Ma Maison can help create a comfortable, inviting environment

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 12, 2004

Staff report

As people are choosing to spend more time at home, they’re looking to create an environment that is comfortable and inviting for themselves and guests.

The staff of Ma Maison (French for &uot;my home&uot;) can help you create such surroundings through the fabrics, trimmings and accessories they sell.

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Numerous bolts of designer-quality fabrics from faraway countries, for example, are arranged for your close inspection and purchase.

But the nearby Olde Towne Portsmouth shop at 630 High St. is more than just a place to buy upholstery or drapery; it’s a full service interior design shop with in house resources-the best of both worlds really.

For starters, Elaine Caplan, co-owner and top designer, brings more than 20 years of experience in design to Ma Maison. Her father and grandfather were in the fabric business and her mother was a colorist for L’Oreal.

Elaine has enhanced homes in London, England – her birthplace – as well as the Hampton Roads region; there’s a bed-and-breakfast in Norfolk that has her distinct touch, and she’s no stranger to Suffolk.

Working closely with Elaine are Ashly Ragan, the shop’s manager and design consultant, and Dana Petersen, an interior designer and allied member of the prestigious American Society of Interior Designers. Ragan started in December 2003, and Petersen began this past January.

Ragan, who earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, says, &uot;I’m learning the business from the best,&uot; Ragan said, acknowledging the wealth of expertise surrounding her.

Supervising on an administrative level is Elaine’s husband, Dr. Joseph Caplan, a former criminal law barrister (British for attorney).

After consultation and settling on your design needs, the staff in turn can employ the services of leading area drapery workrooms and upholsterers. Window treatments, re-upholstery, custom furniture and bedding, and wall coverings are all part of Ma Maison’s services.

All this and more have built a strong foundation over the past 2 1/2 years.

Dr. Caplan noted there’s been &uot;a very healthy increase&uot; in business volume just from 2002 to 2003, through what he called a &uot;growth-minded team.&uot; Ma Maison can &uot;now continue to serve more people and more places.&uot;

The shop is further helped by the word-of-mouth referrals from nearby related stores (antiques shops, galleries and specialty stores), and Ma Maison reciprocates.

Speaking of references, consider Gail Tiesenga, a recent client:

She and her husband, Sidney, had decided to move to their vacation home of 10 years in White Stone after his retirement. Normally, she trusts her own judgment in color sense and decorating matters. But making things fit in the new residence presented quite a challenge.

&uot;All of a sudden I needed some guidance,&uot; Tiesenga said, adding that it was Elaine Caplan to whom she turned. The result:

&uot;An absolutely fantastic job! Everybody’s impressed.&uot;

If you want a similar experience, Ma Maison is ready to make your house truly a home.

Hours of operation are from 10 a.m. t o5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. You can contact the shop at 397-5588 or

Ma Maison is an industry partner of the American Society of Interior Designers.