Strolling down Maiden Lane, I feel as if I've left Windsor behind for somewhere much more hip. A chic little street among many eyesores of downtown Windsor has attracted curious patrons from around the city to visit the lane way that connects Ouellette and Pelissier Ave.
The home of summer art shows, musical performances, mini festivals and restaurants is now welcoming a new home décor boutique called Bungalow. The boutique, which officially opened October 1st, is locally owned by John Ansell and Steven Thompson, but the shop "nanny" (as she lovingly puts it) is Keight Eye, who has renovated and planned it out to make it her own. She started renovating the place from the ground up; restoring the floors, patching up the walls and painting; which allowed her to leave her corporate job to help take part in supporting her passion of planning and building a small business that contributes to the community.
Photo by: Shelly J. Quick
As I walk into the small but charming boutique, I notice the effort put forth of integrating the senses into the ambiance of the shop. Amy Winehouse is playing in the background, setting a mellow tone for customers to enjoy the unique store. It's clear that the allure of the space derives from its eclectic mix of charming pieces, home furnishings and interior design guides-that couldn't be found anywhere else in the city. Carrying one of a kind pieces like "Il Sachine" recycled bags, exposed light-bulb lights, "Paperheart" Postcards, trendy red and white plastic chairs, and various arrays of candles. As someone who comes from a interior design and architecture background it's clear Ms. Eye has an "eye" for great pieces, and when I ask her what her favorite pieces in the store are, she reveals, "It's either the giant light bulbs, or the air infusers-smell is the most important thing." She goes on to expand that the shop is all about making your small space work, and how to use tips to maximise potential in a small area.
Bungalow is not the only shop on Maiden Lane owned by John Ansell and Steven Thompson. A Dog's Breakfast, The Squirrel Cage and Buuntz Ice Cream Co. are all a part of the Maiden Lane allure, so naturally the next step was a home décor store to round it all out. Furthermore, Bungalow offers more than just the prospect of a beautifully furnished home. It is a store with a purpose and is providing a beacon of hope for the downtown core. The store's Instagram account states that it is looking to "provide quality products to local residents and to create a more viable downtown community." Keight Eye, also emphasises the role she hopes it will play in beautifying the downtown area. "It's more of a rejuvenation to the downtown core, offering things that are valuable to the community," she explains. Bungalow, along with the other shops on Maiden Lane, aim to give Windsorites a reason to fall in love with their city again. It is a place for those who want to contribute and collaborate with others who feel the same way about their city.
After using some string-lights from Bungalow to decorate Maiden Lane, Keight admits her frustration and defeat as they were forced to take down the lights for electricity violations. "Every time you try and push forwards, there's going to be problems." The problem though, ended up working itself out in the long run as she is now using those same lights to add to the ambience of the store itself. Perhaps a metaphor for the potentiality the beautiful shop serves for good things to come to Windsor. It has turned frustrating, failed-advancements into beautifully-decorated solutions. If you ask me, a place like Bungalow is a store Windsor has needed all along- it adds intangible character to the city, offers great and unique pieces and plants a seed of optimism for what is to come to Windsor's downtown core.