Vintage Vibes

June 2023 View more

By Judy Sutton Taylor

Home furnishing mecca Warehouse 55 suits many styles

Various items on display in Warehouse 55

It’s not easy to find a single spot that stocks furniture from iconic French design firm Maison Jansen, midcentury modern library lamps, and a quirky paint-by-numbers piece of a horse in a pastoral setting. But at Warehouse 55 in Aurora, this—and so much more—is possible.

“This is a one-stop shop for everyone,” says Mark Allen, owner of the 10,000-square-foot space occupied by 75 vendors. Wares are an eclectic mix of mostly vintage finds in styles ranging from modern contemporary to French country and rustic farmhouse. Furniture and vintage paintings are top sellers, he says, but there are all kinds of unique accessories to outfit a home here. Looking for fun MCM drinkware for a retro cocktail party? Need a set of bedroom furniture? Feel like adding a few quirky needlepoint pillows to liven up your living room sofa? This is the place.

Since opening in 2019, Warehouse 55 (at 55 S. Lake St., get it?) has become a favorite must-stop for everyone from amateur treasure hunters and bargain lovers to professional designers and set decorators. Because inventory is constantly changing, shoppers have a new experience each time they visit. “We have customers who come in weekly just to see what’s new; they’ll spend half a day here,” Allen says. “And decorators love us. They can find everything they need to fill a bookcase or decorate an entire room, under one roof.”

Various items on display in Warehouse 55

Summer is a busy time, with an emphasis on patio furniture, planters, and garden decor, but December is when Warehouse 55 really goes all-out. “The whole space is transformed for Christmas,” Allen says. “It’s like a holiday wonderland a grandmother would create for a kid. It brings back lots of memories for people.”

Allen opened a Chicago outpost in the city’s West Town neighborhood in 2021. The aesthetic there is more “Hollywood Regency,” he says, but at both locations the wares are displayed in room-like vignettes, rather than behind display cases, to give shoppers a chance to touch everything and have a more personal experience.

Warehouse 55’s diverse feel may come across as organic, but it’s created with a deliberate effort by Allen. “I try to be very picky when it comes to vendor selection,” he says. “The space is curated so that each seller stands out and is able to show off their own style.” His strategy seems to be working. “It’s hard to get a space here,” he adds. “We don’t tend to lose vendors because everyone sells well.”


Photos: Mark Norkaitis