Published August 21, 2019 by The Monterey Herald. Written by Lisa Crawford Watson.
Interior Designers, collectors and those seeking just the right design element will find it here
When you walk into Wonderwall design and furnishings shop in Sand City, it's almost as if you had walked into an exciting new world - which is exactly what its proprietors hope happens.
“Wonderwall is a word I;ve always loved,” says Mark Cristofalo co-owner of Wonderwall with his wife Carina. “That’s what Wonderwall means to me. Its a wall between the ordinary world and the extraordinary world. We try to build the extraordinary here that transcends the normal into a beautiful space.”
“Your home is a sanctuary for you and should be filled with things that you love,” adds Carina. “We love to create beautiful sanctuaries. And it may only be one piece that completes a look, a reflection of yourself. We’ve tried to find the one piece that defines that space.”
Wonderwall’s 3,000-square-foot showroom in the arts district of Sand City is filled with antiques, art, furniture furnishings, home decor, architectural elements and some objects that may not be considered art or an antique, but could be the perfect item to complete a room. It could be a rusted early 20th century cast iron radiator or a pair of weathered 19th century Belgium shutters or a handmade antique sky blue wire and wood birdcage.
Every piece in the showroom has been discovered and curated by Mark and Carina with an eye toward their uniqueness, originality and appeal. “That’s what people respond to, the authentic, the intuitive, the creative,” says Mark. “Authenticity speaks for itself.”
Carina adds that the piece they feature won’t be found in a catalog or mass-produced, but something found in an out-of-the-way antique shop or in a funky shop in the famed Arts District of Los Angeles. “Sand City is the Arts District of the Monterey Peninsula,” she says.
Wonderwall opened in August 2018, an offshoot of 20-plus years that Cristofalo spent as a home builder, designer and collector. He comes from a long line of master masons and builders from Italy, so the trade is internally in his blood, He learned the business and engineering end of things while attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
As part of the Monterey Peninsula home building firm Mark Cristofalo & Company, Mark and Carina have amassed a collection of decorative artifacts that found a home in Wonderwall. Carina tends to focus on landscaping plants and gardening and related items, while Mark specializes in the “hard” items such as furniture and sculptural pieces.
The couple who have lived on the Peninsula for 15 years and currently live in Carmel with their four children ages 10 to 16, regularly go on overseas trips to seek and acquire items for their shop.
Their clientele is split 50/50 between members of the general public looking for something different and unique for their homes and architects and interior designers. Their goal is for 20% of their sales to be online through their website.
The couple selected Sand City for their shop because of its support and affinity for artists and that it had a community of like minded business owners. Although they haven't even been open for a year the response from the public has been gratifying.
“People have been responding,” says Mark, “they love coming here.”