When Jill Brown began collecting Belgian wares and furnishings during her four-year stay in the European country, she had to assuage her late husband's concerns as she filled up their basement, their garage, and later, a host of storage units. "He was worried about what I would do with all of that stuff!" Brown laughs. When she relocated to Houston in 2001, her love of products and her inherent entrepreneurial streak allowed her to segue from a much sought-after antiques dealer to the owner of her celebrated shop. aptly named Brown.
In addition to the unique finds she continues to source from France. Holland and Belgium-that old cache long since snatched up by eager designers-Brown crafts the custom lighting that has become the store's signature. Through the years, her definition of what's fit to sell has remained consistent: "I look for goods that I like and that make me experience a visceral reaction. It harkens back to my Midwest pragmatism, but I prefer items that are useful and beautiful to items that are just beautiful any day."
In Paris, I love Merci. It's a concept store with a little bit of everything. A little closer to home, I like Terrain, right outside Philadelphia.
I can't live without really dark black coffee, Clairefontaine notebooks and Mrs. Meyer's geranium-scented cleaning products.
I love everything that John Saladino ever touched. I also admire what Lambert Hitchcock did m the early 1800s; his furniture was so quintessentially American.
On My Nightstand:
I just finished reading Flaubert's A Simple Heart. It's an incredibly poignant short story.
Cy Twombly's blackboard paintings. I have a soft spot for anything school-related.
Country style. I love the Gregory farmhouse that William Wurster designed in the 1920s. It's been seminal in influencing my own little farm project.