When a local actor/artist can’t find the modern décor she craves, she creates it herself
By Jennifer Redmond
This is the declaration of a bona fide creative, Mary Catherine Garrison, who channels her artistic energies into a diverse mix of mediums, colors and shapes. Entering her home just off historic Rivermont Avenue is to step into an artistic statement—each element placed purposefully to continue a theme or elevate the senses.
Though she’s an experienced actor with plenty of Broadway and television credits to her name, Garrison says, “Art has always been my first love.” Today, two years into making a home in Lynchburg along with her husband Marshall and son James, Garrison says she’s “sort of obsessed with interior design; I love it.”
Her eye for design is more than evident; one would be hard-pressed to find a single item that doesn’t contribute to the overall atmosphere. If Garrison didn’t already own the “right item” for a certain spot, she simply made it herself. In fact, only a few minutes into our home tour, I quickly noticed a pattern. Nine times out of 10, when asked, “Oh! Where did you find ‘such and such item’?” Garrison’s response would be: “I made it.” The entryway of their 1922 Stanhope Johnson home prominently features one of her own original oil paintings—the subject a tribute to women and the bonds they share. The living room is flanked by shelves she and Marshall built together; a bench they built that she covered with a woven fabric design; and the chair opposite was reupholstered by Garrison. Like many of her projects, she taught herself how to recover the chair as she went. “Anything you want to learn is on YouTube,” she says. “You just have to start.”
Her own pillows grace the couch, custom linen curtains shade the dining room, and—perhaps the most remarkable for its finished effect—the side hutch in the dining room was also her creative vision. By cutting each geometric shape individually with a jigsaw, adding them in an asymmetrical design to simple Ikea base cabinets, sanding them down for a flush surface and staining them to match, she elevated the piece to a dramatic finished product.
Such creative ability is amazing considering the breadth of her endeavors. From macramé plant hangers and wall décor to oil and acrylic painting and from custom ceramic pieces to furniture upholstery (and even building the furniture itself), Garrison says the only medium she avoids is knitting, simply because she doesn’t like it. (One gets the impression she would soon be a master if she did care for it!) She even creates her own clothes and custom earrings—a collection of handcrafted and thrifted vintage finds that grew so large, she launched an Etsy shop.
Her creative vision has filled their 97-year-old house with a fusion of mid-century, vintage and even “80s’ Italian stuff” such as the solid marble table prominently centered in the home’s spacious dining room.
That table, coincidentally, is the result of an online auction that Garrison didn’t expect to win, but win she did. The result was a silent Marshall when she first told him about the table, explaining, “It’s so beautiful, you’re not going to believe it!” Of course, she also had to share the table’s substantial size and weight, which is close to 2,000 pounds. Three trips to New Jersey and a lot of sweat equity later, they successfully moved the table in. Garrison says Marshall “loves it now!” Plus, they have quite the story to tell about its origin.
Moving from their previous home in the Hudson Valley, where they lived in a modest 900 square feet, Garrison was thrilled to have 2,700 square feet to work with in their new home. Not only can she fit items like their dining table, she has space to expand her style too.
“I love the juxtaposition of new and old,” she says. “And I really wanted all of these details,” Garrison says, noting the wood floors and French doors in their home plus the character of details like wainscoting, decorative trim and transom windows. “I wanted to place that against all of the modern.”
The entry represents that well with a mix of personal art, family heirlooms—the secretary belonged to Marshall’s grandmother— and statement pieces—such as the sculptural side table gifted from local family friends.
“I justify my design by saying the house was built in the Art Deco period, which was super modern,” Garrison says.
She has also incorporated plenty of plants throughout; her preference is for succulents and sculptural plants in the rooms that receive less light because they still thrive and add “visual interest.” But in the rear breakfast nook—a light-filled space—plants of all kinds surround the smaller dining table, bringing nature indoors. She says plants add soul to a room and loves having a variety of them.
Garrison has plenty more home improvement plans up that vintage sleeve of hers—fresh colors for the dining room wall, recovering a chair with leather from Moore & Giles, even making the ceramic tiles to redo the fireplace surround. One thing is for sure, where Garrison is, there will be something wonderful to discover.
How to Bring Made-to-Order Fabrics into Your Home
By Jennifer Redmond
As much as we can all appreciate scoring a great sale item or that “too hard to resist” trend of the moment à la “The Big Box Store” down the road, there comes a time when high-quality, custom features have their place in each home. Perhaps you’ve moved into a house that you truly want to settle into and are ready to put your own unique spin on. Maybe you spotted that “one-of-a-kind, fall in love at first sight” pattern and just have to find a way to work it into your décor. Or, like me, perhaps you’ve endured enough bargains that had to be discarded far too soon and are now willing to pay the ticket price for items of quality because they’re built to last.
For all of these reasons, choosing to include some custom fabric in your home can be a wise investment. First, there are plenty of ways to use it,
from a duvet cover to window treatments and from a reupholstered chair to throw pillows.
Local design shop Southern Provisions Company offers customized items that could accommodate any style or color scheme. Clients can select any kind of various fabrics, trims and designs such as French pleats or Roman shades for window treatments.
Rebekah Moody, CEO, says that creamy linen is trending locally, especially for drapes, but it’s also okay to “mix and match patterns and, yes, you want to mix up the scale of pattern,” she says. “Too much of the same thing never looks good.”
In terms of why you would want to pay for custom items, Moody says it will look and fit much better, yielding a high-end finish. So, an investment in custom drapery would be a great choice for a visible window or a room that has more prominence in the home. Store-bought, “standard drapes are too long,” Moody says, plus “the finish is cheap.” If you have a traditional eight-foot ceiling but purchase a 96-inch curtain panel, Moody explains that the result will be a puddle of fabric on the floor.
While linen is all the rage right now, Moody explains that pure linen actually “wrinkles and the folds never come out,” so she recommends a linen blend, which is “about 55% linen [and] 45% poly; it has the look of linen, and the drape of poly.” She says the ideal uses for a linen blend are drapes, bed skirts and pillows.
If you’re considering reupholstering some chairs, Katrina Morris, owner of The Morris Manor, recommends focusing on a side chair if you choose a more delicate fabric so it isn’t worn out too quickly. Moody agrees, saying linen will stretch like “a bad pair of jeans” if used for upholstery—unless it has a backing.
Morris also recommends that you consider functionality. She asks, “Do you have children? Then upgrade and get a nice washable velvet or a performance fabric that’s thicker—there’s no reason to get a thin linen if you have children.” If you like the look of linen (which most do!), consider a performance-based fabric that has the look but will last longer. These kinds of fabric are costly but the quality can be worth the investment.
She also recommends opting for a more timeless color scheme and pattern when choosing pricey fabrics; some can run $30 to $50 per yard. So Morris says her current favorite cheetah print is something “I would get tired of, so it’s not worth the cost for a long term investment. I would go for something more timeless that will last longer” such as a striped fabric.
For throw pillows, an easy and personalized option is a monogramed pillow cover, like the ones offered at Moody’s shop. Or, you can “mix patterns and colors for whatever your favorite look might be,” she says. “The trend is to keep large items neutral and make your ‘pops’ [the] items that are relatively inexpensive,” she explains. Taking this approach means less of a cost investment when you’re ready to switch the look, whether out of preference or to create some variety throughout the seasons of the year.
Make a Statement
Turn Heads with a Ceiling Made to Shine
By Jennifer Redmond | Photography by Tera Janelle Design
“Adding architectural elements is our favorite way to make that ‘fifth wall’ shine,” says Tera Janelle, owner of Tera Janelle Design. These elements include coffered ceilings, or recessed panels that can be trimmed in a variety of materials to create a grid-like pattern. According to ThisOldHouse.com, one popular style is “bold beams” set in a square or rectangular grid, which then adds “dimension and character to a plain room.”
The depth and size of coffers can affect price and work outlay, and though box beams (hollow wood beams) are larger and more involved to install, they have a more dramatic effect as well.
“To me [box beams] just announce quality, stating ‘this builder took the time and expense to add beautiful detailing’,” Janell Beals writes for Houzz.com. “The millwork adds timeless character and is seen most often in traditionally-styled homes, but [it] does occasionally show up in unexpected places with success.”
Once placed, you can paint the beams and coffers the same color, or, for a more dramatic statement, or especially high ceilings, paint the inside, recessed portions of the grid a darker, more striking hue. One of those “unexpected places” that Beals notes may be using the style in a home with a rustic or farmhouse style.
Katrina Morris, owner of a 100-year-old local farmhouse known as The Morris Manor, says she has been seeing much more bead board in coffered ceilings lately. “It doesn’t have to be wide and overstated,” she says. “It’s more understated…they add a nice element.” Benefits to this look is that it’s less work-intensive, “adds timeless character,” and is less expensive. For a small bedroom, Morris says you would need only 4’x8’ sheets of bead board (these run around $20), which are then trimmed with 1”x4” pieces of wood to create the grid pattern. After install, “painting it white gives it more of a cottage flair,” Morris says. “And, it can actually help the room feel bigger; you can do this on an 8’ ceiling; it doesn’t take up ceiling space and adds great visual interest.”
“Paint and wallpaper are a great, cost-effective way to customize your ceiling,” Janelle says, recommending that you consider darker colors. “Two shades darker than your walls [will make] a cohesive but impactful statement.”
Morris agrees, countering the myth that dark ceilings would make a room feel smaller or closed in. “If you extend the wall color onto the ceiling, you don’t create a visual break,” she explains; this approach actually has an expansive effect. Morris also adds that a room with natural light can handle a darker color—even black or navy! “With great natural light, black makes a room feel cozy but not closed in.”
Janelle adds that using the trim color in a flat finish for the ceiling will “connect your home’s color palette;” in contrast, “traditional ‘ceiling paint’ can sometimes feel cold” and detached.
Wallpaper is also an option with more removable and highly artistic choices hitting the market all of the time from a wide variety of vendors. Price points range widely as does the quality and ease of placement. For a playroom or a kid’s bedroom, a colorful or bold pattern works well to draw attention up and create a fun atmosphere. In a bedroom or larger communal space, a subtle pattern or even textured paper can work quite well to add dimension and character to the room as a whole.
In choosing the best place to make your statement, Janelle favors bedrooms. “These are the rooms where we most often lay and stare at the ceilings, making bedrooms especially fun to embrace a ceiling change,” she says.
Powder baths are a great option as well, Morris says, especially for a darker ceiling or the bead board coffers. She’s also seen bead board on ceilings all throughout the main living areas of a home, especially if it has an open layout. Morris has also seen cedar beams used but those should be left unstained or unpainted. “This choice is more for the rustic or farmhouse look,” she explains.
Whatever you choose, remember the words of designer Albert Hadley: “Ceilings must always be considered. They are the most neglected surface in a room.”
Choosing the Perfect Patio Furniture
What to keep in mind before making a big purchase
By Chris Templeton, Owner, CLC Landscaping and Rustic View Home and Garden Center
Your outdoor space can serve as a second family room. Whether you have a porch, patio, or firepit, any outdoor furniture you choose can add comfort and function. You want it to be welcoming and comfortable with beautiful, durable and functional patio furniture of all styles, sizes, colors and materials.
We’ve had our share of cold and rain in Lynchburg this past year, so you are definitely going to want to get outside with family and friends and enjoy the outdoors this spring! The perfect living space can make all the difference, and hey—why not have it look great, too?
Before selecting your outdoor furniture, you want to be crystal clear about what it is you want. Are you simply looking to add some functional space to your outdoor area? Or do you want to provide a certain aesthetic appeal using your new furniture? Your lifestyle should play a big role in choosing patio furniture, so think about how you live and how you entertain.
Without this level of planning, your outdoor space could soon consist of mismatched pieces that don’t serve any real functional purpose. Done right, however, your yard can offer you the promise of relaxation, entertainment, and fun!
Each piece of furniture will occupy space, right? It seems obvious, I know. However, while most homeowners and designers understand this, they don’t always remember to take into consideration how much space they have. For example, a simple patio won’t be able to accommodate an entire backyard’s worth of furniture without looking very cluttered and taking away from its functional use. But a gigantic garden with a couple of benches won’t make use of all the available space you have.
Take detailed measurements of the outdoor spaces you intend to place your new furniture in. This will help with your initial design selections by choosing appropriately sized pieces for each of the areas. It will also help narrow down the available options, since each piece of outdoor furniture will measure differently. It’s good to have a thorough understanding of what’s available to you.
Once you have your plan in place, and you know what size furniture you can accommodate, you need to think about the visual appeal that your furniture can bring to your outdoor space. However, only considering the aesthetics is very short-sighted. Any furniture, especially outdoors, must serve a purpose.
Functionality is best determined by making sure any given piece of outdoor furniture or set will work in your specific outdoor area. Since you’ve already measured the areas, you know what space you need to fill and what’s available. Once you know what furniture may fit where, and what looks good, you want to test for practical function. What do you plan to do there? If you want to be able to eat meals at your outdoor table, make sure it’s stable and sturdy. Or if you plan on hosting parties, make sure your furniture will accommodate enough people!
Don’t forget to sit down and test it out yourself! There’s little point buying several pieces of outdoor furniture that are uncomfortable and unpleasant to use, especially if you plan on sharing your outdoor space with guests.
The durability of outdoor furniture is often overlooked in favor of aesthetic appeal. Outdoor furniture will be put up against the elements on a regular basis. Make sure you’re getting solid, durable pieces of furniture that can handle our temperamental Lynchburg weather! Weather-resistant cushions should also be a staple purchase when choosing any piece of outdoor furniture.
Don’t select your outdoor furniture on price alone. While it can be tempting to save money, it will ultimately be costlier if corners are cut in the interest of saving money. Buy the best quality outdoor furniture you can afford. A low-priced set of patio furniture won’t end up saving you money if it falls apart in just a few years. Invest in quality—you will not regret it.
Finally, don’t rush the process of selecting your outdoor furniture. Try to avoid the impulse to buy the first patio set you see sitting out in front of hardware stores when the weather gets nice. Keep these tips in mind and select the right furniture for your outdoor living space. Whether it’s enjoying the sunshine and warm weather outdoors with friends, or gathering by the fire pit, getting the right furniture will make a world of difference!