Urban Cowboy Brooklyn – Lyon Porter and Jersey Banks Interview
In May of 2014, Lyon Porter and Jersey Banks opened the Urban Cowboy Brooklyn. What started as a passion project became an obsession, as Lyon discovered a creative outlet in design.
As the Urban Cowboy Brooklyn community began to grow, so did the brand. Just as word about Urban Cowboy had spread to like-minded seekers around the world, so too did word of cool things happening in a city down south: Nashville, TN. Lyon and Jersey decided to experiment with extending the Bed and Breakfast to East Nashville. Within two hours of landing in Music City, they found the old Victorian mansion as if by providence. And so it began. Lyon tells us more.
Could you tell us a bit about your background and what inspired you to open up a B&B.
I was on a surf vacation and it just kind of hit me, it just kind of happened. Someone asked me what I did when I was down in Nicaragua on a surf trip and I was already designing the space I was just going to make it my dream house. They asked me what I did and I was just like, “I’m opening a bed and breakfast.” It just came out. Then I came back and I was like, “we’re opening a bed and breakfast,” and that was it.
Why the cowboy theme?
Cowboys equate freedom in Americana. I’m very interested in Freedom.
We love your strapline – ‘arrive as strangers leave as friends’ – how do you ensure your guests are made to feel welcome?
We create communal parlors, living rooms, bars with fire pits. Things for people to do together (like our musical parlor in Nashville with 25 instruments).
Running two very successful B&B’s must be very time consuming – how do you spread your time between the two?
I fly by the seat of my pants. Usually I’m literally flying weekly!
The interior of Urban Cowboy is absolutely stunning – did you design the rooms yourselves?
Yes, I designed both B&B’s and the bar/kitchen. I love southwestern style. I love things that look better when you beat them up, that’s kind of my design aesthetic, it’s like your favorite leather jacket. Like that couch [a beaten up brown leather couch] it’s already been partied on many times by the owner, but it keeps looking better and better — less shiny.
If you were going to give some tips to somebody designing a space or decorating a space, what would you say to them?
If it’s a personal space I would say do things that lend themselves really well to getting beat up. Don’t do fabric couches, do antiqued leather couches. Do materials that age well, repurpose things and give them a new life. I love taking an old porthole and making it a window. I think that where you found them and what they are gives them a little bit more of a story and a little bit more of a soul versus just like going online and clicking a button. I mean you have to do that for some things, but I think picking one piece that can carry every room. That’s a big thing, just one statement piece per room. For instance a big diamond window or a couch that’s bigger than most people’s apartments. You know these types of pieces can carry a room and then you’re filling in with some other things, but try to have at least one really amazing piece that you’ll actually spend money on.
In your opinion what makes a guest room special?
It should be an experience. Something that hits you and says, you are on vacation, and you’ve never been to a place like this before!
Lastly what would be your top tips on how to run a successful B&B.
Be ready to live in your business. Go a bit crazy. And meet the best (and worst) people who will change your life forever. Bottom line, be ready to live out loud with new people all the time. It’s an amazing thing to do!