California Style Meets New England Charm in Serena & Lily's Latest Design Shop



In the living room vignette, a Capiz Honeycomb chandelier illuminates a St. Germain coffee table.Cofounders Serena Dugan and Lily Kanter started their California home and lifestyle brand Serena & Lily more than 10 years ago. Now, Dugan discusses the decision to open their roomiest shop to date in Westport’s Kemper-Gunn House.

Serena & Lily has long been synonymous with West Coast style. Why the move to Westport and why now? The move was part intentional and part serendipitous. We treat each store location as a unique opportunity to express a different aspect of our brand. We were exploring Connecticut as a possible home for a new store, and Westport landed in our laps. It was a dream for us to have the opportunity to showcase the brand in a historic Queen Anne Victorian, not to mention one where we could be involved in the renovation from the ground up.

The new Westport shop exudes quintessential Connecticut charm.The new space feels so much like a home. Do any of the rooms echo aspects of your own home? There are decorating elements that are familiar and much that is distinct to this space and architecture. I live with a great deal of art and am not afraid of color and pattern, and I think that sensibility is present here. I live in a California Craftsman bungalow, which borrows some Victorian elements but doesn’t overlap too much. Again, that reminds me how flexible our line is: It can feel just as natural in a California Craftsman as a Connecticut Victorian.

One of Dugan's original paintings, Bluegrass, hangs above a Blake Raffia dresser.The shop’s walls are decorated with some of your own artwork. How does painting speak to your design process? My painting is integral to my design process. It’s like stream-of-consciousness designing, where the output has no purpose other than opening me up, freeing my hand, providing me with an outlet to keep pushing my art and the brand’s edges.  

What can we look forward to this fall/winter at Serena & Lily? You can expect to see an emphasis on technique, artistry, handmade and materials that shine a light on our artisan partners around the world. There will be rich hues, amazing weaves, lush cottons, outrageous embroideries and, of course, more of everything we all crave for the home.

Do you have a favorite piece from your new collection? It would probably be our Leighton embroidered pillow cover—a two-sided pillow in fuchsia. It’s symbolic of many people’s passion, skill and involvement. And it’s over-the-top gorgeous.

Will you be trying this shop design again with future locations? The Westport Design Shop will be the only Serena & Lily store of its kind. It is what it is because of where it is: in this historic home, in this heritage-rich, artist-filled community…charmed.

A version of this article appeared in the October 2016 issue of CTC&G (Connecticut Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Coast to Coast.

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