BROWN Hosts Garden & Gun



The darling - and let me repeat that for emphasis – the darling Haskell Harris, Associate Editor of Garden & Gun magazine said it best: “BROWN and Garden & Gun are simpatico.” I couldn’t have said it any better.


Haskell Harris, Associate Editor, Garden & Gun magazine

But wait, who, what?


Thursday night BROWN, my favorite lighting and decor store in Houston, hosted a party to welcome Garden & Gun, the newest Southern lifestyle magazine on the scene – or, as they say of themselves - the “Soul of the New South.” The two companies styles could not have meshed visually and philosophically any better – they are simpatico. Thank you, Haskell. BROWN and Garden & Gun just look good together.


Blow-ups of former G&G covers were strategically placed around the shop, along with stacks of the current issue, each neatly tied with twine.

Jill Brown, proprietor and designer of BROWN, planned the get together and every detail was perfect, it truly seemed as if Garden & Gun and BROWN were actually run and owned by the same people. Jill’s style is incredible and it really showed on Thursday night – starting with the menu (and all made by Jill herself) – the sweets and food all a nod to every Southern favorite: bourbon balls, molasses cookies, beer cheese, and turkey sandwiches – to name just a few of the delectables. Drinks included Belgian Beer and the historical Tait Farm Shrubs. Instead of using platters, the tables were set with Jill’s fabulous collection of antique copper pots and pans. Bread that looked like stone blocks chiseled with large G&G’s were an extra visual touch.


Bread branded with G&G in wire baskets – every detail a visual treat.

The flowers, there weren’t really flowers in the sense you would think, instead Jill found someone somewhere in the Carolinas that provided tobacco leaves – in honor of Garden & Gun , because as Jill put it “tobacco is Southern, a part of our heritage, textural, and Brown. Jonathan Andrew Sage arranged all the tobacco leaves and various plants in Jill’s old galvanized buckets. Other “floral” details included cherry tomato stalks that Sage incorporated into the mix. Anything that had to do with the South, it seemed Jill had thought of it.


Sweets and treats were placed in galvanized trays. Autumnal colors mixed well with BROWNS’s decor.


Some time ago Jill found a substantial cache of 100 year old copper pots and pans. She put them to good use at the party.


Live music – inside and out. Notice the gorgeous painted wood floor! Squares merge into stripes.

A band – the acoustic Across The Water played inside - while a lone saxophonist, Edmond Baker, Jr. added a moody vibe outside. The large store was filled to capacity with many of the great interior designers in Houston – I saw Babs Watkins, Ginger Barber, Sharon Perry, and Carol Glasser mingling in the crowd. Cote de Texas favorite Sally Wheat was there too.


The General Store on the front porch of BROWN.

The front porch was set up like a general store, except nothing was for sale, it was all there for the guests to take home. (I took home a little sign, ok – three tiny signs!!!) Little chalkboards were purposed as signs, both outside and inside. And throughout the store were “Haskell’s Picks” – things that the Garden & Gun style maven found especially appealing. Haskell, who has the cutest dimple in the world – only one, I asked! - gave a talk about the history of Garden & Gun, their vision and where they want to take the magazine. She spoke about authentic design and heirloom quality – passing down things from generation to generation. Haskell is just as darling as you would expect and watching her star rise, first at Cottage Living and now here at Garden & Gun, you know she will have a long and successful career. Her mother was an interior designer – the very house where Haskell was raised was also where her mother’s shop was located, so you can safely say Haskell ate and slept interior design - and it shows. When her redone Birmingham house was featured in Southern Living, everyone loved it - but she’s in a new home now in Charleston where G&G is headquartered. Besides editing the magazine’s style features, Haskell also writes a charming blog HERE.


Stacks of the current issue were there for the taking. Jill also graciously bought subscriptions for all of her guests. Thanks, Jill!!

You don’t have to be southern to enjoy Garden & Gun – there’s a mix of food, music, art, travel, and sporting culture in each issue. And G&G is one of those rare magazines that men love as much as women. When I got home, Ben immediately confiscated my issue and promptly bought gift subscriptions for his brother and partner. And with Haskell Harris in charge of all things stylish, there is plenty of ink on interior design and gardening to satisfy all feminine leanings. To order Garden & Gun go HERE. To visit BROWN, go HERE.


Now that it’s all over except for the memories, Jill Brown, whose incredible eye has solely created the unique and visionary BROWN, graciously refused to take any credit for the party, giving Angela DeWree of Design and Inspiration, total thanks for the night. Somehow, I think Jill is being a little too humble, but that’s just part of her endearing charm. Make no mistake though DeWree is incredibly talented – her abilities in event planning, branding, PR, store staging (you name it, she does it) are legendary in Houston and she really shined Thursday night along with Jill. To contact DeWree, go HERE.

Below are a few favorite stories of mine in Garden & Gun, available on the their web site:


This Texas Hill Country farmhouse is a modern day version of the classic Texas dogtrot. Read the story and see all the pictures HERE.


How cute is this vintage styled trailer? G&G is filled with stories like this. HERE.

image_thumb11 This gorgeous Georgian garden is located on the former land of author Flannery O’Connor, read and see it all HERE.


The oldest beagle pack in America – living in Virginia, HERE.


One of the most visited private gardens – that of Emily Whaley – is featured in G&G HERE.


Besides Haskell’s duties for the magazine, she also writes their blog, Belle Decor. Filled with personal stories of her past and present, she also highlights her favorite finds. HERE, the Charleston office of Ross Kenan Interiors is shown.


This beautiful portrait by Jim Pollard is of Lou Harris and her two daughters, Haskell and Chandler. Son Haze was previously painted in another portrait. Haskell told Courtney of Style Court that she vividly remembers the chinoiserie screen in the background. To read the charming and bittersweet story behind this, go to Style Court HERE.

Haskell Harris has long been a favorite among design bloggers, starting with her days at Cottage Living. Growing up in Virginia, in the true southern manner, design is in her blood. Sharing the house with her mother’s interior design business, Haskell had an early and constant exposure to all things beautiful. Her love of historical houses also dates from her childhood, which was spent in an 1910 historically significant house. A graduate of UVA, Haskell moved to Birmingham when Cottage Living hired her. There she remodeled a cottage, which when published, made design bloggers everywhere fall in love with her. And who can blame us? Her house is as adorable as the one-dimple Haskell is. The jump to G&G forced a moved to Charleston and another historical house, this time a rumored to be haunted 1796 single house. We are all patiently waiting to see what magic Haskell performs there. Until then, please enjoy one more peek at the Birmingham cottage Haskell painstakingly remolded. Pictures, sources, and quotes come from Southern Living HERE and Style Court HERE.


The charming Birmingham cottage that Haskell restored. Originally a neon green, she spent weeks painting it the neutral shade Cliffside Gray (RME-74) by Benjamin Moore with trim shade Swiss Coffee (5012) by Behr.


I adore the picnic bench out front with lanterns – what better way to meet your neighbors?

image_thumb7 The welcoming front porch with swing and painted striped floor.

image_thumb111 Living Room / Dining Room

Inside the cottage, there is a large living/dining area. The pine dining table came from Haskell’s childhood mountain farmhouse where she spent many years eating meals on it, surrounded by family. The color scheme was taken from a bag of gourmet marshmallows which Haskell found soothing and inviting. “They were the softest, most sophisticated colors I’d ever seen. Pale pink, pale blue, cocoa, cream, and pale gray―I based all the paints on those marshmallows,” Haskell says. “The chalky finishes remind me of studying in Italy and visiting old villas and churches. The paint looks like it’s been there a long time.”

Living room wall paint: Riff (C2-358) by C2 Paint. Fabric on wingback chair: Tucker Resist from Lewis & Sheron Textile Co. The two antique 18th century maps of Europe atop the bookcases are a favorite splurge – found in NYC on a shopping trip with her mother.


The hanging shelf is another heirloom from her parents. I love the way the chair fabric pops against all the neutrals.

image_thumb28 Another view from Southern Living magazine.

image_thumb19 The kitchen is utterly charming with its mix of high and low: black honed granite was a splurge, as was the farm sink from Herbeau. The walls are humble beadboard which add to the cottage atmosphere. Kraftmaid cabinets mix with classic white subway tiles from Daltile.


Close up of the beautiful sink and faucet. Haskell loved her honed black granite and confesses she probably loves every honed stone. For her next kitchen, she wants to do fatigue green honed granite with matching painted cabinets – sounds divine! The hanging baskets hold fruit and recipes – such a cute idea.


View towards the back door of her kitchen. The small tiled floor is another charming cottage touch.


The master bedroom was a calm haven for Haskell to come home to. You can just see the vintage crystal doorknob on the very right.


A collection of mirrors accessorized a wall in the light pink bedroom. Many were empty frames found by Haskell and fitted with antiqued mirrors.

Secret (C2-048), also by C2 Paint.


Haskell herself installed the subway tile in her bathroom. She chose gray grout to age the look and for ease of maintenance.


And finally, in her laundry closet, next to the bathroom, Haskell cleverly wallpapered it with wrapping paper printed with maps. Baskets, shells, and a lantern add the finishing touches.

I can’t wait to see what Haskell has done with her house in Charleston! This one will be hard to top, that’s for sure.


I hope you enjoyed learning all about Haskell Harris and Garden & Gun. To read more about BROWN on Cote de Texas, go HERE, and if you live in Houston pick up the latest issue of Paper City to see a large feature on Jill’s house. Thank you Jill and Haskell so much for including me Thursday night. It was a real treat to be there!

Two Books By Bloggers and a Revamped Magazine:




Big changes debuted in the October issue of Southern Living magazine.  Southern Living always seemed to be a “sister” publication to the recently shuttered Southern Accents, and with their new direction,  they might be hoping to attract some of those readers.    But, they also  seem to be going after the younger Cottage Living reader too.    Everything about the magazine now seems geared to a younger demographic, which I think is great.   A lot has changed – gone are the tiny pictures which have been replaced with much bigger ones.  There are new layouts, graphics, and fonts, and there is new editorial content – such as a Recipes Index, a new Small Scale Decorating Projects column,  a Great Southern Drive each month (my fav,)  new columns on entertaining and cooking,  and  there is  “Gardening 101”  for the novice/weekend gardener.    And these are just a few examples of the new columns – there are many more. 




The new colorful layouts and graphics.


What always attracted me to Southern Living were the decorating stories – but with the small pictures and their typical one or two page stories, they usually left me wishing for more.  This month – the decorating section showcases much longer stories along with the new larger pictures.  My favorite decorating story this month was five pages long!  


image My favorite decorating story in this month’s Southern Living was about this cottage.  While most decorating stories in the past were usually one or two pages – this story was five!



 I love what the homeowner did – he enlarged and framed a letter to create instant, yet personal art!



The cottage’s kitchen – I love the sink’s backsplash and wall hung faucet.



Another great art idea – maps!

I’m thrilled Southern Living is changing – it’s all for the better.    If you have been a fan of the magazine before, you will love it even more now.   If you’ve never read it before – give it a try!






Fellow blogger, interior designer, author, artist, fabric designer – Jackie Von Tobel is a whirlwind.  How she has time to do it all amazes me.   Two years ago she wrote and illustrated Window Treatments, a  sort of drapery bible (available HERE) – but Jackie is not one to sit around and twiddle her thumbs.   Even before Window Treatments was published, Jackie was already thinking ahead to her next book:



And here it is:   The Design  Directory of Bedding by Jackie Von Tobel, available HERE.   In her new book, Jackie again wrote and illustrated it - over 544 pages – a feat that just astounds me!   The book is organized into sections – making it easy to find exactly what you need for either yourself or a client if you are an interior designer.  Published again by Gibbs Smith – the book features all of Jackie’s detailed art work.   Her next project which was borne from her two books is her own fabric line!     I’m hoping Jackie might now take a long, much–needed vacation.  But I doubt that, I’m sure there is something new brewing in her head.   To win a free book, visit Jackie’s blog,  HERE.


Some of my favorite illustrations from Jackie’s new bedding book:


image Jackie has illustrated examples of headboards – here she tackles iron ones.




And here she designed a headboard made of shutters.





Here Jackie designs slipcovered headboards. 




I love this canopy bed, so pretty!




And  here is an example of a raised canopy.  Each section is accompanied with a detailed explanation of the designs.




Two coronas, ala Jackie Von Tobel!





And finally, an example of the volume of illustrations – four versions of one neck roll.

Jackie, good luck with your new book !   You certainly deserve it, now go get some rest!!!!





And finally – today, there is this new book on Michelle Obama.   Soon to be released,  it was written by Mary Tomer who founded Mrs-O HERE, a hugely popular blog all about our First Lady’s fashion sense.   Often compared to Jackie Kennedy who shared Michelle Obama’s love of fashion, Mrs. O is the first First Lady since Jackie-O who has had so many books written about her fashion style.     But, it is this one fashion book on Mrs. O that really captured my attention because it was written by another blogger!   I love that so many bloggers are now stepping out in publishing.  The book is very comprehensive, starting with the young, single Michelle, through her marriage, motherhood, the campaign, and ending with her stay in the White House.   Most exciting are the interviews with many of Mrs. O’s favorite designers.   Mrs. O – The Face of Fashion Democracy is available for pre-order HERE.

While I was sent the book for review – I don’t want to spoil it for you by showing the pictures from it, so instead, I have chosen to show photographs of Mrs. Obama taken in the White House – this way, we can combine fashion with interior design! And also, while I know many of Cote de Texas readers are Republicans, I hope you will also enjoy these photos – with the historical and quite beautiful White House as the back drop!



The Official Portrait of our First Lady, taken in the famous Blue Room, with Thomas Jefferson looking down over the scene.  Here she is wearing her trademark look – a sleeveless Michael Kors dress that shows off her highly toned arms!  



Here, you can really see a lot of the decorating details in the Yellow Oval Room in the Private Quarters of the White House.  I love the fabric on the chair Mrs. O is sitting on!



On a tour of the White House, the first couple are shown the State Dining Room.   I wonder if she is examining the curtains?   Look at that molding!!!  Abraham Lincoln is gazing down here – can you imagine living with such art work?


Another sleeveless dress in the Blue Room. 




Here, the couple is in the  Diplomatic Reception Room – with its beautiful mural.    Sleeveless again!   George Washington is surveying this scene.




The Green Room – I love these personal, intimate shots of the two of them.   They always seems to be speaking a private language between each other.



Mrs. Ronald Reagan, another fashion icon, comes for a visit.  Notice the huge blue and white pot, the jib door, the beautiful fireplace and mirror.   I wonder what Mrs. Reagan thinks when she comes back – they must be bittersweet memories since her husband is no longer here to enjoy it with her.  I also wonder about the china – do you think this is the china that Mrs. Reagan designed?  That would have been such a sentimental touch.   I wonder if Mrs. O has designed their china yet. 





Another former First Lady visits, Mrs. Jimmy Carter.   The woman in red is the Vice-President’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden.  Mrs. O is so tall – you can really see it in this picture.    What a view!!!!!!!!!!!!!



The Clintons and the Carters pay a visit to the Oval Office.   I love the rug that President George Bush created for this office, I hope the Obamas keep it.    I wonder what Clinton and Emmanuel are saying???



Another secret message to the First Lady dressed in yellow.  Do you think she planned to match the curtains here?



The Blue Room with its exceptional set of furniture.   President John  Tyler looks down on another shared laugh between the two!



The Governor’s Ball in the State Dining Room.   Do you see Governor Arnold?  I love that the President is pulling out his wife’s chair!  This dress by Peter Soronen was a stunner with the huge pearl necklace accessorizing it.




Off the Blue Room, is the Red Room with another set of incredible antique furniture.   This is the cutest picture!   Even the page is laughing at the first couple. 





The Blue Room, the day after the inauguration.   It’s time to update these curtains I think.




The beautiful halls of the White House – he must be rushing her here!  Typical husband!



Ok –Mrs. O isn’t in this picture, but what a beautiful picture of the Green Room!!  What is he looking at? 




My favorite!    The first President ever to hold a Passover Seder!   Despite all the reports of the Obama’s hanging out with left wing radicals, actually many of their friends and members of their staff are Jewish.   During the long campaign, the tradition of holding a family Seder was started.   Did you know that Michelle’s uncle is also one of the most celebrated black Rabbis in this country?    The very young and very beautiful First Lady Francis Cleveland looks over the Seder held in the Old Family Dining Room.    Maybe they’ll invite me next year!



To pre-order blogger Mary Tomer’s book on our First Lady’s fashion style, Mrs. O The Face of Fashion Democracy, go HERE.

To order Jackie Von Tobel’s  The Design Directory of Bedding, go HERE.

And be sure to visit your local book stand and pick up the new Southern Living magazine.

And one last reminder:  if you haven’t already, please visit the Skirted Roundtable HERE to listen  to interior design great Charlotte Moss talk about her life and everything else!  She is so fascinating!