Q: You chose the perfect location to open your shop…right in the heart of the Dallas Design District. What inspired you to open it and what has been your experience so far? Any crazy stories, customers, challenges, surprises, etc.?
I have always been crafty and making something out of anything. So, moving home after being in New York for five years working at Architectural Digest, I decided what the heck - why not open Mary's Finds! Even though I had never refurbished anything or knew how to paint furniture, I love design and I love fixing things up so I figured I'd learn as I go, which I am finding out is one of the best ways you can truly see your potential.
At Architectural Digest I had been doing a monthly video on their website called "Mary's Finds" showcasing great design that is affordable as well as finding items for the section in the mag "Great Design Under $100". After working at Architectural Digest, I really saw a need for a store that encompassed what I did at AD: great design that is affordable and doesn't look like what it cost. Great design is everywhere - you just have to have the patience to dig and ability to see possibility. If you have good taste, you can do anything. It's not a question of value, it's a question of style. You can put the most expensive things in an apartment and it can look terrible. I furnished my own apartment with $500 and to this day no one believes me.
Paige Rense, the Editor-in-Chief of AD, was a huge inspiration to me because moving back to Dallas, I didnt know what I wanted to do with my life but I knew what kind of woman I wanted to become. She has been a role model to me because no matter what I decided to do, I knew she would support me because she really believes in me as a person. And my dad is my other inspiration because he has always encouraged me to take risks, follow my heart, and if it doesn't work out, he would always be there. That's the greatest gift a parent can give their child.
Hmmm....no really crazy customers....YET! The only thing that has been surprising is what sells and what doesn't. The majority of things I thought would sell the first week I opened are still in the shop! You just have no clue starting out.
Q: Having worked for AD, you must have been exposed to so many wonderful designers. Do you have any particular favorites?
Being Paige's assistant I really got to know most of the designers on a personal level. Carleton Varney, who took over Dorothy Draper , is one of the kindest men I have ever met, along with Mario Buatta. I absolutely love them but their styles I have to say are not my favorite. Mica Ertegun I love not only for her personality but for her design as well. I think she is genius; as a person and as a designer. She is an interesting, lovely woman who has a great sense of mixing. Mixing modern and contemporary things with beautiful old things. She likes clean, uncluttered spaces with a great mix of art and antiques. I love her style. Geoffrey Bradfield and Mariette Himes Gomez are two other designers whose styles I admire.
Q: Your shop is a great mix of many different styles. How would you describe your own personal decorating style?
I think the one thing I always try to achieve when decorating my own space is comfort. I like spaces that are warm and inviting. As far as style goes, I think modern things are really cool, but they don't feel safe to come home to. Period rooms give too much of a sense of living in the past. So I think finding somewhere in the middle is the way to go. I like mixing old with new things. I have an eclectic taste yet I like it simple.
Q: You do some refurbishing and you get so creative in the process. Any tips you’d like to share?
Be fearless with color! Color is the most inexpensive, simple thing to do in any space. A lot of people have asked me how to get the distressed look. Here's what you do...say you have an old wooden chair and you want it blue with white underneath showing...
1. If the piece is wood with a glossy coat on it, sand it until you cant feel the gloss. If the piece has been painted with an oil based paint, you should paint a coat of oil based primer on the piece first to ensure the following latex paint coats will adhere properly. Let the primer coat thoroughly dry.
2. Paint the furniture piece with a coat of any type of FLAT LATEX white (or other color) paint you want to have show through when the distressed piece is finished. This can be paint that has been in your garage for a while - it just has to be flat.
3. After the paint is dry (will probably take an hour, but depending on paint varies). Apply a thin, even coat of CLEAR PASTE WAX, using a rag only to the areas you wish to look distressed, such as corners, edges, around knobs and random areas. Allow the wax coat to dry for an hour. The idea is that wherever the wax has been applied, the top coat will be removed later with sandpaper, which creates the "distressed" look of the piece.
4. Then apply a coat of the blue latex flat paint (or other color you choose) over the furniture piece. This is the top coat for the furniture piece. Allow to dry (again, depends on paint, but since it is flat paint it should dry quickly - so wait an hour).
5. After it is dry, start with a coarser grade sandpaper (like 100 grit sandpaper) and lightly sand distressed areas of the piece that have the underlying wax. Change or alternate the grade of the sandpaper (from 150 - 220 grit). This will remove the top glaze but leave the flat paint shining through. Sand wherever you have applied the wax underneath the top coat of paint. When you are satisfied with the distressed look of the piece of furniture, be sure to clean off any paint dust that the sanding left on the piece. Allow to dry completely. If you have applied wax over the entire piece, sand wherever you want the distressed look.
6. Finally, apply a final coat of protective sealant to the entire surface of the piece to add an additional look of hand-rubbed and aged patina to the surface and to protect the piece.
Q: Like me, you lived in NY and are now back in Dallas, which we agree is quite an adjustment. What are some of your favorite haunts or things you love about Dallas?
I love the Bishop Arts District. I lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for a while and it reminds me of that. Bolsa restaurant is my new favorite place to eat. Great atmosphere, great people watching, and great food. The Belmont Hotel is also great to check out over there - renovated 1940s hotel - the restaurant Smoke is good barbecue with a cool design aesthetic. Make is a shop which carries local artists and designers handmade gifts, home decor, clothing, handbags, jewelry, etc. And I can't wait for the Dallas Flea! I just found out about this! It's Sept 11th on South Lamar and has both new and vintage finds. Cant wait for that!
Q: What has been your most favorite “find”?
The Louis Vuitton inspired Felt cruiser bike found in Webster, Texas.
You can visit Mary's Finds at 1616 Market Center Blvd (Wed - Sat 10am - 6pm) or shop on-line.