Idlewild Furnishings is unlike any other furniture and accessory store. Specializing in teak wood furniture and pieces from Indonesia, the treasures found at Idlewild range from plantation-style furnishings reminiscent of what would have been found in Singapore’s famed Raffles Hotel 100 years ago to tables and chairs designed by owner John Grimes and his wife Tara Lordi.
Grimes opened Idlewild in 1997 after years of coming to Wellington to play polo. He saw furniture being thrown out and saw the opportunity to bring a new type of furniture that would utilize teak and recycled old beams, helping artisans who create hand-crafted works of art to introduce their work to the equestrian community. His focus is on showcase pieces that become heirlooms, passed from generation to generation.
Grimes often travels to the islands of Indonesia, particularly Bali, as well as East Timor in search of exquisite teak. “You go into remote areas in the beautiful part of the archipelago of Indonesia, that’s 6,000 miles of islands, and every island is a little unique,” he said.
Grimes has explored remote areas of Indonesia for the last 20 years searching for the perfect pieces to bring back to clients.
“We’re not out there chopping trees; we’re using recycled teak,” Lordi noted.
Visiting the Idlewild studio, located on Indian Mound Road in southern Wellington, is like visiting a tropical oasis. The studio is situated on a tree farm featuring a home built in Bali that is used for special events. “I think it’s probably the coolest structure in Wellington,” Grimes said.
There are outdoor sitting areas set up with planters, garden-friendly lounges, stones and Buddha statues, fountains and seating, all set up to showcase the potential of the unique items that Idlewild is able to procure.
At the studio, they place pieces together, figure out how they work, and then put them into homes, Grimes explained. There’s a large white wall for photographing pieces — many of the photos can be found on Idlewild’s web site and Facebook page — and exotic furnishings as far as the eye can see.
Each piece has a story. Whether it’s the large wooden bowl that Lordi found that an entire family used to serve food in, the table and chairs they designed or the plantation chairs with a swing-out arm for elevating tired legs after a day working with horses, there is something intriguing and special about every piece that Idlewild carries.
“You can come in here and put a couple of these heirloom pieces in your home, and your home goes from some simple statement to something to really talk about,” Lordi said.
Whether for indoor or outdoor use, commercial or residential, Idlewild’s furnishings offer a “wow” factor that large stores can’t imitate or duplicate, she said.
Grimes and Lordi, both equestrians, were married in Indonesia and played polo on the beach the same day. Idlewild’s clientele is a unique group of connoisseurs, many of whom are also equestrians.
“Equestrians all have something in common: we like rugged pieces. We’re rugged people,” Lordi said. “We are riding 1,600-pound animals over large fences, or chasing down a field for a ball… We’re getting on these large animals and doing all these crazy acrobatics, whether its dressage, show jumping or polo, and what goes along with our mentality is generally a well-traveled side of us.”
Because equestrians travel the world, they’ve seen some of the exquisite things available, such as furniture made with pegs, without nuts and bolts, similar to what Idlewild offers.
“Everything that we make is hand-made. There are no production lines,” Lordi said.
Teak, a wood often used in boat making, has a special allure. For instance, Grimes explained, a large wood slab table might sell for $3,000. If the table were teak, it could easily be $10,000.
The pieces have a special power; they’re designed a certain way because that is how Grimes and Lordi want them designed, and their unique vision leads to highly recognizable pieces. Idlewild works with clients who want to stage a house for sale. Utilizing Idlewild pieces creates a powerful impact, they noted.
One of the mottos at Idlewild is, “You can’t afford cheap quality.” The items they carry are wood, through-and-through, Lordi explained, likening their clients to wine or art aficionados. Those who really enjoy fine wine, she explained, will find the stores that sell the best of the best, forgoing the common wines available at the supermarket. They want to take their passion to the next level. Those people actively seek out the best of the best, just as Idlewild clients seek out the unique items that Grimes and Lordi offer.
Lordi also has her own construction company, TLC, where she utilizes advanced technology to build digital renderings of what will later become reality. At Idlewild, she helps to enhance Grimes’ expertise. “This is his vision, these are his ideas,” she said of Idlewild. “This is him… He has cultivated and procured beautiful pieces for years.”
Grimes focuses on design while Lordi looks at the flow of the building and what kind of structural changes will enhance its beauty.
Over the years, Grimes explained, they’ve developed a special relationship with clients. “A very unusual relationship develops over these kinds of pieces,” he said. “I don’t know how to describe it. It’s not like going to the store and buying something.”
When people frequent a location decorated by Grimes and Lordi, they often say, “Oh, that must be an Idlewild piece,” Lordi said. “That’s so much fun to hear.”
Idlewild Furnishings is located at 12880 Indian Mound Road. If the gates are open, they’re probably at the studio. They close the gates at 4 p.m. Appointments are recommended, as hours vary.
For more information about Idlewild Furnishings, call (561) 793-1970, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.idlewildfurnishings.com.