The Coastal Star

Business Spotlight: Family gets a blast of inspiration from hurricanes for decor store

Karen Marcil and Christina Auer show off items from Our Boat House in Boca Raton’s Mizner Park. The retail company was started in 2005 in Vero Beach. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

By Christine Davis
    
You can thank Frances, Jeanne and Wilma for Boca Raton’s new boutique that features all things nautical for the home. It all started in 2005, the year that named storms made it all the way to Zeta.
    They were the perfect storms that created a website,  ourboathouse.com, that by 2011 grew into a Vero Beach store, Our Boat House Inc., and, six months ago, expanded yet again to Our Boat House III at 425 Plaza Real in Mizner Park, Boca Raton.
    Just like a powerhouse whirlwind, the Auer family’s Our Boat House venture continues to gain momentum and move along the coastline.
    “I’ve been a decorator all my life,” explained co-owner Lori Auer-Smith, who started Our Boat House with her sister, Karen Marcil.
    “Karen’s home in Vero Beach was damaged during hurricanes Frances and Jeanne. “We renovated the house and completely redid it, incorporating nautical touches, including porthole doors and ship cargo lights that we had found in our travels. The house received such a great reaction that we decided to start a website to sell similar items.”
    Since it is a family affair, Lori serves as decorator and buyer; Karen buys and also runs the Vero store; their brother Albert, with his wife, Christina, Boca Raton residents, oversee the Mizner Park store; and their mother, Ellie Auer, accompanies her daughters on buying trips.
    Inspiration for the store came from growing up in the Hamptons, and Ellie, who is a long-time collector.
    They grew up with nautical items, Lori said. “After the 1939 hurricane that hit Long Island, our mother found a post from an old hotel sign, which she placed next to our fireplace.”
    It’s just got to be the wind and the water. “These kinds of things are in our blood,” she said.
    Popular items on the site and at the stores include authentic, brass, ship-cargo lights, teak-porthole doors, unusual old trunks, sea floats, bed linens embroidered with a rope motif, and custom driftwood furniture and wall hangings.
    Our Boat House’s washed and bleached-wood furniture as well as slip-covered sofas and chairs are perfect for beachy styling. 
    “They are so fresh-looking,  and we use touches of blues and greens in our designs. We also have outdoor furniture and hand-painted furniture. Our fabrics are all natural washable cottons and linen,” Auer-Smith said.  “We have more than 2,000 products on our website, and we sell over the country.”
    In addition, Our Boat House offers complete design services, including floor plans, as well as selecting furniture, fabric, color palette and paint colors.

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