Take the backyard of 100-year-old Homewood home with a new-to-look-old carriage house. Add a layer of found treasures from two talented designers. Style those finds in well-curated vignettes that others can picture re-creating in their own spaces. Layer in scads of vintage and antique rugs. Garnish with fun grazing tables, and invite your favorite friends and design enthusiasts. Mingle and watch the magic happen.
This is the “recipe” that played out on a recent fall weekend when friends and fellow tag-sale enthusiasts Elizabeth Lee and Beth Hubrich joined forces for their first ever pop-up shopping event they called The Upstairs Collection. As friends and owners of two separate design businesses—Elizabeth runs Hazel House Collective while Beth owns Mary & Wilma—the pair found themselves in the enviable position of wanting to share their respective troves with more people. Beth says, “Our goal with The Upstairs Collection was to have a way to show people how they could use these pieces in their own homes, whether it be rugs or furniture or pieces of home décor. It has been a nice ‘landing spot’ for both of us.” Neither wanted to dive headlong into an all-out retail space. “This was the perfect way to present these finds,” says Elizabeth.
The two met through a small business group in Homewood and immediately clicked, finding friendship and a sounding board in one another. Design is a side hustle for both (Beth is a registered dietitian while Elizabeth is in surgical sales), but they each crave the creative outlet that comes with filling a home with intentional care and great style. The idea for hosting The Upstairs Collection came together as organically as their friendship. Beth recalls saying to Elizabeth, “I have this idea…,” while Elizabeth laughs and traces that idea back to the Saturday morning Beth rolled up to her house with an empty U-Haul truck and a plan to scour Montgomery for storied finds. The truck came back filled to the brim, and The Upstairs Collection was born. The women picked a date in October (mid-week to avoid any conflicts with children’s activities or football tailgates) and then set about creating the right mood for their event.
Elizabeth and Beth worked with entertaining expert Marie Wright to execute the atmosphere they had in mind, adding one more layer to their fabulous concoction. Marie has a knack for transforming and elevating a space with her collections of place settings and entertaining accoutrements. Noting that “details matter in entertaining,” she enjoys bringing a hostess’s vision to life in color, texture, and thoughtful particulars. Event planner and caterer Courtney Wright of Savor Style oversaw the culinary aspect of the event. Known for creating spectacular grazing tables, Courtney made sure no one went hungry while shopping for that perfect new find.
And shop they did! Months of collecting followed by days of staging paid off in spades. Elizabeth and Beth loved seeing so many treasures in the hands of new owners eager to create their individual design stories.
On the Board
What’s a backyard party without drinks and treats? Courtney Wright of Savor Style put together a magnificent grazing board for the launch of The Upstairs Collection by layering various cured meats and cheeses between toasted baguette slices and crisp crackers. While this particular spread skewed toward the traditional, Courtney notes that there is no wrong way to graze. “Grazing boards and tables are such an easy way to entertain,” she says. “There is something for everyone, and a beautiful spread invites everyone to connect at the table.”
Good for grazing
These are some of Courtney’s favorite grazing board items:
- A range of cheeses—soft to hard
- Cured meats—mild to spicy
- Castelvetrano olives for their bright green color and buttery finish
- Local honey and honeycomb
- Cheeses from Big Spring Dairy and Stone Hollow Farmstead
- Holmsted Fines chutneys
- Pickled vegetables and crudités
- Yogurt-based dips and spreads
- Macarons for a touch of sweet
- Susan Gordon pottery for serving
- Logo cookies by Kat Jones
Setting the mood, one plate at a time
When was the last time you were wowed by a paper plate? Or a recyclable bamboo fork? Marie Wright knows the answer—never. Through her home-based business, she provides interesting plates, silverware, lighting, and glassware for exceptional parties. For the launch of The Upstairs Collection, Marie chose blue-and-white pieces and then rounded out the setting with layered lighting, lanterns, and centerpieces. The end result of a Marie Wright-festooned fete is undeniable: Guests feel intimately engaged for this moment in time.
Beth Hubrich’s Mary & Wilma
A dietitian by training, Beth fuels her creative side with design projects under the moniker Mary & Wilma, a business she named after her grandmothers.
Favorite find: That is a hard question. I feel like they are all my children! But there was a pair of faux tortoise bookshelves that I found at an estate sale that were covered in seven layers of dust. When I got home, I discovered they were made by Lane.
Always looking for: Finding a pair of anything at an estate sale is kind of like finding a unicorn—especially in the vintage and antique world. Smaller chests are also elusive (like the size that fits perfectly between a pair of twin beds). That height is trickier to find, but a bedside chest can be so great for storage and hiding the day-to-day stuff of life. And because I am from Florida, I am a sucker for anything rattan or bamboo.
Cannot resist: Anything with a great story behind it!
Personal style: I love an eclectic mix. I like to throw in an old family heirloom with a modern lamp. I am drawn to color and have never met a pattern I didn’t like. Colorful, livable, happy, Floridian.
Best advice: People often think they don’t have room for a found item, which I totally get. We don’t want things to feel cluttered. But I do believe that if you fall in love with a piece, there is a reason. You may go into an estate sale looking for a twin beds but find a piece of art you love. There IS a spot for it.
Elizabeth Lee’s Hazel House Collective
Elizabeth might get caught looking down at her feet more than looking up—rugs are her passion, and she enjoys sharing her knowledge and design tips with clients to help them feel at ease with a big investment like an antique rug.
Favorite find: I found an antique Mahal runner at an estate sale. I’m pretty sure I will never get rid of it!
Always looking for: Antique Persian rugs. When I say “‘antique,” I mean over a hundred years old. About 80% of the rugs I sell are vintage ones from the 1930’s–1970’s. But antique rugs are what I am really drawn to. I think about where they’ve been and the stories they could tell. The best ones have patches and holes and maybe even fringe that is coming off.
Personal style: I am way more traditional than Beth. Sometimes I’ll ask her opinion on something and she’ll say, “That’s very brown.” That’s when I know it’s very me! I lean towards traditional English Country.
Best advice: Rugs are a big investment, but a great rug will be around forever. And don’t be afraid to use blue Dawn dishwashing soap to occasionally clean your rug! I will take mine outside and spray them down. As long as they get fully dry, they will last!
Always wearing: I have a pearl bracelet that my husband gave me on our wedding day. I wear it every day. Sometimes I mix it up with brass bangles or a leopard cuff.