Kim and Matt Harper breathe new life into old furniture
Story by Rebekah Martin
Photos by RAW Images
Kim Harper has a love of all things old. The wife and mother of five runs her small business, Harpermorelands Farmhouse Inspired Furniture, with her husband Matt. They have been married for two years but have known each other for more than a decade, and together the couple breathes new life into pieces that were once destined for the trash heap.
Kim said she was never the creative type. Matt studied art in college and pushed her to unlock her creative side after they were married. “We loved to watch Bob Ross, and one day Matt wanted to try oil painting, and I went along with it,” Kim said. “It turned out really beautifully – it was a field of tall grass, and I didn’t really know how it happened. He’s always brought this creative side out in me that I never really knew was there.
“When the kids were little, I couldn’t even do the cool mom science projects like everyone did. I was like ‘Here’s a shoebox … put a straw on it,’” she said with a laugh. “In the beginning I didn’t know how to even hold a paintbrush, and now we’re doing all this. If you would have told me a year ago that we were going to find this much success, I would have said you were crazy.”
From the early days of oil painting with their children to now repairing and revitalizing antique furniture, the Harpers put their hearts into each project they take on. “If we wouldn’t put it in our house, we won’t touch it,” Matt said.
They have also found they each bring certain skills to the table that meld and work well together. “His mom always said since he was a little kid he would take everything apart just to put it back together,” Kim said. Matt added, “When it comes to the vision, it’s all her … She’s a natural at it.
“I’m a very analytical person and follow all the steps; she’s the opposite, but it works,” Matt added. “We work really well together. I love it because we’re so contrasting … I can look at something and pretty quickly figure out how best to repair it, but then she’ll come and reign me in and ask about the functionality of the piece and whether it would sell.”
All in the name
Harpermorelands isn’t just the name of their business. Kim and Matt have a blended family of five children, ages 11-21, between the two of them. Harpermorelands is a blend of their last names: Harper, Morrison and Grantland. The couple said the business began with a family project everyone had a hand in: the family dining table – which is, of course, farmhouse style and seats seven. It now sits in the middle of their open-air dining room and is a centerpiece of their lives and home.
Kim said the farmhouse style has always been one of her favorites, and she can usually visualize the potential of a piece of furniture the moment she sees it. “There’s so much character, and it’s so appealing to me,” she said. “This piece looks like, if it could talk, it would tell me a really interesting story.”
Kim said she looks for pieces to make and sell that will serve purpose – not just look nice. “We want it to be beautiful but functional and dual-purposed, too,” she said. “Anything that has storage or more than one use will be a project I take on.”
Through it all, Kim said the lessons they’ve been able to teach their sons are a big reason why they do what they do. “We’ve taught our boys how to work hard, and then you don’t have to spend so much money when you can take something apart and create something else,” she said. “Just teaching them those things and the labor of work, I think that’s meant a lot to us.”
“Also the value of quality pieces that will last as opposed to cheap pieces that might be pretty but won’t stand the test of time,” Matt added.
Kim and Matt enjoy spending time together with their five sons: Michael, 21, Daniel, 21, Jackson, 19, Brandon, 18, and Liam, 11.
Kim and Matt sell their pieces at a booth at the Hartselle Antique Mall and on Facebook.