Monday, May 18, 2009

The Shop Keepers Home 2 - Patrick Dunne

When I use the term shop keeper, it is not meant to be pejorative. In fact I have the utmost respect and admiration for the men and women who open and keep shop. It takes a fierce love for what they sell, and a dedication that is only matched by perhaps being the owner of a restaurant.
A beautiful shop is an inspiring work of art, a salon for kindred souls.
Patrick Dunne is a New Orleans art dealer and decorator who opened his beloved and famous shop Lucullus over twenty years ago. When I still lived in New York I heard his praises sung by Martha Stewart, Peri Wolfman, and Susan Holland (all mentors of mine). I never dreamed then I would live in the same city as this renowned shop.

The March/April issue of Southern Accents did a nice photo essay of Patrick's home in the Fauborg Maringy. He is a contributing editor for SA often writing wonderful pieces about other people, so it is such a treat to read his own words about his own home.

The house is attributed to the architect Henry Howard, having once been built for a prosperous free woman of color before the Civil War. A faubourg is a New Orleans district lying outside the original city limits (i.e. The French Quarter). It is a word used in combination with the names of various quarters of the city.

Patrick's house has the classic arrangement of a main house, with a wing once known as a slave quarter, with a kitchen below, and small guests rooms above. I don't know if his quarter is attached to the main house or not.
When we lived in the French Quarter we lived in a classic 1810 Creole house. Our apartment was in the main house. There was a separate building, the slave quarter, with small rooms below for servants, and rooms above called the garconniere, rooms for the sons of the house to use once they turned 13 or so to give privacy to the boy becoming a man, and his mother. A bachelor apartment if you will, but still on his mother's property. He would live there until he married and acquired a home of his own.
There was also one more unattached building at the back of our enclosed brick courtyard (complete with banana trees and a fountain), that was la cuisine, the kitchen. Often the kitchen was separate because of the danger of fires. If a fire broke out in the kitchen, the main house would not be damaged. In modern times, it had been converted into another charming apartment.

Patrick explains: "What makes domestic interiors so particular in New Orleans is that they are neither European nor really American but something in between, something we keep calling Creole, I suppose, because we can't think of anything else to call it."

When Patrick thinks of streamlining and perhaps doing a more subdued palette, daydreaming about alternatives to his fantastic Creole mix, some beloved object intrudes on his reverie, and he lets the wisps of conjecture slide off into the comforting reality of a house full of mementos, family things, and acquired and accidental stuff.

What can I do but be charmed and smitten by all that he has created and shares with us in the pages of SA. I myself have fallen under the spell of Creole, choosing saturated color and lots of stuff, acquired and accidental.

I often lay on my couch and day dream pale walls, and no nick-knacks, less art on the walls, less pattern, less old furniture, well just less.

Then the light falls just so, filtered through a tattered shutter, and the warm gaze of portrait painted of, or by a friend touches my heart. The deep color of the room makes corners vanish, so the eye just sinks into a kind of foreverness. My little clump of clutter of shells found on the beaches of the world, or a pile of books I always seem to pick up, makes me realize this is such a human way to live.

I so appreciate the light and the spare and the refined, but I choose to live like a color and object whore.

So pick up this issue of SA, and savor these pages in person. My humble scans don't do it justice, and of course SA can't put every gorgeous editorial on their excellent web site.

And when you get to New Orleans, which I am sure every man, woman, and child must do at least once in their lives, stop by Lucullus on Rue Chartres in the French Quarter, and visit with Patrick and his adorable shop dog Clovis. (I think Patricia at PVE might be insprired to paint Clovis sitting on his perfect little French chair).

And don't forget to visit this old shop girl on Magazine Street while you're strolling our magical city.


Anonymous said...

The kind of post that keeps us coming back, Miz V. Beautifully said, so very beautifully said, that description of daydreaming on the couch. And you know Dear, you've set me free with your statement, "I've realized this is such a human way to live." I too plan and plot of how I'll one day achieve that pale, subtle, spa-like balance in my home. But then I go and paint my bedroom dark brown (again) and haul all manner of treasure from all manner of sources into my house. Books are double parked on the shelves, artwork is backed up for days, et tout les choses with no clear purpose (but for their power to please me) continue to stake their claim. Oh sure, over the years I've followed the advice of many an interior magazine article and have "purged what I don't love." But I love so much and I've gotten so good at knowing what I love! And today your post makes me say, "So what?" I'll turn 50 this year, and now I shall do so at peace with my very human way of life.

Anonymous said...

Ooooooo! That Clovis is cute enough to eat with a spoon! Adorable!

Jan said...

Just can't imagine you as a minimalist VV - lovely post. x

Anonymous said...

Just read through it for the third time. You've planted another seed in my soul for New Orleans and have made me laugh at your self-description as "color & object whore." Luv this post!

Renee Finberg said...

great post.

i wish i could jump into the rooms in your post pictures, and snoop around !!!


Anonymous said...

Patrick's home is classic, timeless and full of rich history. It is what everyone should strive for because it can withstand the test of time and is still inviting long after the current trend of the day is long since become "so yesterday" (does anyone say that anymore :-) )

Tricia - Avolli

Robyn said...

I have visited Patrick's shop several years ago-- loads of culinary antiques. A restaurant here in Birmingham is decorated using French tables and chairs sourced by Patrick.

Carla Fox said...

Love it! I'm right there with you on the "color and object whore", although I never thought of it as that. Aptly put! Too many beautiful colors, too few rooms to paint. Keep up the great work.

Hill Country House Girl said...


Carey said what I wanted to say, only better than I could have said it! I loved this article when I read it in Southern Accents, and I love your take on it. Your dreaming of living a minimalist life,and then confessing to being a "color and object whore" nailed me! I never knew that was what I am, but it is!! I just love too many things, and I love a home that expresses the person who lives in it. On another note, Peri Wolfman is one of my all time favorites - great to hear you reference her - even though her discipline is greater than mine will ever be.

Topsy Turvy said...

I loved this house. It has so much character, personality and warmth. So New Orleans! I could only dream that my kitchen was as fabulous!


my favorite and my best said...

what a happy looking home. that kitchen is amazing!! great writing by you valorie. fuck the haters and all their poison words.

Style Court said...

Patrick is such a talented writer! I always love it when he contributes to SA.

La Maison Fou said...

I just read about this home when I got my issue. What a pretty cool house. I love the aged & evolved look....reminds me of the book / movie Midnight in the garden of good & evil interiors. I also love the octagonal Terra cotta tiles in the kitchen.

Kwana said...

I'm in love,love,love with this home. What style!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Magical city, indeed!
And I have always been such a huge fan of Mr. Dunne...and Clovis. How I'd love to while away an afternoon in that library of his.

Nancy @ La Chambre Rose said...

Lovely. I'm not sure if I have been to your shop yet, but will certainly try to visit both next week while I am in town. How fun!

sunday mornings said...

thank you so much for sharing these scans! they are gorgeous!! i've always loved new orleans style too and i agree, it's because it contains a great combination of american and european aesthetics.