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Shop Talk: Elm & Iron

Before I can even posit that question legitimately, it’s been answered for me, as a text arrives of Elm & Iron owner Daniel McClurg perched atop a real-life ski gondola the Clintonville shop had shipped in for their new winter display. Yep, that’s a tad different than the antique store down the street. As elaborate [...]
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Before I can even posit that question legitimately, it’s been answered for me, as a text arrives of Elm & Iron owner Daniel McClurg perched atop a real-life ski gondola the Clintonville shop had shipped in for their new winter display.

Yep, that’s a tad different than the antique store down the street.

As elaborate as such a display is, it’ll likely be gone by March.

“We try to keep everything fresh,” laughs employee Hollie Klem. “We hold ourselves to a high standard on the design end of things.”

Elm & Iron certainly sets the standard in terms of store layout, maximizing their space remarkably in terms of establishing several different looks under one roof.

“Each display has a different voice to it,” Klem said. “Each zone looks like a totally different home. It appeals to a wide range of people, which is really what we hope to do.”

Glance up from that Ohio-shaped table covered in old typewriters to find a gaggle of vintage heatlamps hanging overhead, which is just part of the exceptional design carried out by store designer Alethea Yeisley.

“We just want our guests to come in and ensure that they’re able to see things in a different light,” Klem said. “You can see how it would work in your home.”

Referring to your customers as guests isn’t exactly a new concept in the modern world of commerce, but in the case of Elm and Iron it doesn’t sound like just corny terminology. Besides a giant ski gondola, the store and its crew work hard to give their guests a reason to come back. In addition to several events that step outside of your typical in-store happenings—local bartenders mixing cocktails, an evening with the women of the Columbus Fire Department, shopping with sloths and snow leopards from the Columbus Zoo—Elm & Iron also donates a portion of its sales on event day to Open Door Art Studios, which provides art education and services to individuals with developmental disabilities.

The store also owes its vibe to the constant, careful eye of owner McClurg, who has now amassed enough inventory to open—in addition to Over the Rhine location in Cincinnati, with a second location there and at Easton this year—a warehouse across High Street in Clintonville. While that location leans more heavily toward the “picker” scene—old pinball and slot machines, etc.—it gives good reason for a more extended stay on your next trip to the store. Just make sure to check ahead, as the space is open to the public only on Saturdays and by appointment Fridays and Sundays.

More than anything, the store is carefully crafted to feel lived-in, rather than to be a museum of fragile relics.

“We try to stay away from the word antique. A lot of places, when displays are put together, it’s ‘don’t touch, don’t go in there.’ We just had a kid crawl around [in the gondola] for a couple minutes,” Klem said. “Who wants to live in a house that feels like you shouldn’t touch anything? You wanna feel inspired and creative and enjoy the place you live in. That’s what we’re about.”


Elm & Iron, 3475 N High St., elmandiron.com 

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Home & Garden

Kitchen Confidential

Mike Debelius and Ruthi Moses have a Clintonville hideaway that houses their two kids and critters. But try as they might, they couldn’t create a cohesive atmosphere in the common areas of the 93 year old house. The kitchen had an “early 2000s vibe” that they found cold. According to Moses, “The kitchen was very [...]
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Mike Debelius and Ruthi Moses have a Clintonville hideaway that houses their two kids and critters. But try as they might, they couldn’t create a cohesive atmosphere in the common areas of the 93 year old house. The kitchen had an “early 2000s vibe” that they found cold.

According to Moses, “The kitchen was very closed off before, which left whoever was cooking alone for the most part. We did try to remedy that ourselves a few years ago by removing part of a wall and adding a bar. It just wasn’t enough.”

After nine years in the abode, it was time for some rehauls. They set out to break down some barriers and open up the main living space of their abode. Namely, between the kitchen and the living room. They went from shut-in, to an open yet warm feel that has an antique look with modern elements.

To use the space more efficiently, Moses went for a one-wall kitchen, with an island for work space. The layout was made complete by her favorite change, which may be the least noticeable: The bay windows. While they were already part of the original design, the remodel made them about two feet taller. And now Moses can really let the sun shine in. 

She drew inspiration from designs from the 1920s, like antique Sears catalogues. One of her missions was to take the feel of the kitchen back to the era when the house was built. Another inspiration was more modern, and more personal: Moses has served plenty of time in the trenches of the food service industry.

“I’ve spent enough time in the back of the house to know how to run a kitchen efficiently, and that was the goal!”

Doing a lot of the early demo themselves, Moses went to battle with the layers upon layers of flooring.

“I needed to get it all the way down to the subfloor so that the new wood floor would be level with the original wood in the dining room. I also had no idea what I was going to find when I started pulling it up. It was hard labor, but I figured out a rhythm (with the help of my neighbors wrecking bar) and was able to start pulling it up in big sheets. There were five layers to get through, and the easiest way to do it was one layer at a time. I also removed the half wall and bar which we’d previously remodeled ourselves. It wasn’t the first time I’ve taken a sledge hammer to one of the walls in my house, and I doubt it will be the last. There’s something extremely cathartic about the demolition process.”

The star of the remodel was a refrigerator that Moses had fallen in love with. It was a SMEG, two door, bottom freezer, tall and slender, mid century modern, pastel green fridge. It was to be shipped in from Italy. This put the arrival time at four weeks. But the mighty SMEG would prove to be a formidable foe. Its Odyssean journey from southern Europe included Moses basically becoming a supply chain manager, and making a part time job out of phone calls to manufacturers and shipping companies. After inquiries and reorders, discounts, a hold on payment, and constant back and forth, it seemed like her dream fridge would never come. 

“At [that] point, [I was] seriously considering driving to South Brunswick [to find] that container myself. It may seem a little silly to wait this long for a fridge, but we designed the custom kitchen around the dimensions of this particular fridge, which is far from standard size. In hindsight, that was probably a mistake.”

Every element that was used was painstakingly researched. Trim like they made in the ’20s is no longer widely available, but resourceful Moses found it online. The floor to ceiling tile is mosaic sheets of porcelain subway tile. The cabinets, drawers and shelves are all custom-built. The countertops and island are all butchers block.

“I left it unsealed, and have done several sounds of sanding and oiling to create a protective barrier. I wanted countertops that are food safe, and will develop their own natural patina over time.

The sink is a Frankenstein’s masterpiece that took a lot of time and consideration, as well as some good old fashioned ingenuity.

“I wanted to have something that would look like a sink in the original kitchen, porcelain coated cast iron, with legs to hold up its weight. There are a few companies that make them like that, but they’re ungodly expensive.”

Moses and Debelius came up with a clever way to get the look without breaking the bank. They found a company online that manufactures early century-style high back sinks out of reinforced cast acrylic, which is very durable and very light weight. And for the legs, Moses went to half off furniture day at the thrift store and found a table with a set of turned wood legs she thought would be compatible. After adding a block of wood to the top of each leg to give them some height, they now make up the custom base for a very sexy early century sink design.

Moses wanted to put an interesting transition layer between the new kitchen floor and the 100 year old wood living room floor. Ceramic tiles were beautiful, but the materials were incompatible.

“After hours of research, I stumbled upon Mirth Studio, a woman-owned company that makes custom wooden, hand painted, tongue and groove tiles. If you read her bio, she was in a similar situation and just decided to make her own! I am more than happy with the result. We even got a little clever and drilled evenly spaced holes in one of the tiles so that it could also act as a vent cover.”

Moses started the demo with her own hammer and elbow grease, but when she needed the hand of a professional, she hired EnhanceIt. The small, family-owned business was perfect for this all custom job that needed great attention to detail.

“There’s only so much you can learn how to do through internet research. And while we’ve done quite a bit of DIY stuff around here, we’re not professionals and I really wanted the kitchen to be completed with finesse. I needed people who are skilled at carpentry and finishing touches, which is beyond our skill set. But as far as design and layout goes, it’s basically plucked straight from my brain, and flawless.” 

By Brian Kaiser

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Home & Garden

Kitchen Confidential

Mike Debelius and Ruthi Moses have a Clintonville hideaway that houses their two kids and critters. But try as they might, they couldn’t create a cohesive atmosphere in the common areas of the 93 year old house. The kitchen had an “early 2000s vibe” that they found cold. According to Moses, “The kitchen was very [...]
614now

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Mike Debelius and Ruthi Moses have a Clintonville hideaway that houses their two kids and critters. But try as they might, they couldn’t create a cohesive atmosphere in the common areas of the 93 year old house. The kitchen had an “early 2000s vibe” that they found cold.

According to Moses, “The kitchen was very closed off before, which left whoever was cooking alone for the most part. We did try to remedy that ourselves a few years ago by removing part of a wall and adding a bar. It just wasn’t enough.”

After nine years in the abode, it was time for some rehauls. They set out to break down some barriers and open up the main living space of their abode. Namely, between the kitchen and the living room. They went from shut-in, to an open yet warm feel that has an antique look with modern elements.

To use the space more efficiently, Moses went for a one-wall kitchen, with an island for work space. The layout was made complete by her favorite change, which may be the least noticeable: The bay windows. While they were already part of the original design, the remodel made them about two feet taller. And now Moses can really let the sun shine in. 

She drew inspiration from designs from the 1920s, like antique Sears catalogues. One of her missions was to take the feel of the kitchen back to the era when the house was built. Another inspiration was more modern, and more personal: Moses has served plenty of time in the trenches of the food service industry.

“I’ve spent enough time in the back of the house to know how to run a kitchen efficiently, and that was the goal!”

Doing a lot of the early demo themselves, Moses went to battle with the layers upon layers of flooring.

“I needed to get it all the way down to the subfloor so that the new wood floor would be level with the original wood in the dining room. I also had no idea what I was going to find when I started pulling it up. It was hard labor, but I figured out a rhythm (with the help of my neighbors wrecking bar) and was able to start pulling it up in big sheets. There were five layers to get through, and the easiest way to do it was one layer at a time. I also removed the half wall and bar which we’d previously remodeled ourselves. It wasn’t the first time I’ve taken a sledge hammer to one of the walls in my house, and I doubt it will be the last. There’s something extremely cathartic about the demolition process.”

The star of the remodel was a refrigerator that Moses had fallen in love with. It was a SMEG, two door, bottom freezer, tall and slender, mid century modern, pastel green fridge. It was to be shipped in from Italy. This put the arrival time at four weeks. But the mighty SMEG would prove to be a formidable foe. Its Odyssean journey from southern Europe included Moses basically becoming a supply chain manager, and making a part time job out of phone calls to manufacturers and shipping companies. After inquiries and reorders, discounts, a hold on payment, and constant back and forth, it seemed like her dream fridge would never come. 

“At [that] point, [I was] seriously considering driving to South Brunswick [to find] that container myself. It may seem a little silly to wait this long for a fridge, but we designed the custom kitchen around the dimensions of this particular fridge, which is far from standard size. In hindsight, that was probably a mistake.”

Every element that was used was painstakingly researched. Trim like they made in the ’20s is no longer widely available, but resourceful Moses found it online. The floor to ceiling tile is mosaic sheets of porcelain subway tile. The cabinets, drawers and shelves are all custom-built. The countertops and island are all butchers block.

“I left it unsealed, and have done several sounds of sanding and oiling to create a protective barrier. I wanted countertops that are food safe, and will develop their own natural patina over time.

The sink is a Frankenstein’s masterpiece that took a lot of time and consideration, as well as some good old fashioned ingenuity.

“I wanted to have something that would look like a sink in the original kitchen, porcelain coated cast iron, with legs to hold up its weight. There are a few companies that make them like that, but they’re ungodly expensive.”

Moses and Debelius came up with a clever way to get the look without breaking the bank. They found a company online that manufactures early century-style high back sinks out of reinforced cast acrylic, which is very durable and very light weight. And for the legs, Moses went to half off furniture day at the thrift store and found a table with a set of turned wood legs she thought would be compatible. After adding a block of wood to the top of each leg to give them some height, they now make up the custom base for a very sexy early century sink design.

Moses wanted to put an interesting transition layer between the new kitchen floor and the 100 year old wood living room floor. Ceramic tiles were beautiful, but the materials were incompatible.

“After hours of research, I stumbled upon Mirth Studio, a woman-owned company that makes custom wooden, hand painted, tongue and groove tiles. If you read her bio, she was in a similar situation and just decided to make her own! I am more than happy with the result. We even got a little clever and drilled evenly spaced holes in one of the tiles so that it could also act as a vent cover.”

Moses started the demo with her own hammer and elbow grease, but when she needed the hand of a professional, she hired EnhanceIt. The small, family-owned business was perfect for this all custom job that needed great attention to detail.

“There’s only so much you can learn how to do through internet research. And while we’ve done quite a bit of DIY stuff around here, we’re not professionals and I really wanted the kitchen to be completed with finesse. I needed people who are skilled at carpentry and finishing touches, which is beyond our skill set. But as far as design and layout goes, it’s basically plucked straight from my brain, and flawless.” 

By Brian Kaiser

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Home & Garden

Midwest is the Best

Sarah Karakaian and her husband Nick went straight from Kent State to NYC without ever hitting the capital city. They bought an old home in Astoria, Queens, fixed her up, and rented out the mother-in-law suite in the basement on Airbnb, and the income from that paid their mortgage. Living for free in one of [...]
Jeni Ruisch

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Sarah Karakaian and her husband Nick went straight from Kent State to NYC without ever hitting the capital city. They bought an old home in Astoria, Queens, fixed her up, and rented out the mother-in-law suite in the basement on Airbnb, and the income from that paid their mortgage. Living for free in one of the most expensive cities in the world, they soon realized they made a great team. Such a great team, in fact, that they caught the eye of HGTV. After eight episodes of Beach Flip, they found their new calling: Making homes beautiful and functional. They left the hustle of NYC behind, and on a jaunt through town on their RV tour of the US, they stopped over in Columbus, finding a place to buy, sell, and call home. 614 caught wind of the new arrivals, and stopped by to hear Sarah tell their story, and welcome them to town.

Nick and I decided to join forces and started Nestrs, LLC. We did everything from design, construction, real estate staging, selling kitchen cabinets, and even started a blog. Life in NYC was getting increasingly difficult. In order to work in one apartment in one building you have to get board approval, you can only work from certain times, good luck to you if you have anything large to install, and if the super of the building decides he doesn’t like you, you might as well throw the towel in. We often had to pay someone to just sit in our car while we unloaded furniture and tools. I wanted better weather, and Nick just wanted some place where real estate was affordable and where people had driveways and parking lots. We sold our property in NYC, bought a pickup truck and a 37’ travel trailer, and explored.

I had never been to Cbus before. My very first stop in Columbus was the Stauf’s in German Village. Holy shit! The brick streets…the old homes….I was smitten! Nick and I couldn’t believe how cute everything was. We met up with Carrie Cliffel from the KW Classic Properties office and she treated us like she’d always known us. We were like…is everyone in the Midwest this nice?! We found a run-down fourplex in the Grandview area and fell in love! A lot of Grandview reminds us of Queens, where we lived in NYC. You can walk everywhere and there are a lot of locally owned businesses. Since then, we’ve also purchased another investment property in Schumacher Place.

It started to feel more and more like home. People are SO nice here. And so driven. Don’t get me wrong, ever since I was little I wanted to live in NYC. I miss it very much. But the food scene here is on point. You guys know how to make amazing cocktails. And the residential architecture is on point. Do you even know how hot your real estate market is here?! Investing here is smart.

We furnished [our Airbnb properties] with items we found at local consignment stores and even reached out to local artists and vendors to round out the design. Airbnbs are getting crazy competitive so, as a host, you have to be on your A-game. Guests LOVE when they can experience a bit of the local culture during their stay. We leave a Welcome Packet in our spaces that explain where the art and furnishings came from. We direct them to all of our favorite food spots. If they love the countertop in the kitchen we tell them where they can get it. We share our love of design with our guests and they love it.

Designing Airbnbs is very different from staging a home that’s for sale or designing for a particular client. You can have more fun and try new things. You also want pieces that will last a while and will stand the test of time. If you put quality fabrics and materials in your short-term rentals, you’ll spend less money over time, attract guests that appreciate a well designed space, and create something you’ll be proud of.

I always feel my designs have a touch of what I call Grandma-Chic to them. If it borderlines on something that Grandma would be into, but it’s still likely to grace the pages of home decor magazines, that’s where I like to live. Obviously when I have clients, I do a lot of listening. It’s less about our style and more about what makes them tick. But, I’m a big fan of mixing old and new. Wanna frame an antique doily in a chrome frame? That’s my jam. An elegant chandelier paired with a giant handmade leaning rustic wood mirror? Sounds like a good time to me.

Everyone wants a piece of Central Ohio right now. It used to be that if you were talented and grew up in the Midwest you’d either move to the West or East coast. Now? Talent is staying here. We’re excited to be here in Columbus. Houses here are much much different from old NYC apartments. It’s overwhelming how many people we’ve met here who have giant goals and their missions are all the same…to make Columbus awesome. We’re pumped to be a part of that.

For more, visit nestrs.com, or find them on IG at @nestrs

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