Is it possible to dislike cows and still like D.Luxe Home?
To be honest, we're not sure.
We've gotten fully on board with the cow hide rug trend; we're thinking of it as the chevron rug of a couple years ago but with more staying power. And we've taken it a few steps further, also embracing--and stocking our shop at Marathon Village with--cow hide furniture, farm animal paintings and signs, and all kinds of accessories emblazoned with bovines and their great big, soulful eyes. In fact, I had such an insane number of requests for cow paintings that I asked my painter friend Johnny Bone (once my go-to tile setter at Bynum Design before he up and moved to Oklahoma) to scare up some originals cows to complement the cow prints I already had in store.
As for cow hide rugs, we carry a really great and ethical line from Saddleman's of Santa Fe. The biggest thing about this type of rug is you don't need to go buy one at the flea market or from any cheap source. You have to get really well-tanned hides or they'll deteriorate over time and all you're left with is the backing. A cowhide that's been tanned properly really should not shed at all and will have a clean, bright luster to the coat, whereas a cheap hide will have a chemical smell and a stiffer, duller coat.
Bottom line: For a cow hide rug that looks great for the long haul, you have to spend some money. You want it to last for 20 to 30 years, not unlike the way you expect an oriental rug to last. The Saddleman's rugs aren't terribly expensive, though they certainly cost you more than the ones you'll find at, say, Ikea. The Saddleman's floor model we have in the store is constantly trampled and still looks great.
There are lots of things to love about a cow hide rug. They, however, are not subtle, so they have to be well-intentioned. I'm a fan of splaying one across a sisal rug (as in the lead photo in this post) and of using them to coax a really dressy space into taking itself less seriously. They also look great on hardwoods. The Saddleman's rugs come in almost any color and pattern you can dream up, but I'm not a fan of hot pink and am instead hung up on the classics--spots especially.
Feeling intimidated about using cow hide in your home? Remember it goes with anything--working well in a traditional space, a modern space, a young space, or an old space. It's just a very versatile, cool, fun, and affordable accessory.
What do you think? Would you put cowhide in your home? If not, can we still be friends?
On March 1, 2013, we kicked open the doors to D. Luxe Home for the first time. When it dawned on me last week--on the very day of our one-year anniversary--that we had this milestone to celebrate, in addition to the relief and pride I felt, I couldn't help but reflect on all that's changed in our lives and inside the shop over the past year.
In comparison to today, last March our little home store, which we had just renovated painstakingly to our tastes, was quite bare, but our expectations were high. Ahead of us we still had lots of lessons to learn, loyal customers to meet and befriend, and the most fun we've had in Nashville to date.
No doubt in the beginning we were a little nervous about what we were getting ourselves into--especially the prospect of juggling our residential design business, Bynum Design, with the daily demands of a retail space. To be honest, we're still nervous about it sometimes. But we're making it work because we have to; we're having way too much fun not to. And in spite of the distractions, from a design standpoint, Bynum Design's absolute best work has been done here in the small office space that adjoins our shop.
We love being here at historic Marathon Village--there's killer energy in this old building. Walking into this sunny space in the morning and flicking the lights off before we leave at night--we feel a pride that's visceral. In its first year, D. Luxe Home has been a great success and (most days) a bright and busy source of joy for us--so much so that we're dreaming already of opening another location.
Here's a look at the shop, just after we added the dividing wall between our Bynum Design office space and the shop itself. We got those old windows at the top of the wall for a steal. Then you'll see that the shop looks a little different today.
We learned more than a few things this year. Here are some of our biggest takeaways from our first 365 days in business:
Be willing to change your approach. When we first opened D. Luxe Home, we thought we would use the space to stage homes out of. But we wouldn't have sold much had we stuck with that approach. We do still love to bring our Bynum Design clients in to handpick lighting and other fixtures for the homes we build them. But that's only a small part of the purpose our shop serves. Because we were willing to make a quick business plan pivot in the beginning, we've been able to sell a mind-boggling amount of stuff out of a small space.
Adjust inventory to your audience and location. We didn't know who to expect to see wandering through our doors each day. Now we know very well that Antique Archaeology, just don't the hall from us, is a HUGE tourist draw and that the majority of the folks who stumble on our shop are tourists who we'll never see again. For that reason, furniture hasn't been a big seller for us because most people obviously don't want to ship a piece of furniture home to another state. While staying true to our tastes, we've tweaked our inventory to reflect this audience--stocking gift items like tea towels, coasters, sachets, candles, and country music-inspired items like "What Would Johnny Cash Do?" pillows and Hatch Show prints, in addition to all the other things we love.
Don't take it personally. Curating your own shop is kind of like laying bare your soul. That sounds dramatic, but one thing that disappointed me and surprised me at first--but that probably shouldn't have--is how outspoken some visitors have been about items in the store that they don't care for. To fill your shop with all these things that you love madly and then to have someone come in and make fun of them--or to say, "Oh, I could make that!"--has been a very real lesson in not taking things personally. We're much better about that now.
Play ambient music, light a candle. Is this a silly point to make? Oh, well; it's true. We've noticed that when we put on our country music playlist, people crowd into the store and just hang out. It's like they're at a club. And they don't buy anything. But when we play more ambient music, the difference is crazy. It puts our visitors in a whole different mood--a mood to shop. And of course we always have a delicious-smelling candle or two flickering away. Music and scent are things that memory is tied to, and they make you do things unwittingly--like buy beautiful things for your home.
To all of you who've visited and shopped with us this past year, please know that we are so grateful for you. Stay tuned for our next chapter. It's going to be awesome.
Nashville, TN, licensed general contractor, interior designer, home designer and builder, collector, photographer, traveler