By Anneliese Lawton
Alexanian’s is a true rugs to riches story. The flooring empire launched into business in 1925 at the hands of Aris Alexanian, a noted world traveller and businessman. It has since thrived, growing from one storefront on King Street in Hamilton, to 18 stores across the province. While a full range of flooring products attracts shoppers, Alexanian’s outstanding service makes them life-long customers. Following in Aris’ footsteps are third and fourth generations of Alexanian’s, including spokesperson, Shelley Alexanian.
Shelley, a believer that flooring is fashion, is the familiar face you see on Alexanian commercials and the brains behind Signature, its new flagship store. Like any Alexanian store before it, Signature prides itself on service, and in addition, offers unique features. A fashion-forward selection of carpet, hardwood and area rugs stand out among the crisp, white backdrop of the flooring boutique – and if their innovative designs and samples aren’t enough, customers also have access to a hot cappuccino, an iPad loaded with the Signature app, and Shelley herself. Her wealth of knowledge, years of experience, and eye for design are reflected in both business and in her own home.
It’s probably safe to assume the business has played a major role in your life. How has it shaped you and your family?
Our family has been in the retail business for 93 years, and now the fourth generation is active and making its own mark. The business has played and continues to play a major role in our lives. To outsiders it might seem overwhelming at times but when our family is together, retail and business is sometimes all we talk about. It is in our blood. We just love it! And when you love what you do talking shop is never boring.
Has interior design always been something you’ve been passionate about?
Yes. I was actually so inspired by the very talented late Toronto designer extraordinaire Budd Sugarman. In my mid-teens he had done some extensive work for my mother and I was so drawn to his incredible talent.
Signature by Shelley Alexanian opened its doors in July 2017. When did you first become inspired to create this extension of the business?
It is the store we wanted to open for many years. This store is a collection of ideas and inspiration from all of my travels and own retail experiences over the past 15 years. It is such a departure from the typical carpet and flooring store it could not be rushed.
I really wanted to raise the bar and create an innovative, fun and dynamic environment that offers consumers and designers an experience not being delivered in today’s
marketplace. Signature is like a 13,000 sq.ft. boutique!
How does Signature by Shelley Alexanian expand the Alexanian brand and offerings?
The Signature store brand is a totally different experience than our Alexanian brand. The consideration given to attentive service and quality carpet and floor coverings are similar between both brands but I don’t want a client or customer travelling a distance to be disappointed and feeling that they could have seen this product in their local Alexanian store. At Signature, I have personally selected all of the wool carpet and area rugs, hardwood, waterjet, marble and porcelain tiles, luxury vinyl and laminate flooring, and window coverings.
You mentioned your kitchen is your favourite room in your house. What makes that space feel like home?
The great pleasures of beautiful food and drink happen right here in my kitchen! For sure, they used to happen in the dining room, but those days are gone. No one ever leaves my kitchen. Life’s greatest drama and celebrations unfold around the kitchen island! Love and friendships are strengthened around food, wine and casual conversation.
What is the focal point of the room?
The island…nobody ever wants to leave, so I make sure there are plenty of very comfortable counter stools.
What is the foundation to creating a beautiful space?
Flooring of course! But seriously, flooring is artwork for your floor.
What design trends do you see coming in 2018? What trends are on their way out?
2018 is the year of velvet and leather. Bold pigments for moody interiors. Burnt orange, emerald greens, brooding violet, ochre, peacock blue. More industrial shades of metal are expected to be a prominent choice. From brass to nickel, less high shine material. The same applies to hardwood for flooring. Herringbone floors, which I have a lot of at Signature, are making a magnificent statement. Furniture is going to the dark side. The Scandi trend of recent years might be making its way out. Goodbye shiny dark hardwood floors.