My Biz: Cedar Rapids store helps customers step outside comfort zone for decor

Shop owner uses mix of new and used to create new looks for customers

George Ford
Published: December 26 2013 | 6:00 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 1:17 am in
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Deb Witte believes “life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” a philosophy that guides her personal life as well as her bold acumen for business.

With such successful business ventures as Chatterbox Creations, Chat Studio, Witte’s End Coffee Shop and Brewed Awakenings Coffee House to her credit, she clearly doesn’t believe in resting on her laurels.

Witte sold three of the four endeavors before opening Domicile Decor in Marion in November 2011. She moved the business to 111 13th St. SE, behind Brewed Awakenings, in November 2012.

Witte, a former school teacher, said the biggest challenge in running her new decorating shop is keeping it fresh and welcoming.

“It’s a constant movement of things in store to keep it all looking fresh,” Witte said. “It’s Marketing 101.

“We move things around -- rearrange them, and for a lot of people who come in, they ask ‘Did you just get that piece?’

“I tell them, no, we’ve had that in here for almost a year.”

Witte strongly encourages people to do this in their homes for their own psyche.

“You get a whole new level of energy when you come out of that comfort zone,” she explained.

Witte has turned that same approach into a highly successful business where she offers home interior design, consulting services and consignment sales of upscale art, furniture, and accent decorating pieces.

Witte has two helpers who assist at the shop, but she handles all of the consulting and the selection of pieces that she offers for sale.

“My services work synonymously,” Witte explained. “I decorate homes using new as well as used furnishings.”

Through her design services, Witte stages home for resale, as well as one-day makeovers.

“A lot of people will call me in for a one-hour consult, and sometimes the one-hour consult turns into an 8-hour day,” Witte said. “A lot of people know their home doesn’t feel right, but they don’t know why it doesn’t feel right.

“For me, that’s what it is all about. It is a feeling.”

Witte began decorating after she sold Brewed Awakenings in 2002.

“A lot of people  simply have their furniture placement wrong, and it’s amazing at how that affects how they feel,” Witte said. “They don’t seem to understand that, and they buy and they buy.

"More often than not, people have bought way more than they need trying to find that elusive 'fix it' and they never find it.”

Witte originally did not plan to do consignment, but it just fell into place.

“I hand pick everything that is in my shop,” she said. “I pick and choose things that I think I also can use in the design portion of my business.”

Witte takes consignment of quality pieces on a 50/50 basis with her clients. Her clientele ranges in age from 20 to 85, and Witte has observed an interesting trend taking place.

“Lately, the redesigns I’ve done have been for people in their 60s and 70s,” she explained. “They are ready for a new look."

At a glance

  • Business: Domicile Decor
  • Owner: Deb Witte
  • Address: 111 13th St. SE, Cedar Rapids
  • Phone: (319) 365-1477
  • Website: www.domiciledecor.com

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