One of the reasons StyleBlueprint loves our weekly FACES is we get to chat with fun and amazing women who call Atlanta home. Today’s FACE (or FACES!) is no exception! Ann Huff and Meg Harrington of Huff Harrington Art and Huff Harrington Home have such a zest for life and an eye for beautiful things! We loved getting to know them in their prime element, their beautiful store!
You first opened Huff Harrington Fine Art in 2005. Why did you decide to open Huff Harrington Home, too?
Meg: After a couple years with the gallery, we started thinking about expanding the business. It struck us that much of our business at the gallery was with designers and helping them with art and interiors. So it was a natural progression that we opened a home furnishings store. Actually, we like to call it a lifestyle store because it’s packed with all of life’s little (and big) luxuries that we can’t live without.
Ann: When we are placing art in people’s homes, clients often ask us to help with their interiors, too. We usually move one thing around to accommodate the art, and then sometimes it snowballs into a full-fledged redesign. We’re both passionate about art and interiors, so the home store seemed like a natural extension.
How has your sense of style developed over the years?
Meg: I adore sexy Louis XVI legs on anything and I’ve never met a shimmering chandelier that didn’t make me swoon, but with a nice, uncomplaining husband and two teenage daughters, I’m also thinking a lot about practicality and comfort. That translates into simple and hardworking fabrics (lots of crunchy wood and linen everywhere) and surfaces that can take a licking. I don’t like things to look too planned: it’s all about the magic of the mix. How has that evolved? Let’s just say I do a lot of “what on earth was I thinking?” when I see some of the decisions I made in the old days!
Ann: I agree … it’s all about the mix. I have been clearly influenced by all my years in France, and one of my favorite expressions in French is “l’un fait chanter l’autre.” That means that when you mix styles together, they bring out the best in each other. I love a collected feel. I’ll look back on some of my “bad decisions” and repurpose the piece with an unexpected fabric, or hang a modern painting over it. I do firmly believe that you should only buy what you love, and if you stick to that mantra, everything will magically come together.
We love that you pick out your “have-to-haves” around the store. Is it hard to narrow down your favorites?
Meg & Ann: In a word: never! We truly adore our entire product line. One of our favorite things to do on Monday mornings is to decide on what the week’s Have-to-Have is.
Huff Harrington host trips to France every year. What are your must-have items you pack in your carry-on?
Meg: My mantra: pack lightly and bring baggies! In the carry-on, I’ve always got: all chargers, adapters, batteries and my beloved and hopelessly outdated iPod (in a baggie for easy access and visibility); my iPad (for reading books on my Kindle app); my new Macbook Pro (which I’m still learning how to use); my little cosmetic bag; my handy little notebook for jotting down ideas on the flight; an extra pair of socks for my freezing tootsies; a pashmina that keeps me warm while I’m flying and is a cute accessory when I land; and, a little emergency snack (usually trail mix or something like that) in case I get stranded someplace.
Ann: My carry on is light as a feather: Bose noise reduction headphones, extra batteries, slippers, a cashmere poncho and my iPad for books and movies. In a word, cozy!
You also travel to France for buying trips. What pieces do you keep your eye out for?
Meg: Those one-of-a-kind antiques or vintage pieces that you’ll never see or find anywhere else. Also, furniture or accessories that have a glorious patina and are obviously the work of long-ago talented craftsmen. And, anything with an interesting past. Ann recently sent me pictures of iron and brass camp chairs that she had found … they were used by soldiers in Napoleon’s Army. They were astronomically expensive so we didn’t get them, but we sigh over them every day. Oh, and ask Ann about the mannequins!
Ann: On our last buying trip, Meg was forced to leave early for an emergency, so I did it all myself and sent her pictures. Let’s just say that when she saw the mannequin heads that I thought were to-die-for (especially because one of them looked just like Meg!), she thought it was a joke. When I came back and told her we’d purchased them, she was a little surprised, until we visited a fancy US-based showroom and saw the same mannequins in their window. Sometimes, some things just reach out and grab you!
Do you have any tips for antiquing in France?
Meg: Dress for the elements, know what you love, trust your gut and use a little charm in negotiating. We find a little harmless flirting or joking never hurts (it is France, after all), so have fun. Oh, and find the champagne bar (which is usually hopping by 10 a.m.)!
Ann: We always tell people on our shopping trips that the most important part of any buying process in France starts with saying bonjour. If you greet the vendor politely upfront, all sins will be forgiven. And if you don’t, your price just went up! Not exactly … but it is about understanding and respecting another culture’s way of doing business.
Where do you turn for inspiration?
Meg: I can spend hours poring through design magazines and pulling inspiration from them. I’m pretty visual so once I see something, I can really get my head around it. I adore our own local Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles, House Beautiful and Veranda. And, I’m inspired by lots of my wonderfully talented co-workers and friends who are always surprising and amazing me with their ideas and talent.
Ann: I love to read blogs and online magazines. My favorite is Cote Sud, which has a fabulous app for the iPad and the most inspirational photography. I also love to browse stores in France, usually along the rue du Bac in Paris or a number of wonderful antique stores in the south. And finally, we absolutely adore the European trade fairs and are very inspired by everything coming out of Belgium and the Netherlands.
Did you grow up in Atlanta? If not, how did you find your way here?
Meg: Even though I’ve been in Buckhead for almost 20 years, I’ll still maintain that I’m a New Yorker by birth! I was also the luckiest kid ever to actually grow up in lots of different countries, thanks to my father’s corporate career. By the time I entered high school, I had lived in Belgium, Sweden, Lebanon, England and Scotland–and had attended about twelve different schools. After college and a few years of working in New York and South Florida, I married my nice Texan husband and moved to Atlanta. And, may I add, am very happy to be here. It’s a great place to raise a family and have a business.
Ann: When Meg and I met, we spent the first half hour comparing our backgrounds and it was scary how close our upbringings were. I grew up in Geneva, Switzerland, and spent most of my life in Europe until college, which was in Pennsylvania. I met my husband when we were both living and working in Boston, and his job brought him to Atlanta almost twenty years ago. I now realize that I’ve lived here longer than anywhere else in my life, which seems odd because my family is very much centered in the northeast. But Atlanta has been a great place to raise kids and lead an easy life, and we sure love having a Delta hub right here and a wonderful international airport!
Any tips on juggling your professional life and your family life?
What is your favorite thing to do on a Saturday night?
Meg: Well, it involves more of the above-mentioned wine, preferably on our outdoor covered porch in front of a fire, or out by the pool. Throw a couple steaks on the grill and get a good movie going, and I’m happy as a clam. Not very exciting, but very happy. When I start getting antsy with that arrangement, I love hitting some of Atlanta’s great restaurants.
Ann: Oh dear, it’s ditto again! We have moved into a condo, so our idea of a great time is to never get in a car once we’re home. That means either staying home with a movie, or a great TV series (we’ve been hooked on Borgen, a fabulous Danish version of West Wing!) and a yummy dinner, or walking to one of our local favorite restaurants, where we’ve been known to do take out food for the above mentioned home entertainment!
What are some of your favorite places to dine in Atlanta?
Ann: anything within walking distance of our condo, but Bistro Niko is always at the top of the list.
What are some of your favorite things about living Atlanta?
Meg: Lovely and warm people; gorgeous weather and a fabulous airport!
Ann: Great shopping, great cultural offerings and lovely Southern graciousness.
How would you define the Atlanta’s sense of style?
Meg: Classic with a nice little twist when you least expect it.
Ann: Plentiful! We are always blown away when we visit our clients’ homes and see how pretty and comfortable and gracious they are.
What summer activities are you most looking forward to?
Meg: Did I already mention the wine by the pool? Oh. In that case, I have to say I love the summer slowdown and long evenings with family and friends. I’ll be gearing up for a big trip to France with Ann to buy for the store and also to escort of fun group of ladies to Paris and Provence on one of our French tours.
Ann: I’ll be traveling a lot in the spring and fall so I am looking forward to a relaxing but busy summer at the store and the gallery. Believe it or not, July is one of our busiest months since we have a big show at the gallery, and a major event (to be revealed at a later date) at the store. And of course it’s a big buying month, which just happens to be our favorite thing to do. I can’t wait!
Tell us three things you can’t live without (besides God, family, and friends):
Meg: good food, a little downtime every once in a while and a great book.
Ann: I’d have a hard time living without my Delta frequent flyer miles, fresh veggies and exercise (and can we sneak a little wine in there too?).
Thank you, Meg and Ann! Learn more about Huff Harrington here: http://huffharrington.com/hh-home.
And, thank you to the always wonderful, Amy Lesesne of Amy Lesesne Photography!
And, did you see our Huff Harrington Home $250 giveaway? We are so excited to set up one of our fabulous readers with such a great shopping treat at this gush-worthy store! Enter today: CLICK HERE