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Room & Board in Culver City: A sneak peek at contemporary design store set to open Monday

October 1, 2009 | 11:24 am

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The new Room & Board store in Culver City isn't quite ready for its close-up, but Times photographer Anne Cusack and I were given a sneak peek on Tuesday. As employees hustled to prepare for the Oct. 5 opening, it already was apparent that the Minneapolis-based retailer will make the former Helms Bakery complex -- already home to H.D. Buttercup, Thos. Moser and Vitra -- an even more compelling destination for contemporary furnishings.

Indeed, while employees throughout the 36,000-square-foot showroom hung photos, ironed drapes, vacuumed and arranged a lot of Pellegrino bottles (Pellegrino: the new design accessory), I saw a lot of things I liked: clean-lined modern sectionals, a walnut kidney-shaped Gibson coffee table, affordable leaning Pisa bookshelves, handprinted Galbraith & Paul pillows, a Moda desk organizer for kids and all things Herman Miller (of course).

With its exposed wooden ceiling and impeccably installed vignettes -- the colorful children’s area is especially great -- the new venue is a lovely, airy environment to shop and get ideas. “We’re excited to be here,” Room & Board creative director Jill Byrnes said of the store’s historic location. “Every one of our stores feels unique to the city it’s in.” For Los Angeles-area residents, it sure beats driving to South Coast Plaza, where Room & Board already has a home.

But why try to launch a big new store in a recession? Byrnes said the company has a huge customer base here. She also was quick to point out that although the Culver City store is new, it will be staffed with Room & Board veterans. “We have a lot of tenured staff who wanted to be in L.A.” (More photos after the jump.)

-- Lisa Boone

Photo credits: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

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