Southeastern Design Powerhouse
by Luke Osteen
When you enter Dutchman’s Casual Living Store, located on Main Street in the heart of Highlands, it’s something of a calculated fall down the Rabbit’s Hole.
Every inch of this rambling two-story gallery is loaded with custom furniture vignettes, fabric swatches and upholstery samples in a full spectrum of colors and textures, kitchen accessories, handmade soaps, beautifully scented candles, gift items, and the unexpected, always the unexpected.
But that unexpected aspect is baked into the mix, and it’s a reflection of owner Stephanie Bramble’s kaleidoscopic vision. That vision propelled her in from a tiny retail space and wedding event business she developed in 2000, to the expansive location it enjoys today.
In fact, the business has been so successful that Stephanie’s expanded far beyond the confines of the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau. You’ll find Dutchman’s on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. Opened in 2009, this is Stephanie’s second store, which recently moved around the corner from its original home to a storefront that’s twice as large.
Next was the dazzling store in Cornelius, North Carolina - her largest space and the perfect showcase for the custom-made furniture and home accessories that have become a Dutchman’s hallmark.
Next and most recently, the Atlanta store in Chamblee opened two years ago. This location is housed in an amazing historical building, originally an old milking barn from long ago when the city was farmland.
“I am focusing more on client homes, since all of my stores have taken on design work. With the ability to be able to customize our pieces for a small or larger project, no two homes ever look the same. I am fortunate enough to be able to design custom furniture pieces through our factory in Indonesia,” explains Stephanie. “I am also developing and growing our lighting – my stores are currently full of bold statement chandeliers.
“Projects for 2019 include a boutique hotel in St. Simons Island that’s currently being built. This is huge for me and my stores. I have been given the task of designing every piece top to bottom. We also have renovation design projects in Jekyll Island, Lake Keowee and Lake Norman. Plus, now with the Atlanta store, I think we really have our customer’s needs well-suited. It’s all very exciting!”
So, there you have it – a tiny, not-quite-on-Main-Street business has blossomed into a Southeastern design powerhouse with a global reach. It’s the testament to a restless spirit and a brave woman’s imagination fueled by art, color, and beauty with a touch of whimsical style.