Hi everyone. I’m Kim over at La Belle Époque Home and I’m thrilled to be a part of Pamela’s “How I Found My Style Sundays” series. Décor is something I always love to talk about!
I’ll follow the outline of her questions to take you on my decorating journey.
1. What is your decorating style?
I define my style as a transitional eclectic mix of French Country with a traditional southern bluegrass influence. I think combining styles gives a room personality and depth. I enjoy the relaxed elegance and the characteristic warm interiors that the French Country style is known for. The French have a way of blending rustic and refined effortlessly. For me, it’s an expression of my love of French antiques and classic interiors. My most recent design ideas have been exploring the use of some mid-century modern and Hollywood Regency pieces for a touch of simplistic glamour.
French Country is as much a state of mind as a decorating style. So many people think of this style as exemplified in southern France (Provence) with it’s vibrant colors of sunny yellows, cool Mediterranean blues, rustic pottery, brightly printed fabrics, and the majestic rooster. But it is so much more. For me it can be interpreted in a variety of beautiful ways. In France’s many countryside regions to the north and southwest I’m inspired with their chalky hues and warm whites with textural interest. Thanks to Pierre Deux for introducing French country style to the American market back in the late 80’s. Of course, it’s popularity has gone up and down and I think we are seeing a comeback now as it seems that anything French is quite popular again.
Being a “recovering collector” of many things, my style is more edited now. I don’t like fussy rooms or lots of clutter, but I’m not a minimalist either. I like blending old and new for a clean yet “collected over time” look. As an antique dealer who prefers a streamlined approach to interiors, the key for me is to make antiques relevant in current spaces.
I believe the best homes evolve over time and consist of layers of what we love. I have always had a tendency to incorporate architectural antique elements into my décor and was lucky enough to find some great pieces that we had the contractor install as we were building our house.
I recently had my entire home painted in softer neutral colors which provides a better background canvas for my furnishings.
2. How did you “find” your decorating style?
I’m not sure if I found my decorating style, or if it found me! As others have said in this series, it’s more about the evolution of a house. I for one know my style has definitely evolved over time and I imagine it will continue to change and grow with me. I refer to these inspired moments of change as a creative awakening that continues to fuel my passion for design.
My house is certainly not architecturally speaking a French country style and I have lots of traditional elements in the interior. I will probably always have an affinity for old-world charm.
Since blogging, I’ve lightened things up more by incorporating shades of white, but I can’t live without my warm brown tones of furniture with patina. Simply put…French Country just speaks to me and I must listen to this iconic style by continuing to study its intriguing elements. Most of you know I already refer to myself as a Francophile!
Two interior designers that have had an influence on my style are Charles Faudree and Suzanne Kasler. Charles Faudree is obviously the French Country guru but did you know that Suzanne Kasler loves to shop in Paris for furnishings and most of her furniture line for the Hickory Chair Co. is based on and reproduced from the French antique pieces she has in her personal collection? She definitely has a French element in her interiors as evidenced by her association with Ballard Designs. I have been fortunate to meet both of them and I definitely respect their work. I’ve always loved Charles’ mantra of “it’s the mix not the match”. Some of Suzanne’s ideas that I like include focusing on the architecture of a room, having an unpredictable mix of objects, and relying on small doses of your favorite colors carried throughout your house to create a big impact.
3. What has been your most treasured find for your home?
That is a hard question as it’s hard to choose just one. When you antique and flea market like I do (I’m sure a lot of you can relate to this) you end up with several very special treasures and usually great stories to go with them.
For me, it’s a tie between two items. The first is the antique etched cherub window that I found before we built the house. I had it removed from a door that dated to around 1915 and installed between my master bath and dressing room. It reminds me of the romance my husband and I share.
The other very special item has to be the French armoire that I acquired last year. It’s my pièce de résistance! It’s from Normandy and dates to the late 18th century. You can read about it HERE.
4. What tips do you have for creating a beautiful home?
I have a quote by Billy Baldwin on the sidebar of my blog: “Be faithful to your own taste because nothing you really like is ever out of style.” In a nutshell, be true to yourself!
I can’t say enough about Detail, Detail, Detail. It’s like location, location, location in real estate. I think it’s what makes the difference between a good space and a great space.
Take current trends in small doses and always follow your heart. You know what you like…so stick to it!
Don’t be afraid to change or try new things. Shake it up and make yourself move pieces that have been in the same spot forever. Don’t get hung up on decorating “rules”. They are only guides.
Build a room in layers starting with an inspiration piece, fabric, etc. for your jumping off point. Always know what your focal point is and decorate with convenience and practicality (comfort) in mind. Louis Sullivan was right in 1896…Form really does follow function.
Bigger is better, less is more. Even in small rooms, one large piece will give the space importance and make it seem bigger than it is. I also prefer some blank spaces to give the eye a rest.
Add or incorporate touches of black for instant drama. Unexpected elements or a bit of whimsy can also give a WOW factor.
Stick with timeless classics but fill in gaps with modern accessories to keep things looking fresh and updated. Never underestimate the power of good lighting with a great lamp or chandelier!
My go-to- no-fail accessory pieces?
Stacks of books, fresh flowers, candles, table clocks, baskets, and a bit of bling with old sterling pieces or natural brass items.
A note about paint and color: I’m a believer in keeping a neutral backdrop in rooms and incorporating color with accessories, fabrics, and a few strategic pieces of furniture (that have been painted, lacquered, or upholstered in color). I personally don’t like to leave a room and say the “red” room or the “blue” room. I like to leave with a feeling of a beautiful and inviting room that makes you want to linger. I’ve also learned that gray is the most complimentary background color and actually blends quite well with brown. Greiges are a good compromise. Whites will eventually go yellow over time… even tints of white and pure white… so if you do white, stick with a gray tint white.
And last, create a style file. I’ve had one for years and it’s interesting to see how it’s changed. This helps keep you on track and stay on focus of what you really want to accomplish in your home. Sometimes it’s easier to find out what you like by identifying what you don’t like.
I’ve enjoyed chatting a bit about my decorating style with you. Thanks Pamela for letting me share with your readers.