Towering statues of bronze and intricately engraved doors radiate all the mystery and charm of a time long ago. Take one step into Stephani Chance’s antique store and you’ll be transported to another world: to the Old World in Europe.
“I love bringing the old, unique, unusual things for people to put in their homes,” Chance said. “The goal (of Decorate Ornate) is finding treasures for my customers and opening their eyes up to things of the Old World. By the time they leave they feel like they’ve taken a trip to Europe.”
Bestselling author, traveler, and family business owner Stephani Chance made her childhood love of castle doors and decorating into her business. She purchased her first building 19 years ago in Gladewater, and has since expanded, buying merchandise on her trips across the ocean.
“She brings back all these museum-quality things that are all for sale,” said Kathy Murphy, president of what’s known as the world’ largest book club, the Pulpwood Queens Book Club. “I go to museums everywhere, but I’ve never seen anything like (Decorate Ornate).”
Chance’s store is filled from floor to ceiling with the antiques she collects and sells, working with builders and designers and doing what she loves.
“(Decorating) is my passion, my heart and my excitement — making my home magical,” Chance said.
Customer Jaque Gibbs also values Decorate Ornate’s one-of-a-kind merchandise.
“My house is like a mini Decorate Ornate,” Gibbs said. “(Stephani) calls it her castle, and (says that) your house is your castle, and that’s exactly right.”
In addition to bringing East Texas a slice of the Old World, Chance takes small groups of Americans from all over the United States on two-week trips to Italy two to three times a year.
“We go to the storybook places that they will remember,” Chance said. “They’ll have memories that will be with them forever.”
Taking tours on travel buses to monasteries in the mountains, old palaces, seaside cliffs, local eateries, and more, Chance uses her connections with locals to make the most of each trip. She enjoys taking people to see different sights in unique places.
“I invited her to come speak to my local rotary club, and gosh, after I heard her talk about it, I wanted to go,” Murphy said. “I went, and took some girls with me, and we were just blown away. It’s the way to go if you want to travel abroad.”
Chance has customers who make repeat trips to Italy, including one woman, for instance, who has been 10 times in a row.
“You go to places that ordinary tour guides wouldn’t take you,” Gibbs said. “It’s a fairy tale trip of a lifetime. I would recommend it to anybody and I hope to get to go again.”
Murphy added that after spending two weeks with a group on the trip, she and the other group members became friends for life.
“We all support each other, we go to each other’s events, and we go to Stephani’s Christmas party every year. We all keep in touch,” she said.
For more information, visit Chance’s website or facebook page, or stop by her store in Gladewater and have a nice chat.
“She’s a wonderful person, just real genuine,” Murphy said. “I really do feel like Stephani is one of the best kept secrets in East Texas.”