The beginning

It was 1996 …The year we opened Maison en Provence …The years of Maison Cote Sud , the magazine we were selling which was the biggest influence on our concept . Of course being from Provence we could not have it any other way . Everything had to represent the beautiful craftsmanship, the warm light , bright colors , and wonderful scents that make the South of France . We wanted to bring the best from home here for people to discover, enjoy and appreciate . More than just products it was about sharing the Art de Vivre a la Francaise and be authentic ! Going down memory lane with the following photos of us and some of our favorite displays !

Pottery from the finest ceramists from all over Provence were represented …even the more basic from the Languedoc as well as the striped thick linens from the Basque region . One of my favorite display we did with the knives from Laguiole, Nontron and Opinel was with big loaves of bread from Bread and Cie . I was already doing all my tags by hand to give an old fashion style.

The other side of the concept was about all things that dress up a Bastide ( a large bourgeois Mansion in comparison to a Farm House ) less country rustic and more elegant like these slip covered chairs , Souleiado tablecloths , painted furniture and hand stitched quilts from Blanc d’Ivoire .

During our months of preparation we had met Phyllis Van Doren the Editor of San Diego Home and Garden Magazine where we were going to advertise to get the word out We have been friends ever since . She understood and appreciated everything we were doing and there were nothing like it in San Diego ! This was the first editorial she did on us when we first opened . Merci Phyllis !

But the style wasn’t stopping there …we were living it at home too ! Home then was just at the back of the shop. Some of you may have known that we were living in the back but never actually stepped in our Doll House Apartment. The access door is now actually hidden by the kitchen towel display . It was very convenient specially to work with France early morning making phone calls and faxing orders ; remember the days before this thing called the Internet !? The previous owners of The Pet Shop had also been living in the back and we had planned to do the same . Here are the non staged or styled photos of our little home .

The kitchen is still now our break room …just behind the children section which was our living room

Our bedroom was all about antique embroidered linen sheets …a very romantic look . We were also working with someone local who was making wrought iron lamps and head boards we designed and refinish ourselves to look as old as the antique day beds we were importing from Provence .

My passion for antique linens is still here but I do not have the time anymore to sew aprons using vintage lace , monogrammed linen sheets or make pillows with antique quilts …

We were selling sets of antique monogrammed napkins , sheets and pillow cases that we were scouting at flea markets all over Provence during our trips back home .

I loved dyeing some of them specially the tablecloths that everyone feared to use if white. Dark burgundy here paired with a quilt draped over an antique sheet for what was the trendiest table setting at the time !

Red and Ocre yellow were not just colors we picked out of the blue ! Not only they are the colors of the Provencal flag but the earth colors found and used everywhere from “Tomettes” tiles to house’s facades and just as a good sign to us the Old Pet Shop had always been brick red , a perfect tone that worked with our mustard yellow logo ! With this strong identity we did our first Designer Showcase , introducing San Diegans to our custom made iron pieces , antique sheets transformed in one of a kind drapes …A whole lot of French Laundry and ironing was going on and SoCal laid back life style wasn’t all that ready for it !

At the shop , I was displaying an antique quilted skirt on my 1900 sewing mannequin which I still use today .

On the antique day bed are my pillows as well as lamp shades made from monogrammed antique napkins . This corner was very cozy and what nobody knows is that Pascal’s mum slept there when she was coming to visit us . We put up an antique screen to give her privacy at night and by 10 am everything had been aired up and put together just like this ! One night though , she experienced an earthquake …the daybed being on wheels was rocking back and forth and all the pottery on the shelves were singing . Nothing broke or fall but she had got more than she bargained for that year !

An other showcase house in Coronado done all in grays way beyond the trend .

A few more Editorials helped us put Maison en Provence San Diego on the map !

If you enjoy our stories , follow the blog so you will get a notification . Next I will share our very first Bastille Day and the most amazing private event design we have been involved with .