The highly anticipated Field+Fort, a new lifestyle store in Summerland, has finally had its big reveal and is ready for its closeup.
The store, at 2580 Lillie Ave. in the old Cantwell’s Market, was born and inspired by co-owners Susie Bechtel and Kyle Irwin. With the help of general contractor Richard Heimberg, they’ve transformed the 5,000-square-foot building over the last 1½ years. The store feels happy, optimistic and like going home.
Irwin was the original owner of Botanik down the street, but opened his own Santa Barbara design firm 13 years ago. He is still working on interior design projects in his second-floor studio at Field+Fort, but told Noozhawk, “I felt like I had one more retail idea in me!”
Even before entering the white board-and-batten wood building, the outdoor areas with furniture, accessories and water elements set the stage for what is to come inside.
Walking in the front door is a real jaw dropper. Field+Fort offers an extensive selection of found objects, vintage and antique furnishings, artisan foods and highly edited home goods.
In addition to being a full-service design firm, Field+Fort offers an expanding line of original design furnishings, from upholstered goods to case goods. The store has many beautiful and high-priced antiques, but it also has a very approachable selection of great gifts, gourmet pantry items, books, candles and lots of wonderful items for entertaining.
While working on several projects with Bechtel, Irwin soon realized their tastes were very much in sync. They both saw the vision for Field+Fort.
The Field in the name refers to the garden — the store boasts lots of antiques and gifts for the garden lover — and the farm-fresh produce served in the café, Feast.
The Fort in the name is Bechtel and Irwin’s term for house and all the good things you want in yours, from amazing antiques and one-of-a-kind accessories to other custom pieces, bedding, bath and kitchen goods, and gifts.
The Feast café offers a creative all-day menu of local, fresh and seasonal ingredients from farmers and sources the owners know. Joshua Tree Coffee Company coffee and a range of hot teas and lemonade are also available.
The two days I visited Field+Fort for lunch and holiday shopping, the patio and interior café were bustling with many familiar faces — especially the communal table. Bechtel and Irwin really wanted to create a gathering place.
On the horizon in 2020 will be many new projects as the store evolves, including cooking classes with executive chef Austin Moore, who left Portland’s vibrant food scene to help bring the Feast menu to reality. Other classes with visiting chefs, community talks and vintner dinners are also planned.
As a Summerland resident myself, I can say that Field + Fort is a welcome addition to the community, and the 93108 retail scene.
Field+Fort is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
— Judy Foreman is a Noozhawk columnist and longtime local writer and lifestyles observer. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.