A Passion for Design, Timeless Good Taste
~ By Maryellen Dever
~ Photography by Susan Hagstrom
On a recent Sunday afternoon, Gillian Dillon is moving through the largest of her three showrooms in Plymouth, greeting customers who are browsing through Dillon & Company. They’re all looking for that perfect accent piece or focal point among the European-style furniture collection imported from England.
For the untrained eye, it’s easy to be astounded by the many styles and choices of beautiful furniture. There are dining tables and chairs, side tables, upholstered furniture, accent pieces, lamps, and chandeliers. Gillian’s artful displays and casually elegant room settings, mixing antiques and reproductions with more contemporary items, enables customers to see possibilities they never would have imagined.
Seeing different period pieces together serves as inspiration and gives insight into Gillian’s interior design style. While Dillon & Company appears to be a furniture store, it’s really, in Gillian’s words, “more of a design shop with a sprinkling of European Antiques.”
The antiques in her shop are not the typical dark, heavy items one might normally associate with the word “antique,” or for that matter, with the Downton Abbey-type English house. Dillon’s shop has lighter, more casual pieces. “Everything is very European – not formal like an English manor, but more informal – we have many painted pieces. That’s why they fit so well with more contemporary pieces.” Gillian adds, “I like the fresh look the mix can bring to our customers’ more modern décor.”
Design, Gillian reveals, is a “total passion” for her. What she does, most importantly, is get to know the customer and their lifestyle before beginning a design project. She will spend time taking them through her three shops, forming a sense of their style. She will then design rooms, from furniture, lamps, tables, to custom upholstery and draperies. Many of her clients will have furniture custom-designed by her and handcrafted by top artisans in England.
She explains, “When you think of Dillon & Company, it’s not an antique shop – we’re a mix of all styles, from antique to modern.” The clean lines of modern upholstered pieces and the warmth of fine reproductions are mixed with gorgeous one of a kind antiques from Europe in uniquely Dillon style. Gillian calls this mix of eras a “transitional” style, because her room designs may transition from one time period to another. This style is particularly popular with the Dillons’ younger clients.
The result is a home designed with an easy, current, contemporary vibe.
A native of London, Gillian Dillon and her husband Dickie, a native of Yorkshire, opened their store about 30 years ago in the heart of downtown Plymouth. They also had a shop on Boston’s Newbury St. in the past, but now they are focused on their three locations on North St. in Plymouth. In addition to their large showroom with its ample parking, they have a smaller shop a few doors away that is decorated in a relaxed cottage style. Across the street from the parking lot, the third shop is “design central.” In the light, cozy sitting room, clients may look through baskets of fabric samples to choose the perfect patterns for their upholstery, rugs, and window treatments.
Both Dillons worked in sports marketing before they opened their store, with Dickie beginning his athletic career as a professional tennis player on the Wimbledon circuit. As with all the best ideas, the store grew from a very basic need. Gillian remembers, “When we first came to America, I couldn’t find any furniture I liked, so we imported it.”
She learned her business on the road during those early buying trips to England, back in the mid 1980’s. “When I first went over, I went with my mother all over the country, looking for furniture and craftsmen. It was really hit or miss. I traveled thousands of miles to narrow it down to find the people I buy from. I gradually developed a good group of people.” She said what stands out for her is the look and design of a piece, rather than the particular time period.
To this day, Gillian and Dickie travel back to England on buying trips every few months, which means their merchandise is always changing. “What makes us different is, we import full 40-foot containers, including custom-made pieces, four to five times a year. There’s always something new.”
Although Gillian says Dillon’s is “the best kept secret on the South Shore,” it’s a go-to destination for interior designers from New England, New York, and as far away as California. The Dillons’ discerning eye for unique and wonderful imported pieces has earned them a well-deserved reputation in the industry.
With over 500 customers on their mailing list, it’s clear that Gillian’s design taste is admired by homeowners also. Both Dillons say that “many of our customers have become friends. It’s very social. We’re on the second generation of customers within families.”
Dillon’s is easy to find—Court Street in Plymouth becomes Main Street. Heading down Main almost to the end, take a left as the road curves onto North Street and you’ll see Dillon’s. They are open 7 days a week, closed Sundays in the Summer. Open the door and you’ll be greeted warmly and welcomed home.
For hours, directions, and much more, visit their website at: www.dillonandcompany.com.