While some people like to jump-start their day with exercise and a strong cup of coffee, I’m energized by “shop talk” and discussing the 93108’s changing retail landscape with local merchants.
Last week, I met with two of Montecito’s newest retail powerhouses: Monelle Totah and Gary McNatton. The partners own Hudson | Grace, a Coast Village Road lifestyle store offering well-curated items for entertaining in the kitchen, living room and dining room.
Friends for the past 20 years, Totah and McNatton have spent a major part of their careers in merchandising and design, working for two of America’s biggest retailers, Williams-Sonoma and Gap. For years when on the road, they scoured flea markets, antique stores and bazaars for ideas and inspiration. Collaborating on and merging their philosophy of “truthfulness in design,” they launched their own business in October 2012 in San Francisco.
Looking to their own homes and entertaining lifestyle was the inspiration for Hudson | Grace, a go-to source for home furnishings. Totah and McNatton’s first store was located on Sacramento Street in Pacific Heights. They added a second location in Marin County and now a third, at James Rosenfield’s Montecito Country Mart, 1014 Coast Village Road.
Preferring a small footprint, designer Michael Bodziner of San Francisco, from the renowned Gensler architectural firm, took their compact space here and maximized the square footage, giving it a large, open and airy feeling. Each piece and collection is displayed on clean white shelves. Dark wood tables traverse the middle of the store, displaying books focused on home and design, while several flatware collections and accessories grace the table tops.
Hudson | Grace merchandise is “selected and showcased as if it were an objet d’art,” Totah said we all sat out in front of their store.
“We have truly enjoyed our first month in Montecito,” McNatton said. “The community has been generous in their welcome, their praise and their gracious attitude — truly.
“There seems to be a natural affinity to the Bay Area, and welcoming in the community.”
A San Francisco refinement and Los Angeles au courant, the pair explained.
The store’s day-to-day operations will be run by affable store managers Doug McNatton (Gary’s brother) and Johnna Clavin, who already have been given a big welcome from the locals.
Adjacent to retailers James Perse, Calypso, Intermix, Space NK Apothecary, Panino and Montecito Natural Foods, a home furnishings store is a perfect complement to its neighbors in this community destination for shopping, eating and services.
Toy Crazy, Malia Mills, Rori’s Artisanal Ice Cream, Pressed Juicery, Read n Post, Xanadu Bakery, George, Mate Gallery, Kendall Conrad, Little Alex’s, Montecito Barbers and One-Hour Martinizing are a lineup of the current Montecito Country Mart tenants.
The Hudson | Grace color palette is neutral, its white is a thick creamy white.
“It’s a white you can dive into,” McNatton said. “When we do use color, it is a moment of excitement, like the 25 colors in our linen napkins — vibrant international orange (the color of the Golden Gate Bridge) to ink blue inspired by the ocean.
“Our style is simple. We believe in ‘with simplicity there is longevity.’”
Hudson | Grace is not “overdesigned,” but rather is a store with soft corners and a livable look.
“Abundant, generous in size, natural, and items that contain beautiful silhouettes for the way we live,” Totah said.
Totah and McNatton’s timeless style is represented in their choice of tableware, ceramics from Italy and Portugal, glasses, books, custom-scented candles, tapers, candlesticks, oversized linen napkins, silver serving pieces and wood cutting boards, to name just a few of the items you’ll see.
In-store book signings are on the spring agenda and a bridal registry is available to welcome Santa Barbara and Northern California brides.
Hudson | Grace is open daily in the Montecito Country Mart at 1014 Coast Village Road. Click here for more information, or call 805.565.9600.
— 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.