Photograph by Patrick Heagney
Designer Jill Merkle’s new store, Simply Home, is as suffused with sunlight as a Carl Larsson watercolor. And, as in the Swedish artist’s idyllic domestic scenes, the star attraction is painted furniture. But the similarities stop there. Merkle has a very American aesthetic, a sort of sophisticated country with a pared-down, modern sensibility—Shabby Chic without the shabby.
Tucked under towering pines, the painted cottage with an eggplant-purple door has white floorboards and walls that create a glowing backdrop for texture-rich objects of bamboo, stone, felt, and rattan. Chunks of amethyst crystals, bulbous antique wine bottles, and dappled concrete mushrooms take on sculptural grace when arranged along a narrow trestle table.
Merkle’s popular custom furniture ranges from glossy, blockish tables and consoles to distressed trumeau mirrors and vintage chests, most painted subtle shades of white or gray (with a few accent pieces in vibrant shades such as orange or Tiffany blue). Even more unique are contemporary rustic lines, such as sleek metal barstools with skirted linen cushions or steel crisscrossed shelves with barn-wood inserts.
Both the store name and the merchandise are more streamlined here than at Merkle’s previous venture, Addington Osborne, which started as a retail store and evolved into a design studio and workroom. With the new location’s added space, Merkle once again offers home accessories and unique hostess-type gifts. “We’re back to being a shop,” she explains. Little treasures such as delicate bone salt-and-pepper shakers ($19 a set), Linnea’s Lights scented soy candles ($29), whimsical pottery lanterns (from $39), and fringed cotton tea towels (from $14) add character to the home furnishings.
As in her previous store, lighting is a big draw for Merkle. Some fixtures are refurbished vintage finds, such as a pair of silver sconces with turquoise beading or a glass globe pendant with new brass hardware. Others are original designs, such as drum pendants with shades of wooden rods or steel mesh—the latter providing a bit of an industrial edge.
This spring Merkle will be selling containers, boxwoods, and other plants in the cottage’s backyard, which doubles as an event space. With chattering birds overhead and a quaint white gazebo, the gardens seem miles away from busy Roswell Road out front. 4209 Roswell Road, 404-497-9781
This article originally appeared in our May 2010 issue.