Marsha Smith is a natural communicator. The first time I met her, she was the subject of a Round Top Register Facebook Live feed from her booth on opening day at the Marburger Farm Antique Show. Katie, who was the host, finished up the live broadcast and whispered to me, “We’re going to be able to say ‘we knew her when.’”
Although she was born and raised in the Deep South, Smith is a Texas girl at heart. Relocation to the Lone Star State is part of an on-going conversation at the Smith household, but a six-year-old grandson who lives in North Carolina and the imminent arrival of a granddaughter who will live in Florida, make Alabama, the midpoint between the two, even more appealing as home base.
Her career takes her across the country as she lends her touch to clients who want to include a sense of warmth in their primary and secondary residences.
Designing a Career:
“I can’t remember NOT being interested in design; however, in college I majored in business and spent 30 years in the corporate world. My husband, David, and I often entertained colleagues in our home and inevitably they would say things like, ‘Your home should be in a magazine.’ The company I worked for undertook several large building projects, and with each endeavor someone would say, ‘Let’s get Marsha’s input.’ I helped plan several huge corporate projects and ended up as the sole interior designer, even though my formal job description had nothing to do with construction or design.
“Until five years ago, though, design was a passionate sideline. When I retired from corporate America, and David retired from the FBI, I began to pursue design full-time because I couldn’t die with this music still in me.”
Road to Round Top:
“My best friend had heard of Round Top, and she convinced me that we needed to take a Texas road trip, so we loaded up and headed west. It was 1991. David and I were both smitten with Round Top on our first trip, and 25 years later it’s still one of our favorite places on the planet; at this point it feels like home away from home.”
“My style has its roots in ‘farmhouse.’ To me, farmhouse style combines comfort, character, function and often the unexpected. It allows for so much individual expression while keeping a clean, uncluttered approach to living.”
“My absolute favorite Round Top find has to be a handmade seven-foot long, four-foot tall metal weather vane we purchased about ten years ago and have named ‘Norman.’ We may never have cattle of our own, so we named this piece after Billy Crystal’s calf in City Slickers.”
“I always visit Brandi at the Merry Christmas Store, my friends around Zapp Hall, Jill Suzanne, Tree Park and Dawn at Hodges Farm. The entire show at Marburger is a must-see; however, my trip is not complete until I spend some time with my buds from South Porch Antiques, Tobacco Road Primitives, House Wren, James & Reid, Judy Hill and Donald Sparks Designs.”
Favorite Shopping Strategy:
“Eat the show like an elephant—one small bite at a time. Pick a starting point at a show and an ending point, then systematically walk back and forth AND up and down in that area, so you’ll have some order to your search. Otherwise, you’ll walk yourself to death and possibly miss a lot of good stuff.”
Favorite Field Advice:
“If you leave something that you have to pick up later, take a photo of it. Then, BEFORE you leave, scroll through all of your photos from that venue to ensure that you’ve picked up everything.”
“More isn’t always better, so buy the best you can afford. If you’re choosing between buying two so-so pieces and one exceptional piece, buy the single good one; you won’t go wrong.”
Cottonseed Trading Co. • Jacksonville, Alabama
FB “Cottonseed Trading Co.”
Round Top Regular: since 1991
Regardless of their individual aesthetic, designers succeed because they know a good thing when they see it. The consensus among our panel of professionals is that the Round Top Antiques Show is a good thing—a very good thing—for trendsetters, taste makers, collectors and “civilians” who yearn to add pops of personality to their homes with one-of-a-kind finds.
In a move that’s akin to asking a mother to choose her favorite child, we boldly asked the experts to identify their favorite finds, foods, shopping strategies, stories and more.
by Lorie Woodward Cantu
photos courtesy of Marsha Smith