It's New to Us By Jean Stratton
Decorating and Items for the Home Offered at Out of the Cage Design
Unusual, one-of-a-kind, unique. Also, intriguing, charming and captivating these are just some of the adjectives to describe the selection of items at Out of the Cage Design in Pennington.
Handcrafted and antique furniture, hand-thrown pottery, rugs, pillows, blankets, mirrors, lamps, artwork, and architectural antiques are all available in the cozy but sophisticated shop, which opened at 10 North Main Street last November.
Owner Cathy MacMain-Cage enjoyed the play on words in selecting the name of the shop. "It's my name, of course, but it's out of the ordinary, out of the box creatively, not what you'll find in other places. I wanted to get this across. 60 percent of what I have is one-of-a-kind, either hand-done or antiques, and I also carry the work of local artists."
Formerly with Saums Interiors in Hopewell, Ms. MacMain-Cage wanted to open her own business, and also wanted to be close to home.
"It's a great location just two blocks from everything my house and my kids' school, and near everything."
It is not only handy for customers from Pennington, but also for those from Princeton, Hopewell, and Lawrenceville, all of whom have been enjoying the selection at the store, she says.
"I'm very encouraged. We have had great word-of-mouth and lots of repeat customers already.
"The pottery has been especially popular, as have our hand-loomed area rugs in various designs which are machine washable."
Among the pottery selections are the hand-thrown creations of Princeton artist Katie Moffit of Muddy Dog Studio. Charming miniature cake stands, as well as pitchers, and cups are all on display.
"We also have her miniature dogs, which can be customized to replicate the customer's own dog," points out Ms. MacMain-Cage.
Many of the items in the store, including furniture, can be customized, she adds.
"We have furniture, such as cabinets and hutches, made out of aged barn wood newly-made but out of old wood."
Pieces are versatile and can serve dual purposes, she notes, referring to a handsome hutch of barn wood that a customer plans to use as an entertainment center.
Another intriguing piece is a table made of a vintage front door. "It keeps the character of the door and is so sturdy," says Ms. MacMain-Cage.
Other interesting items include a small greenhouse made from transom windows, wrought-iron accented planters that can double as umbrella stands, an array of wooden bird houses of assorted sizes and styles, and wooden trunk-style boxes with brass accents, suitable for CD or video storage.
In addition, there are wonderfully soft Austrian felt blankets in a variety of colors and Austrian felt throws. Linen napkins and placemats are available, and pillows in many designs and colors are for use by the fireplace, on the floor, or on patio furniture. They can be customized, and one stand-out features vintage bark cloth and a vintage button from the 1940s.
Just arrived is a selection of faux leather items from Argentina. "I found these at a show in Atlanta, and I fell in love with them," says Ms. MacMain-Cage. "They are available in different colors and in trays, wastebaskets, and magazine holders (which resemble big tote bags), and they have a great look."
She also offers antique architectural pieces, including antique panels featuring sterling silver hooks. The hooks can be customized.
"Corbels (cornices) can make an attractive ledge or shelf for the room, and we also have shutters on which we put hooks for a coat rack," she notes.
Prices in the shop are from $20 up to $2500 for artwork, with everything in between.
A decorator, Ms. MacMain-Cage has used her talents to display items in an extremely engaging arrangement.
"At first, I had planned to concentrate on an interior design studio," she explains, "but then I saw the need for a little shop. In fact, almost all my design services have been for people who have come into the shop to buy things, and they liked the way the shop looks."
Specializing in residential work, she enjoys the entire scope of the job, whether just rearranging furniture, re-doing one room or several rooms.
"I especially enjoy doing kids' rooms. It's fun for me. Right now, I'm working on a master bedroom.
"Also, one client just wanted me to help her organize," she adds. "I suggested that she change her kitchen table from a horizontal to a vertical placement, and it made all the difference. It was just a fresh idea.
"I like to offer practical help," she says. "I'll give advice on everything, including paint color, window treatments, fabric, etc. People have their favorite things, and I like to be able to work with those. And I'll find out the client's way of life are they formal, casual? NIght people, morning people? Do they entertain? Do they have children, pets, etc.?"
People tend to be more budget-conscious now, reports Ms. MacMain-Cage. "Because of this, more and more designers are going to the a la carte design style today. I'm a budget kind of gal myself, and budget is the first consideration. I do find that whatever the clients' style and taste, people are always looking for that one-of-a-kind item, and I will go on shopping trips with them."
Finding the items and watching the progress of the design work are big pleasures, she says. Living in London for four years before moving to New Jersey, she always enjoyed accompanying designers on their quest for special items.
Ms. MacMain-Cage believes that her combination of interior design services and the items for purchase offer a nice mix for people. "I think I bring a certain unique quality. It's what I've always looked for myself someone who wanted to help me, listen to me, and direct me. In addition, clients can come and see the things I have in the shop. To me, it makes sense."
Out of the Cage Design is open Wednesday through Friday 11 to 5, Saturday 11 to 4, and by appointment. (609) 737-6658.