One might think, on entering the serene, white bungalow on Westheimer that houses Montrose Home & Closet, that the space is still a residence. After all, walking in past the record player, the first room you see to the right is arranged just like a living room—albeit a minimalist one, with a comfortable leather sofa and a pair of modern chairs that invite you to sit down and relax, with the spare white aesthetic broken only by a Texas flag hung on the wall.
Montrose Home & Closet
1723 Westhiemer Rd.
"We want it to feel like home. Our goal was to have people come in and wander and explore," says co-owner Juley Le, who conceptualized the store with business partner Kim Nguyen. "We're adding that chic element to the already rustic Texas vibe."
Le, a longtime style blogger with a head for business, is based in New Orleans, but she has quietly opened her first store here in Houston because she felt it offered something different for the local market. In the fall, she's expanding to an online shop, with the eventual goal of bringing a piece of Montrose back to New Orleans with her.
For the inaugural location, the revamped bungalow near the busy corner of Westheimer and Dunlavy was chosen for its urban feel and foot traffic, and the owners are currently renovating the rear courtyard behind the store with plans to use it as a gathering space.
Inside, it's clear that Le's retail approach is meticulous and highly curated: everything in stock has been heavily researched and chosen for its superlative quality. Most of the lines are under-the-radar and available in Houston for the first time.
"There's a reason why we selected certain brands. For example, Eberjey is hands-down the softest, best pajama set. It will never not be soft. That's why we have it," she says. The perfect pajama set will run you $97, but Le says that's reasonable for what you get. "It's an investment, but we'd rather have you buy one that lasts than five that will fall apart."
Among the products that have earned Le's approval are blankets by Faribault Woolen Mill Company, jewelry by Another Feather, Emerson Fry heels, tees from LACAUSA, all-natural cleaning products by Common Good & Co., prettified greeting cards from Rifle Paper Co., apothecary and skincare from Australian-based organic brand Grown Alchemist (a Texas exclusive) and the ultimate wear-everywhere bra by Negative Underwear (another Texas first). These are joined by a smattering of cookbooks, candles, and paper goods, as well as well-fitting clothing basics in an array of neutrals.
"I don't go to market so I can buy fall trends, only things I can use next year and the year after," says Le. "There's a lot of thought put into every single brand. That's the purpose, though—we've done the work for you."