Brightening the Day
The best time to visit Joan Peters’ shop may be on one of those cold, dreary New England days.
This may seem like a strange idea—better to visit an interior designer’s shop when the natural light is ample and available, right? But finding what’s behind the pale pink door of Peters’ shop on Main Street in Osterville is all the more dramatic against the gloomy weather. If there is one thing to know about Joan Peters’ style, it is all about sunshine, light, and color. Darkness has no place here and cannot be seen beyond the shop’s brightly embellished windowpanes and pink awnings.
More than 20 years after opening her shop in Osterville, Peters has established herself by interpreting the Cape Cod world all around her in a sun-soaked, joyously over-the-top kind of way, and her pieces have garnered local, regional, and national followings. Today, the shop offers full interior design services, furniture, paintings, custom carpets, and most recently, a growing line of textiles and wallpapers. A high-energy craftswoman of many products, including the lines of toile that she has been making since 2005, Peters has a simple philosophy: “I don’t want to do just one thing—I want to do all of the above!”
Peters is a New England girl, having grown up in Concord, New Hampshire, and trained in commercial art at the Vesper George School of Art in Boston. She started out in advertising, but always wanted to run her own business. “It’s funny, my grandmother said to me, when I was probably in the sixth grade, ‘You’re going to be an interior designer,’” Peters recalls. “I said, ‘No no,’ but she was right!” In 1979, the designer took a leap and started custom-painting furniture.
Flash forward 10 years and Peters’ beautiful hand-painted lamps were being offered in shops likes Neiman Marcus, some pieces winning national awards. After that, she says, “I got into the fabrics because I couldn’t find what I was looking for in the design centers.” Her textiles eventually were featured in showrooms in Boston and New York. These days she sells the fabrics exclusively through her Osterville shop.
A visit to the small, intimate Osterville shop brings to mind lighthearted visions of coastal tea parties, seaside picnics, hot air balloons, and mermaids. Peters’ designs are rendered with a whimsical, bright palette of pastels on textiles smooth like buttercream frosting, full of decorative flourishes on every surface imaginable, and bright with white—lots of white. Peters’ look is Cape Cod cottage with the volume turned to full blast. For Peters, less isn’t more. Quite simply, more is more.
The piece de resistance of Peters’ creations is a line of modern toile fabrics featuring places and landmarks specific to Cape Cod and the Islands’ coastal world. Formally known as Toile de Jouy and first made in the mid-1700’s in France, toile is traditionally single-color printed, usually on a white cotton ground, and typically depicts pastoral scenes. The printed fabric exemplifies all that is Rococo, an 18th century arts movement defined by ornate, lavish decoration and frivolous subject matter.