With a name such as Painterly Home, it’s easy to surmise why people of discerning taste are drawn to the exclusive online boutique, which showcases one-of-a-kind pieces for the home.
It takes more than a name, however, to attract those same customers back time and time again. Painterly Home’s allure goes well beyond its intriguing name. Its winning formula of integrating fine art images with luxurious fabrics creates distinctive embellishments that bring vibrant colors and enhancement to any surrounding.
Artist and Painterly Home’s founder Mollie Vardell has been evolving since she began her 27-year career as an interior designer. With a bachelor’s degree in interior design and a background in fine art, it’s no wonder that her passions would eventually lead to paint and canvas, and ultimately to creating Painterly Home.
“The process of painting for me is a journey—one that takes me out of my everyday world and absorbs me in entirety. Everywhere I look outside I see paintings. A fantastic sky, the light on a field, interesting shadow patterns or an idyllic reflection on water, these are what propel me to paint,” says Vardell, who began her journey in Northern Virginia and has since moved to Charleston, where she has spent the past eight years.
“Most of my inspiration comes from my surroundings here in Charleston,” she readily acknowledges. “I paint bird-of-paradise, the incredibly intricate leaves and flowers, and I love to paint the marsh. I used to be known more for my landscapes, but when the pandemic hit, I got into my tropical bent.”
Inherently creative, Vardell likewise has a well-developed business sense. “The evolution of Painterly Home has been a slow process, because I didn’t want to get ahead of myself,” she says. “In the beginning, I didn’t have enough margin to sell to stores, and that’s why I opted for an online boutique.”
The first painted pillow came about at the request of a client who loved Vardell’s leaf painting series. “Although the paintings did not work for her space, she insisted I create the leaf images as pillows for her porch. Thus began a partnership with a local fabric printer who made samples of the leaf painting images translated into fabric,” she says.
The partnership that was forged helped spur more pillows based upon images of Vardell’s fine art.
“The level of detail that translates from the painting to the fabric is incredible; you can actually see each brushstroke,” she says. “We call these fine art pillows The Gallery Pillow Collection. We are constantly adding the work of other fine artists to enhance and expand the collection. As one of our clients says, ‘These pillows are art for your sofa. And the possibilities are endless.’”
Vardell, who has an ingrained work ethic, didn’t stop with one collection. “Perhaps the most engaging and unique fabrics came when we decided to create companion fabrics to complement the fine art pillows,” she says. “The digital artist took areas of the painting image that contained interwoven brushstrokes and created an entirely new set of fabrics that we call The Painterly Pillow Collection.”
While most items from the website are in stock, Vardell says Painterly Home is also a semi-custom boutique that offers variations in background fabrics, size and finishing options. “And every item is handmade in Charleston,” she says.
To date the artists featured on Painterly Home are all women, but Vardell says it’s more coincidence than by design. “We are a woman-owned company, but I don’t think we will limit the artists to women only. But I do love to promote women in business,” she admits.
Vardell uses a local shop to produce the pillows and other accessories, such as napkins, table runners, towels and coasters, and she promises if the item isn’t in stock at the time of purchase, orders of six units or less can be shipped within three to four weeks.
Painterly Home is most definitely a hands-on labor of love for Vardell, who ships out product and attends to every minor detail. But that doesn’t mean her attention has turned away from painting.
“It is my job as an artist to slow down, to observe, to look harder, always searching for ways to bring this beauty to the surface of my paintings,” she says. “I paint in oil because of the richness of the color, its density and its ability to add texture and depth to my paintings.”
And by extension—to all the painted fabric products of Painterly Home. *
Ellen Koteff is an award-winning journalist and a communications expert. She is a sought-after speaker, participating as a moderator and panelist at numerous industry events, conferences and broadcast outlets. She has contributed to Vanity Fair, Palm Beach Life, The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Women’s Wear Daily and Time Magazine.