Archive - April 2010

Karen Starr

Hazel Tree

Posted April 30, 2010

Hazel Tree…

The name of our new store.

Hazel Tree Interiors to be exact…for that is what the website will be and what the signs on the building will say anyways. But, as we talk about the store with more and more artists, artisans and excited supporters, it’s become plain old “Hazel Tree”. And we like that. We like the way it rolls off the tongue and how the name seems to make people feel like it’s their store too. That is really important to us, because that is the atmosphere we are creating.

How did it come about? To fully explain it, I will have to go back about a year or so in our story.

If you followed along with the series of blog posts I wrote last month to tell the story of the past year, you may remember the daydream of a store that came to me that first night after deciding to start my own design business. Quick recap if not: May 1, 2009…BFFLarry and I got together to talk about the excitement and possibilities of starting my new design business; I daydreamed about and sketched an image of a store where I could sell cool, eco-friendly, repurposed, or vintage home decor items (that turns out, almost a year later, the sketch was the spitting image of the Norka Futon building/Hazel Tree…which, I had never stepped foot in until the day we came to look at it to lease it); that evening I apparently set a pretty solid intention about having that store…because here we are.

From there, over the next handful of days, I talked about the store idea with Hubby Jon, BFFLarry, and my sister, Ann. I thought and dreamt and talked a lot, with Ann in particular, about what to call it. I wanted to incorporate notions or words that felt right with green, earth-friendly decor. Something that spoke of connectedness.

So then it’s May13, 2009…I know the exact date because not too long ago I searched for and pulled up the email I sent to Ann telling her of a dream I had the night before.

My email went like this:

Subject: Drum roll, please!


OK, so I think I’ve decided what to name it. This came to me in a dream last night…

Hazel Tree Interiors

A few reasons why:
-hazel covers a broad spectrum of green. A funky shade a green, if you will.
-Look what I found out about the hazel tree when I looked it up online….

“One look at the hazel tree and it’s easy to see why the Celtic meaning of the hazel tree deals with creativity….”

“…the hazel’s unusual branch formations make it a delight to ponder, and was often used for inspiration in art, as well as poetry. The bards, ovates and druids of the Celtic day would intently observe its crazy curly-Q branches. Doing this would lead them into other worlds of delightful fantasy. Much the same way our modern imaginations can be captured by a good movie, the creative Celts were artistically motivated by the seemingly random and wild contortions of the hazel. A more commonly known fact is that the hazel is considered a container of ancient knowledge.”

Folks, I was hooked. I loved it. The sympolism really spoke to me and to the vision I was creating. Since then, I have sought after more and more interpretations and accounts of what a hazel tree means, looks like, is. Here’s a bit more:

“The Hazel encourages us to seek out information and inspiration in all things and emphasizes the value of the enquiring mind and of learning of all kinds. Just as the hazel concentrates all its goodness and its continued existence in the kernel of its fruit, so we attain wisdom by reducing knowledge down to its purest form and passing it on down the ages. Through meditating on the essence of wisdom, we gain creative inspiration. Like the limbs of the hazel, we must remain pliant in our approach to learning. Concentrated thought in an open mind can, like the hazel, become a connection with the divine source of all things. The hazel teaches us the noble arts of learning, teaching, communication, and healing.”

Curious as to what hazel trees look like?

A few more things that I think are pretty cool regarding the name and the dream and the making of this store:

The dream of the name that night was accompanied by an image of a giant tree painted on the side of a building. Even before the store was a true possibility recently, the name and the tree image has stuck with me over the past year. So, when we thought at one point about six months ago that we would just turn our attic into my studio, I envisioned the tree being painted up the two-story stairwell leading up to the attic space. And that painted tree image is still stuck in my head…it’ll show up somewhere – don’t you worry!

Another cool thing! About three months after the dream came, I was gifted some lovely, old decorative glass blocks, saved from a dumpster and given to me by a furniture-making friend in Cleveland. I realized for the first time, just the other day, that I think the two of the glass blocks have a hazel tree in the design! Yup, I kid you not! Hazel trees, of all trees – that aren’t even indigenous to this area, look like the designs of these blocks that showed up months after the dream came.


I love it. And have huge plans now for these blocks. Here’s a photo of one of them. They are sitting on the shelves in the front window of the store, hanging out and waiting.

So, needless to say, we love the name. We love how it sounds, what it stands for, the deeply rooted meanings and connections it has already created and will continue to create at the store.

This store is shaping up to be a gathering place for people who are seeking after a place to sell and buy pieces that make connections. Connections to the earth, to our local economy, to the pieces from the past, and new pieces that are sustainably-made. Where customers can purchase things for their homes and know they are supporting good companies, artists, and artisans.

Thank you all for coming along on this ride with us. You make it so much more fun, and for that – we love you!

Karen Starr

Happy Earth Day

Posted April 22, 2010

Recycled glass Earth marble I picked up for my daughter last time I was in Austin.

Today is Earth Day so I thought I’d talk a bit more about a big part of the type of work that I do: the eco-conscious part.

When starting my business last year, my biggest focus was incorporating ways that I could be a steward to the environment at the same time as coming up with ideas on how people could change what they had. After all, that’s what interior design is all about…creating lovely dwelling spaces by freshening up your decor, getting that new spin, having new things and a new look around you to make your house a home.

Well, this presents an interesting dilemma when one thinks of the effects that this can bring to our environment: A new look is in order, but new means more manufacturing, and manufacturing means creating a lot of waste that wasn’t here before – in the making and in the transporting of it all.

In the end, my best green approach became a combination that works really well for me and my clients. It enables me to give options to all of you that aren’t limited to only things stamped “eco-friendly”, which can be limiting (and sometimes deceiving as well).

First, it involves reusing existing pieces whenever appropriate for the design. I mean, what better way to be green than to use something that already exists? These can be treasures that my clients already know and love or they may be purchased used. Sometimes they are the perfect fit straight away and sometimes they need a little love and a twist to update it and make it gel with the rest of the design. And I love this most of all from the aspect that things with a history have stories and purpose and character and strength through longevity that most of the newly made pieces just can’t compete with. This old saying is spot on: “They just don’t make ‘em like they used to!”

Second, I keep my eye on where things are manufactured and how they are manufactured. This is a really interesting and complex subject for the business I am in…there are so many facets to consider. So many that I won’t get into it here, but I do want to share the rule that works well for me. My rule is: try to get products made as close to the end user’s location as possible, and find out the process and materials the companies use in the manufacturing process.

In the end, my job is to create beautiful and fulfilling environments for my clients at a price they can afford…I just so happen to also do that while keeping an eye on the collective ecological footprint along the way. This way, we all feel a lot better about the decisions we make during the design process.

Off to Market!

So speaking of the rule above, my partner Jon and I went to High Point Furniture Market last weekend…we were on a hunt for new furniture, lighting and accessories lines that fell under the aforementioned rule. We were not dissapointed! We spent a lot of time walking about the exhibit halls, talking with reps from the companies, sitting in the furniture to gauge the comfort, asking our questions about how and where things are made.

What we found was very encouraging, much more so than the last market I attended in Las Vegas two years ago. Specifically, a handful of new lighting and furniture lines caught our eye and earned our respect.

Our favorites? The brother and sister team of a lighting line based in Chicago that uses recycled glass and other salvaged materials in their very affordable and gorgeous pieces. For furniture, two new-to-us companies really stood out for quality, comfort, look and affordability. They both employ solid and responsible construction methods, have incredibly comfortable seating (I wanted to nap in their sofas!) and they are made right here in the USA - in North Carolina. These are pieces that will last for decades, as it should be.

While there, we saw and picked up many new lines - for a variety of styles and price points. Good stuff, all around made for a very productive trip. I can’t wait to show some of the new lines to you on your next project.

Have a great Earth Day!