The Love Story Behind This Company’s Romantic Designs For The Home


man and woman on ladder

Partners in life and business Michael Partenio and Stacy Kunstel convey their personal love story through their wares. The founders of Dunes and Duchess literally conceived of their colorful, glossy candelabras during the early days of their budding passion; today, the partners have expanded to offer decor, furnishings and accessories as they celebrate the company’s 10th anniversary. Luxe caught up with Partenio and Kunstel to get the brand’s backstory.

How did you come up with the name? SK: I was living in New Hampshire when Michael and I started dating, and his sons would say their father was off to visit the “Duchess of Hampshire.” MP: I have lived near water my entire life and am happiest among the dunes and the beach. The combination of the two came about as we were starting a relationship and a company together and probably thinking more about romance than branding. So we incorporated an anchor and crown into our logo and it’s still one of our favorite things. 

What made you decide to start creating “wildly romantic” products for the home? SK: It started with a candelabra that Michael made for me. It doesn’t get more romantic than that. He had made me something that he wanted to light every night as we had dinner and gazed across the dinner table at each other. MP: People saw our pieces and wanted to see those forms in all sorts of creations. Depending on the wood and the finish, our designs can work in any home. 

What’s been going on behind the scenes during the pandemic? SK: We have been working on our Love Collection. We’ll be debuting a candelabra celebrating our anniversary, a trestle table, new lamps and coffee tables, some accessories and a bed. MP: Every day it’s something different. One thing we will continue to do, though, is make everything here in the U.S. and support our local suppliers. 

blue floor lamp