When Jamie Meares lost her job in 2009, she found herself at an unexpected crossroads. “I decided that it was sort of ‘now or never’ if I wanted to pursue my passion of interiors and decorating. So I opened a little shop, hung my hat out as an interior decorator, and kind of waited for some people to show up,” she explains, “… Luckily, they did.”
Now that she is flourishing in her career as a successful designer and blogger, and the owner of Furbish Studio, it seems that Meares’ decision was—like her design instincts—fearless, and right on point.
The Local Palate (TLP): Could you tell us a bit about how you got into design?
Jamie Meares (JM): I’ve been blogging for about eight years. I started just as a hobby, sharing with my readers different lifestyle things from decorating and travel to food and fashion, but I had an especially good response from my readers on the decorating posts. I just kind of kept at it and kept practicing so that I was able to get some projects published and then really start working on some cool stuff.
TLP: So it was a pretty modern of way of getting into it?
JM: Yeah, totally of our generation. I majored in Creative Writing and had no idea that was going to play out with me writing a blog. That was a kind of interesting way to use what I was good at and what I was passionate about, then from there I was able to explore the creative side, do decorating, and set up the store.
TLP: Do you have a particular design philosophy or something that you go by?
JM: Because I was not trained in design, it gives me some leeway to make my own mistakes, and I don’t have any rules to go by. I was never taught any rules! I can really just do what I want and not feel constrained by sort of tradition or theory. I love to mix up things, anything that you love and what your eye is drawn to. Design should always tell a personal story, reflect what you love, when you combine that with an idea, you really can’t go wrong mixing and matching—it ends up looking authentic because its an expression of who you are.
“Design should always tell a personal story, reflect what you love, when you combine that with an idea, you really can’t go wrong mixing and matching— it ends up looking authentic because its an expression of who you are.”
TLP: What was your concept for this shoot? What were you envisioning as the occasion?
JM: Well it was at the Merrimon-Wynne house, which is this amazing old home that has been restored in Raleigh. It’s a really popular wedding venue, but also just a beautiful home with all these light-filled rooms and just, you know, great bones. I imagined, with the season coming, a bridal luncheon or just a small “something.” I love that when you walk into something like that and the table is really special, it sort of sets the mood for the event. Right off the bat you feel like you are at something that is really special.
TLP: You said you loved pinks—and there was a lot of pink in this—did you go in with a set color palette?
JM: Well, the piece I used as my inspiration was the suzani. A suzani is just an old, embroidered textile from Turkey, and I used that as the tablecloth. I was just drawn to this particular suzani because of the amazing, vibrant colors in it: orange, pink and peacock blue, so I knew I wanted to start with that. I knew it would serve as an anchor for the design and that I could pull out all of the accent colors from that.
TLP: Right. And from there you mixed in the blue and white china?
JM: Right. I love blue and white, and I love pairing classic blue and white with some of the kookier stuff. We have these plates at Furbish that sort of look like hand-painted waves, and they feel really special, like they would be really expensive, but they’re actually pretty budget-friendly. I love using these plates.
TLP: There were so many small discoveries here, as though the longer you look at the table the more neat little whimsical details come out at you. Can you tell us about some of those?
JM: I think that is sort of a trademark of my aesthetic: I love to layer and I love eye candy. I want that sense of discovery so when you walk in. I feel like there is enough there in this setting that, throughout your meal you can kind of keep on discovering. The monogrammed linens are a great touch. I love doing the monogram in two colors: it makes it just a bit more bold and of-the-moment. And the linen placemats on the table were definitely a splurge item, but if you keep a set of them on hand it will sort of elevate any table setting that you do. It’s like the fancy oriental carpet that you start with. No matter what you put on it everything is going to look a little fancier.
“It’s like the fancy oriental carpet that you start with. No matter what you put on it everything is going to look a little fancier.”
TLP: I absolutely love that piece of the blue and white monkey holding the basil.
JM: Yeah, he’s a great staple piece we have at Furbish. He’s makes such a good serving piece and you can also use him to hold things like jewelry in the bedroom. He’s great if you have a party and need him to hold garnishes or any little extra thing you have on the table.
TLP: What about those little eye dishes? What is there story?
JM: It’s a ceramacist that we discovered in Brooklyn who works with us. She makes these little evil eye dishes for us in different colors depending on the season. I love those; I sort of envision that you would serve something like a little macaron or dessert on each one, but I like how, you know, they are a little “off.” They are a little edgy. They don’t really fit with the traditional vibe, and I think that’s cool.
TLP: I noticed that you pulled up a variety of seating, and I think that’s something people who don’t have a formal dining room struggle with at home. Can you explain how you approached that?
JM: Sure. I just love pulling in these different elements so that it feels mixed, and I think you can do this at your home. You don’t have to just use dining room chairs if you have a couple of wingbacks, you have a bench, or you have any old stools, or something unique like this huge, tufted blue fainting couch—I think pulling up things like that makes it feel like its just not your run-of-the-mill party. I love the huge peacock chairs at either end as the host chairs just because the scale is so dramatic.
TLP: In your opinion, what really makes a gathering successful?
JM: Lots of champagne! That’s usually a great starter. (Laughs). Think of it almost like your setting up this kind of wonderland for people. It shows them that you thought enough about them that you would create this kind of a setting just so that they could have a wonderful time. I think if you can really set up a table that captures that and makes people feel special—lots of candlelight, lots of touches, personalized things, little gifts and menus—that by making everyone feel special they are going to have a better time, they are going to be more willing to open up, to sit around and talk and enjoy the meal together.
“I think if you can really set up a table that captures that and makes people feel special—lots of candlelight, lots of touches, personalized things, little gifts and menus—that by making everyone feel special they are going to have a better time, they are going to be more willing to open up, to sit around and talk and enjoy the meal together.”