What happens when you completely remodel a beautiful old home, taking it from rundown to better-than-new? You throw a huge party to celebrate, that's what. And you stage the heck out of that home before the party so that it shows just as perfectly as you envisioned it showing the entire time you were designing it.
This project is a perfect example of how well my two companies--D.Luxe Home and Bynum Residential Design--can complement one another. It was the team at Bynum Residential Design that worked so hard to reinvent this house, built in 1935, in Nashville's historic 12South (you can read about the remodel here), while we pulled furniture and accessories from D. Luxe Home to stage the finished home.
Before we show you the pictures of this space staged, please feast your eyes on a few before and after photos:
Having seen that, you probably understand why we felt a big celebration was in order. It was important to me to stage this home myself prior to setting it loose on the market. I wanted to show it done up the way I wanted it. For instance, during the remodeling process, people all along thought the dining table would be awkward directly under the staircase. This way people could see for themselves that a dining table not only works here but works like a charm. We ended up getting some of the most positive feedback about that central room.
The party was held on a beautiful Wednesday night at the end of April, and though we had plenty of potential buyers milling around, the house had in fact been claimed that morning by an out-of-state buyer who toured the house via her realtor's smartphone. We also invited plenty of friends and associates to enjoy beer, wine, and munchies, and we had DayNa Richele Photography capture the event.
You may imagine that we'd do a lot of telling partygoers about the house during parties like these, but we mostly like to listen. We love hearing feedback, and it's feedback we can't get from people who have just looked at photos of our work, since people in the flesh can walk around and really say, "I like the size of this, or I like how this feels." It's really only possible to get that kind of feedback when a house is staged. Otherwise it's just an empty house, and then people don't really know how to use those rooms.
This shindig was the best way to finalize our work at 903 Lawrence Avenue, which did take longer than we would have liked. If you attended the party, we thank you so much for coming out and celebrating this home with us. (If you weren't here, we sure do hope you'll make it to our next party.) We tend to have enormous turnouts, and people stay. They don’t just turn around and leave. I think that’s a testament to the house as much as it is to our group.
If you see furniture, lighting, or accessories you love, contact us or come by D. Luxe Home at Marathon Village, 1200 Clinton Street, Suite 5, Nashville, TN. Most everything is still for sale or can be special ordered for you.
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.
I first met Lillie Syracuse in line at Garage Coffee Company, which is right next to D. Luxe at Marathon Village. She was in a little dress with big red hair and an even bigger smile. I didn't recognize her, but I was kind of starstruck anyway. She just has that effect on people. This little girl from Pumpkintown, South Carolina, with the scratchy Southern accent--she has star quality. Pretty sure that's why legendary vocal coach Buzzy Orange has taken her under his wing. In any case, when Lillie wandered into the shop recently and asked if she might could use our space for a photo shoot, I said yes right away. (She works down the hall at Antique Archaeology, which is why our paths cross so frequently.)
Our shop, with all its antiques and chippy whatnots, made Lillie feel right at home. "I've always had an affinity for the vintage and for the rustic," she says. "I've also always been inspired by the magic and intrigue that occurs when styles and items from the past are utilized in modern times for modern concepts ... D.Luxe Home encompasses that magic perfectly. Oh, and not to mention: Dee and his excellent and wonderfully precious team could not have been more accommodating and hospitable. [The photo shoot was] an overall incredible experience."
Well, shucks! We like you, too, Lillie.
Lillie's hard-luck story is part of what makes her so interesting. The daughter of a truck driver father who often let her tag along with him on the road, where they'd listen to Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton in the rig, she makes no bones about her family being "sophisticated hillbillies" who up and moved to Nashville when the bank foreclosed on her childhood home.
"Nashville's been real good to me," says Lillie. When she arrived here she didn't know much about singing or how to play guitar, but she decided she wanted to learn. And so she did, and was lucky enough to get hooked up with Buzzy Orange, who has helped propel the careers of Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood, Amy Grant, and a few other people you may have heard about once or twice. Buzzy baptized her into the music industry by putting her on the sidewalks of downtown Nashville with little more than her guitar. "I felt naked," she recalls. But that's how she learned to make herself heard.
We were happy to have Lillie, Buzzy, and photographer Christopher Carden here for an afternoon and wish this sweet singer nothing but the best. Check her Facebook for some of Carden's photos of her in our shop.