Fulfilling A Whole Spectrum

Spectrum Design Services Fills Niche in Home Décor and Design Market in Frostburg

By: Niki Folk

Upon entering Spectrum, the first thing you notice is that Andrea De Palatis’s store is brimming with color. It is the combination of dainty trinkets, accenting accessories, and bold patterned rugs with statement furniture pieces. The price tags range from affordable to investment pricing, and the items all cohesively sit together and reflect an elegant yet bold approach to decorating and design. The store is, in her words, “a response to everything becoming less personal and more cookie-cutter.”

“Everything that I chose to put [and sell] in here is here because it’s special,” states De Palatis.

Operating for 23 years, the storefront of Spectrum started out as an expansion to the design work that Andrea was already providing for her customers.

“The main thing I do is interior design, residential and commercial, and the whole reason I started a business is because I’m far away from resources. It just wasn’t practical to drive to Washington if I [was] looking for a lamp.”

What started out as “extension” of her design business turned into a response to “what the community needed.”  Focusing on a combination of both residential and commercial design, Andrea has worked with many businesses and organizations on notable projects. Past projects touched by Andrea’s design handiwork include interior renovations of county libraries, pizza oven design work for Puccini’s restaurant in Cumberland, and wall coverings and window treatments of the Gordon Robert’s museum home.

“I [do] a wide variety of things. I can choose your paint scheme, or I can plan the design for the new addition of your house,” says De Palatis.  Each project that De Palatis starts requires extensive research and preparation on her part. She has learned everything from electrical specifications for the equipment line-up in a dental office, to proper height measurements for cello cabinets, to finding out how wide the doors of a library counter actually have to be to fit a book cart through.

“You have to learn a thousand details if you’re going to do a design,” explains De Palatis. “Every day that I get up, I have a whole series of challenges, which keeps everything interesting. Almost every job I do, I have to learn all about what I’m designing for.”

The store and her services specialize exclusively in commercial or residential design, but rather dabble in and consist of both, a sort of interior design conglomerate that stays responsive to what the community and customers need. Even the store’s name is reflective of her scope of services, hinting at the “spectrum” of possibilities waiting to be realized.

“You have to be really flexible and concentrate on making people happy,” explains De Palatis, “and help everybody make their environment the best it can be.”

This is a notion at which she has been successful. A wall towards the back of the store is decorated with handwritten thank you notes that Andrea has collected from her customers over the years, and she proudly displays them in her store. This personal touch is both aesthetically creative and heartwarming. It’s just one of many accents that add to the quaint store’s small town feel.

Located on 9 East Main Street, Spectrum is one of the many specialty shops that color downtown Frostburg’s business district. The shop’s location and the reputation of being a Main Street business comes with, as Andrea puts it, “a lot of benefits.”

“The business community is very friendly and supportive. You know your neighbors; you even know your customers,” she states. “I can tell when the train is in town, because somebody will walk in my door, and if I say to them, ‘Oh, you must have ridden the train,’ they’ll look at me kind of funny and I’ll say, ‘Well I know because I don’t recognize you.’ It’s all about personal connections.”

Personal connections that are often made in a part of a small community.

“With the design part of the business, people really let you into their lives, so you get to know people on a personal level, so that you can design for them,” explains De Palatis. “I earn my living as a designer, but I have a lot of fun with the store.”