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.