I am always and everywhere searching for storage solutions for our messy foyer. Every home has the “drop zone,” the spot where purses, backpacks, shoes, and coats are dropped when everyone gets home. Unfortunately or not, our drop zone is rather large. It is a stuff magnet. I was considering a console table and, while I think we probably need help with things like shoe storage and coat hooks (we already have a vintage desk in the place of a console), I had a ton of fun looking up stylish tables online. Console tables are such handy pieces of furniture–Great for foyers, hallways, and behind couches or in place of a dining room buffet.
I like these.
I stumbled upon Carrie J. Furr’s shop, The Southern Mermaid, while trolling etsy for vintage furniture (as I often do). That beautiful deep blue chest of drawers showed up in my search results and I feel in love. Carrie transforms lovely, old furniture into decorative treasures. She has such imagination. And wait until you read her response to the “stranded on a deserted island” question!
Out of which city/state/country do you work and live?
My husband and I live with our kitten, Billy Jack, in Wilmington, a port city in southeastern North Carolina. I’m on the road once or twice a month to the rural foothills of NC where I was born and raised. I do most of my buying, scouting, and raiding in and around a little town called Harmony.
Have you been formally trained as a designer or in carpentry/furniture-making? (If so, where, and which degrees do you have?) Or are you self-taught?
I graduated from Wake Forest University and earned a Master’s from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. But those degrees are in English and Education, not design or art or anything remotely related to my current trade.
My knowledge and understanding of furniture has been acquired by using my eyes and ears and hands since I was a little girl. My grandparents worked in the furniture and textile industries and possessed a rich heritage of skilled craftsmanship. My parents were jack-of-all-trade DIYers, before the DIYing trend. I learned a lot growing up in that kind of environment. I didn’t even know I knew some things until I put that knowledge to use.
In other areas, I’ve put forth concentrated effort over the last couple years. For example, I never sat down at a sewing machine until November 2010. My Grandma showed me the basics, and I’ve been off and running – and still have a lot to learn. Since the company’s inception, I (and the company) have been blessed to form strong friendships with veteran artisans in Wilmington. The Southern Mermaid team now consists of an extraordinarily talented upholsterer, two furniture design-build contractors, and a career seamstress. They are teaching me so much and making sure that we deliver quality craftsmanship to our customers.
What is the concept behind The Southern Mermaid? (Can you tell us the story behind the name?)
In the fall of 2010, I found myself back in my hometown for several months,
spending time with my aunt, who was in failing health. During that time , my Grandma taught me to sew. Sewing opened up a creative world to me. When my aunt passed away I sewed incessantly. I came home to Wilmington and stayed busy sewing, dabbling in upholstery and reinventing furniture. By February of 2011, I was committed to finding a forum to broaden my creative process and share the resulting products.
One night I was trying to come up with a name. So, I put myself in bed with a cup of tea and just tried to open my mind to see what would come. This is what I saw
A lovely two-story home, standing proud and isolated on the furthest point of a southern beach. A scarce few people, just a little beach tribe
As the memory faded, my smile remained, and those were the words that kept ringing in my ears – “the southern mermaid.” I googled it, of course. There is a ship registered in Singapore and a resort in southern India that bears the name, but other than that, the coast was clear. I took her for a test drive with a small trial audience and discovered that she was a hit! The Southern Mermaid was reborn and lives today.
How did you get into refurbishing/upcycling vintage items? What do you love most about what you do?
As a young person, my grandma became interested in “old stuff.” She shared this love with my mama and me. My grandpa was an expert in refinishing and restoring antiques. As a toddler, I was a regular at local estate sales and auctions. I grew up in a world rooted in antiquity. My fondness for “old stuff” blossomed when I needed to furnish my home. I messed around in my parents’
barn painting and staining and worked closely with an upholsterer to redesign furniture. I repurposed everything and wasted nothing. I think that’s what I love the most–so much beauty and so little waste. Our world is all about discarding the things (and people) that just can’t cut it. Finding beauty in the ordinary, even ugly, and sharing it with others is such a gift.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
When pressed, I say “eclectic.” The Southern Mermaid is bold. She’s not afraid of color, but she also knows when to let white be white. She’s not afraid of a little bit of ugly because it’s what makes a house feel like a home. Her style is a complete mash up of bohemian and classic, modern and Victorian, rustic and industrial. She’ll always surprise you (I hope), or at the very least, she is always surprising me!
How do you determine what changes you make to a particular piece?
My creative process has three phases: inspiration, contemplation, actualization, but it’s not necessarily a linear process. I’m always collecting images/artifacts that inspire me. Photos, clothing ads, vintage signage. If I’m stuck, I’ll go stare at this quilt my Granny pieced from flour sacks for my wedding gift. Some of the color combinations are unbelievable. I’m always looking for inspiration, but I seldom try to think about a specific piece and the route that it should take. That comes naturally.
In the morning, I’ll lay in bed, praying and thinking. In my mind’s eye, I see a piece that I have in the warehouse in all its revitalized glory. I see the colors, the textures, the lines. I generally take that as the green light from God to get started on that piece. If I can help it, I don’t start on any piece until I know what’s supposed to happen to it.
Once I had the vision for a midcentury dresser. I knew exactly how it should look. Then, I made the mistake of opening up a DIY blog and was “inspired” to go against my gut. After the first coat, I knew it was horrible. I had to strip the paint and start over. Worst of all, my original plan called for a stained top, but I had applied paint. The paint was deep in the wood grain, and I spent hours with a dental pick scraping the paint out of the crevices. This dresser (after much labor) became the Colonel Mustard Midcentury Dresser. It was one of the original pieces in my Etsy shop and sold one day after I listed it–-my first official sale. Can you imagine I ever considered doing something different?
Name three things that inspire you…
#1 Color, color, and um, color…especially in fashion
#2 Landscapes: rural, urban, waterways, streets
#3 Old movies
What are your hobbies and interests outside of your work?
I’m so grateful to say that my hobbies have become my work, and I still enjoy them. It is my job to dig around yard sales and walk the aisles of fabric stores. Crazy! It’s not just the colors and the artifacts, it’s the people. I really love people! Does spending time with people count as a hobby? This business is great because I get to be a part of people’s lives at so many important moments-–weddings, babies, first homes, fresh starts. What a privilege. Oh, and I really love old movies, specifically 1960s Technicolor like How to Marry a Millionaire and To Catch a Thief and black and whites like Roman Holiday, Casablanca,and Angel and the Badman. Audrey Hepburn is, of course, my favorite. Such a class act!
Ok, you’re stranded on a desert island. Which five things can’t you live without?
I was actually stranded on an island once with my family for a whole day. I didn’t have any of the items I’m about to list. Somehow we did survive, and it’s a favorite memory. So, ideally, my family. Otherwise:
#1 Large quantities of ice and water
#2 Bed Swing (like the one TSM is building for my porch right NOW!)
#4 iPhone for reading
#5 Comfy shoes for exploring
Anything else you’d like to add:
Well, at the moment, I’m excited because we’re expanding the design-build component of our company. We’re making several new prototypes from architectural relics. My favorite is a bench with an old windshield for the back. The sides of the windshield curve around, and we’re building the bench to mimic the curve. So, the whole piece will essentially be a large oval. I love the sophistication and gentleness that seem to be coming out of it, and the backward slope of the windshield makes it so comfortable. It’s the perfect angle for your back. Can’t wait to have pictures to share. I love it when pieces come together, like they were made for their second life, just as much as they were made for their first! It’s so hopeful.
Thank you so much, Carrie! See more of Carrie’s beautiful creations at The Southern Mermaid shop. (p.s. The Southern Mermaid does custom work too!)
My family flew to Arizona when I was just out of high school. The highlight for me, other than the Grand Canyon and, yes, my first time flying at 18, was our visit to Sedona. It’s a magical place with lots of gorgeous red rock formations and cacti. The sky turns colors you didn’t know the sky could be – red, lavender, peachy pink. Here’s a lil celebration for ya’.
Thanks for stopping by! Oh, and happy Monday.
1. clay chiminea 2. Mexican Rustic Patio Collection 3. Wall Cross 4. Metal Wall Clock 5. White Candle Lantern Bag 6. Orange Rug 7. Kate Spade Posy Vase in Pink 8. Small Sanded Lavender Vase 9. Sedona Sentinels painting by Howard Ganz
photos via: Trip Advisor, Holiday Golightly, Sedona News, Perfect-Vacations.com
1. traditional rug 2. Fan Fireplace Screen 3. Quoizel Angelique Table Lamp 4. Decorative Wooden Storage Trunk 5. Damask Ottoman 6. Springtime Tulips painting 7. Floor Iron Pillar Candle Holder 8. Mao-Mao Rectangular Tray in red 9. Woodard Sheffield Sofa 10. Chenille Pillow
photos via: Sedona Shamanic Journeys, El Portal Sedona
This is a new feature on Gypsy Mind where I showcase things that I’ve found around and about the interwebs. How is it different from any other post you ask? Well, there’s no theme. I just want to share some lovely items, photos, fashion, art, and whatever else may be inspiring and amusing. I hope you enjoy the new posts as much as I do!
Sassy vintage typewriter from Uppercase Magazine.
The Urban Hippie recently posted a fun round-up of photos from the county fair.
Neoclassical design from Joss & Main
Pretty embroidery on etsy.
Rocket birthday cupcakes from Lou Lou & Oscar.
It’s no secret – I want to live in the English countryside. I would love to live in one of those ginormous estate homes (like the one in this movie), but I would love a little cottage on a hillside just as much.
Like this one. Sigh.
Either way, if the kitchen looks like this, I’m sold.
Now this is pretty girlie and not totally my taste, but still lovely.
I could eat this it’s so gorgeous.
The color, the patterns, the textures–I’m in love.
A perfectly cozy bedroom.
I like this too.
Annnnd, cut. Perfect.
Get started with these.
1. Charles Edwards lantern 2. Wooden Duck Decoy 3. Hand-woven Kilim Rug 4. Gilt-framed Victorian Landscape 5. Brass Candelabra 6. Royal Daulton Geneva Platter 7. English Rose Pattern Tea Cups 8. English Copper Tea Kettle 9. Leather Tufted Chesterfield Sofa 10. Suzani Square Pillow
Click pics for sources. Thanks for stopping by!
Happy Tuesday! How was your weekend? The little guy took off to a sleepover with friends, the tall guy took off to the Indy 500, and I conquered a number of house projects.
Sorry for the belated edition of Friday Finds. I think they’re still pertinent though.
If you follow the old fashion rules, Monday was the day to begin wearing white again. I wear white whenever I want, after Labor Day or not, but I’ve come across so many fun white things lately that I thought it’d be a great day for a white themed post.
Enjoy! Hope you had a wonderful (long) weekend!
1. Belted Chiffon Dress 2. Crystal Flair Mini Chandelier 3. White Lace Paper Garland 4. Mother of Pearl Cocktail Ring 5. White Rabbit Snow Dome 6. Japanese Paper Parasol 7. With a Twist Tank 8. Jill Heel 9. Baroque Chaise Lounge
Stripes have a reputation for cheerfulness, but there are definitely modes out there for every mood. (Stay tuned for a round-up of striped accessories at the end.)
Classy traditional stripes.
Young and fun stripes.
Mid-Century Modern stripes.
If you like stripes but prefer they just act as a splash of color rather than a focus, there are plenty of options out there. These are just a few of my favorite striped accessories.
If you’re not inspired or dizzy, I probably haven’t done a good job. Thanks for stopping by!