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Searching for a polished gem to add eye candy to your home or office décor? If you believe that Portland, Seattle or San Francisco are the only options for finding a well-edited store with unique, one-of-a-kind vintage finds, then you haven’t seen Bellingham’s Ormolulu.  

Debi Burton and Jim Blondeau have created a magical wonderland of curated and reinvented antiques in their 3,000 square foot space located in the Bay Street Village building. Although summer road construction and upcoming building renovations have frustrated shoppers from easy access, their doors remain open … and it’s so worth the effort.

Debi Burton and Jim Blondeau are the hard-working team behind Ormolulu Vintage Works. Photo courtesy: Ormolulu.

An “ormolu” is the term for gilt brass on decorative art objects from the 18th and 19th centuries. Jim and Debi liked the alliteration of adding an extra “lu” to the store’s name. Although they have a passion for French antiques, you will find a cornucopia of antiques from traditional and mid-century to trends like modern farmhouse, cottage-style and industrial vintage.

This isn’t your father’s antique store, however. Gone are crowded stacks of books, dinged and dented furniture, and shelves stuffed with dusty knick-knacks. Some folks love the thrill of the hunt and thrive on plowing through heaps of debris to unearth a wonderful find, but Jim and Debi have already done the legwork.

“We offer more value in creative content by imagining things as they could be. We don’t just find them, clean them and throw them out in the store. We salvage everything we buy,” explained Debi. “You know the popular trend of taking something cool and upcycling it into something else? I don’t think people realize that everything they’re looking at is for sale because we curate it and set it up into visual vignettes that are pleasing to the eye so it’s an experience when you come in.”

Everything old is new again. Photo courtesy: Ormolulu.

Jim set the stage for these vignettes with some creative demolition of their space within their circa 1928 building. He used a cement grinder to carefully scuff the floors to look like distressed leather and they discovered their “rough luxe” creation fits everything from elegant to industrial furnishings. Debi honed her craft with 35 years in the business and gained a reputation for show-stopping, creative booths working antique shows up and down the West Coast for 22 years. “One aspect of Debi’s genius is the ability to take disparate objects and create vignettes that show how people would actually display these objects in their home,” adds Jim. “She is showing people how they can take these precious objects and incorporate them into their own design … and she does it in her sleep!”

Plan to spend some time discovering all the treasures that unfold in Ormolulu. The music is designed to encourage a pleasing, slow pace. Debi and Jim encourage their guests to take a few laps and then change direction. They have some of the coolest lighting fixtures in town and Jim has used his wizardry to bring everything up to code – rewired, tested and ready to brighten another home into the next century.

Debi’s creative vignettes help customers visualize items in their home decor. Photo courtesy: Ormolulu.

As previously mentioned, there’s no digging for diamonds in the rough as the gems are out and visibly sparkling here. That may fool some people into believing that the prices are unaffordable. “We have everything from the whimsical to fine antiques with prices ranging from 50 cents to $10,000,” mentions Debbie.

Jim says, “We frequently hear the comment, ‘You belong in San Francisco,’ and our friends call us trendsetters.”

Debi quickly adds, “We’re not trendsetters. What we are is aware of the trends and we love to bring that to Bellingham.”

One thing Jim and Debi missed while being on the road so frequently was building relationships with repeat customers. They are happy to share their deep knowledge of the antiques world with anyone who stops in their store. Ignore the construction signs and stop in for some eye candy today!

For a map to Ormolulu, click here.

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