When he was in college, Brian Hart didn't own any furniture, but he lined his walls with framed art. He'd always loved art, so moving into the framing industry—a service geared toward showcasing everything from great masterpieces to sentimental items—was a natural step. After graduation, he spent six months working at local framing stores for free, studying the business and framing Vermeer's The Concert on the sly.
With help from his mom, Brian opened Frame de Art over 23 years ago. Though technology has changed—with industry innovations including the advent of computerized mat-cutting and visualization software—the store still takes pride in meticulous attention to detail, winning it a spot on ABC 7's A-list in 2008 and 2009 and was voted best custom framing by Denver A-list in 2013. An inventory of over 1,000 moldings encompasses diverse styles from modern metal pieces to rustic wood or bamboo frames. The staff helps customers give their works museum-quality looks and protection, finding the acid-free frame that best compliments each piece of fine art, photographs, sports memorabilia, or 3-D mementos.
FastFrame of LoDo's showroom houses more than 2,000 frame samples. Wood and metal boarders wait to enclose artwork, photographs, and 3-D items, from sports jerseys to musical instruments to Abe Lincoln's stovepipe-hat polish. The showroom also houses thousands of matte samples—including fabric, suede, and genuine leather.
All these options are on display to help customers find the exact frame and matte combination they want. But FastFrame of LoDo's professionals also recognize that not everyone can make a final decision without seeing what the finished product will look like. So they rely on Frame Vue, a computer program that snaps a photo of the client's artwork and then shows what it will look like with different frame and matte combinations.
Services like this earned FastFrame of LoDo the title of Best Custom Framing by the Denver A-List in 2010, 2011, and 2012. And people like Jarrod Perrott earned it 5280 magazine's Top of the Town award for customer service. The magazine's editors said: "The finished products FastFrame of LoDo puts out are spectacular—and, as a bonus, after picking up your wall-hanging, Perrott will send you a handwritten thank-you note (a wonderful, thoughtful touch). ..."
At Urban Mattress, patrons can sprawl out on comfy, soporific mattresses from brands such as Sherwood, Tempur-Pedic, Lumina, and Urban Organics in search of firm billows. The owner-operated stores also offer sustainable options that leave little to no carbon footprint and are biodegradable, making future archaeologists' jobs easier when they go to uncover the cans of peas hidden under our beds. Two percent of all proceeds finds its way to local nonprofits, ensuring that customers can sleep better at night in more ways than one.
You don't have to be a professional painter to make beautiful art. At Arts on Fire, customers purchase their pottery and transform it into a one-of-a-kind decoration or tool using the studio's colorful, non-toxic paint. Ceramic figures include piggy banks, fanciful creatures, doll-like figurines, and wall decorations such as mirrors and picture frames. They also offer the chance to create fused-glass mosaics and canvas paintings of yourself as a minotaur.
At HW Home, owners Jim Hering and Ron Werner curate a luxurious collection of living-room, bedroom, and dining-room fixtures that have earned a slew of industry awards, including a Retailer of the Year title from the National Home Furnishings Association in 2013. Friendly, knowledgeable staff members guide shoppers through the selection of contemporary and classic chairs, sofas, beds, and tables from collections such as HW Interiors, Ralph Lauren, and DwellStudio. Their insight can help create ornate interiors filled with mahogany tables and leather upholstery or modern settings decorated with metal, glass, and nanobots. After purchasing their artisan buffet cabinet or bedroom set, customers can enlist the help of handy movers, who deliver, unwrap, and assemble all pieces.
At Rethink the Ink, certified laser specialists help clients forget about deep-set skin stains by breaking down unwanted ink with highly concentrated pulses of pure light. Prior to taking on the task of removing body graffiti, each technician receives thorough training from Lorenzo Kunze, M.E., who was a pioneer in the advancement of aesthetic and medical laser treatments. During each 10-minute treatment the team collaborates with an advanced Quanta DNA laser system, which features a large spot size to treat multiple ink colors at once. The treatment—the feeling of which is often likened to being snapped by a rubber band—also maximizes comfort by applying chilled air to the skin courtesy of a Zimmer Cryo 6 cooling system. The body's natural immune function gradually removes broken-down ink after each treatment, eventually leaving skin free of scars and out-of-date shopping lists.