Blanc & Bleu offers home goods and decor that could best be described as French coastal cottage; the name also describes the shop’s predominant color scheme.
Unity Park, the former Bristol Industrial Park at 500 Wood Street, has been buzzing recently with openings real and anticipated, from Pivotal Brewing Company to Borealis Coffee to the Brick Oven Pizza Co. But deep in Unity Park, far from the activity visible from Wood Street, is Blanc & Bleu. It’s been open just a few months now, with very limited retail hours.
Blanc & Bleu offers home goods and decor that could best be described as French coastal cottage; the name also describes the shop’s predominant color scheme. The contents range from harder-to-source European imports to utterly unique, one-of-a-kind pieces created by proprietor Jenna Kinghorn.
“Our bread and butter is repurposing furniture,” said Kinghorn in a recent conversation. She both obtains and repurposes finds as well as accepts commissions. The result? Pieces you won’t find anywhere else. “They don’t make furniture the way they used to so if you have something with good bones, we can make it special and unique.”
By her account, they have saved and repurposed about 200 pieces of furniture, obtained from sources as varied as estate sales and Brimfield to Facebook marketplace and the side of the road.
She has also tapped into her extensive styling skills to create a shopping environment as unique as her finished furniture pieces. Open Saturdays only, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., you’ll need to set a calendar reminder for a visit to Blanc & Bleu.
An unusual path
Perhaps unexpectedly, Kinghorn’s style and vision were honed over years working as a retail management executive at places like Bloomingdale’s, The Gap, J. Crew, and Pottery Barn — brands that don’t exactly come to mind when you think one-of-a-kind. Blanc & Bleu was born as a pop-up shop (the very first time was at the Mt. Hope Farm farmers’ market), a collaboration with friend and business partner Rebekah Willemberg.
“We sold out every time, and it would be weeks before we could restock to do another,” said Kinghorn. “People kept asking where our shop was.”
So, they decided to open one.
“We wanted to see if we really could maintain that flow,” she said.
They opened in the Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket in January 2020. That first Saturday they had hundreds of people through their shop, and easily made rent for the month. Two months later, they were shut down by the pandemic. They shifted gears to a mostly-online shop, and then found space in Unity Park, adjacent to a friend.
“We had heard about everything happening at Unity and wanted to get in where things are starting to happen,” said Kinghorn.
Originally from Chicago and an on-and-off resident of RI for over 20 years who currently lives in Riverside, Kinghorn is enjoying the Bristol location.
“It’s a great community with a real shop-local focus; quirky and fun.”
Willemburg moved out of state in December, so Kinghorn’s on her own moving forward. It’s a one-woman balancing act between brick and mortar and online retail, commissions, and the workshops on furniture painting and other skills that she runs every month. Custom projects are a true collaboration with the client. She encourages clients to go to places like Pinterest for inspiration, as well as share pictures of the the room that will house the piece when it’s done. She’s worked with all kinds of pieces from contemporary to traditional to midcentury modern — nothing’s off the table, so to speak.
Kinghorn also notes that she uses everything she sells — and if she would not use it herself, she wouldn’t sell it. She applies the same litmus test of style and quality to everything under her roof, whether a chest of drawers or a bar of soap.
“I believe in things that are well-made and purposeful,” she said.
Blanc & Bleu is open every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 500 Wood St., unit #205. For more information on products, workshops, or to ask about a custom project, visit blancandbleuhome.com.