Andie Bonniol began her career, artfully repurposing old furniture, in her home studio in 1999. In 2007, she found her Warren space, falling in love with its “tin ceiling, solid hardwood floors and two front windows aching to be filled,” and opened Whimsies, a gallery and gift boutique. Next month will mark nine years of adding whimsy to East Bay homes.
Where does your creativity come from?
I grew up in a family that nurtured creativity, imagination and the belief that you are capable of achieving/being/doing anything you put your mind to. Creating became a daily practice for me and I found when I wasn’t creative, I did not feel happy or whole.
What’s Whimsies like, besides being whimsical?
I call my store a little bit vintage, a little bit quirky and a little bit rock n’ roll. It is a magical gift shop and gallery filled with unique, handcrafted treasures made by local artisans and craftspeople. Every nook and cranny is lovingly filled with hand painted furniture, art-inspired gifts, vintage finds and fluff. Because my passion is painting furniture, there is a lot of furniture ranging from “shabby chic to funky,” serving as display pieces for the many vignettes of handcrafted items.
You seem really tapped in to the arts community in Warren.
Almost the entire shop is now locally handcrafted items made by artists in Warren, Barrington and Bristol. Artists come to me offering what they are currently working on. They may have their standard wares, but most are pushing their limits to learn new things, and are recreating themselves on a daily basis. What this means for Whimsies is an ever-changing inventory, as each artist gains more knowledge, creates new items and transforms themselves and their art.
What’s your advice on adding whimsy to your home?
If you love something, use it! Try not to get caught up in buying the right color or right pattern. Artwork should not be chosen because it matches your sofa. The most beautiful homes have evolved over time with treasures that hold special meaning or memories.
Why the Alice in Wonderland theme?
When I started the shop, it seemed appropriate to have my motto be the quote from Alice in Wonderland about “six impossible things” because that was precisely what I was embarking on... an adventure that to some may have seemed impossible. Alice in Wonderland is a nonsensical, delightful book but on closer inspection it offers some wonderful life lessons about moving forward, dreaming the impossible, falling into “rabbit holes” and learning to get out, saying what you mean, being a little “mad” and listening to your own heart and advice.
Anything exciting coming up?
Whimsies will be embarking on a new adventure, The Providence Flea, over the summer. We will be there June 19, July 17 and August 14. As always, we will participate in all the Warren activities coming up and throughout the year.
4 Church Street, Warren