I’ve just returned from spending the month of May in France. My time there was divided between hosting The Academy, visiting friends, and taking a solo French road trip to see new places and have a little creative down time. What I’m always struck by, no matter where I may be in the country, is how authentic the French live. You won’t see homes filled with shiny new items from a big box store or mass produced wares delivered to their doorstep. Homes are collected, well lived in, and speak purely to those who inhabit them. They are unique and imperfect. They are nurturing to the senses and welcoming to all who enter their doors. I had the privilege of photographing one such home belonging to my friend, antique dealer Lou O’Leary. His home encourages me to approach my own decor with a sense of authenticity and meaning. My hope is that it does the same for you.
I feel it’s important to mention that I did not style Lou’s beautiful kitchen in any way. With the exception of moving an electric tea kettle, everything you see is exactly where he placed things and a true representation of how he lives every day. He truly emulates the famous poem of Rumi – Let the beauty we love be what we do.
As an antique dealer, Lou’s keen eye is his secret weapon in finding incredible pieces. His collection of artwork and pottery is astonishing. He mentioned that he’ll hold on to certain items, sometimes for years, until he feels ready to sell them to clients. It’s easy to understand why letting go could prove to be difficult.
I was able to visit his home twice this trip, once to buy antiques and another to photograph it, and both times he served champagne outside on the garden patio. What I loved most about his hospitality was how casual and effortless it was. Antique bowls filled with nuts and salty chips were accompanied by glasses of chilled rosé champagne. So simple, yet very memorable. I think sometimes we (myself included) feel that entertaining and hospitality has to be extravagant but in reality it just needs to be thoughtful.
As I was photographing Lou’s cigarette case, a repurposed toffee candy tin, I couldn’t help thinking how his style and love of antiques even translates here as well. I find authenticity so refreshing. Especially while living in an internet era where homes & style often feel like exact duplicates of another. Uniqueness stands out in the crowd.
Lou doesn’t have a website or shop but you can follow him on Instagram. I also shared a few more images of his home in my stories, which I saved to my highlights. You can find them here!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on authentic living and style. How do you try and embrace it in your own home? Are you also noticing a “sea of sameness” with all the images we view via websites, social media, Pinterest?