When I travel back to northwest Missouri it’s to do three things; visit my mother and shop at Bob Jones Shoes and Nell Hill’s — not necessarily in that order (sorry Mom). I’ve skipped the shoe store before but I have never missed Mary Carol Garrity‘s home decor emporium triad of Nell Hill’s, Garrity’s Encore and Nell Hill’s Kansas City.
Nell Hill’s — an over the top hodgepodge of beautiful accessories, furniture and home decor that literally envelopes you when you walk in the door.
Branches and greenery suspended from the ceiling are festooned with lanterns, candle holders or ornaments. Tall bookshelves, armoires and sideboards are packed with china, creamware and crystal barware. Tables are dressed for dinner with towering iron urns overflowing with flowers and branches all hung with more candles and lanterns.
Shopping at Nell Hill’s is a three-part exercise. First, stand back and try to take it all in. Stop before entering each room, assess your surroundings and just enjoy the drama and style. Then, slowly, enter and focus on each area or piece of furniture, examining the beautifully arranged still life and the interesting color and texture combinations. Then finally, when your ready, take in the detail.
The place settings that begins with a wicker or pewter charger on top of that, a china charge, then a dinner plate and a salad plate and on top of that possibly an even smaller accent plate perfect for a bon-bon or other treat. Each of these plates will be a different design and pattern, always coordinated but never in the same set. (Matchey-matchy is a big noey-noey in the Nell Hill’s world.) Topping the beautiful stack of plates will be an accent piece, perhaps a pewter bird or fall pumpkin, wrap a vine around the plates then top with a glass cloche for a typical Nell Hill place setting.
Nell Hill’s is an outright rejection of modern, minimalist and uncluttered. I love it! It’s cozy, homey and clever. Although Nell Hill’s started in Kansas I think it reflects what is often characterized as a southern decorating disposition — a focus on antiques, silver pieces, a collected looked based on classics but with a sense of humor, shaken up with elements inspired by nature — an extra dose of wicker, greenery and bird nests please.
If you are in the Kansas City or Atchison area be sure to check out all three of Mary Carol Garrity’s shops. The original Nell Hill’s in Atchison features more kitchen and dishware as well as thousands of accessories and is already decked out for Christmas. Garrity’s Encore focuses on furniture, accessories, artwork, gourmet foods and outdoor accessories. Nell Hill’s in Kansas City is first and foremost a furniture, bedding and custom fabrics store. Each of the stores carry Nell Hill’s signature home accessories but each has enough of a distinct focus that it’s well worth the drive to visit all three.
Aren’t going to be in that corner of the world anytime soon? You can buy some of Nell Hill’s best offerings through their website (this, by no means represent all of the riches that await you in their stores but it’s a good taste). You can also check out Mary Carol Garrity’s blog for great design tips and inspiration or buy one or all of her seven books.