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Gray Antiques and Interiors

Inspiration: Heidi Wynne

We first learned of Heidi Wynne's eponymous cashmere line four years ago via Heather Clawson's blog, Habitually Chic. We own Heidi's beautiful and timeless scarves and wraps in almost every color.  More recently, her business has expanded beyond her original line of scarves to straw bags, hats and knits, with even more planned, including a chic line of tees inspired by those worn by Jackie Kennedy. Heidi is not only a stylish and savvy business woman, she also has become a friend and mentor who is always willing to share business insights and her love of fashion and design. Her Instagram is a must follow for our daily fashion inspiration.

What inspired you to launch Heidi Wynne? 

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and in some ways I was preparing for this for most of my adult life. A few years after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania I went back to campus and took a small business course at Wharton. I waited many years, however, before launching the brand and even now I feel like I have so much more to learn. The brand was inspired by white space in the market for accessible yet well made classic pieces. I created a collection that would remain relevant and wearable for years to come because as a consumer I had wasted so much money on fleeting trends and poorly made garments and accessories. Cashmere seemed to be either exorbitantly priced or of very poor quality and many straw bags would last just one season. I am still wearing and carrying pieces from my first year of business several years ago as they all have held up so well.

I hope that when somebody purchases an item from the collection that it will become a favorite and they can be assured that it will not be out of style in two years. If I had to summarize the brand in three words it would be well made classics.

We love Heidi's uptown style shown here with her own Elliott Satchel

We love your classic chic cashmere scarves and straw bags....they are timeless and the quality is excellent. You are now moving more into other knits such as your Aran knit sweaters and your new Jackie Tees. Would you like to see these lines expand further?

Thank you so much and yes- absolutely. I will offer cashmere sweaters for holiday, wool hats and dog sweaters from Ireland, and luxury cashmere travel sets. A limited collection for men is launching in a few weeks as well. There are so many more categories I would love to explore including loungewear, organic pajamas, beach cover-ups and shirtdresses. My NY factory and I have already discussed the shirtdresses and I hope to offer them this spring. I am also working on classic leather bags in addition to straw

 

Who have been your mentors and what have you learned from them?

My sweet, incredibly chic friend, celebrity stylist Ann Caruso has helped me immensely with my business. My image needed so much work when I first launched. I had beautiful, professional model friends to work with however I didn't yet understand how to properly plan or style a photo-shoot and the end result was an image that wasn’t in line with my vision or taste. Ann dedicated so much of her time and energy to helping me elevate my image and select the right shoe, skirt, pant, etc. to go with the collection as well as recommending a good assistant to help stay organized. I was overwhelmed with other details like production, shipping and managing my site. I'm eternally grateful for Ann’s support and she continues to offer honest feedback on my image to help me improve.

Easy Breezy....Ann Caruso with Heidi's Straw Tote

My best friend from high school Ingrid Crain, who is a VP with Kate Spade, is a financial wizard and has provided helpful business advice as well as emotional support. It is so important to have friends who will offer constructive criticism and who are truly supportive and invested in your success. Another longtime friend, Alexandra Golaszewska, has a marketing firm called Alexandra Go and she has helped me navigate the world of social media. I was initially using too many hash tags and not understanding how to reach the right audience. Alexandra taught me to relax with the hash tags and present a much cleaner, more sophisticated image and also taught me how to link accounts, target the right audience for sales and to schedule posts and emails. She’s also been a mentor in terms of self-improvement and will send inspiring motivational and business articles and podcasts.

Heather Clawson of Habitually Chic (I’ve been a fan of her blog since day one) has also been a mentor and supportive friend- she has impeccable taste and I always value her opinion. Preston Davis’s site Keep it Chic, another one of my all time favorites, always inspires me. She has posted my straw bags and having her stamp of approval was incredible. My sweet friend Permele Doyle is President of Billionaire's Boy's Club, an influencer-marketing agency, and has been amazing as well. She is such a smart woman with valuable advice and in depth knowledge of the ever-changing influencer marketing and social media world. Being a solo entrepreneur can be lonely and isolating at times however I feel so fortunate to have such smart, sophisticated women in my life who encourage and support me- and that of course includes you.

What are your favorite aspects of running your business? What are your least favorite aspects?

My favorite aspects of the business include the creative process- becoming inspired by icons such as Jackie O and places like Ravello and coming up with new designs. Interacting with customers and followers via social media and email is also a favorite aspect of running the business. I’ve met so many wonderful people and I love hearing from them. Another favorite aspect of my business is when I spot somebody wearing one of my cashmere wraps or carrying one of my straw bags months or even years after receiving it. Elizabeth Hurley continues to wear her leopard print wrap and other cashmere scarves and it always makes my day when I spot them in her stories. Grace Atwood of The Stripe, Ann Caruso and Permele do as well. My least favorite aspect is the stress of possible production errors as well as customer returns since I offer free shipping. Fortunately I have an abnormally low return rate however my business is self funded and returns are very costly however I do understand it is part of an online business. I’ve gotten much better at managing the stress and realizing that it is all part of entrepreneurship. The positive aspects of my business definitely outweigh any negatives and I’m so grateful for my customers and for being able to create these classic collections and have them be appreciated.

Inspiration.... the Jackie tee, coming soon from Heidi Wynne.  We cannot wait.

Whom do you count among your favorite style icons?

Lee Radziwill, Jackie O and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy have had a tremendous influence on my style. I also think that Lauren Santo Domingo is as chic as it gets. More favorites include Lauren Hutton, Romy Schneider, Catherine Deneuve, Brigitte Bardot, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Candice Bergen, Sophia Coppola, Carolina Herrera, Ines de la Fressange, Margaux Hemingway, and all of the nineties supermodels. For my men’s collection Alain Delon is a huge inspiration as well as JFK and my dapper attorney, Douglas Hand, who is the most stylish man I know.

 

Elizabeth Hurley in Heidi Wynne Cashmere

Four Favorites....what is your favorite:

Way to spend a Saturday? 

Rittenhouse Square Farmer's Market in the morning with the dogs followed by coffee at La Colombe and then brunch with friends at Parc. The afternoon is spent at the Rodin Museum or The Barnes and then dinner at The Dandelion. I moved from the Upper East Side back to Philadelphia a year and a half ago so another favorite way to spend the day is to go back to NY. I would have lunch with Ann Caruso and our friend Claudia Mason, a walk through Central Park and perhaps pop into either the The Frick or Met Breur, then dinner in Chelsea or the West Village with my friend Michael and my friend Isabelle and a late train home. I love both cities and sometimes am tempted to move back however the pace in Philadelphia is so nice and I do love where I live in Rittenhouse Square.

The Rodin Museum in Philadelphia...a must visit for inspiration.

 

Room of all time?

Marella Agnelli's Marrakech bedroom. No contest. It is perfect.



Film?

The Talented Mr. Ripley. I love everything about this film. A few of my other favorites include I am Love, La Piscine, A Single Man, To Catch a Thief, Orlando and Love Story. Several films as well as Jackie O inspired my latest photo shoot. The theme was Italian Socialite/Jackie O plus Ali McGraw in Love Story for the cozy sweaters. I am Love was a powerful source of inspiration and I watched The Talented Mr. Ripley several times before the shoot to for the effortless, elegant Italian style of that film.

The Talented Mr. Ripley.....iconic style for both fashion and interiors.

Vacation/Destination?

I enjoy Italy- Florence is beautiful and Milan is so chic. I also love Stockholm, Martha’s Vineyard, Palm Beach and the Hamptons. However my absolute favorite place to escape is the Hudson Valley. It centers me and brings me back to life when I’ve been stressed. Two of my close friends have bought country homes there and my dream is to join them soon. Rhinebeck, Millbrook, Hudson, Kingston and Olivebridge are a few of my favorite towns. Fresh air, Farmers Markets, lazy afternoons by the pool and cold nights by a fire- for me that’s the ideal way to live. I can’t wait to have a country house to fill with antiques from your shop-perhaps an old Victorian or Colonial.

 

Inspiration: Olivia Joffrey

We love to look pulled together without trying too hard.  Enter Olivia Joffrey.....the Santa Barbara,California based company known for their chic caftans and dresses.  Founded by namesake Olivia Joffrey, her designs are, in her own eloquent words, "low key glamour."  Her dresses instantly elevate your look, whether you are on a date night in town or running errands in the country.  Read on to learn more about why we love Olivia, her self-described "visual storytelling," and her inspiring company. 

We love your designs.  They are so easy breezy chic.  What inspired you to create Olivia Joffrey and how did you land on the designs?

Thank you! I grew up in the Northern California beach town of Santa Cruz in the 1970s. My mother and her friends, many of whom had been expats in Europe, were worldly and stylish but in a casual nonchalant way. It had an impact on me as a child. They epitomized a specific kind of low key glamour you don't see much anymore. Once I started a family of my own, I longed for the same easy cotton dresses/caftans that I remember my mother wearing. Not a fancy dress, but a narrow cotton caftan with side slits that was no dressier than jeans (could be worn barefoot or with satin slippers), but a bit more feminine and refined.
Olivia's inspiring collage of her parents and their expat years in Spain.

Who have been your mentors and what have you learned from them?
As a thinker, and a visual person, my professor Dr. Joe Corn at Stanford University really shaped my eye and my thinking early on. He taught us to see the material world like anthropologists -- how did it get that way? Why this shape? What else was going on in history? He let me write a paper on the History of the American Wet Bar! As a result, I don't consider myself a designer, but a storyteller.
My creative friends are mentors: Claudia Schwartz  of Bell'occhio in San Francisco has been like a big sister to me. She tipped me off to The World of Interiors and the films of Agnes Varda. A mere thank you note from Claudia is worthy of framing. Another friend, Anne Reilly of Mott50 has generously taken time to show me the ropes. I have a few creative muses,but mostly my mother Anne-Marie shapes the narrative of our collection.
Our favorite design, The Capitola Dress
What are your favorite aspects of running your business? What are your least favorite aspects?
 
I love writing copy for my website and Instagram, and selecting fabrics. It's like setting the table for a highly anticipated dinner party. My least favorite aspect is approaching stores or showrooms (fear of rejection.)

How would you like to see your business grow in the next three years? 
 
I admire the Los Angeles based company Doen -- they are women-run, and exist online rather than wholesale to stores. I think it may be the way of the future. My manufacturing is in downtown Los Angeles, but within the next three years I plan to also set up a workshop here in Santa Barbara with a flexible studio space storefront where I could hold events, trunk shows, host wine-saturated lectures. In my fantasy, it's the bottom floor of a courtyard building filled with Spanish tile and tropical plants. 

Whom do you count among your favorite style icons, whether it be in Interiors or fashion? 
I worshipped the mothers from my very laid back shabby tennis/swim club in Santa Cruz circa the late 1970s. Gorgeous, feminine women with chestnut-colored tans and glossy hair in low chignons. Up their forearms, piles of silver bracelets from Mexico. Melodious voices and laughter and hushed discussions of books.
Olivia's beautiful mother, Anne-Marie
The doyenne of my parent's social set was a woman named Sharon Cadwallader. She was a celebrated food writer and had a popular restaurant in town. I will never forget her house. It was a tiny beach bungalow right on the cliffs where all the surfers lived. Inside were lots of books, Oaxacan textiles, Mexican leather chairs and Jimmy Buffet on the record player. It had a front porch with a hammock. Bouganvillea engulfed half the little structure.  At Christmastime she would decorate her tree with shiny tin ornaments from the Yucatan and little wicker birds. Her kitchen smelled of freshly chopped cilantro and limes. She was tall and lanky and looked great in caftans. Sharon drove a beat up little green Honda and was the most vivacious, larger than life, charming, generous person. Hug hug, kiss kiss and 100% unpretentious. She was friends with literati and longshoremen. She taught me that style has nothing to do with money. It's about expression and generosity of spirit, and a curiosity with the world.
You share our passion for reading. What book did you last read?
Just finished Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan. Talk about style! If he surfs as stylishly as he writes (which I am sure he does) it's got to be something to behold. It's one of the best memoirs I have ever read. 

 
Four Favorites....what is your favorite:

Way to spend a Saturday? 
Barefoot morning walk on the beach in Montecito, coffee in bed with my husband and three little girls, leisurely family trip to the Santa Barbara Farmers Market and then an afternoon cooking and preparing for a dinner party at home. Lots of wine, maybe paella, laughing with friends and watching the kids run around the pool. Maybe a surprise visit from a mariachi band.

Room of all time? 
I loved our sunroom at our old house in Winnetka, Illinois. It was an enormous rectangle, 75% of which were windows facing the garden. The other wall held an oversized fireplace. Very high beamed ceilings. The sofas we inherited with the house -- the prior owner had upholstered the entire place in Le Manach fabric circa 1982. Each piece was so worn down and soft to the point of shredding. It was the best room from which to watch a snowstorm by a massive fire. To my eyes, it looked best a little tousled after the kids had been making forts and the adults had been lost in the Sunday New York Times for a few hours.


Movie? I Am Love by Luca Guadagnino

Vacation/Destination? I will always love going to Mexico. But other cities I would love to go to are Buenos Aires, Beirut, and Istanbul. 
 
 

 

 

Inspiration: Local Color Flowers

It is no secret that we love fresh flowers.  In our book, they are a must for any room.  Yet, while we love to garden and grow our own flowers, we do not possibly have the ability to grow all the varieties that we love.  Our go to florist in town is Local Color Flowers, owned by Ellen and Eric Frost.  Their shop, in Baltimore's Waverly neighborhood, is open every Saturday year round at their studio in the heart of the 32nd Street Farmers Market , where you will find us every Saturday morning.  They also host a variety of open studios and classes throughout the year.  While many dream of being a florist, the reality is that being a florist is HARD work.  The best florists are driven by passion and love of flowers and the team at LoCoFlo has passion in spades.  We love that all of their flowers are sourced locally-- within 100 miles of Baltimore.  This means that their flowers are seasonal (no peonies in October, thank you) and they are supporting local farmers and sustainable small businesses. Read on for more about their inspiring business from owner and brain child Ellen Frost.

Spring bouquet we made at home with delphinium and mock orange from Ellen's shop

There are many florists creating beautiful arrangements these days but we love that your flowers are all sourced locally. And that you are a true part of the Baltimore community. What inspired you to get started?

 

Inspiration for LoCoFlo came from a few places all at once. I was in graduate school at Loyola getting my MBA and I took an entrepreneurship class that really opened my eyes to Social Entrepreneurship and the important role that social entrepreneurs can play in their communities. I was also seeing my friends and people my age getting married with few environmentally conscious choices for flowers available to them. Most of the flowers being offered at florist shops were sourced from countries in South America, many with lax environmental and employment laws. Around the same time, I was working part time on a Baltimore County farm and I was learning about farming and flowers and I started to envision a business that could connect wedding clients with local flowers. Finally, Amy Stewart's landmark book Flower Confidential came out in early 2007. It was the first look at the global flower industry and the problems that went along with it. Locally sourced flowers made a lot of sense to me for environmental, social and aesthetic reasons. 

 

Owner Ellen Frost at her favorite place to relax...her porch.
What are the unique challenges of sourcing all locally?
One of the biggest challenges with sourcing is the logistics. We currently source flowers from about 2 dozen local flower farmers in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Each farmer has their own way of working. Some deliver and some we have to pick up at the farm. Some send availability lists some we have to reach out and ask what's available. There is no central location for florists to buy locally grown flowers so we have to coordinate with each farm individually. 
An arrangement we made at this year's Flower Challenge, a fun and good hearted flower arranging contest hosted by LoCoFlo.
What are the benefits?
There are so many benefits to sourcing our flowers locally. First and foremost we are sourcing flowers that have less environmental impact and a smaller environmental footprint than flowers that travel long distances to get to customers. Most flowers in the United States come from farms in Colombia, Ecuador, Holland and Kenya. These flowers are first trucked from the farm to the airport, then flown, usually to Miami, then trucked to a wholesaler in your town that then sells to a florist who then sells to the consumer. Our flowers come from farms within 100 miles of Baltimore and are grown by farmers and farm families that we know personally. Since our flowers are sourced locally, they often arrive in our shop on the same day they"re harvested. That means that they have a longer vase life than many flowers that you buy at the grocery store or wholesaler. Finally, sourcing locally means we can use delicate, heirloom blooms that do not ship well like poppies, dahlias, anemones and more.
We love a natural and seasonal wedding bouquet
Who have been your mentors and what have you learned from them?
I'm so grateful to all the mentors that have helped shape me as a designer and as a business owner. One I'll mention is Dave Dowling, current President of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Dave was one of the first growers we ever bought flowers from. His farm, Farmhouse Flowers was in Brookeville, Maryland. Each week when  I would go to the farm to pick up flowers, Dave would take time to walk me around the fields and greenhouses, teach me about what was growing, how to harvest, how to sell and how to be a good advocate for local flowers and the farmers that grow them. He was always willing to spend time teaching me about flowers (and he still is all these years later). It's his example that I keep in mind as we educate customers, new farmers and new designers. 

What are your favorite aspects of running Local Color? What are your least favorite aspects?
I love flowers! I really, really love them. Sourcing locally means our flowers change every single week, making design alot of fun. It's really special that we get to source from local growers we love and care about (we really love our growers!) and then we get to share those flowers with our amazing customers. I also am super grateful that I get to work with my husband and our awesome team everyday. We have the best time together.
 
My least favorite aspects of running Local Color...I really can't think of any! 

How would you like to see your business grow in the next three years?
Our business model has changed a little in the last few years. While we're still providing flowers for lots of weddings, we are trying to grow other aspects of the business. We would like to see our Wednesday night Open Studio grow as well as our sales on Saturdays. Both of these days we're open for folks to come in and learn about flowers, buy flowers and practice design. We'd also like to expand our floral design class offerings. We do about 15 classes a year and we'd like to do more.
Whom do you count among your favorite floral designers/ inspirations?
My favorite floral designer is my dear friend Jennie Love of Love 'n Fresh flowers in Philadelphia. Jennie was one of my first flower friends when I started in business 10 years ago. She grows all of her own flowers on an urban farm inside the Philadelphia city limits. She designs flowers for amazing weddings while also offering design and farming classes. Her aesthetic is textural, abundant, unique and she showcases local flowers like no other designer does. She's amazing! 
Four Favorites....what is your favorite:
Flower?  The Tulip
Way to relax?  Reading on my porch. 
Book?   The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Vacation/Destination?   Key West

 

Inspiration: Nine Fair Backgammon

Jessica Griffith at work in her Nantucket family home. Photo by Adrianna Glaviano

 Our families love Backgammon.  The board game of strategy and skill, which has been played for thousands of years, is a timeless favorite for players young and old on beaches, the slopes, poolside and in family dens and libraries.  Chic players across the globe were most famously captured by Slim Aarons in the 1970s .  And today Backgammon is having another major moment thanks to Instagram and entrepreneur and creative Jessica Griffith.  The Nantucket resident founded Nine Fair Backgammon in 2015 after several years working in Manhattan in private equity. Her custom made boards, featuring hand painted designs of club crests, college  and prep school crests, vacation destinations, monograms or your favorite motif, are the perfect gift for weddings, anniversaries and other important milestones.  One of our clients recently ordered a board for her husband's Fiftieth Birthday with the crest of their Lake House. Read on to learn more about this inspiring small business....

We love your inventive hand painted images.    Is your background in art?  What inspired you to create custom backgammon boards?  

Thank you!  I studied History and Art History at Hamilton College and spent my summers interning at Christie’s.  My first job out of college was at Sotheby’s in New York.  My parents are collectors of Bucks County impressionist artists so I have always been surrounded and in love with the art world.  It was during my career at private equity firm that I realized how much I missed my creative side.  After seeing a one of a kind backgammon board in Harbor Island, I took a leap of faith and launched Nine Fair to bring hand painted backgammon boards to the market.

A Nantucket Basket themed board.

Who have been your mentors and what have you learned from them?

From a business perspective, my dad and fiancé are my greatest mentors.  My dad started his own company when he and my mom were just starting our family.  He faced a lot of difficulties, persevered and ended up being a huge success. My fiancé, John, works in leverage finance so he is constantly analyzing companies and figuring out their strengths and weaknesses.  He has many suggestions for how I can improve and grow my business. Last, but certainly not least, my mom is maybe my greatest mentor. She is extremely discerning and has impeccable taste!

What are your favorite aspects of running Nine Fair?  What are your least favorite aspects?

My favorite aspects are working with clients to create one of a kind pieces that will last a lifetime. I view Nine Fair as more than a company that creates attractive game boards - I believe they are timeless works of art and I love making a client’s vision come to life.  Managing my expenses and taxes are definitely my least favorite aspect!

How would you like to see your business grow in the next three years?  

Most of my clients come to Nine Fair for wedding presents or hostess gifts. In terms of expansion, I would love continue offering customizable products.  I think there is something very special and thoughtful about our boards that says “I picked this out especially for you” not, “I was in a bind so here’s a nice candle” and I want to keep that going!

Whom do you count among your favorite style icons, whether it be in Interiors, textiles or fashion?

Interiors and textiles Carrie Griffith and Bunny Mellon.  I love classic and traditional design!  As for fashion, Lauren Santo Domingo cannot be beat.

The Board created for Gray Antiques inspired by the topiaries of the iconic Bunny Mellon.  The board is available to purchase on our online shop.

 Four Favorites....what is your favorite.......

Room of all time?     The library of my family home on Nantucket

 

 

 

Place to play Backgammon?   Our porch on Nantucket  

 

Film?    Something’s Gotta Give

Vacation/Destination?  I would say Nantucket, but I don’t want to be that predictable! Recent favorites include Millbrook, NY and Dorset, VT.

 

 

Inspiration: Perrotine

This week's Small Business that Inspires is Perrotine, a Massachusetts based handmade fabric lampshade company.  The genesis of the company was founder's Lis Herbert love for vintage blockprints and textiles  inspired by the Victoria and Albert Museum's collection of simple Indian calicos and elaborate, fanciful palampores.  Each Perrotine shade is a work of art.  And an instant room enhancer.  Gray Antiques is thrilled to carry a selection of these lovely shades in our shop. See our current selection in our online shop or make an appointment to shop in person.  Read on for more about Perrotine.....

 

Perrotine's founder and creative force, the chic Lis Herbert

What inspired you to create custom shades and when did you launch Perrotine? 

For about 10 years I had a letterpress print shop, and while designing social stationery, I became fixated on designing patterns that would somehow imitate the feel of block-printed fabric, but on paper. I researched old textiles, studied interiors for pattern inspiration, and then one day it clicked that a love affair with these fabrics meant I should be working with them, not trying to reinvent them on paper. So I started buying silk and saris, not entirely sure what I would do with a growing collection, and then lampshades suddenly made perfect sense: good ones aren't easy to find, they can singularly transform a room, and I thought my eye for textiles might give me sure footing. I remember telling my dad I planned to do this in the members lounge at the Met, in a sea of white lampshades. Pay attention and you'll quickly realize that you are swimming in a sea of white lampshades.

Who are your mentors and what have they taught you? 
I haven't really had mentors, at least not formally. I feel incredibly lucky to know John Ross and Don Carney of Patch NYC, two superlative gentlemen who are so kind in their criticism and generous in their encouragement. Looking much further back, It's maybe a bit of a stretch but in a sense I've had many accidental mentors. My early upbringing in New York City and our weekend house in Kent -- between my parents, my friends' parents and my parents' friends -- subconsciously defined my ideas about what works and what doesn't. They all taught me, surely without necessarily meaning to, how proportion, structure, color and pattern create a dialogue in architecture and interiors. Outside the city that meant rambling country houses and in New York that mostly meant apartments that would no doubt make my jaw drop if I revisited them today. I spent many afternoons at the Met, MoMA, and The Whitney, absorbing it all like a sponge. Ditto the Metropolitan Opera, where I spent many more hours than I wanted to at the time, but I am filled with gratitude for the experience now. Between the city, the country, the opera and the museums, I was saturated in beauty, and I remember all of it so vividly: what thrilled me then still thrills me today,  After college I did a brief stint in architectural preservation, which cemented my preference for the old over the new. I can't point to mentors, but I can claim a first rate visual education. 
Sconce shades in Gray Antiques' co owner Carol Vargo's master bath
What are your favorite aspects of running Perrotine?  What are your least favorite?  
I fall in love with just about every new lampshade as soon as I stitch the fabric to the frame. And it is especially exciting to take a handful of visual cues from a client and match them to the perfect silk from my inventory -- I don't need much to go on, and I love it so much when we figure it out on the first pass. 

I don't love trimming the lampshades, which takes me about as much time as all other steps combined. And I don't know what to do with all of the odd fabric ends, which I don't want to toss. It isn't really a problem, but something I grumble about.
Lis' chic shades at Gray Antiques

How would you like to see your business grow in the next three years? 
I would love to go back to designing patterns, many of which I could easily revisit from my letterpress days. I've flirted over the years with a line of textiles, but I am hyper sensitive to environmental sustainability and accountability, and I don't really want to be responsible for new, physical things.  In practical terms, this means sorting out how to tread lightly on the earth. Quite the push and pull: how do you simultaneously maintain a light footprint and both satisfy the urge to create and also expand your client base? For me, I think this probably means printing on vintage cotton and linen, in small runs, and creating table linens or some other small-scale, limited run, useful but beautiful things. 

Whom do you count among your style icons, whether it be in textiles, interiors, or fashion?
Only when I consider them all together do I realize that my style icons, at least for interiors and architecture, are all firmly American: Albert Hadley, Sister Parish, Bunny Mellon, Bruce Budd, David Netto, Jeffrey Bilhuber, Tom Scheerer and Gil Schafer. I'd happily live in any country house dreamed up by Daniel Romualdez. And I am desperate to see more of Kate Brodsky's house in East Hampton.

Do you have other passions beyond Perrotine? 
I spend an enormous amount of time all day, on every day of the year, thinking about my gardens. Often I wish I could speed things up quite a bit -- especially in February, or after planting a slow-growing something -- but I am happiest in a meditative, quiet deep dive into the dirt. There is nothing better, especially in New England, than the moment you realize you've just heard birds for the first time since the fall, and that you can smell dirt again. I'd love to design gardens if this gig gets old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspiration: Lilse McKenna Inc.

 

 

Photos Courtesy of Lilse McKenna, Inc.

In our new "Small Businesses that Inspire" series, today we highlight Lilse McKenna Inc, the eponymous interiors firm based in Manhattan recently launched by Baltimore native Lilse McKenna. 

You recently launched your own firm.  How have you pursued your path in interior design that ultimately has led to your own firm?

 Aside from a few classes here and there at the New York School of Interior Design, I don’t have any formal schooling in the subject.  I always had a passion for interior design, which stemmed from my close relationship with my grandmother, who loved all aspects of design.  After graduating from college I realized that it was something I wanted to pursue as a career, and I cold called a few of my favorite designers to see if they needed an intern.  I interned for Lindsey Coral Harper before landing a job with her, and then later took a position working for Markham Roberts.  While I was working for Markham I was approached to do a couple of projects on my own, and eventually a project came along that was too large for me to do well while working full-time for Markham.  It was a difficult decision, but I knew I could not do my best work for both Markham and the client simultaneously, so I decided it was a sign that it was time to take the leap and start my own firm!

We love your style. How would you describe it in five words or less?

 This is the hardest question to answer for designers (I think because so much of our job is honing my clients’ various styles) but looking around my own home I’d say: collected and layered, but tailored.



Who has been your most important mentor or influence and what have they taught you? 


I learned so much from both Markham and Lindsey, but I have to say that my late grandmother, Bobbie Rodgers, is my most important influence.  When I was growing up she taught me so much about art, antiques, architecture, laying out a room, fabric, paint, linens. . .  really everything that became the basis of my knowledge of interior design (and allowed me to jump into the profession!).  She wasn’t a designer by trade but she designed her own homes and read every design book and magazine cover to cover.  When I’m stuck on a design decision I often ask myself, “What would Bobbie do?”

You are a Baltimore native.  How has Baltimore influenced your style?

I grew up in one of those great old houses in Roland Park, and was so lucky to be exposed to all of the beautiful architecture and landscape design in that neighborhood.  I’ve always been inspired by the Victorian homes there, which are all so different from one another.  Baltimore is notoriously preppy, and while I’m not always drawn to the preppy trends I see come and go, I do love the tried-and-true classics.  That classic sensibility has definitely influenced the way I decorate.

Lilse's beautiful wedding on Maryland's Eastern Shore.  Photo courtesy of The Knot.

How important are antiques and vintage in your work?  Do you have to convince clients to use antiques and vintage? 

I love nuanced rooms, and they require pieces of various styles from different time periods that can enhance one another when placed together.  I am very lucky that most of my clients don’t have to be talked into buying antiques- they already love and collect them! My younger clients also have all been wise enough to see that they need to mix in some antiques in order to create a room that they will love long after the current season of catalogs is recycled.

Who are your style icons in fashion and/or interiors?

There are too many to name! I am constantly referring to Markham’s book and photos of his work for inspiration.  His rooms are so smartly layered, with so many references to different styles, and yet at the same time incredibly livable.  I could study Marella Agnelli’s homes by Renzo Mongiardino all day long.  I look to photos of the de la Renta’s homes and Bill Blass’ apartment for timeless design, Furlow Gatewood for relaxed elegance, Gil Schafer for classic architectural details, Jacques Grange for haute bohemian. . . I really could keep you here all day listing my favorites!

 



What has been the most challenging aspect of starting your own firm?  What has been most rewarding?

I learned so much about how to manage the frustrating aspects of this job from Markham and Lindsey, so really the most challenging aspect for me has been turning off work.  Studying interior design started as a hobby for me.  I used to read shelter magazines when I needed a break from studying, or I’d flip through design books while relaxing at my grandparents’ house. Now when I want to relax I still reach for those things, but I end up making to-do lists and sending emails at the same time!

The most rewarding aspect is definitely having the opportunity to enhance part of my client’s lives by designing living spaces that perfectly suit them.  It probably sounds melodramatic, but I subscribe to the idea that our settings have a major impact on the quality of our lives, and nothing is more rewarding than knowing that a client is living well in a space that I designed.

We love your use of fabric and print!  What is your launching point when selecting fabric?  Do you have a favorite print? Favorite color? 

 Thank you! I am definitely a fabric addict and typically start collecting fabrics for a project from day one.  There are so many beautiful prints and weaves, it is hard to choose one, but most of my favorites have a painterly, handblocked, or crosshatch effect. 

 As far as color I’m naturally drawn to anything in the blue, green, or blue-green family, but part of what I love about this job is being challenged by a client who says, “I’m dying for a (insert random color here) room!” It is always exciting to explore a shade or a style I might not have considered otherwise.


Where would you like to see your business in the next three years? 

If the next three years are anything like this past year I will consider myself very lucky! I have the most gracious clients and engaging projects, and each day is different. 

Four Favorites...what is your Favorite:

Room of all time?

I love so many rooms- this answer changes by the day! One that comes to mind today (while I’m packing for France!) is Hubert de Givenchy’s great sprawling study at Château du Jonchet with the octagonal Giacometti table in the center, vaulted ceilings, and wicker furniture with white upholstery.  

Givenchy's study at Chateau du Jonchet

Room to design/decorate? 

I love living rooms- especially in New York- because they often have to serve many functions.  They are spaces for entertaining, reading, sometimes dining, and they end up with the most interesting furniture plans (and furniture for that matter!) as a result.

Film? 

I have three (and all of them feature gorgeous homes!): Father of the Bride, You’ve Got Mail, and Sabrina.

Long Island elegance.  Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in "Sabrina", 1954



Vacation? 

I can never decide between cities and islands.  I love museums, restaurants, and antiquing, but I could sail around or sit by the ocean and read for weeks on end too! Our next trip will be a bit of both: Paris, Provence, and Saint-Tropez.  Hopefully that is the perfect vacation!

Special Gifts

 

Gift suggestions abound this time of year......here we join the chorus with our suggestions for gifts that are a joy to shop for and a pleasure to give and to receive.  In our minds, gift giving should be thoughtful, meaningful, and always a pleasure (never a chore....otherwise, why bother?)  We prefer to gift antiques and vintage, where possible.  Otherwise, we select gifts that are of the highest quality and craftsmanship.  All of our suggestions reflect this standard.  And, of course, beautiful gift wrapping is a must.

For special friends, mothers, sisters......

We love Cire Trudon Taper candles, from the oldest candle maker in the world (photo above). Made in France, dripless, and in an array of gorgeous colors, these are truly special. We prefer Taupe because they are the perfect gray/pumice color that we adore.  The Kaki green is also perfect for a Holiday table. And they arrive beautifully boxed and beribboned. Shop in New York or at www.trudon.com

D. Porthault embroidered cocktail napkins or hand towels.  Exquisite hand embroidery. No explanation needed. Photo by Erik Kvalsik for the book "D. Porthault The Art of Luxury Linens,' by Brian D. Coleman.  P.S. The book itself is also a lovely gift. Shop in New York or at www.dporthault.com

We love the Aerin decorative home collection and are pleased to carry a selection in our shop...her brass match strikers in either the cone or sphere shape are chic gifts.  We also love her picture frames, which are unique and of heirloom quality. Available in our shop.  Email us with inquiries or shop Saturdays in December, 11 am to 3 pm.

Cashmere wraps by  Heidi Wynne are a perennially elegant gift.  I have them in multiple colors and they are a year round staple for travel, chilly afternoons, or breezy beach days. Photo by Heather Clawson, Habitually Chic blog.  www.heidiwynne.com

 

For the Gardener....

We love antique and vintage garden pieces.  Our pair of cast iron garden urns can be used either indoors in a garden room or outdoors.  Such a handsome gift. Available in our shop. Email us with inquiries or shop Saturdays in December, 11 am to 3 pm.

 

For the Book Lover...

There are many great books to choose from each season but why not give vintage books that are of interest to the recipient, whether it be art, design, fashion, gardening or cooking. We carry a  great selection of vintage books in our shop. Email us with inquiries or shop Saturdays in December, 11 am to 3 pm.

 

For the Entertainer ......

As any entertainer knows,one can never have too much vintage china, silver, decorative tabletop pieces and bar ware. We have a great and ever changing selection in our shop, including this set of vintage Wedgwood Queensware. Email us with inquiries or shop Saturdays in December, 11 am to 3 pm.

 

For the men in your life....

We only need shop at one place...Sid Mashburn.  Sid and his wife Ann's shops are a delight to visit.....always beautifully curated, the clothing and accessories always unique and high quality, and the staff are the best.  Last year I gave our boys each a leather belt with a unique brass buckle.  So much nicer than electronics! And of course we are quite partial to their gray gift boxes which look smashing under any tree. Shops in DC, Atlanta, LA, Houston and Dallas or www.sidandannmashburn.com.

 

For the Food Lover.....

For those who love food and do not necessarily need one more material good, give a fine dining experience.  Gift certificates to a favorite restaurant are a wonderful gift.  We love giving gift certificates from of one our favorite places in Baltimore, Petit Louis Bistro. 4800 Roland Avenue, Baltimore.  www.petitlouis.com

 

Delicious macarons from Laduree are an elegant and chic gift for anyone.  There are now Laduree shops in Union Station or Georgetown in Washington,DC.  You can also shop at their chic UES shop in New York (get in line!) or at www. laduree.com.

 

 

For the Jewelry Lover....

Estate Jewelry is always preferred for that unique and one of a kind piece.  One year I received from my husband my treasured estate gold charm bracelet found at auction.  And, while I may never be able to have the budget for it, I will always covet a Schlumberger for Tiffany and Co bangle (a girl can dream).

 And, remember, do not forget to gift wrap with care (preferably while enjoying a glass of champagne).  The beautiful gift wrap is by Pierre Frey. Cheers to a restful, meaningful and joyful Holiday. 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah P. Duke Gardens

While visiting the campus of Duke University we were able to explore just a small  portion of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.  The Gardens were established by Mary Duke Biddle in honor of her mother Sarah in 1938 after her mother's original gardens were flooded. Today the gardens cover 55 acres and are free to the public.  In addition to interesting plants and flowers, the gardens are filled with unique fountains, statues and sculpture.  Above is the Perennial Allee.   A cool respite on a very hot and steamy North Carolina day.

"Melludere" Mother of Pearl Rose, Grandiflora, 2007 in the Rose Garden.

My favorite spot, the Garden's Tool House, designed by the esteemed American landscape designer Ellen Biddle Shipman in 1937.  Shipman also designed one of my favorite  gardens, the English Garden at Stan Hywet Hall in Akron, Ohio, established in the same time period. 

A fountain behind the Garden Shed.

Busy bee in a "MEIkanoro" Sunshine Daydream Rose, Grandiflora Richardier, 2001.

A new pergola built in honor of Gardens Board Chair Cynthia Brodhead, 2017.

 

Details......

A fantastic new stickwork sculpture, "The Big Easy," by Patrick Dougherty, a North Carolina artist, built with sticks collected from the Duke Forest earlier this year. 

Fabulous Lilium Regale...antidote to so many store bought varieties.

"God Almighty First Planted a Garden and Indeed It Is the Rarest of Human Pleasures" Francis Bacon.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

The Gardens of Dumbarton Oaks

Dumbarton Oaks, located on the highest point of the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC, is a 27 acre oasis of gardens and a Federal style Mansion.  The property was the home of Robert Woods Bliss and his wife Mildred Barnes Bliss in the1920s and 30s.   Bliss worked with famed landscape architect Beatrix Farrand to transform what was once farmland into a series of terraced gardens, including an ellipse, a rose garden, a pool, an orangery and a cutting garden.  In 1940, the property was given to Harvard University, Bliss's alma mater, and today serves as a Research Institute in the studies of garden design, landscape architecture, Byzantine Art, and Pre-Columbian art.  The Gardens will be closed July 10, 2017 through March 15, 2018 to undergo an extensive upgrade of their original irrigation systems. A visit before then if you are in the DC area is highly worth it for the properties' breathtaking views and glorious gardens.  We enjoyed an evening of cocktails in the Garden as part of the European Month of Culture....follow our journey below.

 The approach to the Federal style Mansion, which now houses a Museum. 

 

Urn envy....there are numerous breathtaking urns and statuary throughout the gardens.

The Orangery served as a lovely gathering place for cocktails.

The Urn Terrace with an urn modelled after an 18th century French original in terra cotta that was too fragile for Washington winters.

The Rose Garden, the Bliss' favorite part of the gardens, was in all of its glory this May evening.

The cutting garden has two of these stone buildings.

Another lovely architectural moment.

The Pebble Garden Fountain, based on Villa I Tatti outside of Florence, Italy.

A double ring of hornbeams encircles an 18th century Provencal fountain in the Ellipse.

A pretty little path alongside the cutting garden....there are as many such casual moments as there are formal throughout the property.

A final glimpse at another such casual moment...perhaps my favorite among so many beautiful moments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Icon, Henry Moore

Those who have followed us for some time know that we love sculpture and that Henry Moore (1898-1986) is one of our favorite sculptors. He also has a trove of drawings that served as a basis for his sculptures, as well as stand alone work.  Interestingly, Cezanne's nudes were an early influence on his work.  His sculptures are iconic and grace the best museums in the world but recently he has had renewed attention given that the British stalwart Burberry chose to feature a retrospective of his work as part of their Fall 2017 exhibit.  This has led to a collaboration with design publication Cabana, whose latest issue features three different covers of Moore's drawings. The above photo is of a signed Moore lithograph in our personal collection, "Man and Woman", 1973-74, found at auction, of course.   And we can continue to dream about owning a sculpture.......

 Henry Moore in his studio.

 

At the Baltimore Museum of Art

 

 

 At the Burberry Fall 2017 Show. 

At the Cleveland Museum of Art

 

 

A cover of the newest Issue of Cabana.

 

 

At the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh

 

At the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC

Another great cover of the new Cabana.  This one is my favorite. 

 

 

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