By Emily J Weitz
La Maisonette means “little house” in French, and the picture perfect gingerbread house that Lynn Park Charveriat and Christopher Charveriat bought on Main Street fits the name of the business perfectly. In recent months, the couple completely renovated the entire place, and they now use the upstairs as their residence and the downstairs as their business. La Maisonette, a carefully curated antique shop, was previously located on Bay Street next to Geekhampton, but the sturdy brick façade didn’t match the name or the wares inside. Now, it seems the Charveriats have come home, and from the overheard conversations of people strolling in and out of the shop on a Sunday afternoon, the neighborhood is happy to have them.
Lynn and Christopher met in Paris at the gallery of a mutual friend.
“It’s funny we hadn’t met before,” says Lynn. “We both had these mutual friends for years and years. I had met Christopher’s twin brother 10 years earlier, and when I saw Christopher at the gallery I thought it was him. I didn’t even want to say hi to him, but then my friend told me it was his twin brother.”
At the time, Lynn was working in fashion as the New York editor for W Magazine, and Christopher had been an interior designer in Paris for 10 years. As their relationship developed so did their desire to open a business together, and with their collective experiences and their shared appreciation of antiques, the antique business seemed like a good fit. They opened La Maisonette on Bay Street in 2010, and they both loved the business.
They travel all over Europe collecting the items they have in the shop. Most things are from France, but they also gather treasures in Belgium, Spain, Italy and Morocco.
“We travel a lot in these countries,” says Christopher. “We have good contacts in each of these towns from my work as an interior designer and from friends.”
As they travel, purchasing things along the way, they have a few storage locations throughout Europe. One, in Belgium, is an actual castle that belongs to a friend.
“He gave us a little tower in the castle to store our antiques,” says Christopher.
When they set out on a trip to buy for their shop, they have a list of things they really want to find, both for themselves and for their customers.
“But you can get distracted,” admits Lynn. “We’ll scour the rooms separately and then come back together and tell each other what we’ve found.”
Sitting in La Maisonette on a Sunday afternoon, there’s a steady stream of traffic. One woman was drawn in by the pillowy wooden mushrooms that seem to be dancing on the front lawn. Another loved the old hurricane lanterns, and for another it was the Moroccan window frame that caught her eye.
Everyone was curious to know about the renovation process of the house, in which the couple maintained as much of the original character as possible. The house had stood empty for years, and it needed to be completely redone on the inside.
But each room still maintains its distinction, and there’s something fitting about the fact that the rooms are filled with antique objects that have stories behind them, as the house itself does.
“I often think about the lives these things have had before,” says Lynn, “and hearing their stories.”
That’s part of the fun of her job, but it’s also part of the heartbreak. Sometimes Lynn and Christopher find something that they fully intend to sell, but when someone wants to buy it there will be a pang at letting it go.
“There’s a bit of attachment to things,” says Lynn. “We try to find really unique items that stand out, and you know you can’t find another.”
A woman was asking Lynn, pleading really, about the mushrooms outside.
“Maybe you’d be willing to give one up for adoption?” she asks. Lynn seems skeptical, but she agrees to take her email address, and if she changes her mind, she’ll let the woman know.
Lynn and Christopher love seeing the way people connect to these items that they themselves have connected to.
“That’s the most rewarding part of our work,” says Lynn. “Knowing that these things that we’ve found are going to go to good homes, and will make people happy.”
La Masionette is located at 133 Main Street in Sag Harbor. For more information call 725-0300.