The French Connection ... Troisième Note! Grey, The New Neutral.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Grey has been a much maligned color in design schemes. In America, it can be considered somber, the color of ciment, a bit sad even... for me even prison-like!

Since moving to France, I have a whole new regard for the color grey. I am surrounded by all sorts of inspiring examples of grey which are so much more beautiful than those I remember in the U.S.

Here wherever you look you find a shade of grey.

Check out the beautiful cupola roof slates here ... not only is the color sharp, but the shape of these rooflines inspire me in all sorts of design directions ... just a typical corner of Reims, with the added bonus of a décor shop tucked away for future investigation.

You can be walking along a busy shopping boulevard, peek between two buildings and be blown away by the view behind. Here is a lovely example of soft pearly grey, very sophisticated.

Wait awhile, pass back by and discover a completely different shade, an almost bluish grey. The contrast of these neutral greys against the soft creamy beige of freshly cleaned limestone give ideas as well ...

Here, Reims' cathedral tower with aging stone. Limestone is affected by many elements and the colors can vary tremendously. Weather, traffic, age, smoke ... all of these add to the depth of colors present. Some might consider this aging 'dirty', but if you look beyond that label to the palette of colors, you find beauty.

Nature here provides some examples as well, of the beautiful options for neutrals in your design with greys, browns, creams. Take this tree bark for example. I am dying to put together a beautiful 'commode' (dresser) or 'placard' (cabinet), incorporating this color combination.

Here in the far north of France, I reveled in the early winter's seaside climate in the village of Cayeux as another creative inspiration. The thousand subtle shades of grey found in the beach stones, the effect of the foggy day on the color and reflections in the water ... the curvy shapes of the inlet, all reminded me that these neutral colors can compete, in fact overcome, the standard eggshell or ivory we sometimes lean toward.

I am currently finishing up a redesign project of a small stone house or what we have called 'chalet', incorporating a dark grey, a grey called 'plume' and a blue grey called 'ciel' or sky. You'll see how it all came together in an upcoming edition.

In the meantime, here are some examples of grey in design action:


Makes for an inviting and classy

In this Entry Hall ...

photo courtesy of

Here modern sleek lines in an
Open Kitchen and Dining area
are highlighted by a
accent wall

photo courtesy of

This shabby chic bedroom with grey and soft brown patinas makes me want to snuggle up with a good book ... or walk barefoot on that plush textured carpet ... these neutrals are not boring!!

I hope this peek into some of my everyday discoveries here in la Belle France has offered some inspiration and a new view on (n)ever boring grey!

except where noted, all images courtesy of Kimberlee Mancha

Our guest correspondent for The French Connection is Kimberlee Mancha, mother of Johnelle and co-founder of Mignonne Décor. Now living in France, Kimberlee started our sister shop "The Bohemians" in 2009. She will be providing live updates for all you Francophiles and lovers of beautiful European inspirations.

Salvaged Chic Of The Week: Oiseau

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

We hope you're all managing well with the holiday madness. Thank you to everyone who came to our Holiday Bazaar last Friday, it was a blast! Thank you to all of the amazing vendors and artisans who made our first Bazaar such a success too!

This week's piece is so exciting because not only is it tres chic, but it's also just the tip of the iceberg when we say we can "customize any piece."

Johnelle painted the designs on this piece freehand, can you imagine?!

Oiseau is a classic vintage dresser with fun mixed vintage pulls that add to the playful feel of this piece.
While Oiseau has now found its home, it's a great example of customization of a piece as well as Johnelle's expertise, and it doesn't stop there! Johnelle can also do different styles, like this amazing graphic piece she did last summer.

The woman's creativity knows no bounds.

She also does murals!
As you can see, your imagination is your only inhibitor! Whatever you can imagine, Johnelle can help you come up with a design whether she paints it, designs the reupholstery, or builds a custom piece along with Brian Hill. Feel free to email us at for more information about a piece you're envisioning and want Johnelle to bring to life!

Rebekah is a member of the Mignonne family and former Mignonne assistant. She now freelances and owns the company A & B Creative, read her blog.

The French Connection, Troisième Edition: Joyeux Noël!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

or Merry Christmas ... all the same when you are in France!

We've been doing some holiday visiting and window shopping, getting in "l'esprit du moment"! From the tiniest village to bustling cities, signs of Christmas abound.

I am sorry you couldn't make it here to come along, but I've some pictures to share so armchair touring, here we go!

First stop Reims, (pronounced 'rance'), a gorgeous city east of Paris with prerequisite drop dead cathedral ... important to France's history as many, many kings were crowned there.

Reims is sprinkled with pretty plazas, shopping districts and restaurants... all connected by tramway...

They were putting on their annual March de Noël (Christmas Market) ...

a crêche scene with an empty manger ... the wise men await!

French patisseries (pastries), including beignets (like donuts but yummier), pomme d'amour (apple of love, delish), crepes and gaufres (thin pancakes and waffles) and of course, barbe de papa noël (cotton candy)

Rows of wooden cabins lined the main plaza and merriment seeking folks from all over walked the aisles to view their wares. This was a merry evening with crowds strolling around ... just enjoying the scenery.

It was a nice warm- up for our Paris visit. Come with me as I stroll down the Champs Elysées ...

We started at the Arc de Triomphe ...

went along with the crowds looking at all of the various building decorations and displays ... like this full sized sailing boat on the Groupama building ...

and the giant Chinese dragon ...

a Famous store with Famous french purses ... yes a WHOLE store dedicated to purses ... le sigh!

another pièce de resistance, the Louis Vuitton store ... with a cirque theme. Shades of pearly grey, orange and fuschia made an inspiring backdrop to balancing elephants and whimsical monkeys ... and trapeze artists, too! (don't try this at home, it is way too high!!)

can't wait to try this color combination on some furniture ... that will be a real color punch ... merçi monsieur vuitton !

after braving the crowds along the avenue, we braved the crowds on the peripherique for the ride home!

hope this short stroll gave you a taste of France's holiday action... I am sorting through my camera pics and may have a few more to pop in here, so check back later this week! so many colors and sights along the avenue to amp up my santa spirit!

à trés, trés bientôt! (see you very soon!)

Our guest correspondent for The French Connection is Kimberlee Mancha, mother of Johnelle and co-founder of Mignonne Décor. Now living in France, Kimberlee started our sister shop "The Bohemians" in 2009. She will be providing live updates for all you Francophiles and lovers of beautiful European inspirations.

all images courtesy of Kimberlee Mancha

Salvaged Chic Of The Week: Azteca

Thursday, December 15, 2011

With the holidays just around the corner it's only fitting that our Salvaged Chic Of The Week should be something that you'll want to immediately add to your wish list!

Meet "Azteca":

Are you in love yet? This gorgeous chair is one that Johnelle recently designed and is ready and waiting for a new home! Azteca is a vintage 60s style chair with a simple and classic design that allows the upholstery to really pop. The chair has been reupholstered with an amazing vintage textile with Aztec influences.

Johnelle added a luscious deep blue velvet to the seat and a linen brown to the back and band of the chair. The design is pulled together by the bright pop of red from the burlap piping.

The Aztec style is one that I find so gorgeous and is also being seen in fashion now. Interior design and fashion are constantly influencing each other. Here are some of my favorite fashion contributions to the Aztec look.

Whether you love this look so much that you want to incorporate it into your fashion as well, or you're happier to keep it as a conversation piece in your interior design, Azteca is the perfect piece to POP a neutral space, or to add to an overall eclectic style and feel that you may have.

Stop by the shop to revel at this beauty and don't forget that we're having our Holiday Bazaar tomorrow from 6-9pm with lots of Mignonne vintage treasures (and on sale!) as well as goodies from local designers and artisans!

Images 1-4 of Azteca taken by Johnelle Mancha, Image Five: intermix ;Image Six:; Image Seven:; Image Eight:; Image Nine:; Image Ten:

Rebekah is a member of the Mignonne family and former Mignonne assistant. She now freelances and owns the company A & B Creative, read her blog.

Salvaged Chic Of The Week: Mid-Century Madness!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

For this week's Salvaged Chic Of The Week we've got a fabulous pair of chairs we recently reupholstered for a client. These stunning mid-century chairs were clearly lookers, but you couldn't see their true potential until they were recovered.

Our client picked this Italian wool fabric, which is a great design that represents the mid-century style in a modern way. The fabric will wear well, and won't show stains easily either because of it's pattern and thickness. Great choice!

A pair of mid-century chairs like these will be the perfect focal point in any space, regardless of your style.
The key is to have a mix of furniture styles so that your room doesn't look like a time capsule, that's why the design of these chairs is so perfect, she's made them her own!

When our client brought the chairs in to reupholster, she wanted to breathe fresh life into them, while still keeping the integrity of their mid-century design. One modification that Johnelle and she decided on, was to add a center button design to the backs of the chairs. This is something that we can always do! Adding piping, buttons or tufting are all ways to make a worn out chair look new and sophisticated once again.

For extra detailing we added a herringbone fabric for the piping. Another alteration we made was to add curved zippers on the cushions so that they could be removed and dry cleaned when needed. As with all of our upholstery projects we always Scotch Guard them to prolong their new life and to keep them looking their best!

Chairs like these will also cost a little less to recover than a whole chair. A tip to keep in mind when debating whether to get a piece reupholstered or not is to know that you can save money when your project doesn't need to have the foam or stuffing replaced. If you're just getting covers made you'll save even more! Reupholstering a piece can sometimes seem daunting, but the transformations are so extreme and can really transform an entire space with your newly revamped pieces.

Feel free to email us for quotes of your own upholstery project at

Images other than those of Mid-Century Madness: Image One:; Image Two:; Image Three:

The French Connection ... deuxième note

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bonjour mes loulous! OK it is the second note (deuxième note)from The French Connection from afar and why not have a little français for fun!

December is launched and winter is here in the north of France. Leaves have pretty much fallen and muted tones are all around. Some people find winter depressing, but for those of us who are always seeking design inspiration ... these shades of grey and taupe and soft earth colors bring new ideas for furniture palettes. Next update I think I will share some photos of how all of these greys ... grays ... les gris ... have inspired a recent project.

But for now ... DECEMBER is here and that means just a few weeks until the Maison et Objet Home-Fashion Showcase for Spring/Summer 2012 Collection! It is JANUARY 20-24 in Paris, well not in what I view REAL Paris but in one of those big convention centers not so far from Charles de Gaulle airport.

The names of the collections being presented have already whet my appetite for the coming visit:

  • Urban to live
  • Wonderland... major international brands in design
  • Collection 2012 ... annual gathering of upholstery editors!
  • The Gathering for Cultural Objects ... bringing cultural objects into the home
  • Rare Pieces and Unique Objects ... need they say more?
  • Beauty is on the Outside ... the art of outdoor/indoor living
Each has their own design hall and these are not small rooms ... this event is enormous and for the uninitiated, it can be a bit overwhelming! this show is attended by designers and retailers from all over Europe ... it is so fun to go and mingle, listening to the various languages and accents and observing how the attendees are dressed is inspiring in of itself!

That is what I go for mostly ... INSPIRATION! ... to see the latest trends in colors and styles ... to take tons of photographs and hopefully, find that one or two special vendor who might have something interesting and attainable for small and unique retailers like Mignonne Décor or The Bohemians. Staying up-to-date helps us recreate new looks for our clients and bring the latest ideas for you to consider...incorporating them in a way that is uniquely you. So whether it is discovering some really fun glassware that might end up as a new offering in our shops ....

how whimsical!

or a new combination of colors like
Purple and Orange

or finding out that Mignonne Décor is a trendsetter with our custom wall murals ... (this one is from Maison et Objet ... ours have been around for awhile!)

And even when I see something I do NOT like (these upside down planter lights are trying WAY too hard for my taste) ... it was a great reminder to be willing to turn the old tried and true upside down, put something in a new position and see what happens!

So, there is a little teaser about what is to come in January! When I go, I squeeze in some sightseeing, treasure-hunting and off the beaten path snooping around ... picture will follow!

If one of the Maison et Objet collections interests you or you would like me to be your on-the-ground scout in Paris for something in particular, give a comment and I will do my best! Maybe you can't come with, but that could be the next best thing!

à bientôt! (see you soon!)

Our guest correspondent for The French Connection is Kimberlee Mancha, mother of Johnelle and co-founder of Mignonne Décor. Now living in France, Kimberlee started our sister shop "The Bohemians" in 2009. She will be providing live updates for all you Francophiles and lovers of beautiful European inspirations.

all images courtesy of the Maison et Objet blog


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