NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – Tucked away at the side entrance of North Salem’s historic Union Hall, BB Abode, a home furnishings boutique and interior design service, has acquired many customers who were passing through North Salem. Many had come specifically to admire the nearby Balanced Rock and speculate on its origins.
BB Abode ended up in North Salem when Union Hall’s owner, Janis Menken, visited the Darien, Conn., shop of her longtime friends Roberta Ball and Manny DeMagistris. “We need something like this in North Salem,” she told them.
DeMagistris says Menken was right. “Our customers here like the shop because it’s small, it’s eclectic, it’s a combination of old and new. Sunday is a huge day here. A lot of couples come in, and they like interfacing with another couple.”
“We have a combination of genuine antiques and quality reproductions,” he said. “We have chandeliers, artwork, a variety of equestrian stuff. Ralph Lauren stopped in, and he loved our cowboy boots.”
Besides selling items from the shop, the couple do a lot of custom design, often making home visits, sometimes all the way to Manhattan.
“Retro is very popular right now,” Ball said. DeMagistris added, pointing to a recycled timber table, “So is the distressed look.”
The partners love their business abode in North Salem. “I ask people what it was like here 30 years ago and they say, ‘Exactly the same,’ ” DeMagistris said.
“People come up from the city and they ask me, ‘Where’s the town?’ ” he said. He tells them, “You’re in it – and we like it that way.”
As for the Balanced Rock, “One guy said he was convinced it was put there by aliens,” DeMagistris said. “He drove 75 miles because he’d heard about it.”
Both partners took a circuitous route to interior design. Ball studied business, was employed as an American Airlines flight attendant, and was a freelance dealer and worked for Domain before she went into business for herself.
DeMagistris was a child TV performer, appearing weekly on “The Horn and Hardart Children’s Hour” along with Bernadette Peters. His musical career has continued throughout his life, although his job as an advertising art director paid the bills.
He now performs locally with a band of “seasoned musicians,” aptly named Group Therapy.
BB Abode is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. The address is 2 Keeler Lane, North Salem.