May 2019

Modern Barn: A fresh approach to home décor and gifts

Author: Linda S. Hopkins | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Decorating a new home or sprucing up a room? You know that shelf that is calling for a curio, the sofa begging for a throw pillow, or the bare countertop asking for a pop of color? Head on over to Modern Barn, Hilton Head Island’s newest home décor darling on New Orleans Rd. And don’t let the name fool you! While Modern Barn’s merchandise has a farmhouse flair, you may be surprised by the broad scope of appeal, regardless of your decorating style. Whether your taste is modern or traditional, coastal or country, something is sure to speak to your aesthetic.

It’s always important to surround yourself with items you love, and that is where the story of Modern Barn began. After relocating to Hilton Head Island five years ago, when Deena Paradiso set out to decorate her new house in Sea Pines, she was after something different from the coastal theme popular in many area homes. She was going for a clean, sleek, and inviting look.

“I’m a little bit modern, a little bit country. It was hard for me to find accent pieces that fit my style,” she said. After exploring local resources with minimal success, she found herself shopping at specialty chain stores, antique markets and online, which got her entrepreneurial juices stirring.

The former school teacher/guidance counselor, wife, and mother of two boys (ages 13 and 8), was looking to open a business and had been exploring several possibilities, from a retail clothing boutique to a candy shop. “I worked in retail in my young life—while in college and grad school. I always had that entrepreneurial spirit,” she said.

Owning a business was a lifelong ambition, like a burning ember, and Paradiso’s market gap discovery fanned the flames. Opening Modern Barn in June of 2018, she is fulfilling a dream and filling a niche. “There are other home décor stores in the area but nothing with this theme,” she said. “My store feels different, and our prices are reasonable.”

The pretty and the practical
A stroll through Modern Barn is a bit of what you expect mingled with the unexpected. Yes, you will find wooden signs, country-style kitchenware, and tea towels with cute sayings. But look further and you will find much more: a small kitchen rug, a doormat, a deliciously scented candle, fun T-shirt, or Lowcountry-themed memento. How about a faux floral arrangement to brighten a small corner of your world or give as a hostess gift?

Modern Barn doesn’t pretend to be your one-stop home décor store, but Paradiso loves playing a supporting role. “Clean and simple—our products are fresh and modern, mixed with our love for everything farmhouse,” she said. Quick to point out that she is not an interior designer, she added, “I’m more of a retail, knick-knack, fun kind of store.” But at the same time, she has a keen eye for merchandise, is good at accessorizing, and can help you find items to create an interior that is both personalized and chic.

In response to customer demand, Paradiso recently added a nook for simple and affordable clothing that includes comfortable denim, casual tops, a few handbags, and a small line of jewelry. With the exception of the denim (a steal at under $100), nothing else clothing-wise is over $40. The selection is small and purposely relaxed, because that’s how Paradiso rolls. “I’m not a fancy girl. Give me my jeans and my flip-flops,” she said.

With a nod to her personal style, Paradiso has also made a deliberate effort to keep the space clutter-free and customer-friendly. “A lot of these stores are chock-ful of inventory, and I hate shopping like that. We’re trying to keep things kind of sleek and open looking. But that’s the challenge with inventory. We try to change pieces as much as we can while continuing to offer the kinds of merchandise people want.”

Paradiso is gauging her success by the number of repeat customers she’s seeing—people coming in just to say hi, to chit-chat, or to buy a gift. “What makes me happiest is when I have return customers come in,” she said.
Perhaps most astounding to her is the way word is spreading. “I’m a little off the beaten path,” she said. Some customers see the shop from the adjacent leisure path and stop off on their bicycles. Others discover it while visiting the surrounding restaurants and shops. “I’ve had tourists who found me, and I’ve shipped to them during the year,” she added.

She also offers water and samples of Alabama Sweet Tea, making Modern Barn a refreshing stop for everyone. “I’m really developing relationships with my customers,” she said.

Paradiso’s warmth and ease also add to the charm of your shopping experience. “Home décor, just like clothing, is a very personal thing. We don’t push you or try to sell. I don’t want somebody feeling pressured or buying something and returning it,” she said.

Modern Barn is all about relaxed simplicity and comfort. Practicality is important—nothing too precious or delicate. Many of the items are both decorative and functional, while maintaining a sense of sophistication and style.

New merchandise is arriving daily—kitchenware, glassware, spring garden faux flowers, and clothing suitable for the season. Modern Barn invites you to stop in frequently to see what’s new, or just say hi to Paradiso and enjoy a sip of sweet tea! 

Modern Barn is located at 37 New Orleans Rd., Suite B on Hilton Head Island. Store hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday. For more information or to sign up for access to sales and special events, visit www.modernbarnhhi.com or call (843) 802-2837. Follow on Facebook or Instagram for updated photos of current merchandise.

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