Book Tour Stops: North Carolina

One week down and two to go for the Spruce book tour! Katherine and I have had a blast meeting fellow upholstery and furniture addicts in Dallas, Memphis, and Nashville and are enjoying a few free days in Franklin, TN before we head east. Don’t forget to join us in Knoxville on Tuesday at Union Avenue Books (5pm) for one last hurrah in Tennessee!

With the craziness of the book launch, I haven’t found the right time to mention it, but I’m guessing many of you have noticed that I’m carrying a little extra weight these days, and it’s a girl! Yep, there’s a new Sprucette in the making, and she’ll be here in early January! Thank goodness for Katherine and her big muscles! So while soaking up every bit of rest and relaxation I can get, I write this post in my pajamas and slippers from the comfort of the Home Away couch in Franklin and look forward to North Carolina, where we’ll spend week two of our big trip.

Asheville, NC

Our first North Carolina stop is Asheville! It’s been on my list of places to see for a while, so I recruited the help of our lovely hostess from Oddfellows Antiques, Kelly Haskin, to answer a few questions about the city and the best places to eat, shop, and visit. Here’s what she had to say.


What are the best off-the-beaten-path restaurants or bistros you love to visit?

Kelly: Asheville is such a foodie’s town. It has an amazing number of top notch, locally-owned bistros and restaurants. It is hard to find an off-the-beaten-path bistro, but my favorites are Curate (photo above courtesy of A Bed of Roses), which is in the heart of downtown, and The Admiral, which is a dive in West Asheville that has a super-creative and simply delicious menu.

What do you like to do on your days off?

Kelly: Tom and I have two young children, so on our days off, we love to have some quality time with a hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway or a beer at the Bywater, which is an amazing kid- and pet-friendly outdoor bar right on the river, or some time at Carrier Park which has great trails and sporting fields, a huge playground, and even a lawn bowling court and roller hockey rink.

Biltmore Estate What is Asheville best known for?

Kelly: Asheville is probably most known for its natural beauty. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, every season is lovely. People come to visit the Biltmore Estate (above) and the historic Grove Park Inn. There is a large healing arts community as well as a very rich arts culture in Asheville. Many artists and craftsmen choose Asheville for its beauty and community feel. For its size, Asheville has an amazing amount of galleries, festivals, and shows.

If a visitor were coming for only one day, what is the MUST-SEE/DO recommendation you would give them?

Kelly: If I were visiting for just a day, I would take a hike at any one of the amazing trails on the Parkway and explore downtown Asheville. There are so many terrific shops, restaurants, and galleries in town, and it is very walkable for a day trip. The people watching is always interesting, as well. Asheville is full of unique individuals!

What is something unique about Asheville that it can claim as its own, such as Austin is the Live Music Capital of the US?

Kelly: Asheville has been voted Beer City USA several years in a row, and it is a title all Ashevillians are very proud of. The city is packed with craft breweries and amazing bars like the latest two additions Wicked Weed and Ben’s Tune Up. Both are vital stops on any beer tour of Asheville!

Tell us more about Oddfellows Antiques!

Kelly: Tom and I own Oddfellows, a design warehouse in the Biltmore area of Asheville. We have been importing antiques from Europe for 12 years and share our 12,000 square foot shop with ten of the most talented dealers in town. We carry everything from Mid-Century to industrial to newly upholstered furniture and lighting. The shop is always changing, which keeps it exciting. Come see us when you visit Asheville!

Oil and cotton bench class

SCHEDULED ASHEVILLE EVENTS CLASS: We’ll be at Oddfellows on Wednesday, November 13 (1-5pm) teaching the bench class (there’s the class in action last Monday (above)). Register HERE! And check out Kitsch Fabrics and Foam and Fabrics Oulet in Asheville on your way to class.

BOOK SIGNING: Sit down and chat with us and get your Spruce book signed at Malaprop’s Bookstore on Wednesday at 7pm.

Raleigh, NC Furbish Studio Collage

On Thursday, we head to Raleigh to meet up with Furbish Studio and Jamie Meares. Many of you are already familiar with Jamie and her blog, I Suwannee. If not, it’s a MUST READ for interior inspiration! Katherine and I already have a shopping list made for our visit to Furbish and are working on clearing out some space in the trailer for some new treasures. We spoke with Jamie’s colleague Leah Dorsey, Furbish’s Retail Store Manager, about what to do and see.


What are the best off-the-beaten-path restaurants or bistros you love to visit?

Leah: All of the restaurants I like are local and seasonal. Stanbury (above) is a great, new restaurant that’s tucked away. It’s owned by a few guys from Raleigh. The menu is always changing depending on what’s fresh and available, and it has small and large plates. There’s also Quality Grocer in Oakwood, a historical neighborhood in Raleigh. It just recently re-opened and it’s a cool place for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It used to be an old-school grocery (established in 1909), and they kept the name and the charm. It’s revamped, but they kept the structural elements, like the big Quality Grocery sign painted on the side of building that’s peeling away. A well-known restaurant is Poole’s Downtown Diner, owned by Ashley Christensen. Poole’s sparked the revitalization of downtown Raleigh ten years ago. All of the menu is on a chalkboard, and it’s all seasonal; when it’s out it’s out. It’s always packed.


What do you like to do on your days off?

Leah: I ride my bike and walk around the Greenway System that runs all around Raleigh. I also like craft beer, and there are some great beer stores. Tasty Beverage is a great place that serves all sorts of beer, and it’s near our train station. I also like going to the North Carolina State athletic games or seeing the Carolina Hurricanes.

What is Raleigh best known for?

Leah: It’s a big research city and it’s also up-and-coming. It’s constantly growing, constantly featured as one of the best places to live for your health, for work, for raising children, and for education. We also have a big music scene since we have the Raleigh Symphony Orchestra. We have many music venues that attract a large range of artists.


If a visitor were coming for only one day, what is the MUST-SEE/DO recommendation you would give them?

Leah: Walk around downtown and check out the local shops, or go to the North Carolina Museum of Art (above). The museum is also linked to the Greenway, so you can walk from there and look at the outdoor art installations. It has an outdoor amphitheater, and during the summer they play movies on the outdoor wall. Or you can go in the building and dine at The Iris. They get a lot of great exhibits. Right now there’s a Porsche exhibit.  

What is something unique about Raleigh that it can claim as its own?

Leah: It’s a great place to live. It’s constantly growing, and people are investing their time and money into restaurants, jobs, and businesses. Also, we have great weather!

Tell us more about Furbish Studio!

Leah: It’s a varying mix for you and your home. We have furniture, personal accessories, interior design, and fabric in our warehouse. We try to be one of a kind.


Chapel Hill, NC

Flyleaf Books (above) hosts our final North Carolina events in Chapel Hill. Join us for Bench class on Friday, November 15 (1-5pm) followed by a book signing at 6pm. We got the scoop on what to do in the city and the surrounding area from Linnie Greene, Flyleaf’s Marketing and Publicity Coordinator.


What are the best off-the-beaten-path restaurants or bistros you love to visit?

Linnie: I think of Flyleaf being off the beaten path, since it’s down a hill, sort of within walking distance of the University (of North Carolina). We lucked out because there are a few good restaurants near our location. Foster’s Market was started by Sarah Foster, who was a collaborator and assistant to Martha Stewart. It has a cold case deli with sandwiches, pizza, and they sell a lot of gourmet gift food. On the other side of us is Kitchen. It’s a bit higher end, but for what you get, it’s really affordable. It’s casual French fare because you don’t have to dress up to go there. They have mussels, steak frites — just really, really delicious food. There’s also Lucha Tigre, and that’s Asian-Mexican fusion. It’s amazing! They have a huge selection of tequila and sake, although we don’t get that for lunch! They also have good tacos and empanadas (above), and pho. They experiment and mix different flavors.


What do you like to do on your days off?

Linnie: There’s an independent movie theater called Chelsea Theater I go to. I live in the country in a town call Mebane. From there, you can do day trips. There are lots of rural areas that are beautiful and little towns with historic sites. I like spending time in Hillsborough (photo above courtesy of James & Monique’s RV Travels). It’s a literary town that’s really old and houses a lot of North Carolina’s writers. It reminds me of New England because there are trees everywhere, and they have great barbecue restaurants. I  also enjoy hanging out in Carrboro. It’s sort of a hipster enclave. It’s small and there’s a lot of craft beer, independent boutiques, and businesses.

Crook's chef

What is Chapel Hill best known for?

Linnie: Chapel Hill is known for its music. Elizabeth Cotten (a well-known black blues and folk musician, singer, and songwriter) was from Carrboro.  Since then, the ’90s was a time when a lot of smaller bands took off, and Merge Records is in Durham and got started around that time. We’re also known for our food, but in a way that’s totally unpretentious and playful. It’s something that won’t cost you an arm and a leg to be a part of. Bill Smith (the James Beard award-winning chef behind Crook’s Corner, pictured above with Lynne Rossetto Kasper, host of The Splendid Table) will ride his bike on the Carrboro bike trail during the summer to collect honeysuckle for his kitchen.


If a visitor were coming for only one day, what is the MUST-SEE/DO recommendation you would give them?

Linnie: They should walk through the (University of North Carolina) campus because it’s beautiful. Then I would send them to Carrboro to spend the afternoon people watching on the lawn, and I’d tell them to get lunch at  Carrburritos, a burrito place. Carrboro also has a great grocery cooperative, Weaver Street Market. Then have dinner at Crook’s Corner. It’s known for serving things like shrimp and grits and persimmon pudding. For the evening, I would send them to get a cocktail at The Crunkleton (above). It’s beautiful and it’s on Franklin Street, which is our main drag. It has windows that open from floor to ceiling and has a lodge feel with a pool table and beautiful art. Order a Dusty Cactus!

What is something unique about Chapel Hill that it can claim as its own?

Linnie: Chapel Hill is an enclave of culture and art and open-mindedness in the South, but it still has a lot of charm of the South. It’s a place where you can come as you are and be yourself.


Tell us more about Flyleaf Books!

Linnie: Flyleaf (above)  is about to turn four years old. We are an independent bookstore, and we try to carry everything under the sun in terms of writing. What distinguishes us is the clientele, which is a reflection of the community: diverse, passionate about a lot of subject matters, and voracious readers.

While in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill triangle, check out the fabric stores below on your way to class! Can’t wait to see you, North Carolina!

Thimble Pleasures

Mulberry Silks and Fine Fabrics (located in the historic Carr Mill Mall, which was once a hosiery mill)

Not Just Linens.