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A Fresh Take on Consignment at Elephant in the Room Design

By Laurie Pellichero

Photography by Charles R. Plohn 

From the moment you walk in the bright green door to Elephant in the Room Design in the Princeton North Shopping Center, you will see that it’s not your average consignment store. The clean, spacious 2,000-square-foot showroom is filled with artfully-arranged vignettes filled with an eclectic mix of new and consigned furniture and home decor items.

Owner Cynthia “CJ” Johnson said the name of the store just came to her. “How did that piece of furniture you once loved become the ‘elephant in the room’? Maybe you really do still love it, but it simply doesn’t fit into your new decor or space. It’s time for us to find it a new loving home!”

The shop features a carefully-curated collection of consigned pieces including furniture, seating, dining tables, occasional tables, desks, rugs, mirrors, artwork, lighting, objets d’art, china, glassware, and more. “We fill a certain niche, with styles and prices for everyone,” said Johnson.

New merchandise arrives daily, so each visit promises something fresh. “One of the things I hear most often is ‘I can’t believe it’s consigned,’” said Johnson of the condition of the merchandise displayed in the showroom.

Along with the consignment items, Johnson offers new furniture from Wesley Hall, CR Laine, and Harden, all available in custom fabrics and finishes. She said she chose those manufacturers because they are all American and for their high level of craftsmanship.

Elephant in the Room Design also features a selection of retail lighting, artwork, Zodax candles and diffusers, and other home decor items.

Only open since January, the shop is already an area favorite, winning Best Furniture Store recognition in the 2017 Town Topics Readers’ Choice Awards. Johnson said she is thrilled with the warm welcome that Elephant in the Room Design has received.

“It has been so rewarding,” said Johnson. “I am very encouraged by the reception we have received for the consignment with retail mix. It has been well-received by customers and we have received great support from our vendors as well.”

“I love interacting with people,” continued Johnson. “I want our shop to be fun and welcoming, not snooty or pushy. We want people to be inspired and come back.”

Johnson has a BFA in studio art and graphic design. She taught art at the high school level in Basking Ridge, and also worked at a consignment shop in Summit before opening Elephant in the Room Design. She said she chose Princeton because of its central location and “great community of cosmopolitan people.”

She said it is wonderful to have her own store. “It’s a culmination of all my experiences,” said Johnson. “It’s a fun atmosphere—like Christmas every day.”

Johnson said that the consignment period for each item is 90 days. Merchandise is reduced by 15 percent off of the original price after 30 days and 30 percent off of the original price after 60 days. Some specialized furniture pieces can stay in the store a bit longer to find the right home. Johnson works with the owners to determine the best price for each item, and also does research online. She is very careful to choose items in good condition, and most look almost new.

“There are stories behind everything,” she said. “We have some really cool things. Many are from people’s travels.”

Johnson also features her own fabric and wall covering designs at the shop, which can be incorporated into new and consigned upholstered pieces, wall art, pillows, and more. The fabric can be ordered in any amount of  whole yardage. She offers many colors and patterns with customization also being a possibility.

“I’ve always been drawn to pattern and color,” said Johnson. “Print-on-demand changes everything. I create my original artwork and pattern designs. It is all printed right here in the U.S. I offer a wide range of fabric and color options for my customers. It encourages individuality.”

Johnson’s colorful designs have been called unexpected, whimsical, and timeless—and many samples are on display in the shop.

Johnson said she and her associate Polly Balland also enjoy creating the varied vignettes in the store. “It’s fun to create a fresh look with disparate items,” she said.

This fall, Johnson is teaching a Princeton Adult School class at the shop on six different Friday nights —with each workshop focusing on a different interior design topic. She also offers design consultation services after store hours.

Elephant in the Room Design is located at 1225 State Road 206, Suite 8, in Princeton. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm.

For more information, call 609.454.3378 or visit the website at

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