The Influence of Texture and Layers

It’s this type of layering that is Kerns’ signature style. Throughout her home, trinkets and oddities are stacked on top of vintage furniture.

Erica Kerns’ Signature Style is Instinctual and Beautiful

Photos by Daryl Calfee

In every single room, the foundation has to be a vintage rug,” Erica Kerns said.

And she would know. Co-owner of BEFound Collective, a shop that sources one-of-a-kind, handwoven vintage and antique Persian and Turkish rugs, and Vice President of Merchandising and Product Development for Moore & Giles, Kerns has a penchant for finding just the right piece to tell a story and pull a space together.

Walking through her home with her foster-turned-adopted dog Nora, Kerns exudes an effortless style, and her home is an extension of that. Her 1937 Dutch Colonial home is a nod to the era—with its galley kitchen and wood paneled rooms. But Kerns, who purchased the home in 2021, has brought new life to the space while maintaining some of the home’s defining quirks.

“The smoking room is one of the things that sold me on the house,” Kerns said, referring to the wood-paneled room that connects to the galley kitchen via the pass-through window. 

While she could have easily painted the wood paneling from the walls, Kerns instead opted to keep them intact to allow the room to maintain its rich dimension. Art, light fixtures, and natural elements adorn the walls, giving the room a Ralph Lauren–esque feel while the textiles—vintage rug, handwoven fabrics—make the space entirely her own.

It’s this type of layering that is Kerns’ signature style. Throughout her home, trinkets and oddities are stacked on top of vintage furniture. Sweeping Monsteras sit in beautifully textured vessels. Seashells act as paperweights atop children’s books or high school physics books from the 1930s. It’s a curation that seems instinctual to Kerns, who is constantly collecting items for her home.

“It doesn’t matter where I am, I’m hunting,” she said. “Ninety percent of the things in my home are secondhand. As long as you mix everything in the right way, there is balance.
If it’s all new, it doesn’t have soul. If it’s all old, it can lack the edge needed to feel fresh.”

Kerns credits her travels for many of the eclectic pieces in her home, including her most recent work trip to Genova, Italy, when she came home with a treasure trove of art. Kerns purchased extra suitcases, painstakingly wrapped the art in her clothing, and hauled the bags from train stations to hotels to airports just to get them all home.

Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, Kerns moved to Richmond after college.

In 2005, she moved to Lynchburg, holding a number of positions at J. Crew, including senior director of customer care; senior brand manager; and director of training, quality, and communications. In 2011, she moved to San Antonio, where she became a regular at a local auction house.

“Auctions weren’t as well-known as they are today,” she remembered. “It was the place to go. I would go to the auction house almost every single week. Sometimes I wouldn’t buy anything. One time, though, it was the end of the night, almost everyone else had left, and a lot of 100 pieces of art came up. I got the lot for $75.”

Walking through Kerns’ home, there is a mix of art that feels effortless but unrepeatable. Still life oil paintings share walls with paint-by-numbers (a favorite pastime of Kerns’). Vintage portrait paintings give way to ink sketches. Text art creates a platform for wildlife paintings.

“You don’t have to feel so tied to a theme or a palette,” she said. “I love taking nods from nature. Nature shows you how to mix tones and elements in a compelling way.”

Indeed, nature is abundant in Kerns’ home. She’s an avid seashell collector, whether they’re found on a beach or in a secondhand shop, and her collections are diverse enough for any scientific repository. Moose antlers dramatically frames a full-body mirror in the living room, antler mounts sit above doorways, and, of course, each space is layered with leather and shearling textiles from Moore & Giles.

“Texture and layers influence every room in the house,” Kerns said. “It’s intentional and it’s about layering light and color and texture in the right way. That’s what I want my home and future Palmera House to feel like. A space with interest in every corner and be something that you want to interact with and touch.”

Kerns’ newest venture, Palmera House, is an ode to her love of nature, textiles, beautiful art, and interesting details and the perfect amalgamation of her work and life experiences. It will be a shop for vintage home items, plants, and rugs. But Palmera Bodega, tucked inside the shop, is a reason to linger, have a bite and beverage, and enjoy a quiet moment in one of the many available nooks.

“It will be a multi-use space,” she explained. “With Palmera’s home decor and rugs being vintage or unique, each visit will feel like a new shopping experience. Mornings and lunch hour at the Bodega are sure to have a certain life and buzz. The space’s energy and ambiance will transition to a cozy, low-lit lounge after hours, where friends can gather and unwind from the day. Palmera Bodega will have a daily ‘Golden Hour’ serving aperitivos and distinctive snacks.”  

Kerns’ signature style is a beautiful collection of her travels, work, love of design, and vintage decor. Palmera House promises to be an extension of that hallmark. Palmera House will open on Bedford Avenue toward the end of this year.

“I hope Palmera House will be a favorite stop on the ever-changing Bedford Avenue,” Kerns said. “A place to feel inspired and a space you never want to leave. With short- and long-term rentals in the two floors above the shop, you’ll be able to stay for as long as you like—with Palmera House as your second living room.”  

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