Tag Archives: Christine Utter

Christine Utter Designs, And Paints

Three years ago, Christine Utter opened The Skillful Shopper.

The Westporter called her small spot on the Post Road near the Double L Market a “recycling, go-green boutique.” By giving new life to old chairs, tables, lamps and handbags, she saved her customers money — and did a tiny bit to reduce their carbon footprint.

But running a small business — particularly while paying Westport rents — is hard.

Christine Utter, in her Skillful Shopper store.

The Skillful Shopper has moved online. But Christine found a partner, with a shop at 239 Westport Avenue, just over the Norwalk line. They’ve just opened a new venture there: The Design + Paint Studio.

Christine and Daniella Toth offer custom painting services. Furniture, kitchen and bathroom cabinets, walls, floors — you name it, they paint it (using eco-friendly Annie Sloan Chalk Paint).

They also offer design and decorating services and workshops, color consultations, repairs, and estate liquidations and management.

Annie Sloan (left) and Daniella Toth.

Christine moved to Westport from North Stamford in 2003. She was looking for a community in which most children did not go off to private school. She was attracted too by our town’s diversity, “artsy” vibe, and proximity to water.

Her daughter graduated from Staples last year. And even though Christine’s store is no longer in Westport, she’s retained her ties to the community.

The Design + Paint Studio repainted a pine coffee table for Project Return, gratis. They’ve reached out to the Gillespie Center to paint there. They invite other non-profits to contact them for similar volunteer work: thedesignandpaintstudio@yahoo.com.

(The Design + Paint Studio hosts a “Feng Shui Your Bedroom for Love” event at 7 p.m. on February 11.)

Inside the studio.


Skillful Shopper Serves Westport

As befits the owner of a 900-square foot store, Christine Utter believes in the importance of low impact.

It’s easy to miss The Skillful Shopper. The antique furniture store at 748 Post Road East — near the Double L Market, sharing a building with New York City Jewelers — consists of just one room.

But it’s jam-packed with stuff. There’s barely room to move.

That suits Utter fine. She calls her shop “a recycling, go-green boutique.” She saves consumers money and helps the environment. By giving new life to old chairs, tables, lamps and handbags, she and her customers do a tiny bit to reduce their carbon footprint.

Shoppers include designers, decorators, and “anyone who loves finding unique items at great prices.”

Christine Utter, surrounded by some of her very interesting items...

Christine Utter, surrounded by some of her very interesting items…

Utter is passionate about every item that crams her store. “This is quality furniture from a bygone era,” she says, pointing to custom chairs with down cushions ($425 each). Styles range from traditional and retro vintage to mid-century modern.

“I love vintage jewelry and glassware. I’m getting into vintage clothing. This is all about collecting beautiful, well-made items, and selling them at consignment prices.”

She has dreamed of a store like this since she was young. She ran booths at the Stamford antique center, but wanted to be her own boss.

Utter moved to Westport 14 years ago. She often drove by the Post Road property across from New Country Toyota. When she saw a “For Rent” sign, she envisioned her dream.

Landlord Mike Calise “respects small businesses,” Utter says. Since opening last year, he’s encouraged her to make The Skillful Shopper a lively place.

It certainly is.

...and another corner of The Skillful Shopper.

…and another corner of The Skillful Shopper.

While “some people take 5 steps in and leave — I think they’re used to everything being new,” Utter says that she’s thrilled to meet “so many great people. Not everybody in Westport can afford all new things.”

Utter encourages customers to poke around. There’s something intriguing in every nook and cranny of the small store.

Her goal is to open customers’ minds. “There are beautiful items here, made with great craftsmanship. People built things; they didn’t just manufacture them. You can tell they loved what they did.”

She does too. As you can see in her store, Christine Utter is a very skillful shopper.