Home & Design

Masters of the House

Outdoor living space is that has lots of flowers and other plants and a nice view of the city is party ready June 16, 2014 in Washington, DC. Bob Williams and Stephen Heavner bought this one bedroom condo with a second floor terrace late last year. They are going to be setting it up for a cocktail party to be held that night. (Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)WIRES OUT MAGS OUT TV OUT NEW YORK TIMES WASHINGTON TIMES OUT NO TRADES NO SALES MANDATORY CREDIT

Bob Williams and Stephen Heavner furnished their roof-top deck in classic MGBW style, then added some sparkle and a bit of shine. Jura Koncius wrote about the Logan Circle condo and the Williams-Heavner style of entertaining–see http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/home. / Washington Post photo by Katherine Frey.

IN CONTRAST WITH the earthy tones of Pottery Barn and the tailored neutrals of Crate & Barrel, the showroom floor of the new Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams store was looking quite silvery and sparkly when it opened in mid-June.

Room settings in the new Tysons Galleria showroom for Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams present ideas for how to decorate in addition to showcasing furniture. / Photo by Kate Williams.

Room settings in the new Tysons Galleria showroom for Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams present ideas for how to decorate in addition to showcasing furniture. / Photo by Kate Warren.

It made sense: MGBW was celebrating not only its new Flagship Signature Store at Tysons Galleria in McLean but also the company’s silver anniversary.

Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams

Business partners Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams founded Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams 25 years ago. The label on the wall behind them, “Relaxed Comfort,” is emblematic of their approach to home furnishings and life in general. / Photo by Kate Warren.

As Gold and Williams, and their spouses, greeted longtime friends and customers–and people who had come to support JDRF, the Type 1 diabetes research organization–the classic Winston Cube Ottoman, an MGBW staple, now shimmered in white and silver hair-on-hide. The Dumont sofa, with its sexy curve, looked all dressed up in a metallic velvet.

It’s true, as has been written many times, that lots of people have owned MGBW furniture without knowing it. That’s because the firm began its manufacturing days as producers of upholstered pieces for other companies–Bloomingdale’s, Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn among them. Since then, they’ve “come out” as their own brand and even made furniture for the CBS series “The Good Wife.” MGBW still produces its upholstered pieces in Taylorsville, North Carolina (some of the case goods–chests, tables–are made abroad).

The key to MGBW is comfort, something the company’s founders take seriously: The fellas even produced a book called, “The Comfortable Home (How to Invest in Your Nest and Live Well for Less).” Not for nothing did their mascot, the late English bulldog named Lulu, star in some of their ads, telegraphing that this was furniture for families, kids and dogs included (yes, the family cat too). Comfort also seems to mean that those of us on the far, far side of 35 can pick ourselves up off sofas that are not set at ground level and can linger over a meal in nicely padded dining chairs.

 So on opening night, while waiters circulated with fancified comfort food (baby shrimp-and-grits canapés, crab cake “sliders” from caterer Susan Gage), and an oyster gal and guy from XO Oysters wandered around shucking mollusks on the spot, the rest of us did what Gold and Williams wanted: We sank into the furniture and got comfortable.

Comfortable, and cheerful, the dapper Gold and Williams made easy turns around the 10,000-square-foot store on the Galleria’s third level, chatting with longtime customers and introducing themselves to newcomers. And even with 19 stores around the country (and three more opening this fall), the two are definitely at home around here: Not only is there a Signature Store on 14th Street in Northwest Washington, but each man, and his spouse, now owns a condo in Washington.

Wonder whose furniture they filled them with?

–Nancy McKeon


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