Chip and Joanna Gaines and Syd and Shae McGee — partners in business and in life — have won the hearts of millions of reality TV fans by creating home-remodeling empires, not so much on their business acumen or design aesthetic but on their ability to captivate an audience with their friendliness and approachable sense of style.
Cliff and Natalie Whearley are building a similar brand in Redwood City. In July 2022, the couple leased the ground floor of a historic building at 925 Main St. that once housed Youngs Auto Parts. It is now the headquarters for Whearley & Co., a one-stop shop for real estate, home staging and shopping. Will the Whearleys reach a similar streaming platform pinnacle?
“I don’t know if we have dreams about building our own mega-empire, but I do find both of their stories so inspiring,” Natalie said.
Cliff and Natalie met at Carlmont High School in Belmont, and their Peninsula roots run deep.
“Our first date was on the same day that Cliff wrote up his first offer in 2007,” Natalie said. Cliff added, “Since then, we’ve bought, remodeled and sold several homes.”
Through the early years of their marriage, Natalie was pursuing a career in marketing and PR.
“I started helping Cliff here and there — building his website and marketing materials. We had a blog called the Front Porch, where we would share market insights and interview local business owners.”
Around the same time, Natalie also was working for Stanford’s d.school, where her curiosity for creating things really took off.
“I learned so much about design and entrepreneurship during my time there,” she said. “Once we started our family, I started working with Cliff more closely. My experience in staging and homes has come from personal experience and taking classes for staging and color consultations.”
The couple’s working relationship continued to evolve as their family grew and Natalie became more involved.
“I started taking photos of Cliff’s listings. I think that the process of seeing homes through the lens made me notice more about the spaces and how they were staged and that there were things I would do differently,” Natalie said.
Today, Natalie consults with buyers and sellers on remodels, flow, soft materials and staging, while Cliff handles the brokerage part of buying and selling.
Many of Whearley & Co.’s transactions have occurred in the Redwood City area, and it makes sense with their background.
“From growing up and working here my entire life, I know the neighborhoods and the market block by block. And I think having a flagship location downtown has given us more opportunities to connect with the neighborhood and the community,” Cliff said.
On any given day, you’ll find one or both of them at the storefront. Cliff’s office off the selling floor means that clients have to walk through the highly curated space full of items that Natalie handpicks. Premium paint and wallpaper brand Farrow & Ball is prominently displayed in the shop and is a great talking point for people unfamiliar with the British brand that is known for its classic colors and durability. Scan the shoppable vignettes scattered throughout the store, and you’ll discover the tie-in to the coveted brand.
Natalie describes their aesthetic as timeless.
“The shop leans a little more rustic, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But even if someone has a modern space, I think that handmade ceramics, a linen tea towel or an antique bench all have a timeless appeal that works well with different styles and lends a human touch,” she said.
Heirloom-quality products are inherently sustainable, something that Natalie and Cliff value.
“We’re focused on sustainability and aim to work with vendors who honor that in their materials, manufacturing processes and packaging,” Natalie said.
With that love for vintage, they hope to start introducing more vintage items as part of the shopping experience. Cliff laughs about a time early in their relationship when they drove to Los Angeles to score some vintage Thornet chairs.
“We drove down there on a Friday morning, loaded the chairs in the back of the car, went out to dinner and an improv show, and then drove back the next morning. Natalie also found a dog she wanted to adopt on that trip, but I had to break it to her that we couldn’t fit everything in the car,” he said.
For visitors, the space feels like a respite from daily stressors.
“It’s such a joy to watch people walk in and take a deep breath or watch their shoulders relax a bit,” Natalie said. “We had a lot of comments after we opened that the shop reminded people of Rose Apothecary from ‘Schitt’s Creek,’ which I just took as the biggest compliment ever.”
Looking to the future, Cliff hopes to get more involved in the renovation process.
“We’re seeing a lot of homes being torn down by developers in our neighborhood and have been chatting about how we could offer a counterpoint in renovating older homes in the area,” he said.
“We’re really here for people at different parts of the process,” Natalie added. “The idea for starting Whearley & Co. is founded on the idea that creating a home is a journey and that your space can and should evolve with your lifestyle.”
Whearley & Co., 925 Main St., Redwood City; 650-868-5373, Instagram: @whearleycohomes.
This story originally appeared in The SixFifty on May 30, 2023.