Teri Brake can’t imagine being anywhere other than Del Ray with her new midcentury-modern furniture and décor shop, The George Vintage & Design.
The native Texan worked as a chief of staff for a financial firm in New York City but decided she’d had enough of Manhattan soon after COVID hit. She fell in love with the Del Ray community while visiting and decided to put down roots.
“It’s really unique in the greater DMV, just the idyllic nature of a main street and locally owned businesses,” Brake says. “And so when I decided that I wanted to open a retail location, there was no other place that I wanted to do it. The community here is very supportive. It’s just a big family, and they are really fierce for locally owned businesses.”
Opened this past summer, The George is named after Brake’s sweet, well-behaved 7-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel. George greets customers with a tail wag as they walk into the Mount Vernon Avenue shop, which resembles a living room from the 1960s. “I see many of the same faces on weekends,” Brake says. “I love when people pop in to see what’s new and exciting.”
When you visit, you may hear anything from Ella Fitzgerald to ’70s disco playing in the background. That comforting aroma in the air? It’s The George’s proprietary blend, with notes of sweet grass, dandelion, orange, lilies, and violet, handcrafted locally by ISO Candles. You can pick it up along with a scent called The Avenue (as in, Mount Vernon) with orange, clove, lavender, cedar, and sandalwood. Holiday blends are currently available, too.
The George offers furniture, rugs, glassware, lamps, and other home accessories. If something looks familiar, that’s probably because it is. “One of the most common phrases that I hear from people is, ‘Oh my goodness, my parents had that.’ Or, ‘My grandparents had that.’ There is absolutely an emotional tug towards those things,” Brake says.
And these nostalgia items aren’t difficult to incorporate into a modern home. “From a design perspective, midcentury is really easy to weave into any home décor,” Brake says. “No matter what your style is, the lines are so clean and on the simpler side.”
Credenzas from companies such as Kent Coffey are a top seller because “space is premium and storage is paramount” in Alexandria’s 1,000-square-foot row houses, Brake says. Side tables are also popular. Brake points to a ’60s table with a glass top held up by a gilded “sheaf of wheat,” explaining that the style became popular because Coco Chanel had one, which was said to have been gifted to her by Salvador Dalí. “In Georgetown, this might be $2,000.” Here, it’s (shhh) in the $700 to $800 range. “I’d rather it be below market value and develop a relationship with repeat clients,” says Brake, adding that accessible price points keep the area’s young families coming back.
There’s also a big demand for affordable original art, Brake says. She offers paintings that span the past century, sourcing from auctions, estates, and individuals. “[My customers] are moving away from their first post-college home décor and transitioning into more permanent collection pieces,” she says.
For the holidays and beyond, there is an array of decanters, coupe glasses, and other barware. You can pick up a sterling silver decanter-and-glass set for under $100, along with a blue Viking Glass footed bowl that goes with everything for $65. And then there are the funky little items that make great gifts, like a set of glasses with the GE (General Electric) logo. “These could have been someone’s retirement gift,” Brake remarks. “They are just so Mad Men to me.”
Brake provides design services, helping customers put together and rearrange beloved pieces or source new ones. She’s also happy to use her floral design skills (she owned a flower shop years ago) to help you decorate a holiday tablescape. But most of all, she and George love playing host at their cozy little shop.
“The greatest compliment is when people come in and just want to hang out,” Brake says. “They don’t want to leave.” 2210 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria