<bt>Gwen Seidlitz, an interior designers, has opened her store Sage in Great Falls. Sage was operating successfully for several years in the town of Vienna before Seidlitz got the opportunity to bring her signature style to Great Falls.
The showroom, which features high-end furniture and accessories from around the world, took over the space previously occupied by French Country Living. “This location kind of came to me. The owner of the [Great Falls] building was my first customer in Vienna. We’ve built up a relationship over the years. He came to me this summer when he knew this was happening,” said Seidlitz of the vacancy left by French Country Living, which abruptly closed its doors in the middle of its annual Bastille Day sale amid bankruptcy proceedings.
The move to Great Falls, however, has quickly proven successful for Sage. “At first I was a little nervous moving where the traffic is less visible but it hasn’t been a problem,”Seidlitz said. In addition to bringing Sage’s Vienna and Oakton customers with her, the new location is proving a draw for people all over Northern Virginia and Maryland. “And we are, of course, getting a lot of Great Falls customers.”
Jorge Adeler, a local jeweler and officer in the Great Falls Business and Professional Association, said the typical Great Falls customer is more discerning than in other areas but that the offerings at Sage should fit well into the local demographic. “The customers here are highly educated and highly knowledgeable about what they want. But, they are also willing to pay for what they want. You can only expect to be challenged by the customer here, but if you rise to that challenge you will be rewarded,” Adeler said. “Great Falls does not have traditional foot traffic, so [merchants] must penetrate the market with unconventional forms,” he said.
Sage fills a void left by the other store, but Seidlitz has an identity all her own that is evident in the pieces she has selected for display. Her vision recently garnered her a room to design in the coveted National Symphony Orchestra showcase home in Potomac, Maryland. Being a part of that event gave Seidlitz and Sage added public recognition and brought in new customers and fans.
Alison Loughlin, a Sage customer for years, said, “I like it because she has a certain style, and the store reflects her flair for putting things together. She uses a lot of rich colors and rich fabrics. Her stuff is comfortable but elegant at the same time.”
“What’s popular now is the feeling of luxury and comfort. You can have both. You don’t need to skimp,” explains Seidlitz. “Sage is about luxury and comfort, the unusual and feeling good. You’re not going to find the same things here that you are going to find at a furniture store,” she said. “My husband calls it Gwen Shui, like Feng Shui. It just feels good.”
ALTHOUGH SHE’S NOT a classically trained interior designer, Seidlitz' style has won her a loyal customer base not only for her store offerings but also for her designing as well. “She is just someone who has a lot of natural ability in this area,” said Loughlin. Customer Caroline Glenn said the people at Sage “don’t push anything on me. I can walk around and browse, and when I’m ready I can get what I want without being pushed into more or feeling like more is expected.”
Part of Seidlitz' Sage advice is to purchase pieces that work with an individual or family lifestyle. “The formal rooms, the dining room, they usually take care of themselves, unless you do a lot of entertaining. If you have a budget, put your money into the rooms that you live in,” Seidlitz advises.
Sage has furniture and accessories in a variety of price ranges for every room in the house. The store sells a lot of both which allows for Seidlitz to replenish the inventory often with new items that reflect her and her clients' taste.
“The scale she likes to work in fits into the size of the homes here in Northern Virginia. She can use just a couple of pieces that have impact without being cluttered. It’s the mix and the scale of the stuff that makes it unique. And by using the larger pieces, the feeling ends up being almost peaceful because you don't have to have a lot of stuff to look at,” Loughlin said.
At Sage there is a whole team of people who are able to work one-on-one with clients to decorate a room or a whole house. Seidlitz herself does most of the designing and initial interactions with customers. “It’s all about connecting. If I meet with someone and think someone else here would be better to work with them or would be able to understand what they want better, then I’ll have them work together,” Seidlitz said.
Getting the Sage look can be customized for less, says Seidlitz. “I try to minimize the design fees by working with people from the store. I’ll take pictures, and then we keep a file and I just tell them to meet me in the store,” Seidlitz says. “If people come in here looking for something and don’t see it, we will find it for them. And, you know, people come in here all the time looking for one thing but end up with something else that they are much happier with,” Seidlitz said.
Sage is located at 10135 Colvin Run Road in Great Falls. The web address is www.sageinteriors.com.