French Redux

Ooh la la! Check out these beautiful new takes on classic French style spotted at the home furnishings industry’s biggest and most important-to-the-trade market in High Point, N.C. We’re enamored of the easy going, perfectly imperfect look achieved with watercolor fabrics, soft paint finishes and authentic-looking aged metals.

Smudging Can Make Homes Feel Bright and Positive

It really isn’t as weird as it sounds, says Lisa Hughes, founder of Flourish, the St. Louis company that uses smudging, color therapy and even de-cluttering to clear negative, stress-inducing energy in both residential and commercial spaces. We caught up with Hughes recently to learn about the practice of smudging and how it works. 

What is smudging?

Smudging is the Native American tradition of cleansing a place of negative energies and influences. Traditionally, dried sage, sweet grass and cedar are used. The theory behind smudging is that the smoke attaches itself to negative energy in the space, and removes it as the smoke clears. Smudging shares its roots with incense, which has been used in ceremonies dating back thousands of years. Throughout history, the burning of natural substances has been used for cleansing, healing and spiritual purposes. It’s still used by Native Americans and countless others today.

Why might someone decide their home needs smudging?

People who seek out my services typically have a specific situation or need. For example, a realtor will suggest smudging to clients trying to sell their house; someone who collects antiques will smudge their new finds before bringing them into their space; artists will smudge their art studios to help with creativity. The circumstances where smudging can be helpful are endless.

Is smudging catching on in St. Louis?

I find smudging to be popular across a variety of ages and professions. It’s definitely catching on in St. Louis. More people are open to it; they’re looking for ways to make their home, workplace, and life feel good. Smudging is a way to effect this change quickly.

Do some people have misconceptions about smudging?

I think some people might consider it ‘New Age-y,’ but if you think about it, many of us do things frequently to clear out negative energy and bring positive energy into our lives. Whether it’s fresh flowers, plants, music, candles or the colors we choose, all of these things shift the energy in our space and in our lives. Smudging is just another way to do this.

Is there a connection between smudging and Feng Shui?

Smudging is a great compliment to Feng Shui because stagnant energy can accumulate even in ideally designed homes. Think of it this way: Feng Shui is about arranging your environment so energy flows smoothly to make your space feel good and support what you want out of life. Smudging helps to keep the feeling in the space clear and positive.

How many houses have you smudged and why?

I have smudged many houses over the years for a wide variety of reasons such as selling a home or moving into a new space, as well as after a negative life event such as a divorce, long illness or burglary. In most cases, the person or family felt better after about an hour or so. Sometimes, it is the next day. Additionally, others seek out my services to learn the technique so they can perform smudging on their own. Those individuals have also seen positive results.

Did you or someone else smudge your own house?

I smudge my own house regularly, most recently when we moved into a 110-year-old house. The whole family had trouble sleeping, there were severe plumbing issues that popped up and more. We learned soon after that there was a lot of negative energy associated with the house. Thanks to some Feng Shui and several rounds of smudging, the house now feels bright and positive.

Furnishing Your First Apartment: New Local Online Option

If you’re a recent grad or know someone who’s faced with the prospect of furnishing their first apartment, there’s a new online furniture resource that offers some attractive, well-priced solutions. Weekends Only, the five-store St. Louis-based furniture outlet known for its low-cost business model, recently re-launched its website,, with an online ordering option in a in bid to reach a younger audience accustomed to buying everything and anything online.

We were pleasantly surprised by the stylish, on-trend options offered at prices that are actually in line with the realities of those just entering the work force and working with both limited space and budgets. Take, for example, the olive-and-cream houndstooth print Donella accent chair, guaranteed to give a small apartment a big dash of panache for less than $200. We recommend pairing it with a Donella Loveseat, which comes in a smooth barley-colored beige fabric with cherry-finished exposed legs and olive-and- cream houndstooth-patterned accent pillows. You can finish the room with an 8’ x 11’ Matami wool area rug with an ikat pattern. Grand total: $1,077.

A Stylish Array

We’re all for displaying long-stem red roses in clear glass vases, but there’s no question that these porcelain vases from Franco Carrai’s Via Santo Spirito Collection for Tozai Home do the job in a much more interesting fashion. The intricate surface design derives from Italian architectural motifs, script from historic agricultural ledgers and very old prints. The vases are available in two sizes: 7.5 inches high and 9.5 inches high. Available through

Rustic Grain: Really Old Wood with a Story to Tell

When it comes to furniture-making, Rustic Grain may be the new kid on the block, but the wood it uses certainly isn’t. This small local company makes furniture from reclaimed wood salvaged from old Midwestern barns, with some pieces dating back to the Civil War era. Now, it’s definitely not Baker furniture, but that’s precisely the point. A piece from Rustic Grain has a charm all its own--and also a growing following. Most recently, Rustic Grain was commissioned to create table tops and dividers for the new Nadoz Cafe located at the Taubman Prestige Outlet Mall. As with all its product designs, each piece of wood used by Rustic Grain is coded so buyers know the history.

“Our table tops stand out in the present day world of laminated surfaces, plywood, particle board, pressed board, fiberboard, which were created to avoid the obstacles encountered when dealing with the uneven nature of real wood,” explains Rustic Grain owner Jimmy Farrah. “As wood ages, it expands and contracts as it goes through the cycles of the seasons, which contort its fibers and cause it to bow and cup, to warp and twist, to split and crack. For these and other reasons, creating furniture from natural, solid wood has always been viewed as a truly skilled craft requiring diligence and integrity. Vintage, reclaimed barnwood presents even more challenges requiring additional creativity and caution. When we complete a piece at Rustic Grain, we see a piece with a past that will continue to be used for years to come, a living history that speaks to a tiny piece of our American story.”

No doubt Farrah’s wood creations will be around for at least another 150 years.

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