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Old is new

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There's a stuffed chicken - the post-taxidermist-visit kind of stuffed - collecting dust in a 1940s-era garage at Monterey and California streets in SLO.

"We thought it was cool," says storeowner Judy Watkins, who, along with partner Kimberly Stanier, opened the new CALA Antiques store here recently. "I guess we figured wrong on the chicken, as no one's bought it yet, but I liked it!"

It is rare that Judy gets one wrong, and she's allowed to purchase the odd dud, as she seems to have a preternatural sense of what objects people want in their homes. Judy has become the Central Coast's own home decor diva of sorts, an avatar of what's called "rustic elegance." Judy started her home-decor career nine years ago in Shell Beach, got noticed by a major decorating publication, expanded to a larger spot on Old Edna Road, got more famous, then moved to Orcutt Road and achieved yet more fame. Now her design talents are in full swing and utilizing every square inch of the old Sultan's Automotive building across the street from the Splash Cafe.

"When we bought this building people wanted to know why we weren't tearing it down and starting over," says Judy. "We wanted a building that felt rugged and sophisticated, a place where something like an old shed goes with what we're doing."

What they're doing is creating comfortable, affordable decorations accessible to those of us who don't know a turret from a trivet.

"We design in rustic elegance, which means husbands can relax, put their feet up, and actually touch the things in their home," says Judy. "It's comfortable."

Judy and Kim explore this niche with stuff that's either perfect the way it is or needs a little creative intervention. "Some of our best-selling items are these old French gates that we put on legs; people use them as room dividers," says Judy. And dividing a room isn't something you can do with a stuffed chicken.

To check out some rustic elegance at CALA Antiques, visit them at 1511 Monterey St. or give them a call at 541-1500.

FAST FACTS

... In the market for a kitten? The Woods Humane Society, those local folks who've found homes for 10,000 animals over the past 10 years, have found a new home at 875 Oklahoma Ave. off of Highway 1. By vacating their old digs on Broad Street they've doubled their feline and canine accommodations. To help take care of their new workload and complete the location change, they really need donations. Or, if you want to open your home to puppies, kitties, and especially older dogs and cats - that would be a big help too. Conversely, beginning on Monday, July 25, those wishing to turn in a companion animal (sure you wanna do that?) can call the shelter at 543-9316....

... Abel Maldonado loves avocados, or so I've heard. Okay, okay, I made that up (Sorry Abel, I needed an intro.) Lifelong Morro Bay resident Kerry DeCarli is hoping to expand her business, The Avocado Company, to Mr. Maldonado as well as the rest of the world by going online to showcase the family's fruit. By connecting the dots from orchard to consumer via the web, the food doesn't hang out in storage houses or grocery stores so it's super-fresh. If you missed your local farmers' market this week and are jonesing, check out www.avocadocompany.com....

... Atascadero may mean "mud hole," but that's not always derogatory. What if you, say, soak in that mud and get a good rubdown? Cool stuff, eh? Well The Spa Central Coast in A-town has added Leslie Cotham and Malia Natividad (yes, that's her real, totally cool name) to its roster. Both Leslie and Malia are schooled in Swedish, shiatsu, lymphatic, prenatal, and deep-tissue massage. To book some downtime with Leslie and Ms. Natividad, call 464-0129. Spa Central Coast is located in the old firehouse on Traffic Way.

Contributor Bryan Dickerson compiles New Times' Strokes & Plugs. E-mail him at bdickerson@newtimesslo.com.

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