Q+A with Barry Key of Frontdoor Home Design

Photography by Julian Jones

Barry Key has always had a love for home decorating and small businesses. A desire for a change led him and his business partner to relocate their store from Bedford to Indianapolis, eventually opening Frontdoor Home Design in Irvington. While the store focuses on unique and non-mass produced items, they also have a commitment to try and carry products made in the United States along with Indiana brands.

Terri Procopio: Describe your background in the home décor and furniture industry.
Barry Key: It’s a personal passion and I’ve been interested in decorating and small businesses my entire life. The store is how I married the two together. I started at a sales job for a furniture store, then opened my own business. In 2018, we decided to move the store from Bedford, IN to Indianapolis and we opened at this location in May of 2019. I consider myself a decorator and have a natural eye for putting things together.  

TP: Can you describe Frontdoor Home Design and the items that you carry?
BK: We’re a furniture, home décor and gift store located in Irvington. We’re a small business and part of the LGBTQ community. We try to give preference to things that are made in the United States whenever possible. For example, our candles are made in Illinois and the food products are made in Texas. The dining room sets are imported, but we know the owner of the company and have met with him in-person. He’s a Vietnam veteran and I don’t think we do enough in this country to honor our veterans. An accessory company we that use has items that are imported, but their warehouse is here in Indiana. When we look at a potential vendor, we consider where their products are coming from, who they’re selling to and how sustainable and how local is it.  We’re looking for things you can’t buy at big box stores and online retailers, but rather things that are very unique to us and our store. 

TP: Can you expand more on items you carry that are made in Indiana? 
BK: Our dish towels come from a Valparaiso start up, a young woman who is under thirty years old makes them. The best home furnishings are made in southern Indiana and when you buy from a small business, you’re not only supporting a local small business, but you’re also supporting another 1,000 Hoosiers who work at the plant.  

TP: Why did you decide to relocate the store to Irvington?
BK: I literally woke up one day, I was in my 50’s, and I talked to my business partner and said I’m ready for a change. I better do it now or I’m never going to do it. I want to be within two hours of my parents either by plane or in a car, and preferably by car. My business partner recommended trying out Indianapolis and I wound up renting an apartment on the east side. I drove everywhere from Beech Grove to Noblesville to Fortville to Speedway scouting out potential locations for the store. I happened to have lunch in Irvington one day and started talking to a few people and met some of the business owners. They connected me with my landlord and we signed the lease in November of 2018.  

TP: What are some events hosted at Frontdoor Home Design?
BK: We participate in First Friday and we’re always looking to include local artists. In May, we’ll have Real Art Small at the store with some of their work.

TP: How do you assist your customers in making home decorating decisions?
BK: They can either bring things to me or I will go to their home, and I can do a combination of both. I can help from picking out a paint color to finding items that fit into a space in a different way. It’s harder to decorate your own home since you’re in it every day. Sometimes having a fresh set of eyes and moving something two feet can make the difference. 

TP: What trends are you seeing in the home décor industry?
BK: People are wanting color. Darker colors and big patterns are making a comeback. The live edge finish on tables is always popular along with natural materials. The easiest way to perk up a room is to simply buy a new pair of lamps or a couple of throw pillows can totally change the look of a room. People get intimidated by where to start or how to do it. You pick a starting point such as a paint color, a painting, a pattern or a throw pillow and build your color pallet from there.

TP:  What advice do you have for people starting out decorating their own home?
BK: I always tell people when they’re starting out or if they’re newlyweds or a young couple to invest in a nice dining room set. Unless you move around a lot, you’re going to have that dining room set for most of your adult life. You’ll change the living room furniture about every five to ten years. Your colors change, your tastes change, and things wear out, but a nice dining room set you’ll have for the rest of your life. 

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