Irish Culture Meets Modern Design

NORTHPORT CONTRACTOR JACK REIDY always wanted a space to showcase the art of local painters, musicians and craftsmen. Brú na Bó, his home furnishings and design store on Scudder Avenue, will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in September. Along with art-lined walls and music nights, the shop features an eclectic mix of rustic and modern furniture, lighting and home accessories. “When you walk into the store it feels rustic because it’s very cozy and there’s lots of items,” said Reidy, who renovated the building leaving exposed brick walls and arching metal ceilings. “But I think the pieces themselves work best in a simpler home where they can stand out.”

Related Content: Journey to the Emerald Isle

The name Brú na Bó is a play on words fusing Irish and Northport history. Reidy grew up in County Kerry, Ireland, southwest of County Meath, home of the prehistoric archeological site Brúna Bóinne. “When I named the store I shortened this to Brú na Bó,” said Reidy, who moved to Northport in 1993 and started Newgrange Structural Ltd. in 2002. “It means Palace of the Cow, a reference to Cow Harbor, which was Northport’s name until the early 19th century.” The store currently carries luxurious blankets and knits from Irish company Avoca and Reidy intends to add pottery and furniture from his homeland in the near future.

Reidy, who hits East Coast antique stores a few times a year, has an eye for design. When selecting newer items he prefers the eco-friendly, repurposed barn wood to replicas that are made to look old. And custom orders are also a possibility, whether it’s a painting or a piece of furniture. “I have a fantastic cabinet maker who works for me. And the artisans we work with can make a custom hutch, coffee table, barn table or dining table as well.”

At times the cozy store also serves as an art gallery or music venue. In addition to a couple of art openings per year, including the Northport Art Walk, Brú na Bó hosts contemporary Irish singer/songwriters once a month (past acts include Hothouse Flowers and Bell X1). “We get calls every week to find out whose playing,” said Reidy, who hopes to book Glen Hansard of The Frames in the future. “It’s a very intimate evening and people love it.” It all ties in with the natural aesthetic Reidy is curating in both tangible and intangible ways.

What is your design philosophy?
Our local artisan pieces are all about form, beauty and fine craftsmanship. We like our new items to have simple, clean lines like those of mid-century modern, Scandinavian and American Shaker. This leaves room for our authentic rustic and reclaimed pieces to tell their individual stories.

Describe some of your unique gift items.
We try and mix it up but we usually have glass tea light candleholders in the shape of sailboats made by Design Ideas. There are soft, colorful, hand-woven throws, blankets and scarves from Avoca, a town in Ireland with looms that have been in use since 1723. We carry throws, runners and patchwork bags from local artist Mary Pipolo, whose landscapes and character-driven portraits also line the walls of the store. She makes one-of-a-kind tapestry bags of all sizes out of extras from fabric houses. The larger holdall bags are great for the beach and weekend trips.

What types of furniture do you sell?
The reclaimed teak bar stools and coffee tables are big sellers. We also have a hand carved sonokeling rosewood tree coat rack. It’s a natural piece of wood with branches coming out of it. They use salvaged, reclaimed and plantation-grown woods from Indonesia. There’s a Danish mid-century meets California style Ligna chair that’s great in any room. It’s made from repurposed teak or tali wood and comes natural or stained. And we carry vintage furniture items like school desks, chairs or benches from Eastern Europe and Latin America.

What do you have for the upcoming summer?
Our teak Grasshopper lounge chair, which comes with a choice of leather, rubber or Textilene webbing, is very comfortable and has a great look for both indoors and out. It’s also available as a dining chair. And we carry a modern rendition of the classic picnic table with our teak Galant tables and benches.

What new items are you excited about?
From table lamps to chandeliers, lighting sets the mood in every room. We’re very excited about a new line from Indonesian lighting designer Budiman Ong. He creates original, handcrafted, sculptural pieces, like the zipper-fastened linen lamp, in his Bali studio. Fusing traditional craft with modern elements, each piece is innovative and timeless.

lisa heffernan

Lisa Heffernan received a master’s in Communications from Emerson College before moving to New York. She has worked for publications such as: Details, Nylon, Rolling Stone, Time Out, Newport Mercury, American Songwriter and W magazine.