New J Bella Loft Boutique Is Like Being a Designer's Friend -- With Benefits

Categories: Shopping

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You'll find everything from bottle-opener ballcaps to travertine tables at J Bella Loft.
Interior designers have a pretty sweet gig. Not only are they encouraged to be creative in their job, they also get to work with gorgeous, magazine-worthy furniture and accessories that most of us would need a lottery windfall to own -- perhaps a sleek leather couch from from Austrian modernist Manfred Wakolbinger, or Katharina Styren's cool leaning bookcase divider.

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Owner Jennifer Dudones poses with one of the in-house artists.
What most people don't realize is that these lucky designers often score below-market prices and have a cache of cool furnishings in storage, just waiting to be used.

That's where Phoenix-based interior designer Jennifer Dudones got the idea to open a small, chic furniture and home accessory boutique where locals could pick up some of her favorite finds. "It seemed like a shame that the furniture was just sitting in a warehouse," says Dudones. Her new J Bella Loft store officially opened to the public this past Saturday night, and guests seemed surprised at just affordable her offerings are.

Sure, an original painting by Phoenix-born international artist Steve Hickok will set you back about $4,500, but a couple of armless brown leather side chairs with a travertine marble coffee table costs well under a grand total. And handmade jewelry by local artists including Aleese Murik runs as little as thirty bucks.

More on what's lurking inside J Bella, after the jump.                

 
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Beaded dog collars were a big hit, along with this lacquered paper puppy.
"I wanted the shop to have a wide range," Dudones explains. "I like some things that are expensive, and some things that are less so, and you'll find both here." Her interior design sensibility tends towards clean lines and modern appeal with an eclectic twist -- for example, the eye-catching fluorescent green head placed inside an atrium in one of her portfolio designs.

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The same style is reflected at J Bella. In one corner, a neutral sofa is tucked beside a strange leaf-shaped "Seat Belt" chair made from what looks like the neon orange tie-down straps you find at Harbor Freight tools. A low cowhide lounger is a striking showpiece in the center of the boutique.

A few feet away, on a table of locally made jewelry, was a chain-and-feather necklace we were totally crushing on. "Feathers are really hot right now," said a customer in a printed blue silk dress as she picked it up and headed towards the register. 

It's a little odd to see handmade leather flower purses and rhinestone necklaces among the upscale furnishings, but somehow it all meshes together into a portrait of one woman's style. 

And Dudones is pretty confident that her picks will appeal to funky local artist types, as well as the college crowd. "I'm a Tempe girl," the bubbly designer boasts (though she admits she currently lives in Ahwatukee). "I know the people here. And I think they should be able to buy trendy things nearby."

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Click through to see more pics of J Bella Loft.

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