An Elegant Spin on a Beachy-Chic Boutique

Ormolu, the brainchild of Claudia Barr, offers a fanciful mix of old and new decorative finds.

Ormolu point pleasant

Claudia Barr prides herself on Ormolu’s homelike feel. “I set the tables and create vignettes. I put things together that don’t necessarily go together,” she says of her carefully curated merchandise. Photo by James J. Connolly

It started with a grand piano. When interior designer Claudia Barr and her husband, Bill, relocated from Martinsville to the Jersey Shore, there was no room for the piano in the new house. The instrument was a prized possession, and she wasn’t about to give it up. Instead, in a serendipitous moment, she discovered an open retail space a mile away from their new home where she could keep her piano and other cherished antiques she didn’t want to part with. It made sense. The new location would be a perfect place to set up shop. 

“I thought this could be an exciting new adventure,” she says, “and an ideal place to run my interior design business.” And thus, a store was born. 

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Barr named her shop Ormolu in a nod to one of her favorite antique styles, a decorative metal alloy often applied to fine furnishings. “When I first opened, there were places that did the chalk-paint furniture look,” she says. “I didn’t want to do that.” The shop is notable for its eclectic mix of merchandise, from pricey and authentic antiques to the perfect $40 housewarming gift. The mix is truly 50-50, says Barr. “Fifty percent of my merchandise is antique; 50 percent is new. I try to have something for everyone.” And she does. “There are salad servers for $24 and some for $125,” she says. “Some casual, some formal.” 

ormolu cape may

Photo by James J. Connolly

Unique items include hand-carved wooden whales reminiscent of folk artist Wick Ahrens. “His whales were a hot commodity,” Barr says. “Now his apprentice carries on his legacy.” The one-of-a-kind whales are priced from $420 to $820. 

One of Barr’s favorite items is by her uncle, Czech artist Alois Janak, who married her father’s sister. “He’s very prolific,” she says. “He has a distinct style.” Barr has a catalog of his prints, from $230 to $1,000; original colored etchings are $1,325.

Working alongside sister-in-law and best friend Patti Krebs, Barr scours estate sales and adds new pieces. “We’re always changing it up, keeping it fresh,” she says. 

The grand piano is the one constant, sitting prominently in the front of the store. While it’s for sale, “I don’t push to sell it,” she says.

Ormolu, 511 Bay Avenue, Point Pleasant Beach; 848-232-1898.

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