Snapshot: West Chester

How do you tell when spring has arriv-ed in West Chester? Pink blossoms appear on the cherry trees lining Gay Street. Bistros and taverns set out cafe tables along brick sidewalks. And shoppers stroll leisurely among the borough’s many boutiques.

This last sign is relatively new for the quaint college town. Recently, Gay and Market streets have blossomed with outposts offering antique four-poster beds, aromatic French candles and soaps, funky end tables made of stacked wooden soda boxes and endless art.

At Grandiflora (610-918-4880), you’ll find tasseled toile paper pagodas containing Seda France candles, Scandinavian mint soaps in red calico boxes by Stella Tval, vintage tablecloths and freshly cut flowers sold by the stem. Fashion designer and artist Kristin Blanck and hubby Dan Graziano have made this brick-walled boutique discriminatingly hip. Also carried are Pine Cone Hill’s embroidered pillowcases and quilts, antique wire birdcages, porcelain-topped tables, and framed still lifes and landscapes.

Acorn Cottage Style (610-430-3316), an antiques and art gallery owned by retired art professor Zena Croydon and her husband, Peter, brings a little bit of Portobello Road to the Brandywine Valley. The shop carries 100-year-old monogrammed French linens, antique prints, iron bedsteads and Oriental rugs, as well as contemporary oil paintings and ceramic sculpture by Polish artists Jack and Margaret Wozniak, respectively.

At Ashley & Whitney (610-431-6851), the merchandise reflects the excellent—and diverse—tastes of its co-owners, sisters Ashley Wren Collins and Anne Whitney Collins. Here, tea-light holders with beaded shades, dessert plates meant for French hotels and vintage porcelain washstands compete with frocks, skirts and tops by Nanette Lepore, Plenty and Trina Turk. Look for glassware printed with kitschy old-fashioned lingerie advertisements, and old wooden Coca-Cola and Dr Pepper boxes stacked as four-drawer end tables.

Sisters Claudia Carfagno and Kristen Block own Vera & Bee Home (610-738-8878), a cozy spot stocked with richly scented candles, etched-glass hurricane lamps and cabana-striped place mats. Luxe pet accessories, such as plush toile toys by Harry Barker and Burberry dog beds round out the collection.

At Home Works Design & Supply (610-430-7337), interior designer Jane Norley presides over the vast original and reproduction antique furnishings from England, Italy and the United States, Moroccan pottery, mosaic-framed mirrors and a gallery’s worth of local art, including paintings by local resident Judith Jarvis and popular Philadelphia portraitist Paul DuSold.

Traditionalists will go for the design services and furniture selection at Drake’s Furniture & Interiors (610-692-8159), which offers upholstered sofas and chairs by Jeff Zimmerman. Other offerings include cherry and mahogany coffee and end tables by Madison Square.

Timeless Dwellings (610-696-8699) carries wallpaper and fabrics by Scalamandré, Schumacher and Stroheim & Romann. Added to the mix are colorful, sequin-trimmed pillows and throws, hot-pink and orange flower-shaped lamps by Stray Dog Imports, and funky furnishings by Pietrarte.