New "Urban Southwest" home store a true hidden treasure in many ways
Nov. 18, 2006 12:00 AM
I'm not sure why I even turned around and drove back. A Nancy Drew wannabe I am not.
I am, however, wildly inquisitive about every sliver and slice of life and it often leads me to some fascinating
places, like the one I was pulling up to now.
There wasn't even a sign up yet, but as I was driving by some workers in the back warehouse were
uncovering giant wooden objects that I'd never seen before. My curiosity got the best of me.
I'd just discovered Urban Southwest, one of the newest and most charming home furnishing stores in the
Valley. When you're trying to get your building ready for business, the last thing you need is a curious
columnist tagging behind you.
But owner Nick Colamartini couldn't have been more accommodating.
"Wait till I show you this," he said, and proceeded to share one of the best "oh my gosh" stories ever.
Hidden Treasure
More about the store's home furnishings in a minute.
The real story is the home itself. When he signed the papers, Colamartini thought he was buying a building
badly in need of repair. Once he started ripping into the walls he discovered something different.
"Inside the walls, we found an entire home that someone had just built walls in front of," Colamartini said. A
two-week remodel turned into three months of renovation and restoration of the past. (I keep thinking I
should be writing about the shop's merchandise, but I couldn't take my focus off Colamartini's treasure.)
"Behind every wall was a surprise," he said, as he pointed to wallpaper from the 1940s and an original light
bulb in a newly discovered closet. "Look! It still works, and it's 30 years old," he added, clicking the light on
by pulling down on a dusty, shredded chord.
Nice Mix
Each room, like the tiny rustic kitchen with exposed brick and original concrete floor, provides a unique
backdrop for Urban Southwest's eclectic mix of furnishings.
You can find a $6,000 hair-on-hide Western chaise lounge, a $3 drum, Persian pillows or a metal-wrapped
glass vase all in the same store.
Giant European trellises, old Mexican doors and massive decorative iron gates
dominate one room while
delicate paper lotus lamps and bark wood purses grace another.
Each item could stand on its own as or be integrated into many different home styles.
Moldy Decor
Remember those interesting wooden pieces that caught my eye and brought me back
to Urban Southwest?
"They're old machinery-part molds," Colamartini said. He bought two truckloads sight unseen about 20 years
ago and has kept them hoisted on pallets in a warehouse all these years. These are treasures of every
shape, size and price range from $5 to $300.
"Years ago, when a piece of machinery would break down, spare parts weren't available,"
he said. So a foundry would cast a new part from a wooden mold.
Then a second cement mold was made into which the hot steel was poured.
"These wooden molds make incredible art pieces, table bases or wall collages all of which we call 'Moldy
Decor' " he said.
Not for sale, but on display at the store is the massive shop book that has the numbered shop order for each
wooden mold, many of them dating as far back as 1904.

Watch for Jan from 11 a.m. to noon Monday and Thursday on Channel 12's Arizona Midday.
Hear her show from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturdays on KFYI-AM (550).

Thank you Jan!
The following is an article written by Jan D'Atri for the Arizona Republic
as we were stocking Urban
To see a video that was done by
Terrie O of Chanel 3
titled "Decorating With Doors"
at Urban Southwest
click on the following link
Home page