Here in the decorating department of Martha Stewart Living, were often search for unique and antique pieces to use in photo shoots. In New York City, there are so many places to look, but one place we constantly visit is Center 44 in Midtown Manhattan. It's a spacious 25,000 sq. ft. center (encompassing a city block between 43rd and 44th), a stones throw away from Grand Central Station. Co-owners Paul Plumadore and Jim Tindell have been running the store for 5 1/2 years. They feature dealers selling antiques, artwork, lighting, furniture, accessories and even antique fabric. The bulk of their products date back to the mid-20th Century.
Though they weren't educated in design, both had artistic pasts. Paul was originally a dancer, Jim a photographer. Before running antique centers, the two were antique dealers. In 2003, they were involved in the opening of a center in Harlem, Lafayette Antique at the Warehouse. On opening day, the manager quit and they were asked to come on as replacements. That management experience is what Paul says gave Jim the crash course they needed in management to run Center 44.
Unfortunately two years later, the building was sold to Manhattan Mini Storage, and so Paul and Jim were out of a job. However, they seized the opportunity and found a way to start their own business.
"We had all these dealers and they wanted to do something. So we said hey, let’s go downtown. We found this place within a couple of weeks…just sort of happened by serendipity," Paul said.
Many of the dealers transferred over to the new store. An old warehouse building that was built for the teamsters in 1904. The building's history makes it the perfect place to house such old objects. Currently, the space holds 70 vendors, but has room for 75 since a few vendors have expanded to use multiple spots. One of the main things Paul and Jim look for is variety in their vendors. Their wide range of products is what Paul thinks sets them apart from other antique centers.
"I’d like to say it’s mostly eclecticism. But also, we’re not snooty about what we do. We’re very hands on. We own it and we work the floor. We’re very service oriented. We work with our clients," Paul said.
The space is really incredible to be in. While a majority of their customers are designers, Center 44 is open to the public. The place is great if you're looking for something specific, but the sheer size and variety of space is also great for inspiration.
As Paul says, "You never know what you're going to find here."
1 This lighting feature is very '60s.
2 A set of vintage Kagan couches, which Paul says are extremely rare to find together.
3 These chairs double as room art.
4 Paul points out an art piece that was actually used as currency.
5 The color of these chairs is striking.
6 The combination of the bright patent material with the vintage frame of this stool is great.
7 A pair of rare Madonna prints.
8 This wood coffee table is perfectly designed. And I like the yarn chair positioned next to it.
9 I have a similar chair at home.
10 Paul helps out on the floor.
11 A vintage chair with a classic upholstery.
12 The blue interior on these earthenware cups is such a surprising touch.
13 You can tell that this dealer has a very specific style.
14 This dealer has a very '60s glamor look.
15 A pair of interesting crystal pieces that would look great on display.
16 I love the flower shaped mirrors. They're fun and sophisticated.
17 A gilded glass bar, next to a great beige divan.
18 The color of this glass bar set is amazing. It reminds me of a blood orange.
19 This rustic-looking chair is actually made of ceramic.
20 These metal trunks are so unusual. They would look great in a modern-looking room, with their sleek exteriors.
21 The lamps are actually contemporary, but are very popular.
22 There are so many beautiful lighting options throughout Center 44.
26 The marbled effect on this lamp is unlike anything I've seen before.
27 I like the neutral couch. This dealer's selection of lighting fixtures and wall art are especially great as well.
28 A kimono that is beautiful enough to hang as art. I love the textile pattern.
29 The different lamp vases are wonderful. I like the blue milk glass and the wide based sea glass.
30 This dealer sells pieces made of Israeli olive tree wood.
32 Amidst the multitude of great pieces in this dealers area, it's hard to notice the gorgeous glass desk.
33 What a great hanging glass piece in the middle. It reminds me of a jellyfish.
35 An epic piece of Swedish Folk Art. And no, alligators are not native to Scandanavia.
36 I like the use of zebra hide for the backing of those antique chairs.
37 Coral is such a beautiful piece of nature to use as art for decorating.
38 This horn would make a great home accent.
39 An unusual find for a antique furnishings center, but beautiful none the less. These handbags are worthy of being displayed, even if it's just on your arm.