Dirt Home + Garden
By Karen Parr-Moody

 Jason Parker Counce's Dirt Home + Garden booth looks like a room in a cozy cabin decorated for a man of the interwar period. The facade is topped with the steel cutout word "Dirt" done up in bare light bulbs and windows are trimmed in charming window boxes. Inside, the walls are covered in faded denim and navy cotton ticking.

Along the walls are shabby chic items that possess a masculine spirit. An Art Deco dressing table in the corner has been repurposed as a bar. Varsity letters decorate the walls. Vintage tennis racquets are repurposed as mirrors. Preppy striped ties hang under a sign that says "No hunting." On a table, a lamp is fashioned out of a vintage bowling pin.

The look is distinctive but low-key. It seems to have distilled the essence of a Southern aristocrat's country home or a blue blood's Adirondack "cottage" — provided the owners' inheritance is starting to dwindle and the antiques are looking every bit their age.  

Nearby, Counce stands with his black pug puppy Sophie and — as several another antique dealers just told him — his outfit matches his booth perfectly. He wears a crimson cashmere sweater over a blue Brooks Brothers button-up. His jeans — the Nashville brand Imogene + Willie, naturally — look winningly appropriate with worn-in biker boots.

"Dirt is almost like a style," he says. "It's the new reclaimed living. It's Americana ... and I like to mix in the industrial with the primitive."

Counce has long been a fixture in GasLamp Antiques and Decorating Mall with his Booth B-309 that is known simply as Jason Parker Counce Designs. Dirt Home + Garden is his second such venture, also known as Booth T-309, and is located in the new store, GasLamp Too.

When trying to come up with the concept for his second booth, Counce says, "I was trying to think, 'What is a style I would gravitate toward?'"

Counce likes to shop at the Southern fashion designer Billy Reid's store in Green Hills and also at the hip denim store Imogene + Willie. He loves flags, quilts, ticking and vintage black and red "anything," he says. All of these influences reveal themselves in the finished product of Dirt.

Like the stores he loves, Dirt features handmade Southern products. He's selling locally made pecan brittle for the holidays. He also sells a men's fragrance called "Moonshine Men" that comes in a flask and was created by three University of Georgia graduates. "Speakeasy," the women's version, comes in a stylish atomizer.

Dirt also features the art of Nashville artist Ken Walls, whose canvases reflect the retro themes of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and Orange Crush soda.

"I like the Orange Crush one," Counce says. "It's nostalgic for me."

The store's name is also a play on words, Counce says. "It's like, 'What's the latest dirt?'"

For the upcoming Christmas holidays, Counce's own artisan works — which he has been creating for years — will blend in with Dirt.

"I'm really into a homemade holiday with everything I'm doing," he says.

Counce is making candy canes out of red and white ticking. There are some snowmen made from an old cashmere blanket. The snowball face ornaments are made out of vintage cotton.

His Santa figures are extra special and will be "holding all of this cool stuff," Counce promises, such as old paper houses or feathered bouquets of greenery. For each Santa's clothing, he has used a variety of vintage materials — old Army blankets, wool blankets, cotton batting and mink fur.  Each Santa has a soft, mohair beard.

It is no wonder that even Santa gets the natty-meets-shabby treatment for Dirt. The booth promises to be a wonderland of unstudied luxury, no matter what the season. And that's the real dirt on the matter.

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