Evolution of a Style



This magazine cover from Veranda remains one of my favorites from 2007.  Showcasing the work of Renea Abbott, this picture reflects her aesthetic precisely:  eclectic mix of the antique and contemporary, monochromatic scheme, glamour, and authenticity.    Abbott is one of Houston's finest interior designers and her star is rising higher each year.  She attended the New York School of Design AND the Fashion Institute of Technology - at the same time.  Following a stint working in New York for Keith Irving's design firm, she came home to Houston.  Today, along with her hectic design business, she owns Shabby Slips (featured on this blog here), a furniture store that is filled with pricey European antiques along with the most comfortable down filled upholstered pieces, many of which are slipcovered in Abbott's favorite material - white linen.  A stranger might be dismissive of the store - mistaking it for a Rachel Ashwell -Shabby Chic clone.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  When Shabby Slips first opened, Abbott made slipcovers for anyone who walked in the door.  But today, the price list to slipcover a chair or sofa - which was charmingly displayed inside a gilt picture frame - is no longer visible.   Instead, the focus of the store is European antiques and contemporary accessories.  Shabby Slips'  look  has evolved through the years, just as Abbott's has.  To witness firsthand Abbott's design evolution, take a look at how she once lived and how she lives today.  Images are courtesy of Shabby Slips' beautiful and comprehensive web site - finally released!

HOME #I:  An early Abbott owned apartment was photographed while she was still living in a highrise that is home to many of Houston's interior designers, retail store owners, and the glittering social set.   This apartment was published in Southern Accents - 2002:


In this early Abbott apartment, the floors are a wonderful ebony color which pops all the white slipcovers.  Here, Abbott brings three different sized chairs around the antique Spanish refectory table.  Each slipcover is monogrammed in her oversized initials.


The living area of the apartment featured Shabby Slips' mohair sofa and chairs.  Abbott used a skirted table, Odegard rug, and artwork by Olivier Debre.


French antique mirror and sconces combined with an oriental demilune reside in the entry hall.

HOME #II:  This move to a new space in the highrise was published in the book Spectacular Homes of Texas:


The living room of the new space features white linen slipcovers.  The coffee table, a Shabby Slips original, moved from the former apartment.  New to the mix is an antique french day bed.  Barbara  Berry ottoman is in mohair.


In the dining room, there is a huge change from the previous space.  Totally contemporary now - the table is from Thomas O'Brien and the chairs are Barbara Barry.  Two Fortuny lights, from Creative Flooring (owned by Abbott's husband) are overhead and the triptych by Ford Beckman grabs all the attention.


The family room shows the start of the evolution to a more glamorous space.  The velvet sofa is from Holly Hunt, the chair and end table are Barbara Barry, and the slipcovered chairs are from Donghia.  Mirrored table is from Shabby Slips.  Only the candlesticks are familiar from before.


The bedroom features a Baker four poster bed and Barbara Barry end tables.  The leopard carpeting is from Creative Flooring.


HOME #III:  And finally, a move from the highrise to a townhome gave Renea a chance to really showcase her evolving style.  A nod to the Hollywood glamour of another era, Houston's Paper City published the Manteris' home in 2005:


The shell encrusted commode comes from Watkins Culver, Shabby Slips' neighboring antique store.  The antique urn is from Shabby Slips.


The extra high ceilings allow the silk drapes and chandelier to take center stage in the living room.  The antique Venetian fixture was bought from the estate of one of the founders of the Pebble Beach Golf Club.  The vintage 1940s style French sofas and chairs were purchased from Watkins Culver and are covered in white muslin.  Mirrored chests flank both sides of the limestone fireplace and the art work above is by Cy Twombly.  The rug, from Creative Floorings, of course, is Tibetan.


Close up of one of matching mirrored chests with the Cy Twombly above.  Antique santos and milk glass lamp from AREA round out the tablescape.


The dining room with the same extra tall windows, this time covered in silk taffeta draperies, is another stunning space.  The back wall is a mosaic of antiqued and distressed mirrored panels.  The table is from Panache and the beaded crystal fixture is from Dennis and Leen.  Chairs are Louis XVI style, again, covered in white muslin.


I adore this kitchen!  White carrara marble replaced pink granite countertops.  French iron top table from Joyce Horn Antiques with Clarence House zebra printed silk velvet covered french chairs. 


Abbott painted the iron staircase to resemble pewter.  A mummy folly holds a tray of cordials.  The runner is zebra patterned wool carpeting from  Creative Flooring.


The sitting area of the bedroom features an armless tufted sofa.  The velvet trimmed silk taffeta draperies are from The Silk Trading Company. 


Just about the only pieces that traveled from the highrise were this Baker four poster bed and the Barbara Barry night stands. 

In the article that accompanied these photographs,  Renea Abbott acknowledges that they probably won't stay here at this townhouse for too long.  I don't know if they still live there or not.  But something tells me to expect a newly designed space to be emerging sometime soon!  Do you prefer one home shown here over the next?   I think my favorite is a combination of spaces from all three!



What's New?




What's new?  Well, everything in the above picture, for one thing.  The new Wisteria catalogue is filled with wonderful new items including a line  called the "French Industrial Collection" - which the coffee table is a part of.   What else is new out there in catalogue and online land?


Wisteria:  new love seat, garden seats, and French Industrial Collection side table.


Great new antiqued tripod lamp for $450 fits right in with Wisteria's French Industrial Collection. African Kuba cloth pillows pop on their new white sofa with the distinctive lines.


Wisteria's wonderful small oval mirror mimics an antique, just $130.


Wisteria's new French styled chair is one of my favorites - a bargain at just $250.  The desk is new too.  I love the faux antique station clock - $150.


Wisteria's French Industrial Collection bookcases come in two sizes.  This large size is $799.


This sunburst mirror from Wisteria looks almost authentic to me.  $450.


This desk is not new, but it's been out of stock for ever.  Available now, finally, according to the web site.   I think this is one of the prettiest repros on the market today, especially for the price, only $980.


This metal table is great indoors or out.  I'd do the table with rattan chairs myself. 


Again, not new, but finally in stock after being unavailable for months.  Great look for $1250.


Last from Wisteria - stacking shelves for $500. These would be great in a kid's room, a kitchen, or as a buffet.


Pottery Barn is filled with surprises lately.  What's going on there?  The designs have stepped up a notch. These French styled metal chairs are fabulous!  So are the pendants.  The wood table isn't bad itself.


This bed is ingenious - the fabric pops out to change seasonally with the bedding.  I love the way the baskets fit underneath the wooden frame.  Great for a teenage girl whose taste changes monthly.


Pottery Barn's new architect desk and chair.  Pottery Barn?  $900 for the desk, I kid you not!  The chair is too cool.


From Pottery Barn again, a jute daybed.  Comes as a regular bed too.  This is a great look for a boy's bedroom.


Pottery Barn has expanded their painted pieces line to include different shapes.  My favorite is the white three drawer dresser that would make great nightstands.   Very affordable.  Lots of "look" for the money.


Zebra has made it to PB.  Besides the pillows, they are selling zebra towels and sheets and rugs.  Sheets and towels come in leopard in case you're getting sick of zebra. Personally, I still love zebra.


Williams Sonoma Home is a much pricier catalogue than most.  But their furniture is a cut above their cheaper counterparts.  I love this chinoiserie inspired bench.  It comes in cream or black and also comes in side and arm chairs.   From Hickory Chair Collection via WSHome.


"Folly corner chair" from WSHome, Hickory Chair Collection.  I love this chair for the corner or not.  Comes as a "regular" chair, also. $950.


Sleek, glamour filled vanity from WSHome.  Hard to believe a piece so stylish is from a catalogue.   Not cheap, but at least it looks it's $2450. price tag.



A red French chest from WSHome would pop in a family room or a bedroom.


Here's how WSHome displays their French chest and chair and blue stripe dhurri and bedding. 


Lulu inspired silk pillows with coordinating back fabrics.   These are just two choices of the many hip and trendy pillows from WSHome.


New from West Elm:  the spine bookshelf, seen just on the back wall to the left.  At $150, this Design Within Reach knockoff is much cheaper at West Elm.  I just bought two of them to try to corral my design books now that I am out of shelf space.  It's amazing how many books it holds.


Ballard Designs has a new wood and tufted coffee table that looks pretty good on paper at least.  At $700, it's probably worth it.



Ballard's has great indoor outdoor polyprophelene rugs.  I sell these kind of rugs for high traffic areas - they are indestructible.


Ballard Designs is now making these great sheer slipcovers for their cane folding chairs. 



 The Elysee Collection from France has a new line for women designed by women called "An Evening in Paris."   Not a catalogue, but an online company  that sells beautiful French reproductions.  The owner emailed me these new pieces which I think are adorable! 

Here, Marie Antoinette is painted on a chest.

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Two more chests from the new collection - aren't these the most adorable things?




Circa Lighting from Houston debuts Michael S. Smith's new line.  Here is my favorite of the pieces.


The line includes sconces and chandeliers in silver, brass, and bronze.


This Michael S. Smith designed lamp has received lots of advertising in all the magazines this month.


Smith also designs for Kallista - here is his version of a stone farm sink.


And Smith designed what has to be the prettiest toilet around - with it's wood seat and lid!


Another favorite of mine in the line is this kitchen island that Smith designed.  You can view all his collections on his web site here.


Anthropoligie recently added these two new mirrors.  One oval, one square, both with gilding and both only $148.00  Great for a powder room or over a small vanity.




One of my favorite furniture companies that sells online to the trade just came out with a Swedish reproduction line.  Most Swedish repros are outrageously priced.  These pieces are more than reasonable and look like they are of the great quality that G.J. Styles is known for. 


Here is a typical Swedish couch with upholstered seat and sides.  I would recover this in blue and white checked Chelsea Editions fabric.


A nice sized foot stool with an upholstered top.  This would be a great way to bring in a little Swedish to a room without making a big commitment.


This day bed is such an authentic reproduction, it's hard for me to believe it's new.  Beautiful.


Farrow and Ball, the world's best wallpaper and paint company, has released some of their papers in new, vibrant colors, as seen here.   Quite a department for the normally staid company.


Along with new wallpaper colors, Farrow and Ball introduced new paint colors.  Here, a trendy mauve color, cinderrose.  Mauves and lilacs are this year's aqua.


And last:  Brocade Home recently began carrying wallpaper.  Since this color, peony, is impossible to find anywhere, BH must be selling it by the truckload.  Every teenaged girl client of mine is wanting lilac, mauve, or purple these days.  It's the hottest hue going.

These are my favorite catalogues, online, that I like to shop.  Have I missed your favorite?  If so, let me know for next time's
"New Items"