Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bien dans sa peau

"Comfortable in one's skin"

She wanders out the kitchen and swings open her lovely
French gates, the squeakiness, familiar music to her ears.
She breathes deeply the air of the season, slowly enjoying
the moment. Another day she greets with gratitude.
Can pieces from another time actually give her lessons in life?
There is a certain "je ne sais quoi" that her surroundings
give her.
She calmly tinkers a bit with her potted flowers picking
the dried leaves and throwing them to the wind.
She smiles as she admires the beauty of the flower.
She likes the traces of moss that cling to the
bareness of the stone altar piece.
She walks away, knowing there is a purpose to it all.
Like the dead leaves in the wind, she leaves behind
her unwanted thoughts, ready to begin another day.

Philippe Starck's interpertation of an altar. Designed for L'hotel Meurice
Philippe Starck, probably the world's most famous
designer, included this rendition of an altar in the
lobby of the luxury hotel L'hotel Meurice, during a
recent renovation.
I think I would be correct in making the assumption that
he is comfortable in his skin.
Don't you think it reveals something about him?

The restoration of the altar took six months. Photo courtesy Maisons & Decors
The famous Belgium sculptor, René Julien has this altar
in his chateau that he is restoring. A bit flamboyant,
perhaps, but wouldn't you love to go to dinner with him?

I first saw this kitchen in 2004 when I bought Mary Emmerling's book "Romantic Country".
This kitchen is in the home of Donna Temple Brown, an Antiquarian who owns

The Gray Door in Houston.
This is reminiscent of a true Country French kitchen.
I know I would be safe in saying that her surroundings
reflect who she is and have influenced, who she has become.
Other than being a great design, don't you feel something
below the surface?
I've never met her, but she goes on my
"Want to have Dinner with" list too!
I would say too, she is comfortable in her skin.
Altar from Fluminalis, dealer of religious artifacts in the Netherlands
Decorative cartouches, traces of polychrome and gilt.
I can imagine this piece being a focal point in a kitchen or bath.
To see more from Fluminalis, click here.

Photo courtesy Smart Design
Most certainly the inspiration here came from an altar.

Another altar in a living room

One thing about the French, they are great bricoleurs. Bricoleurs are creative, imaginative people who develop new and original uses for things. Whether in fashion or in their interior design, there is an individuality to them. They are comfortable in their skin. As I age, I am becoming more comfortable in my skin. The French have helped me achieve that. I am a student of French people, French places and French pieces. I learn from all and I am learning "joie de vivre".
I just sold this French altar. It will be converted to a
bathroom vanity. The client is une brocoleuse!
Morale of the post.... If you have unwanted thoughts go buy an altar and leave them there. If you have wanted thoughts, please leave a comment.
And by the way, to all my blogging friends.....
You are on my "Want to go to dinner with" list too!
Somehow I get the feeling..........
You are comfortable in your skin!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

danse d'esprit

She's dancing.
Perhaps it is due to her spirit knowing beauty

Not empty beauty that is just for the eyes, but the type
that nourishes your soul.
Like the scent of a masterful blended perfume or
the sweet taste of a summer wine that lingers on your lips.
Like the sound of a church bell echoing throughout a
village or the feel of a hand carved antique heirloom.
The type of beauty that intertwines with all the
senses, the type of beauty that feeds the soul.

How does she know this beauty?
Because the good kings, queens, and commoners
of France took gifts from Mother Nature and
developed them into art forms. Many called them
frivolous in their time, but today, she celebrates
their acts of frivolity.

Some would probably say these petite greenhouses are frivolous.

She thinks they are nourishment for her soul. They are made to order from La Petite Serre de Nantes. Complete with bistro table and chairs, should you desire. Now she thinks these people just really get it!!

If Marie Antoinette were alive today, she would most certainly be enjoying cakes in such a place with Mother Nature as her company, not to mention it being a perfect resting place for Catherine d'Medici's perfumed gloves.

Bubbles floating or captured in glass, the artistry of a zinc finial, stone chiseled in the likeness of a poet, an elaborate urn to hold a flower or a French milled soap are not frivolous. They are the "joie de vivre".

She would tell you, it is only when all these elements, that so delight the senses, are combined will you know true beauty. The "Art de Vivre". The French taught her well.

Want to dance with her? She brought you a dress.

Floral dresses are from artist Nicole Dextras. Visit her site, some amazing work!

Merci Beaucoup Anna and Trudi!!
Two awards the same day from VillaAnna and DecoDetective.

I pass it along to some of my favorite bloggers and friends.

Bisou ami's and she says to tell you...
Some people may think you frivolous,
but dance anyway!!!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

une grande serviette

One Big Napkin
Just another thing I love about the French!
They are sooo practical.
You know those wonderful French monogrammed
linen napkins?
They are large! Most measure about 30".
Know why they need big ones?
Well, before you scroll down any further,
grab your French monogrammed napkin.
Your gonna need it honey!

What a lovely Country French Maison!

The entryway...Mirrored Gothic Antique Window Frames
Drooling yet???

Foyer....Now your mouth is starting to water.
Don't know where to look, do you?

Where are your manners? Cover your mouth!!

Anybody around know the Heimlich maneuver ??

Perhaps you need un verre de l'eau.
Gazeuse ou naturel ?

Perhaps you should politely excuse yourself from the table.

Visit the salle de bain........
Not much better in there is it?
Need to lay down?
No, that won't work either.
Let's go outside and get a little fresh air.
I don't know, we might just have to leave !

The photo's are from Provence Luxury Estate,
but if you go, you better get a few more napkins!
Call us if you need some!

Well at least you now know why they have
bigger napkins in France !
Makes sense that they are monogrammed too!
Keep your slobbers to yourself!

A Country French Antique Lover's Dream come true!!

Have a wonderful weekend! Bisou

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Elements of Ahhh

Composition :
the act of combining parts or elements to form a whole.

Since I am the créatrice of this Composition that is me,
I prefer to have my whole come from elements of Ahhh.

Photos from the Book, International Floral Art by Jaak Van Damme

Like a floral designer creating a composition, she chooses
her flowers.
Picking them up, one by one, she twirls the
stem between her fingers while raising it to the
light, her eyes dance across the petals, with an
occasional tilt of the head.
Whether or not the flower is chosen, rests with the
créatrice. If it has pleasured her senses, a smile will
usually follow. If she smiles, becomes
conscious of the fact she breathed in, and feels that
ahhh, the flower gets added to the composition.

Those ahhh moments are why I started blogging.
You see, sometimes, for me, there is a danger of
those moments getting shoved to the
back of my memory and I prefer them to stay
front and center.
Traveling to France is like a sensory overload
to me. I need a place for my ahhh's, other
than "dans ma tete".
I never thought when I started blogging about
my ahhh's, that other people would start
reading. I'm glad you are here! I hope that
sharing my ahhh's has given you a few too!

Seems like the perfect moment to share with you
another Ahhh moment from France.

About eight years ago, I was in the village of Billom in
the Auvergne region of France. Not a lot of Americans
seen here, it is pretty deep in the countryside.

I was at an auberge having lunch, seated next to an
elderly French gentleman and his wife.
The only French words in my vocabulary then
were Bonjour and Merci. You can imagine my
discomfort when the Frenchman tries to
politely engage in conversation. Despite my
inadequacies, I attempted to start rolling r's and
singing liaisons, only to his dismay.
(you know, Mark Twain once said France was a wonderful country,
only problem was they sometimes didn't understand French).
After a few exchanges, the Frenchman gets
this blank look on his face and starts waving
his arms to summon the waitress.
A big commotion then followed. ..
Oh my, I thought, I have humiliated myself
and in my ignorance said something dreadful,
not understanding why the waitress was
approaching all the other tables, and all eyes
were on me!
A few minutes later, another patron,
seated in the back of the auberge approaches
my table. I was squirming in my seat.
He introduces himself and speaks English.
Whew, little relief, at least now I would
know what it was I said that created the tizzy.
The English speaking Frenchman proceeded
to tell me that the elderly man and his wife
would like to buy my lunch, as a token of
appreciation, because I was American!
(Huh???, they already knew I was American because
of the Keds, now they knew I was Southern).
Oui, Oui, Oui, the English speaking Frenchman
says, he wants to say Thank You to the Americans.
He traveled to America in 1951 and
said he was treated with such kindness that
he wanted to give something back.
Such a fond memory, he said.
Little did he know, he was creating one of mine.

Like the floral designer picking the flowers
for her composition, a smile came to my face,
I became aware of that breath, and there was
an Ahhh in the pit of my stomach.
I want these little elements to be a part of,
my composition, and to share them with you.
It is important to me to keep them front
and center.

That my friends, is the France I know and love.
Along with her beautiful antiques, she
possesses some of the world's most beautiful people.
So many Elements of Ahhh has she!!!

Hope your day is filled with Ahhh's!

Bisou mon ami's and Thank You for sharing in my Ahhh's

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Les Rendezvous

So many places to go and things to see.
If you are looking for something to do this weekend
why not jaunt over to Europe?
We have a three day weekend for Bastille Day,
so I've prepared three daily outings for you.
To France we go!

First stop Origines

Origines specializes in Architectural Antiques. Like these
fabulous oak planks. Wouldn't you love to have a floor
like this? Not to mention the Louis XVI bed.
This is so, so the real Country French !
Traces of gilt peering out from that chalky patina.
Gives me cold chills!!!
Need some great ceiling beams or a French door?

How about a stone mantelpiece?
I love the simplicity of these white rooms.
Of course, you don't need a lot going on
when you have all these fabulous rich textures.
Origines has a large selection of balcony iron,
garden statues, stone troughs, architectural
ornaments, terra cotta tiles....all things French.
You can spend a day wandering the website.
If you find something you want, give us a call,
perhaps we can bring it home on our container.
Now, I know I said France, but lets head across the pond
to Northumberland and the fabulous blog of Di Overton's,
It's worth the trip!
Di Overton's line of Ghost Furniture
What a fabulous sense of style Di has.
I love the way she styled her Ghost Furniture
catalog. This woman just has it together and
goes out of her way to share all.
There is a lot of information on blogs
that is just regurgitated. The one thing
I have noticed about Designers' Block,
is Di is the first on the block with the info!
So stop by and be sure and tell her
Thank You for bringing us all that
luscious info!
Who knows, you just might find something
can't live without!
I'm also giving you fair warning here,
be prepared to stay for a while!
Now, we always need a reason to return to
France right?
Patines du Sud sounds good to me.

Visit their gallery of wonderful before and afters.
That is, after they apply their magical patinas to the walls.
What amazing work!
Alain Cicot has traveled through France, Italy, Moroc
and Spain to work his magic. I wonder what he
would charge to come to the US?
No harm in dreaming right?
I can't think of a better way to spend a three day weekend!
Hope you enjoy yours and have a wonderful
Bastille Day!
Bisou mon ami's

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bienvenue à mon jardin

Welcome to my garden!

Devonia from Many Shades of Shabby has tagged me,
so as we walk around my garden, I'll tell you seven weird
and random facts about me. Seems fitting as my garden
contains many shabby's in the shade.

1. I love curved lines. Curved paths and flower beds,
I try to add curves to everything. An obsession almost.
No, not almost, it is!

This is my sideyard actually. That is the garage in the background
2. I have this thing about old brick and stone.
If you notice to the left of this photo there is
a framed wall. That is going to be a stone wall,
I live in a very, very old farmhouse which
just never seems to be finished.
3. Little things seem to thrill me!
Two years ago I planted a pink hydrangea and got the first
bloom this year! It's perfect don't you think?
4. I like garden statuary. I know you are really
surprised by that one.
5. I spoil Zoe rotten. I just can't help it, but she is like my child!
Bacon for breakfast and chicken for dinner. I love dogs!
6. I struggle with discipline. Sometimes, I purchase a
piece, (or two), in France, that I just have to bring home.
The metal doors above are a perfect example. They
will be painted and will be incorporated into the stone
wall that separates the back yard. Told you my
house is never finished!
7. I have some of the most wonderful clients ever.
There is a story behind the angels on c-scrolls.
I brought them back from France on one of my
trips and put them in the store to sell.
I have a client, we'll call him Mr. S.
He was quizzing me one day about what my
favorite finds were. Of course these were
on my list.
He purchased them and asked me to hold them
for him.
A week later, I get this beautiful letter in
the mail that reads something like this....
Dear Shawn,
I want you to know how much I appreciate
your going to France and bringing back
all these lovely things for us to enjoy.
The letter continues like this for a
while and then ends with....
Please accept these angels as a token
of my appreciation. I know that you
will appreciate them.
Mr. S
This is a true story!!!
No, he is not in love with me either,
let's just say I am not his type.
Needless to say, I cried, called him and
told him he was crazy, I could not accept
He wouldn't hear of it, so we came to an
agreement...that one day I would pass
them on to another person who I knew
would appreciate them also.
Until that day, I will walk out my
backdoor and they will remind me,
the world is a beautiful place full of
beautiful people!
Thank you Mr. S !!!!!
Just a side note here...
I am not going to tag anyone. I am afraid that
maybe the game is getting old.
Bisou mon ami's
Hope you enjoyed my garden.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

venez avec moi

"Come with me", she whispers.

Mirrored venetian overdoor from Mis en Demeure
On a journey to a place...
A spiritual place for your soul to drape itself
in the silk of your identity.
A place where Mother Nature has
created a masterpiece to pleasure your senses.
A place where the fruits of passion are in

"Come with me now", she says, raising her voice ever so slightly.
Wait not, for time is precious.
It is, a place of wonder.
A place, where the universe gives all to you.
A place, where you give back.
It is, where the source provides meaning.

Top 2 photos courtesy designer Katrin Arens, bottom left Au Maison
It is, a place just for you.
A place, where stars really twinkle and the
moon beams glow.
A place, where fairy dust falls and
the glass slipper fits.
Pressed vase in book, by Amrone Experimental, bottom left Katrin Arens maison in Italy
A place, where dreams and reality blend.

Pillow from Au Maison, top right photo from Cote Ouest
It is, a place of indescribable beauty.
I know her you see. She whispered to me. Many times in
fact, but I was afraid to follow her into the unknown,
until one day. I listened and I followed. I am so glad I did.

Photo courtesy Christine Miranda, Immobilier
Do you know her? Has she led you there or been
whispering to you ?
If you haven't seen her yet, listen closely, I'm sure she will
introduce herself.
Oh, by the way, her name is PASSION...follow her!
The above photos of Katrine Arens home and the
table setting were photographed by Nicolas Matheus.
To see more of this wonderful photographers
work go here.
Bisou mon ami's