Renaissance Floral Design wants to be part of area’s renaissance

The Enterprise — Elizabeth Floyd Mair 
Owner David Michael Schmidt adjusts bowls on the shelves at Renaissance Floral Design, which offers unique home elements and decor and builds environments — incorporating, but not limited to, floral arrangements — for weddings, parties, and other events.

GUILDERLAND — David Michael Schmidt, owner of Renaissance Floral Design on Route 20 near the Northway, wants to tear down his 1950s building to create a sleek gateway to Guilderland.

Schmidt received unanimous approval from Guilderland’s zoning board on Jan. 3 for a special-use permit that will allow him to raze the building he bought in 2003 and build anew on the same foundation. He also received a variance for a small addition in the east-side setback.

In his upcoming rebuild, Schmidt plans a streamlined, modern look featuring large plate-glass windows that adjoin at the south and west corners of the building, to allow passersby to see inside.

Patios on the front, back, and west side of the building will be enclosed. This will create more retail space, as will moving a cooler outside the east exterior wall. Moving the cooler into the setback necessitated the variance.. More retail space will allow inventory to be comfortably spread out, so that customers can see it better, Schmidt said this week.

The main entrance will be relocated from the west side to the back of the building, where the shop’s parking lot is located, which will be more convenient for customers, Schmidt told the board. A small addition made there will give the entry more presence, he said.

Most storage will be offsite, at a 5,000-square-foot facility at 13 Warehouse Row, in Colonie, the board heard. The number of garden items will be reduced dramatically.

The store’s location “has its challenges,” Schmidt told The Enterprise, particularly since it has a single curb cut on Western Avenue, but he feels that being set between Crossgates Mall and Stuyvesant Plaza is “a very good thing.”

More than 50,000 cars a day travel the stretch of Western Avenue between Crossgates and the Northway, according to the New York State Department of Transportation Traffic Data Viewer.

Since the store is close to the Northway, Schmidt said, “We can go anywhere quickly.” He visits clients and locales in, for instance, New York, Boston, Saratoga, and Lake Placid. “Clients coming from New York, going to their summer home in Lake Placid, can stop here and talk about their weddings,” he said.

Schmidt talked to The Enterprise last week in his office at Renaissance, as a silver Pekingese that has the run of the store watched cautiously from a corner: “This is an ugly building. It was an ugly building when I bought it, but I could afford it,” Schmidt said. The time has come to clean it up and make it a more attractive gateway to Guilderland.”

The building was a funeral home before Schmidt bought it.

By coincidence, when the property the building sits on was still undeveloped farmland, it was owned by Schmidt’s great-aunt; his great-uncle once owned a tiny adjacent strip on the east that Schmidt was also eventually able to buy.

The area is in the midst of a renaissance, Schmidt said, with the redo of Northeastern Fine Jewelers, a new sign and landscaping at Great Oaks, the opening of the upscale restaurant Black and Blue, and the hotel now under construction in front of Crossgates Mall.

Timothy Wade of Verdant Architecture, who presented the proposal with Schmidt, told the board the building had a masonry veneer with significant damage, particularly around the windows, and that he was unsure what damage might lie beneath, in the walls.

Wade said, “A new, code-compliant snazzy building at the entrance to Guilderland is probably a better bet than to try to put a facelift on the existing building.”

“We’re invisible right now, pretty much,” Schmidt told the board.

He said this week he hopes to start construction in February and reopen in May. In the meantime, the business will operate out of its Warehouse Row facility.


The Enterprise — Michael Koff 
Renaissance Floral Design will be rebuilt on the existing foundation, with a more sleek, streamlined look and glass windows on two adjoining sides that will allow passersby to see activity inside.


David Michael Schmidt

Schmidt, 52, lives in Voorheesville.

He grew up in West Charlton — which he describes as being between Galway, Amsterdam, Ballston Spa, and Scotia.

His father ran a construction company and then bought and worked a 400-acre farm, while continuing to run the company. Schmidt’s mother was a stay-at-home mom and raised Arabian stallions, he said. The couple divorced when Schmidt was young, and he lived with his father.

He went to Galway High School and then to Schenectady County Community College and the State University of New York at Cobleskill, studying food and beverage.

Schmidt’s father taught all of his five children, Schmidt said, that they can fix anything and make anything happen. “It’s just a matter of thinking about the mechanics,” he said, “and figuring it out.”

Renaissance Floral Design is the “top wedding design company in the area,” Schmidt said, and also designs a lot of parties and social events. Regardless of how large or small a client’s budget may be, he can create something beautiful and memorable with the funds that they have, he said.

Schmidt likes thinking outside the box.

The store is filled with objects each as interesting as the next: birdcage lamps; a four-foot-tall framed scientific illustration of a seahorse; three-dimensional starburst wall art with delicate metal rays arcing forward; a teak accent table, sanded buttery smooth, with root-burl feet; and, near the counter, blank greeting cards featuring handmade collages and vintage-style cans of old-fashioned sour balls.

He carries items not found anywhere else in the area, he says, including sculptures and lighting by Michael Aram and home-decor items handcrafted in Italy by Match Pewter.

He used to create the lobby displays for the now-defunct annual show “New York in Bloom” at the New York State Museum. In 2013, he was told that he could use an item from the museum’s collection, from its storage facility in Schenectady, that had never been seen by the public before. Schmidt picked a gleaming black-and-gold hearse — horse-drawn — even before he had any idea what he would do with it.



New York in Bloom 2013 // Renaissance Floral Design from David Michael Schmidt on Vimeo.


He needed to make the theme appropriate for all ages, and, since the flower show benefitted after-school programs for children, he decided to turn the lobby into a fairytale scene: a crown lay on a tufted pillow inside the hearse, now meant to recall Cinderella’s carriage. A ballgown floated near the ceiling, while a glass slipper arched up inside a clear box. A laughing gnome stretched its spindly legs upward from the ground beside a spinning wheel stuffed with straw. A crimson apple made of carnations had a concave section of white carnations in the middle in the shape of a bite mark. “The children loved it,” he said.

More recently, he designed a fundraising event for the Albany Institute of History and Art; the museum wanted to raise funds to buy mannequins for a Victorian clothing exhibition. He dressed a mannequin at the center of the party in a gown of flowers and bark.



Schmidt shops at six furniture, gift, and home shows a year — including in New York City, Atlanta, and North Carolina — and also finds things at antique shows.

He looks for items that are unique, of great quality, and reasonably priced. “But sometimes the pieces are so great,” he said, “you have to buy them, whether they’re reasonable or not.”

“I love what I do,” Schmidt said. “I think the rebirth of the store is going to be a really fun time.”

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