"I suppose that it all started with Pippi Longstocking.”
She opened my eyes. Pippi taught me to be a “thing-finder.” I was born and raised in a small town in Ohio...I have been hunting for products ever since. The hunt has taken me to all kinds of places. I followed my late husband Foster, to Belgium. On the first day in the country I stumbled upon the ‘Place de Jeux de Balle’ with its assorted antiques and brocante. I felt at home since I had been buying and selling antiques since I was eleven. In fact, I still have the first piece of furniture that I purchased. It is holding paint cans in the garage and I smile each time I open it.
Paint is another story and constant in my life. I am at my happiest when I know a wall is changing color. My best friend, Tonie, reminded me that Foster once scolded me with “Jill, you need to put down that paint chart and come back to earth.” My favorite pallet remains Agnes Emery’s. Homes and houses have been a constant theme in my life.
My mother loved antiques and my father grumbled more than once about having to truck home an irresistible auction purchase. Mother taught us to be different and to always keep our eyes peeled for the beauty around us. Dad gave me the courage to be an entrepreneur and a Midwestern work ethic. Even as he grew older, he worked rings around men half his age. Our little family lived in eleven houses in twenty-six years of marriage. I am a nester and I think our homes are so important. When we took off for Belgium. I negotiated a “decorating budget” and spent most of it on wonderful linen draperies that are now in their fourth home. They just puddle more or less with each move. I do not have the heart to alter the work of the Belgian ateliers. Two of the heavier pair that had no grosgrain trim have become a bedspread. A Belgian friend once called me a “linen freak.” I still am.
Belgium is where my “thing-finding” flourished. I love that little country. We spent four wonderfully happy years there. I started the “light thing” in 1987 when we built our first home. I was surprised to find out that the recessed lights, fans, switches and even the doorbell comprised that so-called “lighting budget.” So, I chose the single chandelier quite carefully. Later, I added a special chandelier or a pair of sconces, as I found them. I would rather have a pair of sconces than a pair of shoes or a wonderful chandelier than a handbag. My lights have traveled with me from house to house and country to country. One dining room chandelier was featured in a “House Beautiful...kitchen of the month.” My sons found that amusing. One of them missed it and the other said. “Mom, I never did like that.” It was news to me! The shop is named Brown House and Wares. Brown is our name. I like the name and the color. I prefer, simple, straightforward names and concepts, so it just seemed right. We have a lot of fun with the color in the store. The events at the shop feature brownies made from scratch (Ina Garten from the Lee Bailey dessert book) and we have “buckeyes” that my son, John, makes. My Grandmother always made them. Ohioans understand.
I was blessed to always be able to be a pioneer during my career as a buyer for national department stores. I adored creating new categories and departments. That is what I still love doing.
Brown is an antique and design store with things that I love. I love useful, practical and beautiful products. I try to stock my shop with those things that are timeless and classic. Brown is all about the mix. It is what feels right. It changes all the time. No one will ever see a “new shipment banner” out front. New goods arrive each week. For better or worse, Brown is one person’s point of view.
Stop in and see us often. I think that you will be surprised with each visit.
Owner and Creator
Brown House and Wares