With a popular brick-and-mortar store and a growing list of interior design projects, Norcross and Scott is garnering buzz for its uniquely modern aesthetic.
April 10, 2019 10:00 AM
Norcross and Scott is a store that is hard to walk past—as I often do on my way to the bustling stretch of shops and restaurants in Andersonville—without coveting something new in the window.
Today, it’s the snow-white ceramic vessels by Minnesota-based artist Cym Warkov. Sensual and elegantly imperfect, they’re not something I would find anywhere else in town. Nor is anything else inside. Like the colorful hand-built pottery by Japanese ceramicist Shino Takeda, large-scale minimalist oil paintings by Michigan artist Kate Marshall, or an attention-grabbing Kirk Nix lounge chair made of hand-woven seagrass and lampakanai rope. Always something new to find. Owners Amanda Norcross and Scott Paterek plan to keep it that way.
“We always wanted people to walk into the store and see things that they wouldn’t see anywhere else in Chicago,” says Norcross. “We’re constantly changing,” adds Paterek. “We’re in a neighborhood where there’s a lot of repeat clientele, so we have to stay on our toes to keep things fresh and find new artists and designers all the time, or it can become stale.”
The pair has meticulously curated art, furniture, lighting and accessories with a clean, modern aesthetic that’s unique among the clutch of vintage-leaning shops in Andersonville. “Our plan was always to carry new things in our store, to focus on small designers and artists who were creating unusual, special things,” says Norcross.
That plan was hatched over a family vacation in northern Michigan in 2014. “Potentially over too many margaritas,” Norcross quips. Her cousin is Paterek’s partner, so the duo has been like family for more than a decade. A Michigan native, Norcross studied art history and worked for a commercial kitchen designer for years before getting a master’s in historic preservation from the School of the Art Institute and working as a consultant on adaptive reuse plans. Paterek worked in interior design in his home state of Arkansas for 20 years. Both were ready for a career shakeup on that fateful vacation when the conversation turned to teaming up for a full-service interior design practice based out of their own brick-and-mortar home decor shop. “We said yes in a minute—it was all instinct,” says Paterek.
That was in August. By the end of the year they were working with design clients, and in March 2015 Norcross and Scott opened its doors on Berwyn Avenue. “The attraction to Andersonville was that old-school neighborhood feel,” says Norcross. “People put their phones down and walk around, spending a Saturday visiting the restaurants and stores.”
That first year, almost all of their interior design clients were walk-ins. After spending a few minutes admiring their well edited wares, who wouldn’t want to hand them the keys to decorate their whole house? “The shop gave people a place to walk into and say, ‘This feels comfortable, I relate to the aesthetic,’ and then they’d invite us into their homes,” says Norcross. “It was a huge compliment that someone would just walk into the store and say, ‘Do you do interior design?’” Paterek adds. “It affirmed what we tried to create.”
Their client roster has grown exponentially each year, with 60 to 70 percent of their new design relationships now coming from word-of-mouth referrals, Norcross estimates.
When Kathy and Dave Schuurman were looking to redo the master bathroom of their South Loop condo, Norcross and Scott came recommended by friends at Gold Coast boutique space519. By the time they were finished, they had remodeled most of the condo. “We bonded with Scott and Amanda immediately upon meeting them and loved the suggestions they were making for our place,” says Dave. “They made the remodeling process as painless as a remodeling process can be,” adds Kathy. “They would show up at the condo when pieces of furniture arrived and we were not home, and arrange books and accessories on matching bookshelves in a way that was perfect and a delight to come home to. They are now more to us than designers—they have become our cherished friends.”
For Sherry Worthen of Little Rock, Ark., it’s a relationship that has spanned decades—and hundreds of miles. She first hired Paterek to remodel her house in 2003. When she purchased a three-story townhouse on the Arkansas River in 2014, she enlisted him again for a 15-month top-to-bottom remodel that transformed the traditional space into a contemporary showplace for her art collection. “I adore Scott,” says Worthen. “Because he is a joy to work with, all the tearing out and moving of walls and plumbing was a fun experience for me. He is so knowledgeable about the mechanics of what and how to build and could communicate that to my builder.” Now Worthen says everyone who walks in the door to her new home is amazed—even from the garage, where everyday comings and goings are elevated by zinc wall lights and planters with green topiaries lining the way to a striking wood and glass door.
All the way from Arkansas, Worthen continues to follow the latest at Norcross and Scott from the plentiful offerings in their online store, and she has already tapped Paterek to design an art studio on her family farm.
With a growing assortment of projects, Norcross and Paterek enter their fifth year in business together with more enthusiasm than ever, for their shop—where new staff, new events and new artists will maintain that ever-important freshness—for their design clients, and for each other. “One of the real joys for me in this business is working together with someone from a different background who brings a different point of view to the table and enhances the process for me and for our clients,” says Norcross. Paterek agrees. “It’s rewarding that our instincts were correct,” he says. “We followed our gut, and our intuition was so dead-on.”
Sometimes, plans hatched over margaritas really do work out.