By Jenny Rebholz   Published Dec 08, 2004 at 5:42 AM

{image1} If you are looking to accessorize your home, a trip to Cranston, 250 N. Water St., is a must. Fashion boutiques and beauty salons have been popping up all over the city, helping people define their sense of personal style. And now Cranston -- opening in early December -- will help people makeover their homes.

Lamonte Cranston Cook and Mark Van Ess are the creators and owners of Cranston. After traveling to large cities like Atlanta, Dallas, New York and Los Angeles, they realized that Milwaukee was missing something. "Milwaukee is full of beautiful antiques, but we were missing the contemporary, urban merchandise that other cities have to offer. We wanted to bring that to the city," says Cook.

The Third Ward, according to the owners, is the perfect spot. The residential development, the walkable neighborhood, the booming shopping and theater district and the creative energy create the right backdrop for the concept of their store.

They selected the Marshall building and called upon Cieslik Celek designers to bring alive their 6,000-square-foot retail space. And Cranston will bring to Milwaukee what Cook and Van Ess call "Accents for Life."

The concept is twofold. They want to provide accessories that have a lifetime of longevity. But they also recognize the need for flexibility and want to provide items that help people adapt to lifestyle changes.

"Tastes mature and lifestyles change, we want our accents to meet the changing needs of life," says Van Ess. "We want our products to continuously change to ensure new, unique and fresh merchandise."

Cook continues, "We would like to stay 'trend-forward' and contemporary with a touch of traditional flair."

The owners will travel the United States and Europe to guarantee the originality of their products. They want Cranston to provide a comfortable, colorful and inspirational atmosphere, a place where you can find merchandise for every room of your home.

According to Van Ess a large percentage of the stock offers European products. "We searched for merchandise that could not be found at other retailers in Milwaukee. We spoke with manufacturers with whom we could become signature providers. We want to guarantee our customers a unique experience."

Vera Wang exquisite gift items, the Lothantique luxurious bath line, Juliska fine glass and sumptuous bedding from Yves Delorme and Peacock Alley are just a few of the product lines that will provide the "wow-factor" in this store. Décor solutions can be found for the bedroom, bathroom, dining room and kitchen. Gift items and a bridal registry will offer perfect presents for any occasion, while seasonal merchandise will help customers add festivity throughout the year.

"You will see some vendors that are recognizable, but you will see pieces from them that you may not have seen before," says Cook. "We will carry elements of their lines that others have not yet brought to Milwaukee."

One-of-a-kind pieces like whimsical, colorful lamps by Dez Ryan are individually crafted and signed by the artist. And they plan on featuring three to four local artists to coincide with Gallery Night.

Cook and Van Ess are looking forward to being part of the exciting Third Ward and supporting Milwaukee's talented people. They want to join the entrepreneurial network, support local artists and provide their employees with a creative outlet and loyal work environment.

With small businesses continuing to pop up in the area and the anticipation of the Public Market, Van Ess says, "This area has a 'trend-forward' and urban feel. It is where we want to be."