Monday, July 25, 2011

Before and After

The Paris Apartment, Part XIII


I have always loved before and afters.  It’s one of the first things I look at when I’m leafing through a magazine, and I examine every detail to see how even the smallest improvement can make a huge difference.  However I’ve always felt a little uncomfortable about doing a before and after, especially when it’s someone else’s before. 

So let’s be clear here:  This apartment had great bones to begin with, and the decor was perhaps a little shoddy not because of someone else’s neglect or poor taste, but because it was being rented by three students.  Still, the pictures reveal what we saw when we first visited it, which says as much about the Paris real estate market as it does our improvements:  i.e. with a great location and good bones in Paris, you don’t need to do much to an apartment for it to sell.  And sure enough, it didn’t show too well.  So luckily for us, that makes the “after” just a little more dramatic.

For starters, here’s the front hall:


This was an easy fix, with some wallpaper hand carried from Atlanta, and a beautiful Regence style mirror found in the South of France.

Front hall new

Yes, the apartment showed with garbage being hung from the door.  Beyond it was the kitchen, which we turned into a bathroom.   Just taking the garbage off the door was a huge improvement!  We hated to lose the glass door, but given that the room was turned in to a bathroom, we had little choice.



Front hall looking in to bathroom 

Here is the original kitchen, in the back overlooking the courtyard.  You’ll see in part II what we did to the kitchen. And this room turned in to a beautiful bathroom … but not without my losing a little sleep during the lengthy intermediary stages.

IMG_8950 [800x600]

Bathroom work in progress

It didn’t look too good for a long time … actually months and months … and then finally, ta da!

Copy of j

This one really throws me for a loop.  This is what the WC looked like when we bought it.  Can you imagine selling a house where you painted over the glass in the bathroom window for privacy? Really!  How difficult would it be to find a curtain?  Especially in the land of gorgeous linens. 


We just chose to replace the window panes and add a mirror to bring in the great light over the world’s smallest sink.

WC without so much of the WC

The bedrooms came with some wonderful built-in closets which are a rarety in Paris apartments.  The problem was, in our minds, they were configured all wrong.  In this bedroom, we moved the closets over to the left, revealing a pretty little angled corner that surely used to be a fireplace.

2nd bedroom with paint samples

bedroom 1

And although it was nice to have so much storage space, we really didn’t need it, so we removed some of these top cupboards, and opened up the walls.  The chinoiserie toile, by the way, came from Atlanta … in my suitcase!


Bedroom 1 with chair and built in closet

On the wall, below, we replaced the students’ desk and, in a flash of pure brilliance from Sam Jones, who helped on this entire renovation, we added molding that echoed the pretty molding from all over the apartment.  The paintings, by the way, are from Tracy Sharp, one of our wonderful artists at Huff Harrington. 


Toss up

This second bedroom also had a few too many closets, even for those of us who crave extra storage.  We found a good solution here, and just moved everything over a few feet, centering the bed on the wall, with closets on either side.

View towards 2nd bedroom with paint samples


Bedroom 2 closets

There’s a whole funny story about the checked fabric here which probably merits its own blog.  Suffice it to say that it was a discard from Sam’s pile of treasures.  After initially turning it down from Sam’s sweet offer, several years ago, for our Atlanta house as being “too country,”  this time I snapped up all ten yards and carefully salvaged enough to do not only the headboard and bedskirt in Paris (see below) but also the bedskirt and several pillows at our house in the South of France (see further below).   And, yes, Sam and I hand carried all the fabric to France … in our suitcases!

I just love how the check plays crisply with the toile in this bedroom.

View from bedroom 1

And I am completely in love with the way it looks in this bedroom of Les Murets.

 Upstairs bedroom overlooking LR

Have you enjoyed our little before and after?  Well if so, there’s more.  We’ll show the living room and kitchen next (it’s a small apartment, so there’s not a whole lot more) but then we’ll tell you a little secret: How this apartment, and the teamwork that went in to renovating it, has been the inspiration for some very exciting news that we are just about ready to share.  Don’t go away!

Ta ta,


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Another Huffington Photo Shoot

You know Ann and I love to brag about our spectacular gallery gals whenever we can: Linda, Sarah and Sam who each bring their own special qualities to our little world. Gallery life would be so dull without them.

Linda adds that certain je ne sais quoi in everything she does, from her haircut to her fashion sense to her impeccable taste. Sarah is brilliant, witty and intensely passionate about art. And, Sam is the quintessential Renaissance woman who can design flowers, decorate a room effortlessly and is a bottomless well of information about anything and everything.

We were thrilled when our local newspaper, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, contacted us again about the possibility of shooting a Huffington Home (Ann’s was featured back in April and we all had fun watching her pull it together beautifully.

Linda, the trooper she is, agreed to show off her personality-laden home. Usually we like to show the befores and afters, but Linda’s house is always completely put together in wonderfully spontaneous way. She is crazy about art – the more abstract the better – and her home is the perfect backdrop for that.

Our Linda is totally gorgeous, multi-talented and wonderful to be around.


And what a treat it is. As Linda would say, take a lookyloo:

slideshow_1002214002_Hfprivate.mohan.0626a1155[1]Here’s her elegant and clean-lined living room. The painting is by George Marx and was one of Linda’s first gallery purchases. (Not only is Linda a wonderful gallerina, but she’s also an excellent client, too.)


This is so Linda: mid-century modern leather and chrome chairs paired with a nubbly, crusty burlap pillow that she picked up at a market in Provence.


We love it when beloved kids art is predominately displayed. The artists are now 16 and 18. Oh and we’re dying over those fabulous black and white curtains that play beautifully off the striped rug and drippy chandelier.


The sun room. We could spend all day in here just gazing at Linda’s clever way of displaying objects, paintings and the things she loves. She makes it all feel so personal.


The sun room again.


The living room. Dramatic and edgy. We all want to lounge in this light-drenched space. Linda would probably serve us champagne in vintage French flutes along with an artfully displayed cheese tray.


Linda has nailed the whole “opposites attract” thing: glass and iron make a heavenly match in the breakfast room.


Another study in constrasts in the master bedroom: linen, iron, wood and a bright and bold painting by their son, Quinn. Only Linda would think to put the painting on the floor.


We love the exterior of this fab house. The wing on the right side is a new addition.


Linda and Dan

So, how’s that for eye candy? We can’t get enough of it and can’t wait for Linda to invite us all over soon for one of her tasteful and elegant evenings. Maybe we should blog about that one of these days…

Ta Ta.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sacre Bleu! It’s Bastille Day Again…

And the Huffingtons are ready to throw a fete. With our usual frantic buzz of activity, we have been cataloguing, photographing, framing and pondering our hanging strategy for the gallery’s most fun event of the year.

La Fete, 30 x 40 lo res

Laura Shubert, La Fete, 30 x 40, acrylic on canvas

We’re not quite sure why this event garners such a devoted and happy crowd – we chalk it up to being held in the middle of the week, in the middle of July, in the middle of the summer…and just when you think the whole world is on vacation, it turns out that lots of people are around and ready to play.


Last year, we all wore our French espadrilles that Madame brought us from Provence…

We always have Jaques (aka Don, his real name) on hand to belt out the French classics and what a great job he does. We can promise plenty of nice wine, delicious nibbles and, of course, some drop dead new art from our gallery French and American artists.HH10

On Madame’s last trip to Paris, she called me to excitedly tell me about some new paintings she had found. She sent me some photos but I couldn’t really appreciate them until I saw them in person.

These small watercolors by Fanch Lel are deceptively simple but a closer look reveals a real talent by the artist to capture the essence of all things French.

Moutons en baie du Mont St. Michel lo res

Fanch Lel, Moutons en baie du Mont St. Michel, 5 x 7, oil on board

We love his graceful treatment and skilled hand…but especially love the sweet and charming ambiance of these. They are painted on plain and simple board and are very small, but we love the way they gussied up in their new ornate and chunky frames.

Les Quais de Quimper lo res

Fanch Lel, Les Quais de Quimper, 5 x 7, oil on board

Maree basse lo res Fench Lel, Maree Basse, 7 x 5, oil on board

And that’s what makes the art business so pleasurable. The art doesn’t need to have any special heritage, nobility or accolades (although don’t get us wrong, that doesn’t hurt!) to make it special and meaningful. We always go by what our heart says and this time it was an easy decision.

And, our fete doesn’t just celebrate our French artists. Many of our wonderful gallery artists have caught the bug and have been bitten by that certain “je ne sais quoi” – Nancy Franke comes to mind with her spontaneous and deft use of color, shape and light. We adore this one that portrays beautiful Isle sur la Sorgue in Provence.

Dimanche L'Ile 16x16 1550Nancy Franke, Dimanche a Ile, 16 x 16, oil on canvas

(By the way, we’re delighted to announce that Nancy is leading not one but two painting trips to Provence this fall. We can only imagine what fun the artists will have with this spunky, lively and talented teacher.)

Also joining us for our fete is artist extraordinaire and master of brushwork, Bill Davidson and we are so thrilled to have his pieces gracing the walls.

Provence Colors, 18x24 lo resBill Davidson, Provence Colors, 18 x 24, oil on linen

We welcome guest artist Lesley Powell to the gallery. We fell in love with her poker-faced and ever-so-French waiters who look like they could be rolling their eyes as their customers struggle with their bad French.

Maitre D'Awaiting, 20 x 16 Lesley Powell, Maitre D’, oil on canvas, 20 x 16

And, we can’t get enough of Laura Shubert's light-drenched French exteriors and interiors. You can just about feel the warm sun and smell the lavender when you study her work.

Chandelier & Stairs, 36 x 36 lo res

Laura Shubert, Chandelier and Stairs, 36 x 36, acrylic on canvas

French Facade, 36 x 36 lo res Laura Shubert, French Facade, 36 x 36, acrylic on canvas

So, if you’re in town, don your beret and slip on your espadrilles and stop by the gallery for a French fix: Thursday, July 14th from 6-8 p.m. Bonne Fete!

Ta ta. See you Thursday!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Paris in Sepia


We love it when people reinvent themselves and come up with things that, later in life, they are passionate about. That’s probably because at one time or other, we have all done that at the gallery. In fact, between us we have worn so many hats in our collective professional lives that it would make your head spin! We’ve had careers in marketing, advertising, real estate, public relations, food service (remember waitressing your way through college?), college admissions, teaching (English, French, theatre and even skiing!), flight attending, retail, interior design, and much much more. And that’s without even including Sam Jones, our real renaissance lady, whose resume would take up five pages!

One of our favorite clients, who not only has collected art from us over the years but also been to Provence with one of our groups, recently reinvented herself and has become passionate about photography. She is so excited about this new found passion and so charged by the enthusiasm of those who’ve viewed her work that it has given her a whole new lease on life, following a few tough years with persnickety health issues and a variety of interesting careers.


We first met April Dilbeck when we were babies in the art gallery business and selling out of Scotts, the famous flea market located near the airport. April had the booth next to ours, and she featured beautiful European antiques. We instantly bonded and became friends and April went on to becoming a cherished friend and client, who accompanied us on one of our first tours of Provence, a few years ago.


Knowing that we are all Francophiles here at the gallery, and thinking we could suggest a venue for some of her newest photographs, April sent us some examples of her recent work on Paris, entitled “Paris in sepia,” and politely asked for advice.


It so happens that she took these Paris photos following one of our trips to Provence, when she was staying at a quaint little hotel on the Left Bank, and spent much of her time dodging rain storms. Luckily, those dramatic storms became the backdrop for her photography, and that is one of the reasons her work is so powerfully luminous.


We loved the images and are thrilled to introduce a friend, and talented artist, April Dilbeck, who will be a guest artist for our Bastille Day Show on July 14th. We hope that you will be equally drawn to April’s beautiful photographs of Paris and join us for a fun filled evening of wine, cheese, music and art … one of our favorite shows of the year.


We hope you’ll join us next week as we toast our French artists, and our not-so-French American artists, who have all been bitten by the French bug, and whose work will be gracing our gallery walls starting on Bastille Day, July 14th, 2011.


And we hope you’ll join us in welcoming April Dilbeck as a talented guest artist for this fun show.

A bientot!