Flowers Yes, But Lots More

Ned Kelly puts his perfect-pitch taste
into a new shop in Piermont

By Joanne Furio

Ned Kelly's theatrical background becomes apparent when he imagines a perfect day at his store, Ned Kelly & Company, in Piermont.

"The door opens and there is a small line," he says, smiling. "And it includes a visit from someone looking for a bouquet to take to visit a friend, someone to pick up the small kitchen stools (upholstered in leather and chenille), an anniversary gift of a beautiful bed tray and an afternoon meeting to discuss the wedding of a creative, low-key couple."

Now Kelly laughs, acknowledging that few prenuptial couples are low-key. "I am asking for it all," he adds.

Kelly is not only asking for it all, but giving it all in his role as director and leading man in his new shop, dedicated to "living well at home," he says.
The company's tagline reveals the store's myriad offerings: "flowers, home, garden and events."

The garrulous Kelly honed his people skills and expertise at creating beautiful floral arrangements at his brother's - Peter Xavier Kelly's - restaurants. Ned Kelly helped Xavier's in Garrison establish its front-of-the-house style in its early years, and went on to open the Freelance Cafe and Wine Bar in Piermont, where he has been manager for the past 15 years.

All along, Kelly has been in charge of flowers for the Xavier's restaurant group, which includes Restaurant X in Congers. His freelance work for the past eight years as a floral designer for weddings and parties was a natural outgrowth of that role.

"So all this time with tables and glasses and parties brewed into an idea that maybe it is time for Piermont to have another," he says.

Just as he envisions his perfect day, Kelly has selected a well-edited mixture of products from various categories to create the perfect day in the life of one of his customer. In Kelly's view, it will be filled with luxury, from the moment one steps out of the shower. Hence there are towels of Egyptian cotton in three sizes ($27, hand; $52, bath; $97, beach) and cotton bath mats in floral patters from Tabula Tua ($92). Other tactile textiles include chenille throws from Textillery ($325-$425) and vintage linen kitchen towels ($22-$30).

In keeping with Kelly's culinary leanings, the store places great emphasis on the kitchen. Its layout even includes built-in cabinets and a sink, which is helpful for the floral business.

Bella Cucina's gourmet line is well represented with products both sweet and salty. There's Lemon Pear Marmallata ($8) and a gift box of three pestos ($30).
"We try to find things that won't miss," Kelly says. "If you are having people over and put the olives on the table with bread and the pesto, you are done," he says.

Kelly sells four patterns of Bernadaud china from France, including three white-on-white patterns that range from the Asian-inspired Fusion to the more classic Louvre ($80 for a five-piece place setting). The pricier acorn-and-leaf pattern called Constance is $295 per setting.

Kelly combines vintage with new in his store, and chooses pieces of classic Blue Willow china to provide a shot of color on the table. A large platter in this English delft pattern is $310.

Among the few pieces of new furniture in the store are the aforementioned bar stools ($575) and cherry chaise with wool linen upholstery ($2,800), both made by Bright Chair Company with a crisp contemporary look. Antique pieces include the 19th-century mahogany-and-rush dining room chairs ($275 each) and an Empire secretary ($1,795).

To complete the home, Kelly sells a small selection of artwork. Both newcomers and the well-established are represented. Jeff Benneville's black-and-white photographs are $300 framed. An oil of a Nyack waterfront scene by Nyack's own John Beerman is $17,000 framed.

Another part of the business -- flowers -- greets visitors before they even enter the store. A bucket of roses and other flowers adorn steps, and a sunny arrangement of spring bulbs fill the window boxes. Inside, bunches are arranged in tin buckets and a wheelbarrow. Kelly sells flowers by the bunch ($2 to 14) and individually. He recently made an anniversary bouquet containing a coral peony, Anna roses, hellebores and scented geranium leaves for $55.

Which leads to Kelly's other role -- as a provider of services. For weddings, brides preparing for 100 or more guests should be willing to spend a minimum of $2,500 on flowers. Kelly also does "total visual design" - flowers, plus place settings and decorations -- for other special events. With his brother Peter's help, catering needs are easily covered.

Just like a home, the store has a back yard "reminiscent of a small garden in Charleston," says Kelly. Only in Kelly's garden, all the wrought iron, willow and Adirondack furniture and garden ornaments are for sale. In time for the store's first anniversary next month, Kelly hopes an adjoining garden slated to become part of his shop will be in full bloom.

"The idea of this shop is to have a place where people could come to find the answers to their questions about things that will help them live well at home," says Kelly, strolling through the raw outdoor space.

"When you aren't going to be satisfied by the catalog product and you are ready to make another choice, hopefully you will find something here."