In a world of spec-built contemporary homes and slightly amorphous modern design, a countermovement that celebrates the use of rugged and authentic salvaged materials has taken root in the heart of historycrazy Old Town McKinney.
Credit the visionary work— and some good timing—to Ed Carel, who has parlayed his interest in blending century-old décor into new home projects and seen some wider opportunities open up.
Carel has already established a significant following with the hybrid historical/contemporary home projects he’s undertaken through Integrity Custom, his building company—celebrating its 20th anniversary this fall.
Designers and aficionados alike have flocked to Carel’s Tumbleweeds Architectural Co., a warehouse full to the rafters with loads of the historical staircases, bathtubs, flooring and cabinetry he and his wife have found during decades of treasure-hunting trips across the South and to the Midwest.
Carel ups the ante with the debut of Tumbleweeds’ all-new showroom, a dual-purpose facility that mixes an intimate retail experience with a modern dinner and events space, suitable for business luncheons, wedding receptions or even musical gatherings of up to 100 guests.
Tumbleweeds’ existing showroom will be converted into a design center, a helpful tool as the pace of Integrity Custom’s projects expands, Carel explains.
“We decided to make a big jump from our existing warehouse showroom but, to be honest, I didn’t want to manage a space with 3,000 square feet of retail,” Carel says. “McKinney has become a big destination for weddings and the whole farm-to-market movement, so this seemed like a great opportunity.”
Carel will be working with three local executive chefs to offer invitation-only dinners, business meetings and public events in the space, as well as hourly rentals catering to everyone from realtors to Rotary Club members.
In the other portion of the building, Tumbleweeds’ new showroom will allow both historical décor enthusiasts and newcomers alike to sift through Carel’s latest finds, including British and European treasures sourced by a designer partner in the United Kingdom.
Carel says he hopes venue clients who may not have been exposed to the company’s bewildering array of salvaged wood, fireplace inserts and windows will get a chance to organically experience the charms of the merchandise, simply by walking through the showroom.
Not surprisingly, the event space has been outfitted with a deft blend of historical details, including an entire dormer salvaged from a turn-of-thecentury home, plus columns and posts, string lights, and some one-of-a-kind 48-inch rafter fans repurposed as light fixtures. Harvest tables, a small stage and even backdrops for a photo booth all have a bit of that Tumbleweeds touch.
While his workload has become very busy, split between his ever-growing construction business—Integrity Custom is currently working on 26 active projects, as well as a few entirely new from-the-ground-up developments—Carel says he still loves the art of the hunt for great historical pieces.
“Those buying trips are tremendously exciting,” he says. “My wife is a researcher and together we enjoy the experience of finding and hunting out long-closed antique stores or even condemned buildings for materials.”
On a recent excursion, the Carels discovered the entire contents of a 1920s pharmacy, including cabinets, jewelry shop display cases and lots of beveled and leaded glass, all up for grabs in the showroom.
“We’ll crawl through basements or into attics to find doors, electric fixtures and wood trim,” Carel says. “But we also love visiting all the little diners and cafés we find along the way, and talking to people and getting to know their stories— sometimes that’s another source of leads for material.”
Andy Stonehouse is a writer and editor based in Greeley, Colorado, specializing in automotive, recreation and shelter stories. He can be reached at email@example.com.