Old Glory and its inimitable style directly reflect owner and designer Holly Kuhn’s love of home.
“I wanted our first ‘real’ home to be functional, warm and welcoming,” said Kuhn, who is originally from Dallas but moved to Denver in 1986 with her new husband Brian who she met at the University of Oklahoma. “My goal was to create a home that welcomed us back every night and was the place my family wanted to be.”
In the process of poring over design magazines and tracking down finds to transform their house into their home, the “trained accountant with a creative bent” discovered her passion.
“I love the concept of home,” she said. “In my mind, a home should invite people to be themselves while reflecting who they are and how they live.”
Her foraging expeditions for one-of-a-kind pieces and forays into personal design led to another revelation.
“I’m not alone in my love of home, but not everyone has the desire or the confidence to tackle home design projects,” Kuhn said. “Old Glory exists because I want to help people create spaces they love and rooms they want to really live in.”
In September 1997, she stepped outside her home and opened her first retail antiques shop, Off the Beaten Path, in Denver. Ten years later, when a trusted colleague and friend offered to sell Kuhn her business, Old Glory, which was an established antiques destination in Denver, Kuhn leapt at the opportunity and embraced a new brand for her established style.
“I don’t have a succinct description for my aesthetic,” Kuhn said. “I strive for spaces to be functional and beautiful with a mix of old and new. Rustic and unexpected. Patinas and textures. I like layered but carefully edited spaces. All that—and a lot more—is part of Old Glory style.”
In September, 20 years after opening her first shop, Kuhn and her team brought Old Glory style to Texas permanently with the opening of Old Glory Texas in Round Top.
Old Glory Style Comes to Round Top
Kuhn had popped into—and Old Glory had popped up at—the Round Top Antiques Show for years.
“In the antiques business, all roads lead to Round Top,” Kuhn said. “It’s a mecca; everyone aspires to go at least once in their careers.”
Kuhn went to shop and fell under the spell of what locals and long-time visitors identify as Round Top magic.
“I had a sense of belonging, a real connection to the place,” Kuhn said, noting its proximity to her family in Dallas only sweetened the experience. “On a professional level, Round Top offers antiques, vintage, resources, inspiration and a community of like-minded, creative people. On a personal level, it brought back cherished memories of my Texas childhood.”
She introduced Brian to the area. He, too, responded to its unique character. They grew to enjoy “doing” Round Top together. And, according to Kuhn, their antiques adventuring fledged a business idea: Round Top could be the go-to source for fresh merchandise for Denver while her existing network of sources throughout the Midwest could provide fresh merchandise for a Round Top outlet.
“Fresh is best,” Kuhn said. “I like to offer things no one has in a way people may not have considered before.”
Old Glory began appearing regularly during the shows including, most recently, a bi-annual pop up in a historic-dancehall-turned-shop in nearby Burton. The experience confirmed the Roundtopolis™ was a suitable second home for Old Glory, so when a piece of property in the heart of Round Top became available the Kuhns bought it—and quickly realized their vision.
Working with a Denver architect, Kuhn developed a plan for a stunning but simple 4,000 square foot shop that is equal parts Old Glory style and Round Top history. Then they put a team on the ground in Round Top that included La Grange-based builder Lewis Tindall, owner of Tindall Construction and a fixture on the Round Top restoration and building scene, and Brenham-based designer Holly Mathis, a long-time collaborator, who served as Kuhn’s local eyes, ears and vision implementer.
“I can’t explain just how fabulous our team was,” Kuhn said. “Suffice it to say, we broke ground in April and unloaded our first semi-truckload of merchandise in mid-September—and between groundbreaking and the first delivery, I made one trip to Round Top.”
The Old Glory Experience
While 975 miles separate Round Top and Denver, the Old Glory experience is the same in both locations.
“When people walk in my stores, I want them to be as comfortable as if they were at home,” Kuhn said. “I want them to walk away feeling inspired and confident enough to say, ‘Hey, I can do this [design]!’”
Pieces that have stood the test of time are the foundation of Old Glory style.
“Antiques and vintage pieces bring a sense of ease and comfort to a home,” Kuhn said. “The presence of a few well-worn, well-loved things signals that nothing is too fine or too precious to be used and gives people permission to put their feet on the coffee table and enjoy themselves.”
Kuhn hand selects or personally approves every item that makes its way into the showrooms. When shopping Round Top, even after all of these years, Kuhn remains open to the experience and wanders the show instead of frequenting a few favorites.
“The Round Top show changes and evolves every season,” Kuhn said. “If I concentrate on my favorites, I might miss what’s new. Part of the excitement comes from never knowing what you might find.”
She supplements her personal shopping with a network of trusted pickers. Because of them, her inventory includes finds from across the country.
“The smart phone has changed the way we buy,” Kuhn said. “In the beginning, my pickers would arrive with a load of merchandise they thought I might like, and I’d pick through that. Now they arrive with a trailer of thoughtfully selected pieces that have been vetted and approved by me.”
Her team, including Round Top store manager Debby Welch, is in constant contact with Kuhn. They keep her abreast of changes in inventory and work closely with her to refresh displays and vignettes between her visits to the shops. Kuhn or Sandy Monahan, her Denver store manager who is also a familiar face in Round Top, gets to the Texas store about every six weeks.
“We talk. We collaborate. We create,” Kuhn said.
Kuhn finds inspiration for her displays and designs everywhere. Recently, a photo on a direct mail postcard from a Denver lighting company inspired the design for the living room in her new home.
“Inspiration can come from anywhere if you keep your eyes open,” Kuhn said.
She often examines other people’s designs and challenges herself to imagine ways to use the pieces differently. She also uses her own home, which is constantly evolving, as a design lab.
“People ask where my ideas come from, and I don’t really know,” Kuhn said. “I love the challenge of trying to do things that haven’t been done before, so it’s instinctive.”
Her 20-year track record of success indicates Kuhn’s instincts are good. She and her team don’t tackle design projects for individuals but freely share ideas, sources and tips for transforming a house into a home. Her favorite tip? Before starting the design, define the function of the room including how it will be used and identify the room’s preferred “feel.”
“I’m practical, so I start with function,” Kuhn said. “The next step is assessing what I have and figuring out how to use it in new ways, so I’m supplementing existing things not attempting a wholesale replacement.”
When it comes time to buy, especially time to buy vintage pieces, she encourages people to shop with their hearts.
“When it comes to old pieces, you need to connect with them,” Kuhn said. “Buy things you love because if you love them you’ll find a way to use them—and surrounding yourselves with things and people you love is what transforms a house into a home.”
________________________________________________________________________ OLD GLORY TEXAS
206 S. Washington
Round Top, TX 78954
Thursday – Saturday
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
by Lorie A. Woodward
photos by Becki Griffin, Curious Details