The son of a preservationist/antiques dealer and a scientist-turned-old-time-hardware-store-owner, Bo Sullivan grew up in a 200-year-old house in a 300-year old-town that had been forgotten by time. He spent his teen-age years digging up bottles and bits of china, and exploring cobwebbed attics and abandoned garages. After graduating from North Carolina State University School of Design with an architectural degree in 1988, Bo spent several years as a designer and carpenter renovating older homes before beginning a 20-year association with Rejuvenation Inc. in Portland, Oregon. It was here that he encountered his first roll of M.H. Birge & Sons wallpaper...
“We found these in the basement of our house,” said the young couple, dropping two boxes of old wallpaper rolls in front of Bo at the architectural salvage desk… “Want to buy them?” Deeply embossed and richly colored, these rolls looked just like actual tooled leather, with burnished metallic highlights and hand-brushed stain finishes that were breath-taking in their beauty. The seed of a wallpaper obsession had been planted.
In addition to buying and selling salvage, Bo was Rejuvenation’s architectural and design historian, developing authentic reproduction lighting and hardware products, helping craft the look and feel of the company’s unique retail stores, giving presentations and seminars on American old-house history and culture, and writing the copy for the company’s national mail-order catalog.
As a part of this work, Bo built and managed Rejuvenation’s research archive of over 4,000 rare original period trade catalogs, plan books, photographs, sales samples and other ephemera related to the American building arts from 1870 to 1970. Bo purchased his first wallpaper sample catalog for this archive – a spectacularly shabby circa 1904 sample book from Potter Wall Paper Mills – and that seed was watered.
In 2012, that slowly sprouting wallpaper seed got a big pile of fertilizer dumped on it in Western New York with the acquisition of not one, but two remarkable collections from families of long-passed wallpaper installers – hundreds of original wallpaper rolls from the 1880s through the 1920s, and in early 2013, that sprouting seed finally burst into flower as Bolling & Company.
Bo is also the founder of Arcalus Period Design, a consulting resource established in 2009 for old-house owners, preservationists, architects and design professionals engaged in projects with a deep and meaningful connection to history. From 2010 to 2013, Bo also wrote the regular "A Page From History" feature for Old-House Journal magazine, and he continues to produce articles on period design and building topics for national audiences.
Gwen Jones has always known what she likes and been attracted to beautiful things. Through her mother’s love of sewing Gwen developed an early understanding of fabric – the kind where she can guess fabric content by feel (though this is a harder trick these days with the amazing advances in fabric types). Her first objects of desire were clothing and she has always regretted not learning to sew. Instead, she followed a path that allowed her to afford to buy the clothes and other objects of beauty she admired, working for technology startups and telecommunication companies in sales/project/product management and customer service.
Like many old house lovers, Gwen grew up in a house that was not old and didn’t pay much attention to that fact. But a move to San Francisco in her mid-20s changed all that, when she found herself in the most architecturally captivating place she’d ever been. Living in the oldest building in Dogpatch, Gwen realized that houses, like clothes, were also clearly better made then than now, and her love of beauty and craft motivated the pursuit of crafting something beautiful herself.
Gwen co-founded Gracewood Design in 2004, and there created and produced the largest selection of hand-made floorcloths available anywhere, with designs ranging from Early American to Op Art, with an emphasis on Arts and Crafts styles. Over the course of twelve years, Gracewood Design delivered over 1000 custom-made floorcloths to clients in 19 countries. Focusing on the creative side of the business and managing all its business aspects, including the development of the company’s website and marketing materials, Gwen amassed more than a decade of experience working with homeowners, designers and corporate buyers in developing custom solutions to perfectly meet the customer’s vision and needs.
Joining Bolling & Company in 2016, Gwen is delighted to have found a new outlet for her desire to promote useful and historically relevant goods that have a unique place in today’s décor, immerse herself in color and pattern, and increase the number of beautiful objects in the world.