Style Court

Nine Years of Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes


Hardware Store or Shoe Boutique?

[Liz's Antique Hardware photographed by Art Streiber published in Shabby Chic, Harper Collins, 1996.]

In her recent G & G essay about Harper Lee, writer Alice Randall talks about Scouts and Scarletts. For Randall, the world has long been divided into one archetypal literary character or the other -- a Scout or a Scarlett. As my sawhorse desk project has evolved and I've found myself happily spending more time in hardware stores, I've been thinking that, just in terms of aesthetic style, maybe our personalities can be distilled into 'hardware store' or 'shoe shop.' You know, essentially where are you most energized: exploring the crowded aisles of an old fashioned hardware store or the edited displays in a sleek boutique?

I love the creative possibilities inherent in all those heady art supply and hardware store scents. My preference seemed obvious. But then there are tall boots. Especially Frye's.

[Heath boots via Frye.]

Since age five I've been drawn to all sorts of knee-high boots and even if I'm only window shopping, I do like thinking about them. So, the material archetypes need a little work.

The picture at top is from my favorite among Rachel Ashwell's older series of books, the original Shabby Chic, featuring more well-worn leather, natural wood, and an interesting mix of California houses, including director Tony Scott's. Although, shown here is Liz's Antique Hardware in L.A. Off the top of my head, Architectural Accents is a good place to go in Atlanta if you're looking to browse a somewhat similar place. I found the supplies I needed for my almost-finished desk at General Hardware in Brookhaven.

Update 8.23.10

[Photo by Caroline Allison courtesy G & G.]

Matt and Carrie Eddmenson's Nashville shop, Imogene and Willie, may just offer the best of both worlds. Located in an old gas station with perfectly faded oriental rugs scattered underfoot, this store sells custom-made jeans, hand-dyed scarves from India, hamam towels from Turkey, and vintage boots all in a utilitarian-chic setting. Learn more about Matt and Carrie, along with twenty other rising designers, architects and artists, in G & G's special style issue. (Yours truly contributed the profiles on Shelley Hesse and Melissa Rufty.)



i think tall boots go with hardware stores! Something functional about both of them. When I was in college i had a pair of boots that went to the top of my knees in front and were cutaway behind the knee so you could walk and sit. I saved them for years, long after they'd been re-soled and mended too many times to wear. Could not bear to part with them or the mental image I had of myself wearing them ...

Style Court said...

Hi Linda,

You're really on to something! Especially if you think about buying riding boots at a tack shop.

Your boots sound amazing, by the way. Definitely forever pieces.

Style Chronicle said...

Courntey -

I love this post and even more so your approach to blogging. I have met Alice Randall at several social engagements and savor our brief but intriguing conversations.

I have to say I find myself at home in both types of shops. Some days I need the clean, easy, pulled together experience and on others I hunger for the thrill of a rustic, messy hunt.


Pigtown-Design said...

The only hardware stores are the ones with wooden floors where you can get odd things like a radiator key. Not big box stores like Home Despot! There are a couple of the old hardware stores in Baltimore and I try to frequent them as much as possible.

PS. I am pretty sure I am a Scout!

Style Court said...


So glad you shared this. I'm sure your conversations were fascinating.

You articulated so well the differences in the shops and why many of us are drawn to both. Appreciate your comments!


Style Court said...


Definitely a Scout :)

I don't think General has a wood floor -- can't remember! -- but otherwise it's pretty to close to a true old fashioned HS. Alexandria and Maryland are probably more likely to still have those great original places that you always know about.

LuluD said...

I would have to vote for the hardware store. Have you been to Eugenia's Antique Hardware Store off in Chamblee? That's my go to place for antique hardware. They have a great selection. I'm looking forward to checking out General, too.

Style Court said...


I haven't but I'm curious about it. Thanks for the reminder.

home before dark said...

I am with Linda. Frye boots are closer to hardware stores than to Scarlet. I have some well loved and well worn ones that I can't bare to toss out. Some of my fondest young memories is going to the hardware store with my dad. I have the tool gene. My lawyer husband does not. He pays for my tools. And I do the work.

Janet said...

Was thrilled when I spied your byline in G&G! Such an interesting publication.

Style Court said...

Thanks for noticing Janet!

katiedid said...

Those Frye boots are brilliant!