Whether your interior is modern or traditional, there is always room for the rich texture and intricate designs of a Kilim. Kilim, pronounced kee-leem, is one of the oldest woven textiles in history, dating back to 3000 BC. They are a pileless slit-woven rug with bold geometric patterns and colors made mainly from vegetable-dyed wool. The no-pile construction was designed specifically for high traffic areas and to last for a considerable amount of time. Many “vintage” kilims you find today are actually antiques – some are well over a century old. Although these textiles come mainly from Turkey, they are also found in the Balkans, North Africa, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and various regions in China. Each country has a variation of pattern and color, but the traditional craftsmanship, symbols and flat-woven technique are consistently the same.
Kilim rugs have stood the test of time. Global trends have come and gone, and yet Kilims never seem to go out of style. Their exotic designs represents a world gone by – nomadic dwellings lined in bold, bright colors enriched with deep heritage and traditions. Although many of us love our modern conveniences, there is something very alluring about the nomadic life. Kilims have a siren-effect, calling us to take part in their unfamiliar world and ancient stories. No matter what your style may be, these tribal designs will magically find a place in your home.
Once a Kilim rug has run its course, artisans will then use it for upholstery. They will crop the areas that have thinned and torn, and use the remaining portions to cover chairs, sofas, and stools. Or create pillow covers, handbags and even shoes. It’s incredible that after a century, a textile can simply be trimmed, applied to a piece of furniture or an accessory and then continue for many more years looking as beautiful as ever. I don’t know how it happens, but when a kilim goes from a rug to upholstery, it becomes textile porn. Yes, it’s that good.
Kilim upholstery is one of my favorite design elements to use when designing a space. The pops of pattern and color in small applications allows you to bring in bold patterns without overwhelming the space. Add a few Kilim pillows to a modern leather sofa and you immediately have warmth and texture. Place a Kilim chair in a traditional living room and awaken a sleepy space. Wear a Kilim handbag with a neutral dress, and voila! Instant panache. The options are endless, and best of all, every piece fashioned from a vintage Kilim is one-of-a-kind.
Many of the items I have featured in this post are made from vintage Kilim, so the designs will vary and the availability will be limited. If you find something you like but the item is sold out, don’t fret. Many companies that sell Kilims will give you the option to be notified when the item will be restocked. Just remember the designs are vintage, so no two items are exactly alike.
Recently, I was in Atlanta for the Home Décor Market at Americasmart. When I am at “market”, I rarely give art vendors a second glance. In fact, I don’t give a lot of vendors more than a glance. My job is to find the best of the best, and so much being presented at market is junk. I find myself sounding like the Devil Wears Prada “No, no, no, no, yes, no, no, no, no. Awful! Horrendous! Maybe. Absolutely not!” It’s a big deal when I find a winner. And when it comes to art, I am seldom impressed. Most of the artwork is cheap imitation and not worth my time.
But! Sometimes you find gems in unexpected places. After a long day of perusing the many vendor aisles, I was about to call it a day and head home when suddenly a sweet lady popped out in front of me, almost knocking me over, and said “You have to meet my friend, Xima Lee. She’s an incredible artist in Nashville, and this is her new art collection – a series of farm animal portraits inspired by her family farm”. Farm animals are not usually my forte, but Flip and Homer (a cheeky goat and donkey) caught my eye and I thought “maybe this lady has something I haven’t seen before”. So I kindly stepped into the booth and met the darling Xima Lee Hulings.
Hulings is the quintessential Southern woman. Within seconds, I felt as though we had known each other all our lives. Her joyful Southern accent was alluring, and the excitement in her eyes was infectious. She brought me into the vendor booth as if welcoming an old friend into her home. Before discussing the paintings, we talked for the longest time about Nashville, traveling, returning “home”, her family farm Harlinsdale in Franklin, TN., and all the mutual connections we shared. The woman knows everybody! And it’s not hard to understand why: the woman is delightful.
Hulings’ latest art collection is called The Walking Papers Series – a series of farm animal portraits inspired by the characters she sees daily on Harlinsdale Farm. “This collection celebrates the many characters found on the farm who live their lives with authenticity and attitude. The cows, chickens, goats, donkeys, and other friends never feel the rush of time or the pull of technology but live life in the present. These portraits are meant to capture the spirit of each animal and to honor their world on the farm.” This collection is a mixture of giclee prints, haystacker glass, stable and field trays, derived from her original paintings executed in watercolor, gouache, ink and pen with a 23k gold-leaf background. You can purchase these beautiful pieces online at Walking Papers Studio or in Nashville at the lovely Harpeth Gallery where they have a wonderful assortment.
Although I adore the animal portraits, it was the Disfarmer Series I found on Hulings fine art website that took my breath away. The Disfarmer Series is a collection of original paintings inspired from the photography of Mike Disfarmer. Each painting is derived from one of Disfarmer’s images, using watercolors to create her subjects and then surrounding them in gold-leaf and William Morris wallpaper patterns.
Disfarmer was a photographer in Heber Springs, Arkansas during 1910-1959. He was the town’s photographer, and all day everyday he photographed ordinary people. He was known to be quite the curmudgeon, and never saw himself as an artist. But his photos were incredibly unique with haunting, mesmerizing imagery. In 2004, these photographs emerged from the small rural town and found their way into Manhattan art galleries. This is when Hulings first laid eyes on Disfarmer’s photographs and was forever captivated. She spent the next several years trying to put context and shape around the feelings she had towards them.
“It wasn’t until I began working with egg tempura that something shifted in my relationship to his photographs.” She then moved on to acrylic ink, trying to go deeper, looking for the key to unlock all the stories. And then found herself experimenting with watercolor, where she finally found the magic.
“Many of the figures in his photographs look wary, anxious and timid; the combination of visual information and emotional distance is what I find fascinating. These characters are reacting without the tainted sophistication that we do today when confronted by the ever-present camera. They are honest, raw and complex. Their faces and worn hands drew me in but their distance continues to entice me to keep looking.
No matter how many stories I can imagine of the lives documented in his work, I know that I will always be on the outside. I created patterns as a way to give each a new context and to lift them into a new world of understanding. These patterns, while a part of the narrative, keep them a bit unsteady too. The gold leaf surround is intended as a blessing of sorts; I am honored to be a witness.”
Although Disfarmers imagery drives the collection, Hulings innovation and genius interpretation is what makes this contemporary art series remarkable. My fingers are crossed that a Nashville gallery will scoop this collection up and we can all experience them in person.
To purchase a painting from the Disfarmer Series, please contact Xima Lee Hulings at www.xima.net.
Dusty chairs stacked high, chandeliers of every size hanging from the ceiling, knickknacks crammed in every corner, obscure items long forgotten, a wonderland of polished junk waiting to be someone’s treasure – this is the ubiquitous antique and vintage retail scene.
Nashville is chock-full of antique and vintage shops. Many of them, like Gas Lamp Antique Mall I & II , have become destination places for tourists who’ve come from all over the country. I am a huge fan of these shops, and spend a large portion of my time shopping in them for clients. They are filled to the brim with well-curated items, and they have made the antique shopping experience a breeze.
But sometimes, the picker in me needs to get out of the city and find treasure in places a little less expected. You may be surprised to find that some of the best flea markets, yard sales and antique shops can be found in small towns. The prices are lower, and you’re likely to find a larger selection of rare finds. The shops are not as fancy and digging through junk is required. But the hospitality and charm of these small establishments will win you over quickly.
Last week I went north to the quaint town of Goodlettsville and spent the afternoon antiquing. Goodlettsville is an easy 25 minute drive from downtown Nashville and all the antique shops are within a few blocks of each other on North Main Street.
Each place was uniquely their own and worth every minute of my time. A bit rough around the edges, but the selection was extensive and diverse. From 17th century dining sets and velvet couches to turn-of-the-century phone booths, there were gems in every direction. If I had brought a moving truck, I would have taken an entire house back with me.
So the next time you are thinking about taking an antique expedition, think about going to the Goodlettsville antique district. It’s definitely worth a trip.
Below are my top 3 antique shops and a fantastic place to eat in Goodlettsville. Enjoy!
A family owned business for over 30 years with a large selection of antiques and vintage furniture, collectibles, dinnerware, tools and automobilia. The shop has recently been renovated, and has a great layout, the booths are well-organized, clean, and the items are of high quality. The staff was very friendly and knowledgeable.
A charming shop ran by longtime antique collectors, Claude Bellar and Nancy Pennington. As you entire the 12,000 sq. ft., store, you are greeted with smiles, cookies and fresh coffee. The environment is deliberately slow and laid-back, and you are encouraged to take your time. The staff had an incredible knowledge of each item they carried, and welcomed any questions.
A refreshingly quirky multi-dealer store. The shop showcases everything from automobilia, advertising, glassware, pottery, furniture, jewelry, rust, as well as the largest amount of country store collectibles in the country. Many set-designers and prop-stylists have purchased items from Rare Bird for TV shows, major motion pictures and magazines. Voted best antique mall in the area.
Chef’s Market (don’t forget to eat!) Delicious, unbelievably good southern cuisine. Owners, Jim and Cheryl Hagy, set out to bring a casual, chef-inspired dining experience and a fresh approach to the classic meat-and-three to Middle TN.
And finally, here are a few of the things I took home with me. These rare finds were less than $25 (total), and their value is well over a $150. Aren’t they fantastic?! (American Folklore & Legends educational chart by John Dukes McKee, Rolling Stone tenth anniversary with a fifty-page color collection of Annie Leibovitz greatest hits, and a pair of mid-century silk-screen crane prints)
Over the last two years we have seen various patterns pop up in fashion and home décor that are reminiscent of marble and watercolor paintings. Trend watchers have forecast numerous times that it will be the biggest trend of the year, and yet it never seems to make a huge splash. Cool patterns pop-up and then it’s gone. But this year seems to be different. Hand-marbling and various manipulated ink patterns are popping up in more luxurious designs – a sign that they are here to stay. At the 2015 New York Design Week last month, marbleized and hand-dyed patterns were found in furnishings, décor, fabric and artwork. During the 2014 & 2015 fashion weeks in Paris, London and New York, various designers used fabrics covered in brushstrokes, ink-blots and watercolors. And in the makers & artisan scene, marbleizing or hand-marbling has become the latest experimental craze.
One of the reasons the marble pattern hasn’t exploded in years past is the patterns were too literal. The faux marble look has been done, and each time it has looked cheap and awkward. And for the watercolor effect, the colors and style have been a bit immature. The key is to either keep it simple and use the real material/or style, or reinvent the pattern into something completely new. This year I am finally seeing a new creation – lyrical, abstract patterns with natural movement made from a mixture of marble patterns, ink manipulation, and hand-dying. And of course, the real deal is being used in furnishings and home decor as well. Beautiful white Carrera Italian Marble in tables, shelves, dressers and home accessories. Many of them paired with brass hardware and it is absolutely stunning.
What about the geometric patterns and cut-outs we saw trending earlier this year? This is where it gets exciting. The biggest trend of all is the juxtaposition of hard-line geometric patterns paired with blurred organic movement. So be on the lookout! The marbleizing and painterly watercolor trend is already trickling in. And come fall, we are going to see a whirlwind of pattern play.
All Seasons Garden & Brewing Supply Co is one of my favorite Nashville stores for gifts, gardening and home goods. A family-run enterprise, All Seasons is the quintessential mom and pop shop. Chock-full of eclectic handpicked treasures, creative displays, and the most incredible customer service.
When I owned my home décor store many years ago, I rarely had time to shop for myself. And when I did, I found that many of the Nashville shops were uninspiring. The products were all the same and the element of surprise was lacking. My husband, a home brewer, had mentioned All Seasons to me numerous times. And like a good wife, I completely ignored him. I knew they carried a plethora of beer gear and gardening supplies, but what did that have to do with my hunt for a good gift shop? Well, all I can say is that I am bummed that I didn’t go in sooner. All Seasons was exactly what I was looking for – a charming local shop that provided high-quality products and service, with a passion for discovery, healthy-living and sustainability.
Co-owner, Emily Thompson, is an incredible buyer and has quite the knack for blending nature and interior style. Her eye for scouting unique goods and turning them into beautiful displays is what makes the gift and gardening portion of this shop so special. With brilliant attention to detail, every portion of the shop has something to dazzle you. An enchanting style mixture of vintage, modern, and rustic goods with an excellent selection of uncommon plants and trees.
Although Nashville’s retail scene has changed dramatically for the better, All Seasons is still on my top 5 local places to shop. It’s one of those places that you become a regular. If you haven’t had the pleasure of shopping in this lovely store, please make a point to stop in soon.
HERE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:
1. Air Plants & Tiny Succulents: Every shape, size and species that you can imagine, they have in abundance.
2. Hanging Planters: From modern to traditional, they carry a wide range of unexpected planter styles that hang from the ceiling and uncommon wall hooks.
3. Wall Art: Fun, graphic art that has a bit of cheeky humor. My current favorite wall hanging says “Kiss My Grits”.
4. Plants for the not-so-green-thumb: If you are a serial plant killer, this is the place for you. All Seasons has a large variety of hardy plants that can survive almost any kind of neglect.
5. Gifts: Decadent candles, sculptures that happen to be planters, hanging mobiles, books, home décor, lighting, wall-mounts – there is a lot to see here.