Aiming For Eclectic Home Decorating

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If you haven't yet visited The Comforts of Home, the consignment furnishings and decor store tucked in the back of Bonanza Square behind the post office, you're in for an experience.

Owner Kathy Shoults has collected an exhaustive array of furniture and furnishings, including an entire 900 square-foot room devoted to dining room sets.

"From the outside it's deceiving," Shoults said. "Some people think they're going to come into a very small little store, and when they get in and find it's four suites and 3,000-square-feet, it really surprises them."

But Shoults, who opened The Comforts of Home three years ago, has been every bit as surprised by her Rim country clientele:

"When I first opened this store I was thinking, oh, Rim country. It's all going to be cabins and rustic, or that there were so many antique stores in town that antiques and shabby chic are what sells. But I found that Payson is extremely eclectic.

"You have people coming here from all different areas -- back east, down south, California, so they're all looking for something different."

And something different is what it's all about as far as Shoults is concerned.

"I always furnished and decorated my own homes, normally with second hand finds," she said. "Sometimes it was out of necessity because I couldn't afford new, but I have found that most second-hand pieces in a store, unless it's a thrift store, are unique, or they have some charm to them because you figure they graced someone's home at one time.

"I never wanted to decorate my home out of the fashion book. I've always been eclectic."

It's both an approach and an attitude, and Shoults says anybody can do it.

"I would say, if it's something you like, go with your gut."

But you can also take a more modified approach to being eclectic.

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Interesting pieces like this gold leaf room divider are what keeps customers coming back to The Comforts of Home. "You have people coming (to Payson) from all different areas -- back east, down south, California, so they're all looking for something different," owner Kathy Shoults said.

"If you really have no idea where you're going or what you're going to do, then I would advise going ahead and going through magazines, but not necessarily decorating magazines," she said. "Just start pulling out pictures. Say, ‘Oh I like that. I like the way that looks. I like the way that feels.'

"And then you can go from there. You can start pulling it together, because you'll start seeing what styling you like, what colors you like, what feel you like -- whether it be Victorian or very formal or casual or retro."

And it's OK to mix and match -- to a point.

"I think it's crazy when somebody comes in with a chair or something and says, ‘This is my oak and this is my stain. I can't buy anything unless it's exactly like that.' I think they've just totally stymied themselves.

"At the same time you wouldn't mix certain things; but you can have one room one way, another room another way, one section of a room even."

Shoults believes that furnishing a home should be an extremely personal experience.

"Believe it or not, I think furniture can touch you," she said. "You can have an emotional reaction, for whatever reason.

"It might remind you of something in your childhood or somebody special to you. It might be something subconscious."

It was, in fact, a very personal experience that inspired Shoults to open The Comforts of Home. After she retired from the U.S. Postal Service in the Valley, she and husband Ed moved to Gisela.

"The first couple years both my parents were at the end of their lives, so they were spent running back and forth to Pennsylvania," she said. "The next year I spent mourning; I was a recluse down in Gisela.

"Then my mother came to me in a dream and she told me, ‘Kathy, get on with it.' I always liked second hand stores and the hunt and the find, so I said, ‘OK mom, here I go. This is what I want to do.'"

Shoults originally thought her clientele would consist mostly of young people trying to furnish a first home or apartment on a shoestring. She was wrong.

"The younger kids would much rather use a credit card and buy new, I have found," she said. "Most of my customers are over 50, and that was a big surprise to me. But then again, they know quality and value."

Shoults considers Rim Furniture & Appliance in Star Valley her only real competitor.

"That's probably the only other place that does second hand furniture that is not, quote, ‘an antique store,' she said. "But they also carry appliances and mattresses, which I've never wanted to get into."

Shoults said she has an excellent relationship with Rim Furniture, as well as with the area's two new furniture dealers, Legacy Home Furnishings and Bedrooms And More.

"Quite often they have a client come in, purchase a new sofa or dinette, and they make the comment, ‘What am I going to do with my old one at home?'

"Both stores will give them my name and I'll go and look at it. If it's something I want to consign, they'll deliver the new merchandise to the customer and they'll pick up the second hand item and bring it to us."

Shoults usually splits the sale price 50-50 with the owner, while customers can expect to save at least 50 percent off the price of a new piece.

"One of our pricing rules is when you go secondhand your starting point is half of brand new," she said. "Depreciation is worse than driving a car off the lot; of course, when it gets old enough that it's an antique, then it can start back up."

"Antique" is actually a word Shoults stays away from whenever possible.

"‘Vintage' is the word, not ‘antique,'" she said. "That way nobody can say, ‘You told me it was an antique.'"

Although it's not always fun (she hates the consignment paperwork), The Comforts of Home has been, for the most part, an enjoyable experience for Shoults -- and it shows in the store's unofficial slogan.

Virtually all of her inventory comes from the Rim country so ... "we like to say, ‘We're recycling Payson,' she laughed.

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