Templeton residents Nick and Rose Ellen Bianchine were kicking off a romantic honeymoon in Europe when the unthinkable happened.
Rose Ellen Bianchine’s appendix ruptured on their first day in Paris in the fall of 2021, causing her to nearly go into septic shock. She spent five days in a French hospital before the couple continued their travels.
“It really was a wake up call,” Bianchine said of her health emergency. “Time to start living.”
So the couple decided to turn their dream of owning a store together into a reality.
their shop, Atrium Mercantileopened its doors at 5900 El Camino Real in Atascadero on May 20.
SLO County store sells new, vintage home furnishings
Atrium Mercantile is housed in a 2000-square-foot building in Atascadero’s revitalized downtown.
The store offers roughly 500 new, vintage or one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture and home decor, Nick Bianchine said.
Products range from smaller items priced at around $5 apiece to a live-edge wood table costing $4,200, he said.
Bianchine said the pair’s decor style is a blend of European vintage and California farmhouse, with an emphasis on neutral colors.
The Bianchines are especially drawn to pieces made from reclaimed wood or salvaged metals.
“We both just love pieces that have character,” Nick Bianchine said. “We love shopping for vintage pieces and going to different markets and meeting the people that are selling them and learning the stories.”
“We like a certain amount of the story in the background,” his wife added, as well as pieces that are “a little bit more rustic.”
When the Bianchines decided to open Atrium Mercantile, they traveled to flea markets and antique fairs across the nation in search of unique pieces to stock in their store.
One source was the Round Top Antiques Fair in Texas, held each October. Many of the pieces at the store came from the couple’s personal collection of items purchased from the Round Top antique fair over the years.
Noting that many vintage furnishings are rickets, damaged or otherwise in poor shape, Nick Bianchine said he and his wife source antiques that are sturdy, well-built and ideally can be passed on to future generations.
The idea of furniture and decor as part of a family’s heritage resonates with the Bianchines in part, they said, because they are so influenced by their own family stories.
Rose Ellen Bianchine has lived in Templeton since she was a baby.
She said her father, Richard Bohnsack, restored the historic blacksmith shop in Cambria and was a metal sculptor. Her family has owned a variety of businesses in San Luis Obispo County over the years, she added, including an art gallery and a gelato shop.
Nick Bianchine’s mother, Nan, owned the now-closed Re-Finery store in Paso Robleswhich sold vintage furniture and home decor pieces.
Atrium Mercantile offers a sense of place
When Rose Ellen and Nick Bianchine returned from their honeymoon, they started searching San Luis Obispo County for a location to open their dream store.
But it was walking into the space at 5900 El Capitan that really helped crystallize their vision for Atrium Mercantile, they said. It also helped them settle on a name for the business.
“The space itself kind of spoke to us,” Nick Bianchine said.
Sunlight from a skylight in the center of the store divides the space into two sections, he noted, which reminded the Bianchines of the left and right atriums of the heart.
“We had just gotten married and I feel like it just represented that,” Nick Bianchine said.
The building’s concrete floor and high ceilings create a spacious, airy space that can house larger furniture pieces such as a refurbished barn door along with smaller home decor items including colorful throw pillows, woven baskets and stackable side tables.
“It felt like that building was made for exactly what we wanted to do,” Rose Ellen Bianchine said.
Fans of Refinery will be met with a familiar floral scent when entering Atrium Mercantile. The home decor shop stocks the same hand-poured candles that Nick Bianchine’s mother used to sell at her store.
The layout of Atrium Mercantile was designed so the customer can float through different rooms and explore the interplay between different pieces, Rose Ellen Bianchine said.
“I liked the vignette kind of thing,” she said. “I like that people can see themselves almost walking in different rooms of the house.”
Her husband said he and his wife try to rearrange the look of the store frequently so patrons can come in and see new products every month.
“We are so inspired by the idea that people are able to come into the store and have a way to express their individuality by bringing these pieces home,” Rose Ellen Bianchine said.
The couple said they chose to open Atrium Mercantile in Atascadero because they were energized by all the new businesses opening throughout the El Camino Real corridor.
“It seemed like the community was really craving a revitalization,” Nick Bianchine said.
Since Atrium Mercantile opened in May, the couple said they’ve been overwhelmed with gratitude by the amount of support the new business has received from the North County community.
For example, Stacy Betschart, owner of The Nest Cafe in Atascaderopurchased a bench, Nick Bianchine said.
“(We’re) just so fortunate and excited to be more and more enmeshed in that kind of community,” Rose Ellen Bianchine said.
Atrium Mercantile is open 11 am to 4 pm Sunday and 10 am to 6 pm Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The shop is open by appointment on Tuesday and Wednesday.
For more information, call 805-550-2315 or follow the store on Instagram at atrium_mercantile.
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