For Meredith McCord, looking at a piece of pottery brings back decades worth of memories. McCord started The Mad Potter in 1998, and since those early days, she's used her kiln to immortalize countless special moments. She traveled to hospitals to capture the footprints of newborns, helped a young man create a dessert plate with the words "Will you marry me?" emblazoned across it, and auctioned off items for charity. Yet some of her fondest memories center on the day-to-day interactions with customers, specifically when they return to pick up their fired pieces and utter three words of amazement: "I did that?"
The Mad Potter has since expanded into three Houston-area locations, where children and adults come to paint their own works of art or create replicas of their ancient ancestors' garden gnomes. More than 500 bisqueware items line the shelves of each studio, including coffee mugs, plates, and figurines. Staffers then help visitors select from more than 54 available colors of paint and supply them with everything else they might need, including brushes and stencils. The staff can even take things over and create more intricate designs?while still consulting closely with the customer. Whatever route a person chooses, there's always time for a sip of wine or beer; the River Oaks location sells wine and beer while Bellaire and Woodway maintain a BYOB policy.
Nadeau characterizes its furniture as "with a soul" because it's true artisan work and has attained sentience: it is handcrafted from wood rather than mass-produced from gasket pylons. Showcase fine china and live gerbils in a double-domed glass-door cabinet ($284), or in a hefty, finely trimmed kitchen hutch ($410). Or, display a new moving-picture box on a delicately polished TV stand/buffet ($500). Small console tables ($160) and storage chests ($224) come in a myriad of stains and colors, and many pieces are one-of-a-kind. Nadeau's ever-changing inventory includes a variety of sturdy dining room tables ($435–$548) and chairs ($80 each). Prices and selection may vary due to rotating inventory, but pieces are always fully assembled and ready to welcome any tuckered torso or mound of toothbrushes.
Having resolved at a young age to pursue his passion for green building, Jeff Kaplan created the Urban Land Institute's Young Leaders Program when he was just 21 years old. In late 2007, Jeff started New Living, a green building and home store whose high environmental standards earned the shop a B Corporation certification. Today, New Living sells exclusively eco-friendly products from ethical businesses, stimulating the local green economy while making green materials more affordable and accessible. Staff members passionate about responsible consumerism often help customers interested in repurposing and refinishing items. Kaplan's efforts at revitalizing Houston's small businesses and affinity for wearing capes earned him the title of Green Hero from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Using the fresh lavender grown on their own ranch, Craig and Dana Stewart share the aroma therapeutic benefits of their favorite scent with a line of lavender-infused household products. Each handmade bar of soap, jar of culinary rub, and soy candle boasts a generous helping of lavender oil or the raw herb itself, allowing the calming aroma to permeate homes.
Parvizian Rugs International has cushioned Houston footfalls for more than 40 years with antique and custom-made carpets and rugs. Rug workshops and wool factories in Romania, Pakistan, and India fill Parvizian’s American and European storefronts with luxe piles of wool and silk, which are draped over displays or custom-created with help from savvy in-house designers. Parvizian also travels to homes and offices to clean carpets with hand-sudsed shampoos and environmentally friendly supplies, and restores rugs ravaged by moths and foot traffic with meticulous re-weaving, fresh twirls of fringe, and re-backing torn from the pages of Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Off the Wall Gallery adorns walls and protects artworks with high-quality, customized frames and vends an assortment of creative creations concocted by premier artists. Bring in a piece you seek to frame, be it a family portrait, a secondhand watercolor landscape, or a particularly flattering police sketch, and Off the Wall Gallery's experienced staff can deck it out in a sophisticated frame with mat and glass. Frames vary in size and type, but a typical black poster frame with mat and glass can be had in dimensions including 11"x14" ($114), 16"x20" ($151.50), and 24"x30" ($187). Art lovers can also opt to stock up on the aesthetifeats of artists represented in Off the Wall Gallery’s eclectic gallery selection, including a cast-resin sculpture devised by Mackenzie Thorpe ($1,995) and an original 22"x28" canvas painted by avant pop artist Peter Mars ($2,750).