865 Boston Post Rd., 203.656.1920
The motto at Diane Browne’s store is “Be kind.” The other adage? “Eat. Shop. Cater.” The front is a home/gift shop, with sections that tell stories with color. Brands and items include Roberta Freyman textiles, Nest holiday candles and gifts for baby, boyfriend and girlfriend. Right now, you’ll see predominantly green and red for the holidays; a major Christmas gift is Hearts and Ivy’s wool Santa. At the back of the store is a bustling café that opens an hour before the home section. “I’ve been catering for twenty-five years,” says Diane Browne. “And I’m good at it.”
679 Post Rd., 203.655.7355
Owners Beth duPont and Claire Miner offer unique hand-selected wares—think Diane von Furstenberg’s coffee table—all laid out meticulously. The gallery space upstairs has works by Darien artists for viewing and purchase. “We have fun,” says Miner. “The things in the shop are not run-of-the-mill.” At Denemede, customers walk into a converted Victorian with an “eclectic mix of objects,” says duPont. Each is meant to create a sense of place for the by-appointment clientele.
1029 Post Rd
The vignettes at the front of this shop owned by Elaine Kirby feature works from a monthly art installation (currently, David Hurwitt’s photography). In back, a café is homey and sociable, with an Instagram wall that promises return visitors a free cup of coffee. “I want the shop to be a local hangout,” Kirby says. “We have a ‘No Rules’ mantra, to move people beyond what they’ve been told.” The owner points to some of the goods sold that are marked with a chalky pink tag indicating a one-of-a-kind item. “That way, people will know it’s a find.” Among those treasures could be a carved burlwood timepiece; fine jewelry; or a witty sign with a bawdy edge.
At Home in the Heights
300 Heights Rd., 203.202.9933
Alicia Taylor lives two blocks from her shop, which sells custom fabrics, chevron lamps, bar carts, Rescued Wine candles and more. “We do bedding and home goods—affordably priced. Because of that, we’ve had some great feedback,” she says. An on-site seamstress tailors custom fabrics, while imported Le Souk Ceramique tagines are a holiday favorite. Other standouts: Lightfoot’s Men’s Soap and Roost ornaments. For the homesick, there are 06820 zip-code towels and candles.