I’ve heard it said that when a person is trying to be frugal, it actually pays to spend your money on sprucing up your home, so you’ll want to stay home to luxuriate in your beautiful space, and you’ll be proud to invite people over, instead of always feeling the need to escape your boring, super gloomy house. Going out all the time costs money, and anyway, who doesn’t want to be delighted by the world that welcomes them when they get home?
Well, no home I’ve personally visited is more delightful or downright fun than that of Raleigh-based – but world famous – interior designer, blogger, and boutique proprietor, Jamie Meares. Her home, like her shop, Furbish, is a riot of color, all gilded with bright accents and overflowing with luscious feel-me textures. Her style is tres classy, but with sprinkled throughout with evidence of her wry sense of humor.
Pretty much anyone’s mood would be instantly lifted by popping into her shop (in person or online). And you could always keep that good vibe going by bringing home a thing or two. Nab a pillow for your couch, a set of plates for a festive table or some artwork to brighten up your wall. Grab a piece of one of a kind Meares-refurbished furniture, or heck, if you really want to go for it, just see if she’ll redo your living room.
Meares uses lots of repurposed pieces and materials, meaning when you shop at Furbish, you’re not only supporting a local business, but you’re often also recycling. Win, win.
I met Meares years ago, and I’ve kept up with her popular blog, I Suwannee, over the years. I Suwannee is definitely worth following, not just for its excellent design ideas, but also for Meares’ hilarious musings on life with her husband and sweet dog, Rowdy.
Jamie Meares’ style is gorgeous, original, and totally take-home-able. Next time you’re in Raleigh, stop by Furbish and see for yourself. And check out her blog. You won’t be disappointed. And keep reading for our exclusive interview.
I had a few questions for Jamie Meares. I needed to know: how does she do it? How is she so amazing? What does she love? What are her tips for refurbishing your own thrift store finds? Read on to find out.
You are a total badass, running a blog, store, and design business, and looking amazing in the process. How do you keep it all together?
It’s mostly great people on staff to help me. I think my personality and work style is more suited to a constantly changing environment – I have a hard time focusing on just one thing, so having lots of things going on is good for me.
How would you describe your style?
It’s decidedly Southern and traditional, with a west-coast vibe. It’s kooky and colorful, with lots of layers and a mix of prints and patterns. My style is authentic to me, and it’s always a reflection of what I love.
How did you first get into interior design? What do you love about it?
It seems to come natural to me – I’ve never had any training. I’ve just had lots of hours of hands-on experience, with every type of client, style and budget. When i first started, I took on any job that came my way, for the experience, and that was invaluable. Luckily now i can choose jobs that are better suited for me.
My environment has always been terribly important to me. I can’t stay in an ugly hotel room, or be in a space that’s poorly done for long. it affects my mood and my creativity. So if I can help make more spaces interesting, and a true reflection of their owners, I’m glad to help.
I totally hear you on the importance of the environment you spend your time in. I feel the same way. You have quite an eye for turning trash into treasure. What is your favorite transformative piece you’ve done in the past?
We have a large red dresser in our living room that we use as a bureau. It’s the perfect piece to drop mail on and hold a pair of lamps, but it’s key for storage. We keep the recycling in it, and we just take the drawer out to dump in the bin once a week.
It holds the dog toys, old towels, and all of those things you’d keep in a mudroom. It was an old piece i found at a yard sale. I had it lacquered bright red to match the wall. That way it’s not as bulky, more camouflaged. And I had a piece of glass cut for the top.
What tips would you give an aspiring refurbisher of old furniture? How do you know what to buy? How do you know what to do to the piece once you buy it?
Just make sure it’s sturdy, and in working condition. You don’t want to replace legs, or fix drawers. Make it easy on yourself – there are plenty of solidly built pieces that just need a coat of paint to give them a new life.
I’d look for a piece specific to your needs. Do you need a TV stand, or a dining room buffet? That’s when you go on the hunt. Just buying for the sake of buying tends to lead to a hoarding situation! I speak from experience!
This is great advice. The part about buying for the sake of buying hits a little close to home, in my case.
What are your dream sources?
Cause for Paws, a thrift shop on S. Saunders Street, always has great stuff. The flea market at the state fairgrounds always turns up something. Craigslist.
What is your favorite local place to:
buy clothes: Vermillion
people watch: concerts at Red Hat
get inspired: I can check into the Umstead for a night and hole up with my computer and get so much done –I work best alone, with great breakfast in bed and fancy sheets.
grab brunch: Mia Francesca
have a drink: Tazza
take my dog, Rowdy: Oakwood Dog Park
What do you like best about living in Raleigh?
The houses are beautiful in my neighborhood – it’s a lovely place to walk. I like being close to the beach. It’s super easy to fly out of. I have a few favorite restaurants that always make me happy. My husband’s family is here.
What’s your favorite place in your house and why?
We have a tiny living room that’s terrible for entertaining but super cozy for the two of us and the animals. The walls are bright red, the ceiling is grass clothed, there’s a fireplace, and it’s full of art, collectibles, books and most of my favorite things. It’s like a little jewel box to hide away in.
That sounds marvelous. Now tell me about what’s in your store right now that people really need to come see.
We’re constantly getting in (new) old textiles that I bring back from my travels. Right now we have a huge selection of vintage Suzani pillows that are all one-of-a-kind and super special. Just one could make an entire bedroom.
Get yourself more Meares:
Furbish is open from 10am – 5pm, Monday thru Friday and 11am – 4pm on Saturdays.
The shop is located on the corner of W. Johsnon and Harrington St., in downtown Raleigh, with parking behind the building.
Read I Suwannee