, cherry, walnut and a few exotic woods that are harvested following international green standards. In addition to its custom furniture, Homestead sells high-end national brands of hardwood and upholstered furniture. The Find: A live-edge redwood table that seats 10 (slab $7,483, with base $8,643) made from a tree that grew in California. It’s finished with a clear, incredibly durable coating that is used on all of the store’s custom tables. “You could put this table outside and use it as a picnic table. It would last 150 years,” says store owner Ernest Hershberger. “Just dust it with a soft damp cloth.” 8233 St. Rte. 241, Mount Hope 44660, 866/674-4902, homesteadfurnitureonline.com
THE CHEST SHOP
Gideon Troyer’s workshop lies at the end of a long gravel driveway that takes visitors through an Amish homestead; past fields, white barns and several houses. When you park in front of the small building with a sign that reads “Cedar Chests,” don’t be surprised if a woman’s voice calls out from a nearby home’s window: “He’ll be right there.” Troyer, 78, has worked in the construction trades and farming most of his life, but the Amish man has also made handcrafted chests for the past 40 years. Now retired, he sells them to locals and tourists who want an alternative to the region’s more commercial furniture stores. Troyer’s custom-made creations can store bedding, act as a young girl’s hope chest or even double as a coffee table or seating. The Find: A 46-inch-long cedar chest ($260) that smells as good as it looks, with a grain that runs across the boards like wayward rivers. “I like cedar, but also cherry,” says Troyer, whose full-size chests are also made from oak and walnut. Smaller tabletop versions are available in unusual quartersawn sycamore. “The hardest part is the sanding, getting it all smooth.” 5210 County Rd. 120, Millersburg 44654, 330/893-7221 (voice mail), no Sunday business
VILLAGE GIFT BARN
This three-story building filled with surprising and unusual finds began life as a dairy barn. Today, the sprawling store’s beautiful wooden floors, big windows and high ceilings add to the allure. Departments range from clothing to home decor to accent furniture, and styles run the gamut from traditional to contemporary. Even with a large expansion in 2006 and another 1 1/2 years ago to accommodate kitchen accessories, the place still seems barely big enough to hold everything it carries. The Find: Two glazed clay pots from Mexico ($174.99/28 inches tall; $139.99/19 inches tall). You might walk right by the large urns, until you study their mesmerizing colors: subtle shades of peacock blue, sea green, dusty brown and hints of yellow change with the light and your viewing perspective. The vases’ throats are painted a flat black, giving them a dramatic and unexpected edge. “You could put a vase in a corner of a room to soften it, or on a fireplace hearth,” explains Heather Yates, the store’s buyer and one of its designers. “A lot of homes have high ceilings these days and it also would do well on a high ledge.” 4755 E. Main St., Berlin 44610, 330/893-2648, villagegiftbarn.com