Coastal Style with Global Flair magazine article layout
by Michael Lay
The Eastern Seaboard is home to a diverse mixture of metropolises, sleepy bedroom communities, resort destinations, maritime towns and small cities. But, if you had the opportunity to step inside many of the homes, condos, villas and cottages that comprise the residential portions of these coastal communities, what would unite many of them would be their furnishings. What we sometimes locally refer to as Outer Banks Style is really more of a generic and ubiquitous coastal style.

This “certain sameness” derives from the reality that the vast majority of retail outlets all attend the same furniture shows and expos and buy from the same relatively small group of suppliers. The resulting similarity of offerings is almost unavoidable. But, what if you could make the same financial investment and achieve a result that sets your home or rental property apart from all the others? Well, you can! Simply visit Exotic Home, an Outer Banks-based furnishings and design company with the area’s largest warehouse of in-stock merchandise and beautifully appointed showrooms in Kill Devil Hills, Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

It’s one thing to claim uniqueness — ironically, doesn’t everyone these days? But, set against the modern cacophony of incessant promotion and blaring superlatives, what really distinguishes Exotic Home from the competition? According to owner Mike Day it is a focus on the quality of product and service coupled with a willingness to travel the globe to identify and cultivate new sources for furnishings and accessories. A world traveler since the age of 19, Day says, “I’ve been crafting relationships and directly importing furnishings and accessory items from a worldwide network of small vendors and suppliers for more than 20 years. It takes a long time to build these types of productive relationships, and that investment of time and effort is a large part of what makes Exotic Home different from traditional furniture stores.”

Because they travel the globe seeking the new and different, Mike and wife, Tiffany, become attuned to new trends before they hit the consumer market here in the United States. Often, they are a step or two ahead of styles and trends. And having products directly manufactured cuts out the middleman, enabling Exotic Home to offer quality products at great value. “We travel the world to hunt down cool furnishings in order to create the impression that the home owners themselves have collected the items over the years through world travel. Much of what you find in our showrooms is designed exclusively by us, an antique or one-of-a-kind item.”

But don’t let the name Exotic Home give you the wrong impression. While there are plenty of furniture items and design elements of somewhat exotic provenance, Day is quick to point out that Exotic Home is “not elephants and zebras.” Far from it, in fact. The showrooms are more accurately characterized as a showplace of exotic finds, funky geometric linens and pillows, stylish upholstered pieces that sport the hottest trends along with timeless furnishing pieces which are all merged to create a unique but classic design. A quick survey of the showrooms finds an array of familiar Made in America Brands including Lexington Home, Tommy Bahama and Lee Industries.

Day also stresses the quality of Exotic Homes’ furnishings, noting that their imported lines are hand-crafted from solid and reclaimed wood, not veneer and particle board. This emphasis on solid wood construction pays off with a durability that is essential to the long-term value of furnishings that will be subjected to the heat, humidity and storms of the coastal environment, not to mention the daily abuse common in resort rental situations. “We furnished homes as long as 10 years ago and the pieces are still going strong,” Day says proudly. “Because they’re made entirely of real wood, our pieces are more resistant to wear and tear and can be fully restored if they do suffer damage.”

At this point, you may be thinking that all this quality and uniqueness must come at an extravagant cost. And you’d be wrong. With interior designers in each store and free design services supporting customer purchases, Exotic Home can furnish an entire home in a manner that is high quality, stylish and unique to that individual home at the same price as competitors offering lesser quality, mass-produced furniture and accessory designs. They also offer a 10-year warranty on imported solid wood furnishings, even those placed in rental properties. “If you’re going to spend the same thousands of dollars to furnish a home, why settle for particle board,” Day asks somewhat rhetorically. “Exotic Home can furnish a five-bedroom home at a price similar to that of competitors but with a quality and diversity of product that is superior. When we furnish a home it looks like a spread from Coastal Living Magazine.”

Although perfectly happy to match you with the sofa or lamp of your dreams, where Day and his team really shine is working with builders, fellow interior designers and decorators, and real estate companies on the challenge of furnishing and custom accessorizing new homes. The quality of product and the highly individualized design solutions can transform the ordinary coastal abode into an extraordinary retreat, increasing the home’s attractiveness and value.

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