Every Which Way

Traci English moved the rustic-chic look out of the lodge. Portrait by Rachel Pressley

Over a 33-year career in interior design, there’s not much Traci English hasn’t done, and done thoroughly. The Hendersonville native has busied herself for the past seven-and-a-half years as head designer and manager of High Country Furniture & Design, located in a century-old building on Main Street in downtown Hendersonville. “I helped open this location in 2013; it was a grand adventure,” English shares. She calls the store a “one-stop shop with accessories, furniture, accent pieces, and art.”

Here, she dishes on owning her own design business and what really gives an interior a mountain-rustic feel.

You’ve worn many design hats.
Absolutely. I earned my Interior Design degree from Appalachian State University. I lived and worked in Highlands and Cashiers for many years and owned English Green Interiors with Debra Green. Sixteen years ago, I returned to Hendersonville, started my own firm, Acorn Creek Design, and got involved in the building side of things, helping contractors and builders with appliance selection, plumbing and electrical planning, lighting design, and floor and space planning. I also worked as a designer with Jennings Builders Supply.

Then the Recession happened, which impacted construction profoundly.
Yes, many Cashiers builders had to walk away. It wasn’t an easy time. By chance, I was in High Country Furniture & Design in Waynesville for a project. I knew everyone there well, as I’d been buying for clients for years. I was talking to [owner] Anne Worrell, told her things were slow, and that I was available if she needed help. She was receptive, I started working there one day a week, and after two weeks I became a full-time employee at the Waynesville store.

You not only helped High Country open their Hendersonville store, you persuaded the Worrells to take the leap.
I was, and are we glad we did it! When I entered the space, which a friend was vacating, I immediately realized it was perfect for us — three whole levels. Between Anne’s clients in the area and my client base, we hit the ground running.

You “only” wear two hats there.
And I love them both: manager and designer. I serve everyone from tourist walk-ins discovering us to clients outfitting year-round or seasonal vacation homes. We have our own custom workroom in the Waynesville showroom where our talented seamstress does custom work. We’re a Hunter Douglas window-product dealer, and I work with our Waynesville designer creating custom window treatments and bedding. We work with a talented re-upholsterer, too. There’s nothing we can’t do.

How has the look that clients seek changed over the years?
Many seasonal homeowners love the rustic-mountain elegant look, which High Country is known for. Our Waynesville stores cater to customers who are attracted to that homey cabin/lodge look. In this store, we also offer options to customers looking for a transitional rustic look, not typical farmhouse style, but inclusive of cleaner “Zen-rustic” lines. This look can flip flop either way to more modern or more classic; it’s inspired by nature but not in that hunting-and-fishing-lodge way. We’ve shifted from beiges and grays to using more nature-inspired color.

What surprises people about High Country?
They can’t believe how big and well put together it is. In the past, clients bought investment or antique pieces they intended on keeping for decades. Younger couples follow trends a bit more, and are comfortable changing things up if they tire of a piece five years down the road.

Biggest misconception people have about your work?
That we’re unaffordable. Aside from our complimentary design services, you can get a sofa for $700 or $7,000 and any price in between. We’re constantly changing our vignettes. Nothing looks the same for long.

High Country Furniture & Design, 342 North Main St., Hendersonville. For more information, call 828-698-2555 or see highcountry.com.