By Karen Parr-Moody
When Jaclyn Kole opened her Urban Housewife booth at the original GasLamp One store, store owner Lauren Bugg told her, “You have no competition.” Why? Because no one else in either GasLamp One or GasLamp Too does exactly what she does: This 31-year-old artisan upholsters vintage and antique furniture in fresh, modern fabrics to make them one-of-a-kind expressions of pure creativity.
Kole has a knack for juxtaposing colors to eye-catching effect, as seen with this mid-century modern wingback chair she recreated in orange and lime fabrications ($599; Booth B-208). While Kole applies her skill and talent to furniture from various eras, including French and Victorian, she discovered a passion for mid-century modern furniture when she decorated her first Nashville apartment.
“I just fell in love with it and became obsessed,” she says. “With a lot of it, the fabric is in poor condition. That inspired me to want to learn how to upholster. All of these pieces have great bones and wonderful quality, but not the best fabrication.”
Kole graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in textiles and fashion merchandising, but she didn’t find fulfillment in her ensuing career. A few years ago, she took a continuing education class to learn how to upholster. It gave her the broad brushstrokes of what such a craft would entail, but she didn’t hit her stride until she apprenticed under another local upholsterer, Diane Montgomery of Coventry Lane Upholstery, for one day a week for a year. Such hands-on experience taught her more than what she had learned in the class, as well as from Youtube videos and books.
“I learned a lot of her tricks,” Kole says. “She taught me so much.”
Ever bold in her fabric choices, Kole is currently on a leopard-print kick, as seen in these mid-century modern stools ($249 for the pair). “I chose a contrasting velvet in teal blue to go with the leopard,” she says. “It turned out really nice.”
A fan of vivid color, Kole says her color palette is “ever expanding.” But if you visit her booth enough, you’ll spy one of her favorite hues, bright yellow, make frequent appearances. She used the cheery tone on the frame of this French Louis XVI-style chair before upholstering it in gray-and-cream fabric ($259).
If you’re of the school of thought that says one should keep furniture longer by way of “refreshing” them via upholstery, you’ll love what Kole does to pieces such as these mid-century modern chairs with orange on the backs and plaid on the seats ($325 for the pair). They’ve been given a second, exuberant life.
Even a simple Broyhill bench becomes a showstopper in Kole’s hands with a deep aqua fabric trimmed in bright yellow ($225). Such a piece makes it clear why she choice the path of most resistance: Instead of becoming an upholster who takes on others’ interior design projects, she always wanted to create her own looks with vintage furniture.
“I didn’t want to get burned out doing somebody’s grandmother’s sofa in micro suede,” she quips.
Kole’s personal stamp is always seen in her work, as with this bedroom chair that was originally covered in boring black ($149). The original fabrication even covered the distinctive caning in the back panel, which Kole emphasized by trimming it in white. By re-upholstering the chair’s seat in pink velvet, the entire vibe becomes soft, chic and feminine. In this one chair, it’s clear that Kole doesn’t follow a playbook. If she wants to trim a panel in white, she’ll do it. She has also used vinyl for its megawatt color capabilities. Whatever piece it is, it gets freshened up in an unmistakable way in Kole’s capable hands.
“In this modern day, we’re so used to tossing things out, getting rid of something when it no longer suits us instead of re-imagining it and updating it for our current life,” Kole says. “I think that that’s most exciting to me: Re-imagining these older pieces to fit in with our current trends and fashions.”
As exciting as it is for her, it’s even more exciting for those of us who love to see her latest creations and discover how they breath hip new life into one’s home décor.
All photos by Jaclyn Kole.