Today we are catching up with Mimi Montgomery of Lolo French Antiques et More, a direct importer of 17th – 20th Century French antiques, French Art Deco, Mid Century Modern and European decorative arts. Mimi will be decorating the foyer and the dining room in this year’s BHG Inspiration Home, located at The Willows, a new Russell Lands On Lake Martin neighborhood.
Why do you do what you do?
MM: We love what we do. We each have our areas of expertise and have somehow figured out a way to make working together, well, work. Laurent is originally from France and moved to the United States when he was 17 years old. It was his late father, Maurice, who proposed the idea of importing French antiques to the USA, and with his father’s help and guidance, he opened his first antique store in Miami in 1992. He’s been buying and importing European antiques ever since. I’ve always had a love of all things French, fine art and the thrill of the hunt. I grew up surrounded by antiques and the idea of beautiful family pieces being passed down from generation to generation has always intrigued me. So when we met at an antiques show, it really was “love at first sight” for both of us. He was French, charming, and had the most beautiful blue eyes and contagious laugh, not to mention he shared the same love of French antiques that I did. When we moved to Birmingham we wanted to show antiques as hip and cool and I wanted the new website I was creating to be informing, entertaining and user friendly to both the novice and experienced collector.
Trends vs timeless – where do you fall?
MM: Antiques are timeless… Brown furniture has gotten a bad rap in the past, but we try to show “brown wood” in a fashionable way. We want people to think of brown as the new black. There’s a larger demand for brown wood among designers now because it is so timeless. Antiques can work in any decor. One of our favorite hashtags is #werebringingbrownwoodback.
Go-to paint colors?
MM: I love Sherwin Williams Snowbound and Benjamin Moore Gray Owl
IG accounts you follow?
MM: We follow all our local designers and media outlets obviously, but some of our favorite accounts are our fab friends Toma Clark Haines @theantiquesdiva, Barri Thompson @barrithompsoninteriors, Grant Trick @grant_trick, Paige Albright @paorientals, Michael Mitchell and Tyler Hill of @mitchellhillcharleston, Ike Isenhour @ike_isenhour_reductionist, Baron Farha @bfarha76, Will Casey @cottagesupplydowntown, and Mark Thompson and Jay Draper @shoppebham. We also love the very talented Melissa Rufty @melissarufty in New Orleans and Lisa Mende @lisamendedesign in Charlotte. Lisa has wonderful design resources and artists on her @thedesignconnector account. These are just a few of our faves!
What is your favorite space to design?
MM: We love helping customers choose furniture, especially for dining rooms, because we always have plenty of beautiful tables, chairs, buffets or enfilades, chandeliers, and beautiful mirrors and art.
Tell us a little about the space you are designing for the Inspiration Home.
MM: We are designing the foyer and the dining area. The front door opens to a large, very open space, with the foyer, living area, wet bar, dining area and kitchen all open to each other. We have a small wall in the entrance/foyer that we will place a petite chest or commode with a mirror or painting above.The dining area serves as a pass through between the living area and kitchen, so we are limited to what size table and furniture we can use, but we have chosen a beautiful bleached 18th century French trestle table with a French buffet and mirror on the small wall we have. Fortunately for us, our antiques will mix wonderfully with whatever the other designers choose for their adjoining spaces.
Do you have a design motto you live by?
MM: Mix… Don’t Match! Designers mix antique furniture with modern and traditional interiors to create a look that appears as though it’s evolved over time. Antiques add texture, contrast and depth, and are a wonderful addition to any room. Mixing antiques into your design brings balance and an element of the unexpected. They make a room feel more interesting and elegant, beautiful but not overdone. It’s essential to mix different styles together and incorporate multiple levels to enhance a space. Mix hard textures with soft textures such as rustic leather with upholstery, and combine different furniture shapes together, like round coffee tables and square side tables. While some people prefer to decorate their home in a particular style (Traditional, Mid-Century Modern, Industrial Chic, Country French), blending styles is a wonderful way to create a unique space that makes a statement about your personal style.
Lolo French Antiques et More will be moving to Avondale in August. Their new address will be 4300 1st Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35222. They are currently hosting a moving sale where everything is 30% OFF the month of July so be sure to visit them!
Click here to learn more about the 2019 BHG Inspiration Home and purchase your tickets.