Buy a gift for someone else or yourself at this mega-store that has everything for the home--and we mean everything--at discount prices.


Well I'm back, back for the third time to be exact, even though I nearly got lost. Maybe it's because I wasn't born and bred in the Washington, D.C., metro area, but my ability to follow the most basic directions seems to disappear whenever I visit there. Still, I was determined to find Greenfront Furniture Co., and I did. The store, a well-known Mid-Atlantic home shopping resource, lies in Sterling, Virginia, almost to Dulles airport.

It's not for the impulsive consumer or the casual shopper picking up a few things for the house, but if you have the time, it's a furnishings gold mine. Although much smaller than its big sister, the original mammoth Greenfront Furniture Co. complex (its 650,000 square feet spans 14 buildings) several hours south in Farmville, this place is still huge. I had to see it again. Too many homeowners and interior designers, all from different circles and blessed with varying creative perspectives, had reminded me that Greenfront is the place to go if you are shopping for the home. And when locals share their secrets, I always listen.

"The business started in 1963 with just one store. Owner Dick Cralle eventually purchased 13 old tobacco warehouses and other buildings and renovated them in Farmville," says David McCullough, manager of the Sterling-based location. "Greenfront grew by word of mouth. Because so many customers from the Washington, D.C., metro area were driving down to Farmville, we opened the store in Sterling. Once shoppers arrive, they realize our goods are just as easily accessible to members of the general public as designers."

There are no frills here, just 45,000 square feet of space in warehouse-size rooms, with endless nooks and crannies. You'll find major and little known lines of indoor/outdoor furniture; office, leather, and wicker goods; fabric swatch rooms; bed linens; and rugs (their top seller) imported directly from Persia, India, Pakistan, Asia, Afghanistan, China, Tibet, and Turkey. Countless lamps, pictures, mirrors, and other items decorate vignettes throughout the space.

"We keep our prices low because we have extremely low overhead and great relationships with our suppliers. The Sterling location alone receives about 90 pieces a week directly from manufacturers. Our imports come from the Farmville store," says David. "People walk in and say, 'Wow, I can actually decorate my home here.' Furnishings and accessories are displayed in mixed groupings, offering buyers interesting options," he continues. "Greenfront's choices may seem overwhelming, so many homeowners come in with a designer or work with one of the sales staff for assistance in selecting colors or styles."

When it comes to rugs, furnishings and accessories, jewels can be found here.

Greenfront Furniture Co.: 1304 Severn Way, Sterling, VA 20166; (703) 406-0761.

quot;Shop for Your Home at Greenfront" is from the November 2002 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans./p>