HOW THIS MIDWOOD STORE IS BREAKING THE AFFORDABLE HOME FURNISHINGS COOKIE CUTTER MOLD WITH ITS COLLECTION OF CUSTOMIZABLE PIECES AND ON SITE DESIGN SERVICES
BY AMANDA McCOY • PHOTOS BY JON GORDON
From bicycles to bracelets, more and more retailers are putting customers in the designer chair and allowing them to create. Rather than spending thousands of dollars on a pre cut factory suit, men are having them tailor made to their measurements and preferences. Shoes can be crafted to perfectly hug a person’s foot, and a few big name food and beverage retailers even allow customers to personalize snacks.
But step inside most home furniture stores, from big box suppliers to high end boutiques, and, typically, the only customizations available are limited to pre determined fabrics and colors choices. Showrooms may parrot adaptable design inspiration, but pieces too often come with little room for alteration. After noticing this pervasive sameness in home furnishing suppliers, Michael and Heather Dayan (now Heather Fallas) envisioned a store that would do things differently. Rather than force customers to pick a readymade piece from a catalog, they would allow shoppers to create their own sofas, sectionals, chairs, and other pieces with a number of fabric and finish options. Their business would house a collection of custom made furniture on demand, curated from the top companies in the industry, and they wouldn’t, they determined, mark up prices, but rather sell for 30 50% less than the manufacture’s suggested retail. In late 2012, this vision came to fruition, and Modern Interiors of Brooklyn opened its doors.
“With many of the less expensive manufacturers, you go to their line and this is what they have. They are not changing the fabric. They might have some options of finishes, like black, brown, and grey, but if you want anything in white or silver, you can’t get it. It’s already finished and ready made,” explained Michael Fallas. “We can do the same sofa for four or five different people, and they all look totally different. It looks like a decorator designed it for them, but without the expense.”
Heather opened a jewelry store in the Financial District when she was barely old enough to vote, and ran the operation for nearly 15 years. The Brooklyn native then transitioned into the house flipping business, and her eye for design landed her side gigs decorating interior spaces. Also Brooklyn born, Michael spent the majority of his formative years on the Jersey Shore. As a teenager, his summers were dedicated to working in his father’s retail clothing store. One year after graduation, he officially joined the family business and helped Good Guys Department Store grow into a successful and long running chain.
Once the idea for their new venture had taken shape, Fallas and Dayan found their ideal space on McDonald Avenue in a strategic location to serve their Brooklyn and New Jersey customer base. Every young business is, of course, not without obstacles, and Hurricane Sandy came roaring into the city in the fall of 2012 just as the couple began renovations. Amid the storm, they tipped the old wall, pulled up the carpet, and painted the newly exposed brick. High winds and rain notwithstanding, the new business was open for business before the end of the year.
“We each have our own special strengths,” explained Fallas of the pair’s partnership. And proving that it works just as well outside the store, the duo married in 2015.
Shoppers, both pointed out, won’t find a “Made in China” sticker on any piece. All upholstery is either U.S. or Italian made, and the offerings are expansive; there’s living room décor like sofas, ottomans, accent tables, and consoles. Bedroom furniture includes beds, chests, headboards, and night stands, while dining room pieces are highlighted by bar tables and stools, dining chairs, tables, and buffets. Outdoor furniture, wall art, mirrors, lighting fixtures, and home office pieces also have their place. The sweeping selection of accent pillows, the owners noted, is a particular customer favorite, with exotic finish options like metallic, Tibetan Lambs wool, or Australian and New Zealand sheepskin.
The store works with noted brands like Cattelan Italia, an award winning Italian manufacturer famous for its contemporary tables, chairs, and chaises. There’s also Costantini Pietro, an Italian brand lauded for its luxurious solid wood dining chairs manufactured since the 1920s, and which now makes tables and other high end designer furniture. Customers can also select from modern American classics like Bernhardt, Weiman, and Interlude.
“There was a need for a medium to high end furniture store where people can walk in and buy custom designed pieces right off the floor,” Michael explained. “Customers are able to see the comfort and quality, and not just buy out of catalogs…new furnishings arrive daily.”
Modern Interiors of Brooklyn
1749 McDonald Avenue / 718.998.2442