If ever there was a design store that makes you feel like you’re shopping in a fabled great aunt’s country estate, Outpost Home (1828 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, Fairfax) is it. Running counter to the big box ethos of sameness and neutrality, Karin Young and Tracy McCulloch have set out to add dimension, warmth and history to people’s homes. The store seems to come alive as you step into it, or perhaps you come alive with the possibility of how the abundant treasures could add color to your life.
The small shop, which opened in the fall of 2020, has expertly sourced furniture, tableware, artwork and decor — both new and antique. “We want to tell the story about what came before and add depth to the home,” says Young. To that end, each item in the store has a tale to tell. Handwoven dog collars and baskets support international female artisans by providing the workers with fair wages. Pillows are hand-dyed in the East Bay. A titanic fabric chandelier was rescued from a junkyard and once hung in a Mexican restaurant. Fine-stemmed wineglasses, English porcelain salad plates, a fireplace mantel and countless other treasures were hand-picked from thrift stores and estate sales.
If a knack for resourcing and precise curation would presumably go hand-in-hand with exorbitant price tags, think again. Glassware starts at $5 a stem; a set of four colorful plates was marked at $40. Pillows, baskets, books and other items can be had for under $100. Those with a penchant for character will be hard-pressed to leave empty handed. The owners are thrilled to welcome in customers, hear their stories and help them find items that they help may sate people’s unfulfilled desire for the trinkets usually acquired during travel. The decor destination has been welcomed by locals, thrilled with a new downtown Fairfax storefront, and discovered by droves of weekend cyclists and staycationers from around Marin and San Francisco.
Tracy McCulloch and Karin Young are longtime collaborators and friends. They met when their oldest kids were at preschool in Mill Valley and their connection grew as their second kids entered school and became close. Over the years, the two found opportunity to work together; McCulloch is a realtor and Young is an interior designer. So last year, when the two were struggling to be productive in the Zoom zoo of their homes, they decided to take office space together. But when Young found the charming location, the two knew they needed to add a retail component.
“We’re design, property consultancy, remodeling, art sourcing — a united skill set, a one-stop shop,” says McCulloch. The front two rooms are pure retail, while both women have private offices in the back where their real estate and design clients can meet.
Though many retail locations suffered during the past year while the world was on lockdown, Outpost Home is off to a roaring start. Life has never revolved around the home more than over the prior year, so McCulloch and Young have welcomed house-weary consumers in for consultation and inspiration. They describe their store as a “gateway to West Marin,” and that notion of a timeworn, simpler life shines through in their small space.
The local community has embraced the duo, presumably in no small part because they insisted on preserving the murals by Mill Valley artist Ian Ross that adorn front alcoves. The owners are also championing other local artists like Isabelle Truchon, Susan Schneider Williams and Tyler Bewley, whose prints and canvas originals can be found adorning the walls of the store. They’ve even managed to host (Covid-safe) artist receptions.
Outpost Home is the kind of store where you can pop in to see what’s new and reliably find a gift for every occasion. But as you immerse yourself in the vibe of the store, you may wind up seeking additional help with your home decor or even a remodel. Not sure if your design choices of today may impact resale values of tomorrow?
Those are exactly the questions Young and McCulloch want to help you answer. A small store where you’re encouraged to ask questions, tell stories, buy sustainably and be unique. That’s Marin to its core.