By Emily G. Peters
Walking into Charlie’s House in Old Town Monrovia feels like strolling into the home of your most stylish, hospitable friend. And it should—owner Kristin Miller runs the gift and home decor boutique independently, with a little help from her husband and parents. The result reflects Miller’s talent for warm, airy interior design.
Not a single detail escapes her notice, and it shows. The displays at Charlie’s House aren’t grouped by product, but by how they would fit into different areas of your home. Throw in a chocolate chip cookie made from an old home economics recipe and you’ve got an hour well-spent in Monrovia.
Charlie’s House materialized as a second career for Miller, born from a need to move on from 20 years in corporate America.
“My dad gave me great advice—that life is too short to do something you don’t really want to do,” said Miller, who had always dreamed of opening a store when she retired. When her company was bought out for the second time in three years, she decided not to wait.
“My husband encouraged me to just do it now. There are a lot of new adventures out there in the world—you don’t need to do the same thing forever.”
Miller put her gift for refinishing and re-purposing items to good use, filling Charlie’s House with treasures picked up at flea markets and estate sales around town. Her husband custom-builds furniture and displays for the shop, too, and many items are created by L.A. locals. It’s an ideal parity of boutique finds on a budget.
“I don’t necessarily like overly expensive things in the store, but I’m also respectful of the time it takes to make an item,” said Miller. Sales are rare at Charlie’s House—but that’s deliberate, too. “I like the ‘Trader Joe’s approach’,” she explained. “I keep my prices as low as possible so I don’t have to use gimmicks and other nonsense to sell an item.”
Having worked her entire adult life in the Monrovia area, Miller is a big believer in businesses keeping the community alive. She’s a member of the Monrovia Old Town Advisory Board, whose membership fees go towards bringing local experiences and attractions to Old Town—like the Monrovia Wine Walk this past August.
“I’ve been on the board for two years. The point is to look at Old Town Monrovia as a whole—not just my piece—and to introduce locals to shops or businesses they’ve never experienced before,” said Miller. Her involvement has only further cemented her commitment to the neighborhood. “The attitude is that if Old Town is healthy, then Monrovia is healthy.”
With Halloween here and the holidays around the corner, Charlie’s House is entering peak popularity season. Her open house on November 4, 2017 will introduce her holiday displays and treat her patrons to cookies, coffee, and plenty of seasonal magic. It’s Miller’s favorite time of year.
“Having the store has made me feel like a part of the community in a way I never had before,” said Miller. “It’s lovely to be connected with the people of Monrovia.”
Charlie’s House is located at 430 S. Myrtle Avenue in Old Town Monrovia and is open Tuesday through Sunday, closed on Mondays. Contact Miller at www.charlies-house.com | 626.359.3963 | firstname.lastname@example.org and follow along on Facebook @CharliesHouseMonrovia.