Wandering Travelers – House of Nomad founders Berkeley Minkhorst and Kelley Lentini let their travels inspire their designs.

PHOTOS BY LAURA SUMRAK

When Berkeley Minkhorst and Kelley Lentini met for the first time, the two then twenty-somethings instantly clicked. Their connection went far beyond their similar childhoods: Minkhorst is a Charlotte native and Lentini grew up in Greensboro. “We really have a true passion for being inspired by our travels abroad,” says Minkhorst. Despite their inspiring travels, though, the two southern natives were stuck in corporate gigs that left little room for creativity. “We felt creatively stunted,” says Minkhorst.

And so the two decided to go out on their own and create a business that would merge their love for travel with interior design. It was then that House of Nomad was born. The now 31-year-olds travel around the world from Morocco to Mexico and everything in between, scouring old flea markets and remote villages and working with local artisans to create one-of-a-kind textiles and accessories for their clients here in Charlotte and throughout the Southeast. A quick glance at the duo’s portfolio of interiors and one can see that House of Nomad’s aesthetic is influenced by the pair’s travels—an eclectic mix of colors and patterns with a modern sensibility.

Here, Minkhorst and Lentini talk about how their travels inspire them, what they love about their sourcing trips, and where they can’t wait to travel to next.

HOW DID YOU TWO MEET?

Lentini: Berk was renovating her cute, little bungalow in Myers Park and had come into Restoration Hardware to buy a sofa. I was working there as a designer and I started helping her and her husband and by the end of the transaction, we had dinner plans! We just hit it off and connected on so many levels. We both realized while talking that Berk and her husband were planning a trip to South Africa, and my husband and I had just gotten back from there.

Minkhorst: We also both studied abroad in Florence at the same school at the same time. Just all of these overlapping things. But the one commonality that we were bound together by was our travels and the passion we have about the places we’ve been.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO START HOUSE OF NOMAD?

Minkhorst: We both recognized that we were lacking passion in the jobs we were currently in. I was in advertising with a marketing background. And Kelley was at Restoration Hardware in a corporate environment. We were both ready for something new. When we brainstormed about it, we kept coming back to our love for travel and how we wanted to start a business where we could travel and do our sourcing and buying during those trips. The more we talked about it and the more we threw these ideas against the wall to see if they’d stick, we kept coming back to our travels and interior design.

Lentini: Our love of home intersects with our love of travel and that’s at the core of House of Nomad. We’re inspired by our travels but also by the things we bring back to our homes and for our clients’ homes.

HOW DO YOUR TRAVELS INSPIRE YOUR INTERIOR DESIGN WORK?

Minkhorst: We oftentimes think, “What can we experience there that we can’t experience here,” and we channel that into our designs.

Lentini: We love that there’s a story behind these pieces and so do our clients. They want to know how something was made, who made it, why they made it. It gives a new meaning to the actual design of someone’s home.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT YOU’VE BROUGHT BACK FROM YOUR TRAVELS THAT PEOPLE ARE REALLY DRAWN TO?

Minkhorst: Everyone is really into Moroccan anything. It’s really on trend right now. And the fact that we’ve hand-selected these pieces while in Morocco, and then we help clients style that into their home is what they love.

Lentini: The Moroccan rugs are hugely popular for us. We went to one small, remote village in the Atlas Mountains outside Morocco where the villagers make their rugs using the wool from the sheep right there in their fields. Nothing is dyed so every rug is either black or off-white like the sheep, so they have this really authentic, rustic character to them.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE OTHER ITEMS YOU’VE BROUGHT BACK?

Minkhorst: We had one Moroccan artisan design round pillows for us made from mud cloth. Then had them shipped home.

Lentini: We also had these rug runners turned into skinny lumbar pillows and poofs. The pattern and color is truly from another world. Absolutely stunning.

WHERE ARE YOU HEADED NEXT?

Minkhorst: In January of this year we decided that we’re going to Bali in June or July for two and a half weeks. And then in the fall, we’re going back to Marrakech. Plus, we’ll sneak in a quick side trip to Paris and Milan.

ARE THERE ANY DESTINATIONS ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?

Minkhorst: We are both drawn to particular areas of the world. Kelley is more drawn to Asia and I’m more drawn to Africa. Bali is definitely a big one on our collective lists. Ghana is really high on my list, too. That’s one of those areas that’s more untouched than, say, Marrakech. We will get there. The great thing with Morocco is that they’re bringing in so many things from all over Africa so it’s super convenient to have all of those pieces in one place when we go on our sourcing trips. Australia is doing some really great things, too.

Lentini: We both definitely want to get back to South Africa, too. And, I think, from a sourcing perspective, India has so many beautiful items there that I’d like to get there in the next few years, as well.

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