By Charlotte Cusack
Take a look around the beautiful, newly opened By Design Consignments store in Brentwood and you’ll get a taste of what the Ehsan home must look like: elegant with a touch of fun; a mix of contemporary and old Hollywood; striking in black and white.
“When we decorated our house a year ago, we couldn’t find the stuff that we wanted,” said Shafiqa Ehsan, who co-owns the retail space along with her husband Harris. “We wanted a black fabric sofa, and we could not find it on the face of the Earth. Everything was black leather. We thought, ‘We’re going to open our own little design and furniture store that’s affordable that helps people like us.’ It’s something we love to do.”
The Ehsans are not formally trained interior designers – they both majored in marketing at Cal State Hayward – but they’ve developed an eye for complementary color palettes and aesthetically pleasing compositions. Their zeal for home décor was born 10 years ago after the couple purchased their first house in Antioch.
“We’ve always been obsessed with doing any projects together, especially home décor shopping and design. It’s a passion,” said Shafiqa. “One of the reasons we hopped from that home to (our current home in Brentwood) was because we already decorated that to the max, so we moved to another house and started all over. From one home to another, we’d never take the same stuff because we feel like each home has its own personality.”
Sweethearts since junior high, it’s obvious this happily married pair works well in tandem, too.
“We’ve been together so long our minds are the same,“ Harris joked. “She’s thinking it, and I probably already bought it.”
By Design Consignments may be a small store, but it has a lot to offer, including new furniture, gently-used consignments, lamps, bedroom and dining sets, chairs, coffee tables, mirrors, art and chandeliers from big brands such as Benetti’s and Ashley Furniture to everything in between.
In the near future, the pair plans to add fine jewelry and wedding dresses to their consignment collection as well.
“I think it’s important for people to know that we’re almost like a personal shopper for them,” said Harris. “If somebody comes in and wants something specific, they can just give us a price range and an idea of what they’re looking for, and we’ll do all the shopping for them and send them our findings. There’s no cost to it. We have free delivery service until the end of the year, and we also offer price match guarantee and layaway. We can save people a lot of money.”
By Design Consignments is the third entrepreneurial venture for the Ehsans. Before the economic crisis, they owned a thriving mortgage company in Walnut Creek. Shafiqa, who has worked in the mortgage industry for nearly 12 years, opened a small mortgage company in Fremont before deciding to work from home after the birth of her third child. The multi-talented Ehsans also produced a lifestyle magazine for second generation Afghan Americans like themselves until that was also forced to fold. Harris switched gears and began working out of Pleasanton as a linguist recruiter for the military. By Design Consignments opened Sept. 1.
Not only have the Ehsans decorated their own homes, they’re experienced in home staging due to their real estate connections, and they also have a professional interior designer on staff who can work with clients at no extra cost and by appointment.
“You can get what you want for the price that you want, we can adapt to any style,” said Shafiqa. “If you have an idea of what you want, we can find something similar or have it made from scratch.”
And, if it’s custom creations you’re looking for, Harris is your go-to guy.
“Every single thing in our home that everybody loves was his idea,” Shafiqa said. “He’s such a perfectionist.”