For over a quarter of a century, Garden Park Antiques has been a fixture within the Nashville community. Heralded for its eclectic mixture of antiques and reclaimed pieces, while keeping up with current trends in furnishings and accessories, it’s no wonder that even after 25 years – this store has no intention of slowing down. At the epicenter of this 4000 sq ft showroom is Keith Merry. Even with his work appearing in notable publications such as Veranda, Architectural Digest, Elle Decor and Southern Living, Keith is anything but pretentious. We were lucky enough to chat with Keith and “talk shop” about his past, his present work and what he envisions for his future.
Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your background, how long have you been in the antiques business and what led you to opening up your store?
I’ve always had an interest in architecture and design, even from an early age. When I was 12 years old my mother let me pick out the wallpaper and carpet for my room. Even today it would fit right into Elle Décor magazine.
After high school I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do until my father suggested that we visit O’More School of Design. I still remember having tea and pastries with Ms. O’More in the parlor room of the historic Italianate style house, and my surprise at finding out I would be one of only two guys to attend, along with sixty girls.
When my father asked me if this is where I wanted to go, I said “Absolutely”. During my years at O’More, I was very interested in historic preservation classes and focused my senior project on a turn of the century, Second Avenue building located in Nashville. The architectural antique business began twenty-five years ago, purely by accident. We had a small 1200 sq. foot building next to our offices that had become available and I can still remember my father (the late Bill Merry Sr.) asking me, “what are we going to do with that empty building?”. At that time I was selling decorative ironwork for our family business, Herndon & Merry Inc., and I thought “here is my chance to do something different, but still use my design education”… and the rest is history.
We now have one of the top architectural antique shops in the country, which specializes in repurposing antique architecturals, into one-of-a-kind furniture and garden appointments.
Describe the style and look of your pieces.
As with most designers, my style has evolved over time. I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with so many talented designers over the years and observed many different styles and techniques; each one bringing something special to a project. I attribute these diverse experiences to the eclectic style of my work.
My style is definitely one of minimal, time-worn sophistication. I have a passion for great design… everything from European countryside to Mid-Century Modern. It’s all about scale, proportion, clean lines and authentic finishes.
You have a large focus on ironware. Tell us a bit more about your passion for this and why.
When you grow up in the decorative metal business it’s just in your blood. Our family has been crafting ornamental ironwork for more than 52 years. Over the past two decades we began to focus on doing specialty work, which typical metal shops just cannot do. This helped our business thrive, and become very adept at designing and manufacturing custom, high quality ironwork for our clientele.
After starting Garden Park Antiques, it wasn’t long before I began combining my design background with the nuts and bolts knowledge I gained from the family ironworks business. This combination helped me create pieces unlike anything else in the country. Honestly, at times I truly didn’t know exactly where this road was going to lead me, but that was part of the excitement. Every day has been full of new adventures and there seems to be no end in sight. Having the ability to repurpose these historical treasures into one-of-a-kind furnishings allows my creativity to run wide… I really am “living the dream”.
You recently celebrated your 25th anniversary for Garden Park Antiques. Congratulations! What plans, ideas, etc. do you have for the store’s future that you can share with our readers?
It’s hard to believe that 25 years have passed. I feel more excited today than when we first started. I really believe that our best days are just ahead. For the first 15 years I was determined to be a purest, in that we would only carry architectural and garden antiques. But as I traveled the country in search of these items, I saw other pieces with such great design; I simply couldn’t stand to leave them behind. Over the years our inventory has become much more diverse… it now incorporates various styles such as industrial, transitional and mid-century modern and includes all sorts of unique items such as ironwork, garden antiques, architecturals, lighting, furniture and accessories. But my main focus is still on creating high quality custom furniture. As for the future, I could see us developing a stock line of furniture, which would be available in major markets.
What are some of the more popular pieces or popular categories of pieces you sell?
Customers love our unique architectural ornaments (terra cotta, limestone,marble, granite and zinc), which are rarely seen here in Nashville. They also enjoy our broad selection of vintage and antique lighting, that’s unlike anything you’ll find in a typical lighting gallery. But our creative repurposed furniture always steals the show. It’s not often that you find one-of-a-kind, functional furniture that incorporates historical artifacts as the focal point. Customers are always surprised when they visit our showroom and see a garden gate transformed into a stunning coffee table, a terra-cotta baluster converted into a sleek table lamp or a European balcony crafted into an elegant console.
Thank you Keith! We look forward to your continued success!
Garden Park Antiques
7121 Cockrill Bend Boulevard
Nashville, TN 37209
(All images courtesy of Garden Park Antiques)
Nashville Interior Design