Matt Turowski sells European hardwood coffee tables with character and feel. But he will tell you that he still puts his feet up on them.
The two-story brick building at 1006 King Street, dating back to 1895, originally housed a grocery and meat market on the first floor and a public hall on the second floor. Two years ago, in a run-down, deserted state, the building hosted an art show of John Lennons works orchestrated by his widow, Yoko Ono.
Today, after extensive renovations lasting a year, the store is reconfigured as a light and airy home for wine cabinets, wedding chests, ornately carved Dutch barn doors and apothecary cabinets.
European Country Living carries items found at markets throughout Europe, including furniture, handmade arts and crafts, and home decorations such as lamps, pillows, candleholders, pottery, metalware and glassware.
This is the type of furniture to pass down through generations, store manager Nancy Harrington said.
The goal was to get authentic furniture that comes from Europe, Turowski, the owner of the store, said.
Turowskis brother and business partner, Steve, acquire the line in Europe on monthly buying trips. He said one third of their line is antiques, one third from reclaimed materials and the remaining third is modern furniture that fits in with their low-key and livable style.
He remembers his grandmother, who fled Eastern Europe during World War II, dumping her massive, heavy furniture once she had the opportunity in the 1970s, like many people who associated these character-infused pieces with bad times.
He brings these pieces, such as a 125-year-old refrigerator, back from Europe for United States customers.
European Country Living is headquartered in Landstuhl, Germany, near Ramstein Air Base. Many military families, such as Harringtons, discovered European Country Living while deployed to Ramstein Air Base and encouraged store owners to open a store in America.
Turowski chose to open the store here after looking for several years. Ive always liked the feel of Old Town, he said of the citys European feel. Things fell into place with the location, and were happy.
So far, he said he has received a positive response and customers find that the furniture is reasonably priced while retaining a different feel.
Harrington and Turowski said they want to become part of the community and promote Alexandria in different ways, including wine-tasting events once a quarter.
Our philosophy is, yes, its a business, but we hope to have a good atmosphere and community feeling, Turowski said. Its not everyday you need to buy a dining room table, so come by and say hello.
European Country Living opened last month in the old Alexandria Furniture building and is hosting their open house this Friday, Jan. 25 from 4 pm to 8 pm.