La Casa Azul Bookstore Design: From A Dream To A Reality

THE VISION

Marlene Pratt and I started Casa Latina as a brand with a social mission: to help the Hispanic community achieve their home-related dreams. And we pursue it passionately!

When Aurora Anaya-Cerda reached out to us and asked Marlene to help her design her lifetime dream – La Casa Azul Bookstore – we were elated. Marlene loved the idea of converting a retail space into a first-of-its-kind bookstore that radiates the look and feel of an old Mexican style home. So she and Aurora set out to create a space that would make you feel as though you were still in abuelitas house. The café would represent the ‘kitchen’, the tall book shelf area the ‘living room’, the children’s section a child’s room and the arts and crafts area the main ‘closet’. All from an empty store front.

La Casa Azul Bookstore’s before-and-after transformation, sponsored by our friends at MOEN, is being featured on Telemundo Ch. 47’s Al Amanecer con Jackie as a four-part segment series hosted by Marlene. Don’t forget to watch this Friday’s May 4th to see the how the space has changed!

La Casa Azul Bookstore Mural By Artist Manny Vega

THEY SAY IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD. I SAY IT TAKES A COMMUNITY TO OPEN AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE

This project has a special history. It really began when I first met Aurora in 2008 at a 6 week course Chase sponsored on ‘business plan basics’. At that point, Casa Latina was simply an idea and a dream as was La Casa Azul Bookstore. Fast forward to 2012 and Aurora and the Casa Latina team have made our respective visions a reality!  Joining our creative forces to transform a storefront into the first home-themed bookstore in America, and the only bookstore in East Harlem when it opens, was a natural fit.
The bookstore’s opening is the culmination of a successful online fundraising campaign on www.indiegogo.com that was supported by the community as well as renowned authors. So you see, it really does take a community to open an independent bookstore!

WE HAD A BLANK CANVAS TO WORK WITH

While no structural changes were necessary, transforming an empty storefront to a home-themed bookstore would take significant work. Take a look at what we started with!

THE VISION: A WORK IN PROGRESS

Just like most Hispanic homes the Kitchen/Café will be the focal point and heart of the store. It will receive a tremendous amount of use. Marlene’s design theme combined with Aurora’s vision will result in a warm and welcoming space where patrons feel at home when they congregate for one of the many planned readings, author signings, classes and community events. So it is essential to use quality products that have a distinct design element and are built to last. Thus, Moen’s Buy It For Looks. Buy For Life. quality faucets and sink made perfect sense for this project. Marlene has integrated their beautiful Kleo Spot Resist™ stainless faucet in the Kitchen/Café area and the Banbury Mediterranean Bronze faucet for the bathroom sink.

This project is more than a before-and-after ‘makeover’ of a space. It is the fulfillment of a dream for an intrepid Latina entrepreneur! We are grateful to Moen for understanding and believing in our vision, and for supporting us throughout this journey.

Please don’t forget to watch Telemundo Ch. 47’s Al Amanecer con Jackie from 6:00am-7:00am this Friday May 4th to see how the space has been transformed!

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