DECADES OF DECOR: PENNY MURPHY, TASTEMAKER
Pioneer Linens is one of West Palm Beach’s oldest and most well-known luxury home decor purveyors. Founded in 1912 by Max Greenberg as a hardware supplier in Lake Worth, the original location was destroyed by a hurricane in 1928, prompting the move to its current Clematis Street location, as well as a change in merchandise. Although the products have evolved from hammers and kerosene stoves to fine linens and Egyptian cotton towels, the four-generation family business—now known nationwide—has always upheld high standards for luxury lines and quality customer service. In honor of its centennial, Pioneer Linens will celebrate with a February 7 luncheon at The Mar-a-Lago Club. PBI spoke with the company’s president, Penny Murphy (right), Greenberg’s granddaughter, and asked about her family store’s prestigious offerings and her take on decor trends and tips.
PBI: How has the Palm Beach market influenced Pioneer Linens over the years?
MURPHY: First of all, most of our Palm Beach clients are only in Palm Beach for a few months out of the year. We have been committed to keeping our store well-stocked so when someone is having a party or a guest is flying into town for a weekend visit, our customers can come and get 20 white linen dinner napkins or 10 yellow striped cabana towels, down pillows and wonderful sheets.
Most of our customers are well traveled. It is a challenge to find beautiful and unique collections for them. Sometimes, we have added merchandise at a client’s suggestion. Our yacht division was developed after we were asked to provide custom sheets for several clients’ boats.
What trends are you noticing in home decor?
The biggest trend that we are seeing is how our clients make up the beds. Opulence is out, but comfort and luxury are still key factors when choosing linens.
White and ivory are still the most desired colors in bed linens. Accent colors show up in embroidered designs and great accent pieces. The days of very formal bed coverings are over. Our clients want a more relaxed feeling that has a soothing and comforting appeal when they get in their bed.
What is the perfect hostess gift?
One certainly cannot go wrong with a bottle of fine wine. We have some lovely embroidered linen wine bags that make a nice presentation. Our boxed French-milled, hand-etched soaps are a popular item. We also recommend our little linen cocktail wine cozy (stem wraps for wine or Champagne). We also have a popular collection of hand-designed white linen guest towels from South Africa that feature whimsical characters.
Tell us some tricks for arranging a stunning table setting.
My white tablecloths act as a clean canvas for me to create some interesting table designs. There are many ways to add color. You can layer on another tablecloth or use placemats on top of the cloth. I am a big fan of integrating lots of different textures. I also love mixing my grandmother’s china with colorful chargers and chunky napkin rings. I have found it really interesting to incorporate old and new.
What great new finds will shoppers find in Pioneer Linens this year?
We have just added our own Pioneer Linens signature bedding line. The sheets are embroidered and loomed from a fine Egyptian cotton percale.
We have exploded in our tabletop area this year, adding lots of color and designs. We have colorful woven rattan mats and chargers for lunch on your loggia or banquet-size tablecloths in extra-long sizes for a black-tie affair.
We found some interesting new vanity collections, including a mosaic design in several colors that would be perfect for an island home. We have also added a spa accessory group. To go with the spa selection, we just received the most beautiful heirloom collection of towels. They are handmade and loomed of organic cotton using craftsmanship that is more than 400 years old.