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Burkelman: There's No Place Like Home

by Carrie Chantler
Thursday Jun 30, 2016

The Burkleman guys are smart. They know monkey lamps are conversation starters.

Aiming to combine their mutual passion for contemporary design and their love for each other, Burkleman owners Kevin Burke and David Kimelman united not only in name, but also in business.

Married in 2011, after a years-long NYC courtship, the couple's online home furnishings store Burkelman booted up two years ago. This summer marks the one-year anniversary of their brick and mortar boutique opening in the Putnam County village of Cold Spring, nestled along the Hudson River just 50 miles from Manhattan.

The store - a former soda shop - opened within three weeks of the men becoming parents of twin boys, now determined toddlers. The couple tends to their business from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Tuesdays, when they're taking advantage of the region's natural beauty with their boys in tow.


Monkey See, Monkey Buy

Burkelman's wedding and gift registry is perfect for discerning brides and grooms who desire to fill their abodes with eye-catching and clever decor. Housewares full of whimsy and humor, yet elegant practicality, stock the shelves. Evidenced by a $310 white resin monkey lamp they sell in one of four macaque postures ready to light a dim nook or cranny.

"It's a big part of our business," said Kimelman of the registry collection of fine goods not likely to ever rise to the level of garage-sale worthiness. "We love putting together a vision that's going to appeal to our customer."

Gift-givers flock to the Egyptian hand towels, handmade ceramics and perfect-for-serving-sangria figural pitchers, the Taurus bullhead or squirrel ewer both popular purchases this season.

"It's not what you're going to find in a big box store," Burke deadpans.

Using Burke's creative retail chops (he's put in stints with Tommy Hilfiger, Jil Sander and designing windows at Bergdorf Goodman) and Kimelman's eye for durable design, the men procure Burkelman's global inventory from around the world.

The shop offers handwoven Mexican baskets, lead-free crystal barware by Finland's Goran Hongell or the Merino wool throws by "fab" British textiles designer Tori Murphy, with whom Burkelman boasts a three-year exclusive U.S. sales contract.

"People just go WOW for her," Kimelman said.


Word to the Style-Wise

With both their local clientele and far-flung customers in La Jolla and Chicago's North Shore responding well, Burkelman happily gives advice. Known to make trips to people's homes to consult, or workshop over the phone, they help pick paint colors, place furniture in a room and otherwise bring drama to an area.

"We try to figure out what's going to work," Burke said. "Our philosophy is a little humor and lots of beauty."

That vibe inspires a favorite story.

One day, a woman in a rush to catch her train stopped by. Time a-ticking, she had eyes for a throw pillow that she "knew was a stretch for her."

She departed sans pillow despite deep discussion of its merits. She returned breathless, the men remember, minutes later exclaiming, "I have to have it in my life. It's going to make me happy."

"That was the greatest compliment," Burke said. "We live for people's reaction, that's the real joy for us."

Burkelman also carries jewelry we all wish we owned, inspired by line, angle and nature. The pair is also toward offering furniture, like the uber beds designed by California's Cisco Brothers.

"Their frames are guaranteed for life," said Kimelman.

For the couples pondering two sets of dishes and tableware, one dressy one casual, Burkelman suggests registering for a single set.

"Invest in items you'll enjoy the most," said Burke. "And make the daily set, the best set."

Going into business with friends, much less with a spouse, is not for the feint of heart. But Kimelman and Burke say they rely on a universal truism to keep their family and business afloat.

"Never go to bed angry."

Want to explore more of Putnam County? Click here for our exclusive guide.


A former newspaper reporter, Carrie writes about lifestyle topics. She makes her home in the Finger Lakes where the hills roll and the wine is fine.


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