Something Old, Something New

Kudzu Antiques+Modern touts a treasure trove of cherished furnishings

By Vanessa Pascale Rust

Sustainable shopping is important because it reduces energy use and pollution, plus lessens our carbon footprint – take it from George Lawes, co-owner of Kudzu Antiques+Modern, one of Atlanta’s most established antique businesses. 

“It not only saves the landfills, it saves our collective cultural memory of those who have gone before and the things that they cherished in their lives,” says Lawes.“That’s why we repair and restore so many items in our workshop — one of my favorite places in the store. We feel strongly that if you can extend the life of an item and pass it on to future generations, then that’s important.”

“When you come into a store like Kudzu, if you’re lucky, you find something unique and wonderful that could end up being in your family for years, perhaps generations, to come. That’s really one of the fun parts of our business: seeing the delight on someone’s face when they make that find. And my favorite thing is helping someone find it!” adds Kate Lawes, co-owner of Kudzu and Lawes’ wife.

The couple stepped in to run the store, originally owned by Kate’s mother, when her health declined more than 43 years ago. The business became a full-time job for the husband-and-wife duo, who left their jobs to pursue “an exciting career as antique store owners.” While raising three children, the Decatur couple went to work on taking the business into the 21st century. They overcame low profits and a leaking roof, eventually transforming Kudzu into the 26,000 square-foot business it is today. 

Now, Kudzu has two locations — Kudzu Antiques+Modern in Decatur, which boasts an eclectic blend of antique and new furnishings, and Kudzu and Company in Sandy Springs, which focuses on new, upscale furnishings. 

“We have always felt it was important that our store reflect our home — a personal mix of old and new collected over the years. That’s really how most people’s homes are, and Kudzu provides that,” says Kate.

The Decatur store is a sprawling market with three distinct sections. One section features unique, hand-selected antiques the Lawes have found during their trips to England, France, Denmark and other locales. 

“When we go antiquing in Europe, we love the hunt. Hitting the fairs at five in the morning, flashlights in hand, digging through old barns and warehouses, pulling over at roadside brocantes — it’s a lot of work but a lot of fun, and we have met so many interesting people over the years,” George shares. 

The second section boasts new furniture, and the third section showcases pieces from some of Atlanta’s best vintage dealers, which are brought in daily. “We always encourage customers to look carefully if it’s an older piece. Pull out the drawers, wiggle the legs, look at the back – that often tells you a lot about the age. But remember, it could be 150 years old or more, so don’t expect perfection,” advises George.

“In terms of value, a nice antique chest of drawers is going to have a lot more value in 10 or 20 years than an equivalent brand-new piece for the same price,” adds Kate. “In terms of trends, nice, quality antiques are coming back into style. People appreciate their patina and history. Mid-century Scandinavian furniture continues to be strong and appeal to many of our younger shoppers.” 

“Kudzu is as much an experience as a store. We continually have out-of-town customers say this is one of their first stops when visiting Atlanta. And they leave saying, ‘I wish we had a Kudzu in our town!’ That brings a smile to our faces and makes all the hard work worthwhile,” George remarks. 

2928 E. Ponce de Leon Ave.

Decatur, GA 30030


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