Experienced framers Barry Stahl and Bob Clayton built Big Picture Framing from scratch in 2000, holding meetings around an old card table as construction roared around them. Today, framers at 15 area locations craft custom frames to display artwork, photographs, and record sleeves, and shadow boxes protect three-dimensional items such as ballet slippers, macaroni art, or a swarm of wasps. Patrons can dictate all design choices, choosing from metal and wooden frames in a multitude of colors and styles, or ask for recommendations from one of Big Picture Framing's resident experts. Big Picture Framing also stocks pre-framed art, prints, and posters to spruce up bare-walled homes or a drab doghouse.
Alan J. Gardner opened his Salem factory in 1933, winning over generations of loyal customers with custom-made and odd-sized mattresses in a wide range of styles. Massachusetts-made pallets support sleepers with hand tufted construction and fluffy cotton fillings catered specifically to each client's specifications. The company's direct manufacturer-to-customer supply chain erases the influence of bothersome middlemen or arrogant, cigar-chomping mattress barons. Sleepers select from a variety of comfy cushion styles, such as latex, plush top, tufted, or pocket coils, with options for all-natural materials such as Joma wool and layers of thick cotton-knit fabric.
Neo Interiors looks for modernity in both form and function, culling furniture with contemporary shapes that also boast multi-functionality. Shoppers travel throughout a 15,000-square-foot showroom, alighting on pieces imported from Italy, Belgium, and Spain. The large and ever-changing inventory hails from approximately 15 distributors, each of which represents anywhere from 10 to 20 manufacturers. All-purpose design pops up everywhere, from updated takes on the sleeper sofa to wall-mounted storage units, whose glossy drop-down doors double as a makeshift bar or a stage for impromptu puppet shows. Italian Magniflex mattresses wrap soy-based memory foam in linen or organic cotton covers, some of which feature reversible designs that alternate between soft and firm support. Eco-friendly elements also ignite the shop's selection of freestanding bio ethanol fireplaces, whose smoke-free flames are powered by fuel harvested from grains and potatoes instead of gas, electricity, or magic spells.
Baker Adie Sprague, who made a splash as a participant on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, showcases her meticulous dessert designs at Treat Cupcake Bar. She crafts at least a dozen flavors every day, including seasonal goodies such as candy apple—an apple cake smothered with cinnamon frosting. Adie also whips up separate batches for gluten-free and vegan patrons, such as chocolate cake crowned with mint cookies ‘n' cream frosting.
Rather than hog all the decorating fun for itself, Treat invites guests to make their very own creations at its namesake bar. There, you’ll find four varieties of both cake and frosting, plus more than 20 other toppings, such as Pop Rocks and chocolate-covered pretzels. To refine your decorating skills, sign up for one of Treat’s holiday-themed classes and learn to make seasonal shapes such as turkeys for Thanksgiving and smashed calculators for National Do Long Division by Hand Day.
At Abodeon, functionality and fashion happily coincide. That's because the curators, husband and wife team Dale and Terri Anderson, call on their extensive art and design backgrounds to stock their store. The result is a bounty of vintage and current housewares that aren’t just pretty little things, but play an important role in whatever space they inhabit. Vintage lounge chairs mingle with teak salad sets and tree-shaped pepper mills, creating a showroom that inspires homeowners' imaginations like an attic door that says “Monsterworld.” The Andersons constantly replenish their store with vintage finds and housewares from local and international designers, allowing clients to come back to a new selection with every visit.