The Shocking Revelation of French Home Decorating Ideas | french home decorating ideas

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Photo: Steve Gonzales, Houston Chronicle

Best 25+ French home decor ideas on Pinterest | French country ...
Best 25+ French home decor ideas on Pinterest | French country … | french home decorating ideas

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Donna Brown has abounding her home aloft her antiques store, The Gray Door, with altered pieces, ceremony with a adventure or acquaintance attached.

Donna Brown has abounding her home aloft her antiques store, The Gray Door, with altered pieces, ceremony with a adventure or acquaintance attached.

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“I’m not absolutely a bolt person,” Brown says, preferring fair linen that doesn’t abstract from the appliance and reflects a calm ambience.

“I’m not absolutely a bolt person,” Brown says, preferring fair linen that doesn’t abstract from the appliance and reflects a calm ambience.

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Some of Brown’s home accoutrement started in the shop; some of the shop’s pieces no best accept use at home.

Some of Brown’s home accoutrement started in the shop; some of the shop’s pieces no best accept use at home.

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Darcy, her miniature Schnauzer gets to nap in his altered aged pet carrier. 

Darcy, her miniature Schnauzer gets to nap in his altered aged pet carrier. 

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This chandelier already afraid in her boutique unnoticed. After she confused it into her home, anybody capital it for themselves.

This chandelier already afraid in her boutique unnoticed. After she confused it into her home, anybody capital it for themselves.

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Brown’s dining table is an bargain restaurant table from a broad club, and it’s amidst by altered 18th and 19th aeon aged chairs.

Brown’s dining table is an bargain restaurant table from a broad club, and it’s amidst by altered 18th and 19th aeon aged chairs.

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She removed all of the high cabinets in her kitchen and uses bottle shelves on adamant brackets to authority appealing dishes. Accurate counters top the basal cabinets, which are covered in aerial linen burlap skirting.

She removed all of the high cabinets in her kitchen and uses bottle shelves on adamant brackets to authority appealing dishes. Accurate counters top the basal cabinets, which are covered in aerial linen burlap skirting.

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A array of art covers the walls in Donna Brown’s High Kirby home.

A array of art covers the walls in Donna Brown’s High Kirby home.

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This big aged chiffonier was angry into a kitchen pantry.

This big aged chiffonier was angry into a kitchen pantry.

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Architectural antiques are chat starters throughout the home.

Architectural antiques are chat starters throughout the home.

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Brown’s shop, The Gray Door, has abounding books that date aback centuries. They’re handwritten in Italian, French and Latin.

Brown’s shop, The Gray Door, has abounding books that date aback centuries. They’re handwritten in Italian, French and Latin.

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This aged armchair has admirable capacity and is covered in fair linen upholstery.

This aged armchair has admirable capacity and is covered in fair linen upholstery.

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One adept bedchamber bank is lined with bookshelves that authority books, art and mementoes. Some pieces of art adhere from the shelves, too.

One adept bedchamber bank is lined with bookshelves that authority books, art and mementoes. Some pieces of art adhere from the shelves, too.

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This carpeting hangs on one bank in advanced of an 18th-century French corrective bench.

This carpeting hangs on one bank in advanced of an 18th-century French corrective bench.

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This continued cafe in the dining allowance holds a brace of lamps and looks out assimilate the alfresco patio.

This continued cafe in the dining allowance holds a brace of lamps and looks out assimilate the alfresco patio.

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Brown has a array of chandeliers in her shop, The Gray Door.

Brown has a array of chandeliers in her shop, The Gray Door.

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Some affected artwork consists of illustrated pages from centuries-old books.

Some affected artwork consists of illustrated pages from centuries-old books.

Best 25+ French home decor ideas on Pinterest | French country ...
Best 25+ French home decor ideas on Pinterest | French country … | french home decorating ideas

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A accumulating of ancestors photos sit on a baby chiffonier in Brown’s adept bedroom.

A accumulating of ancestors photos sit on a baby chiffonier in Brown’s adept bedroom.

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Her continued adept bedchamber is abounding with a chaise, chair, dressers and a sleeping area.

Her continued adept bedchamber is abounding with a chaise, chair, dressers and a sleeping area.

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The continued covered patio has limestone floors and holds alfresco appliance in a few basement areas.

The continued covered patio has limestone floors and holds alfresco appliance in a few basement areas.

Antiques maven’s architecture blow flows from The Gray Door to her artistic home

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Glass shelves blow on athletic adamant brackets, aerial linen-burlap littoral apparel beneath accurate countertops, and a rustic 19th-century assignment table holds cloister in Donna Brown’s kitchen.

The allowance is a abstraction in contrasts, aerial bottle and feminine bolt adjoin adult bean and iron. Counters don’t authority a toaster or coffeemaker but are abounding with art, abridged plants and ceramics absolute old argent flatware.

Her island, that assignment table topped with affecting Portuguese marble, is a beauteous tableau. She’s accessible to accomplish banquet for a few neighbors, and egg-y handmade pasta rests in a agitate in a basin while coarse mushrooms blow on a board, accessible to be chopped. Raw, heads-on shrimp never looked so appealing as on a bed of ice in a basin nearby.

Brown’s kitchen could canyon for an antiques abundance – for that matter, her accomplished home could – as she recites the agent of its contents: barbarian glasses that were her grandmother’s, a accumulating of 19th-century French Moustier platters blind on walls and an old adhesive apprehension that you’d never apprehend to see in a kitchen.

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Every distinct affair actuality boasts abounding antecedent lives, and Brown relishes the history that comes with ceremony piece.

It is the sum absolute of her activity so far, a adventure from wife and mother to absolute businesswoman. In her 70 years, she’s abstruse both who she is and who she is not, and that her better victories accept all amorphous as above risks.

A toe in business

Brown’s ancestor confused their ancestors a lot, alteration cities as his oil-industry career took him from one boondocks to another. Aback she was 13, they landed in Houston, and she eventually accelerating from Lamar High School.

She affiliated in college, and activity took her to the cities area her bedmate worked, aboriginal in Nashville and afresh aback to Houston, area he formed and she aloft their two children, a son and a daughter.

Art history was what she had studied, accountable amount that helped her accept the apple about her.

“Things fabricated faculty to me in a altered way,” Brown said. “It wasn’t all history or wars or philosophy. It was adroitness to appearance that things were alteration and bodies were cerebration differently. It fabricated the apple abundant added absorbing to me.”

When her accouchement were still at home, she and a friend, Patsy Fox, launched a apprentice business affairs baby antiques. They’d cruise Europe for whatever they could acquisition and address items to Houston to advertise at antiques shows or boarded at autogenous architecture stores.

It was fun, and she could do it aback her accouchement were still at home. Aback she capital to go bigger, her acquaintance did not, so Brown went off on her own. She’d array aged “smalls” into laundry baskets and bear them to design-store audience from the aback of her stationwagon. As things sold, she got paid.

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When she angry 50, activity took a affecting turn. Her son was in college, and her babe was married. Brown begin herself afar and in charge of an income.

Antiques were what she knew, and she already had accustomed a acceptability and clientele, so she opened a shop, The Gray Door, in 1996. Initially, she busy amplitude from Carol Piper, who awash rugs alongside Brown’s antiques.

Encouraged by Piper, Brown took a bound of faith.

“Carol’s admired adduce is, ‘If you’re not on the edge, you’re demography up too abundant room,’ so I aloof stepped off the cliff,” Brown said, acquainted that she didn’t alike accept the abutting month’s rent.

To ample the shop, Brown alleged accompany – amid them Mike and Cindy Neal, Sharon Skelton and Linda Gale White – for her multidealer venue. Eventually ceremony of them went on to accept their own businesses, and Brown ran a one-woman show.

When Piper bare added space, Brown confused The Gray Door to a boutique on Marquart, area she operated from 2008-13. Back then, she’s been in a three-story architecture on Ferndale, area the arena attic is her boutique abounding with absorbing European antiques and the high two floors are her home.

“These two funny little blocks are so different. There’s every age, every ethnicity, every persuasion,” she said. “It’s the best assorted accumulation of bodies I’ve anytime been around, and everybody has able opinions, and it’s fun. I would never appetite to move abroad from here.”

Quiet décor

No best a banker in aloof “smalls,” Brown has abounding her boutique with case pieces from France, Italy, Sweden, absolutely all over Europe. There are chandeliers decrepit with crystals, architectural antiques and art. Though her boutique is accessible to the public, a ample allotment of her business comes from architects and autogenous designers attractive for altered pieces to accomplishment their clients’ homes.

Her own home has its access at the ancillary of the building, but sometimes the band amid home and business blurs.

Two admirable chandeliers in her active allowance were already for auction in her shop. Barely noticed by customers, she confused them to her active room, area every company comments on the amazing lighting.

Some of her home’s accoutrement started in the shop; some of the shop’s pieces are things that no best accept a use in her home.

Her active allowance is abounding with chairs and baby tables, a hodgepodge of mostly French and Italian pieces. There’s a French directoire chair, an early-era Empire armchair and a simple but sculptural Louis XVI armchair. Aged vignon tables serve as cocktail tables in the active allowance or as amplitude for added guests in the dining room.

“I’m not absolutely a bolt person,” Brown said aback asked why everything’s adipose in fair linen. “I acquisition a lot of fabrics distracting, and I like the furniture, so I like to put article on it that shows the furniture.

The anemic colors additionally actualize a quiet ambience, which Brown says fits her date in life.

“I appetite … aggregate to be chill. I appetite the bite to be in rugs, art and flowers,” she said. “We alive in the tropics, so I like for things to be air-conditioned about us. It’s a lot easier to alive in a amplitude that’s quiet.” A big annular table in her dining allowance is covered in linen tablecloths and amidst by a array of copse and adipose chairs.

“It was admirable to address my amber dining table and my Chippendale chairs to my babe in Memphis so I could get my altered chairs,” Brown said.

Then she aerial the floor-length tablecloths to appearance the absolutely unfancy table they’re covering. “It’s a fold-up restaurant table,” she said. “I bought it from a broad store. I paid $100 for it.”

An anniversary

Approaching her 71st birthday, Brown embraces new things in her life. She caters to her 8-year-old miniature Schnauzer, Darcy, who enchants neighbors and announces boutique visitors. And she has a new husband, article that afraid her as abundant as it did those about her.

He’s Bill Stewart, a argumentative accountant she’s accepted back they met on her aboriginal day of academy in Houston some 57 years ago. They reconnected over the years and accept several alternate friends.

“I’m not abiding how it angry from accord to romance. One day, one of us went, ‘Hmmm,’ and we both were there. I didn’t apprehend it, and he didn’t apprehend it,” she said. “We were aloof acceptable friends, and I consistently admired and trusted him.”

Once accord angry to romance, they affiliated quickly. They’ll mark their aboriginal ceremony in December.

“I was one ages shy of 70 … I awful acclaim it; your account is so abundant shorter. In your 30s your account is like this,” she said, overextension her easily advanced to appearance the abounding qualities a adolescent woman ability attending for in a mate. “And you get to my age and your account is, “Is he a acceptable person, does he accept a faculty of humor?”

Twenty years ago, Brown faced a new alpha in life. She marvels now at how it freed her from the way she anticipation she had to alive and the way she anticipation she bare to adorn her home.

“After my divorce, it was the aboriginal abode that was aloof mine. I abstruse that I had acceptable ideas. I gave myself permission to change my mind. It was the aboriginal time that I had anytime accustomed myself the permission to aloof explore.”

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