Mary Miller knows her stuff. I had the pleasure to sit down with Mary for an hour or so and hear her story on how she started Abode and wow, is it a story! She is so talented, has spent most of her life designing and owning her own business that has taken her from New York to France and back south to Charlotte.
Now, if you don’t know Abode, it is a beautiful home store filled with treasures that Mary has found that are one of a kind. She has things that no one else will carry. She has spa products from Turkey and France, hand blown glass from Belgium, tablecloths from Italy and gets a lot of these at auctions. Mary loves finding vintage and antique things from flea markets in Paris, Italy and England. So, when you buy something from Abode, there will be a special story behind whatever you find.
Mary Tobias Miller was born in Columbia, South Carolina and left business school to move to NYC, where she took an 8 week course at NYC school of design. She ended up staying in New York for 10 years!! During her time in New York, she worked for 3 top interior designers and learned so much, that she started her own store in NYC called Mary Tobias Interiors. I love it!! To start a store on your own is a BIG DEAL. To start one in New York is a HUGE DEAL. Mary ended up eventually getting engaged and moving to Philadelphia with her husband, where she commuted from back and forth to run her store and interior design business.
In 1991, Mary, her husband and 3 kids moved to Columbia, SC to be closer to family. Her business was renamed Mary T. Miller and she ran it out of her house, all while raising 3 children. Women can do it all can’t we?? One of my favorite things that I learned about Mary was that for 3 summers, Mary would take her children to France and stay all summer. The kids would go to camps and spend a summer learning French and she would scour the Paris markets for antiques and one of a kind pieces for her clients. She knows the European markets up and down. Not many people can say that they have done that. There is truly an artform to the way she buys and designs.
In 2003, the Miller family moved to Charlotte and in 2008 she opened Abode. Well, as you know, the market crashed in 2008 and she said they stayed open by the skin of their teeth. She would broke even and that is why it worked and she kept going! In 2017, Abode moved to East Blvd where it currently resides. She also has a store in Banner Elk that opened 3 years ago. If you want sticks and bears for your mountain house, this is not the place to go – she has beautiful things with gold accents and does the “modern mountain house.”
Mary’s first love is design. She loves renovations. She enjoys being on site, moving walls around, building from the ground up. She likes making something unique. Mary built her own house around an antique screen in her living room that she wanted to be the focal point of the living room – – the walls, the lighting, etc, are all built around this one screen. She does it all! If you need a kitchen redone, she does it all from the tile, to the lighting, to the plumbing and even the electric.
All of the Art in the store and online are bought from dealers and flea markets. She has both reproductions and originals and will always explain to the client which is which and the difference in them. She also buys from the heart, not as an investment.
Mary would say her style is transitional design. She likes to layer…..freshen up an old house or give a new home some history. Vintage with modern, traditional with transitional.
As I said, Mary helps people all over with her talent. Here are a few projects that she has done with a little backgound behind each. She can help you if you are here in Charlotte, or out in California!
Here is the Mary, the brains behind Abode. She was so wonderful to sit down with and I know she would be amazing to work with on any project. Contact her today, shop online or in her store on East Blvd. Charlotte is so lucky to have so many talented women!
One more thing! I am going to let you in on a little secret. Once the world gets back to normal, Mary will be taking a group of about 10 people once or twice a year to Paris to to go on antique buying trips! You will stay in high end hotels, have speakers, go to fine dining, shop the flea markets and learn about the secrets and treasures of Paris. Every trip will be different and one day she would love to expand to Italy too. So, stay tuned!!