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Jeanée Ledoux

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Ask the Expert: An award-winning potter shares his passion for Mississippi’s ceramics scene

Brian Nettles’s wood kiln

Photo courtesy of Nettles Pottery

Our Expert
Award-winning potter Matt Long is a professor of art at the University of Mississippi and presents ceramics workshops internationally. His functional pieces have appeared in publications such as Ceramics Monthly.

 

How did Mississippi become a hotbed for pottery?
First, let’s think about the history of this state in a geologic way. The clays that settle in the Delta pick up minerals and impurities along their path, which lowers their melting point. So, a really long time ago, indigenous people were able to dig clay out of creek beds and form utilitarian objects, then heat them on an open fire to get the clay hard.

McCartys Pottery

Photo courtesy of johnwhiteltd.com

Who are some of the biggest names in Mississippi pottery?
The most famous potter from Mississippi would be George Ohr. His skill level was outrageous, and so was he. In the late nineteenth century, he was doing things that were maybe fifty or sixty years in front of his time. His work was about being expressive, making a statement, being artful. They called him “the Mad Potter of Biloxi.”

The most well-known potters from more recent times are a husband-and-wife team from Merigold. Beginning in 1954, Lee and Pup McCarty dug clay out of the creek bed over here at Oxford behind Rowan Oak, which was William Faulkner’s home. They came up with their own glaze recipes too, which was a big deal at the time. People started collecting their work, and they still do today. 

Class at Nettles Pottery

Photo courtesy of Nettles Pottery

What about Mississippi potters on the rise?
Mike Cinelli is an up-and-comer. He’s a full-time dad and a full-time potter making work in his garage in Taylor. When you look at his pieces, which have a futuristic look, you would never, ever guess where this guy lives.

Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art

Photo courtesy of Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art

If you had to design your perfect pottery pilgrimage through the state, where would you go?
I’d start in Biloxi at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, a fantastic place. You can purchase things, take classes, bring your kids. If you want to commune with kindred spirits, there’s a ceramic artist named Brian Nettles in Pass Christian who teaches workshops and has a beautiful wood kiln. People can learn how to make pots and be a part of the firing process over three or four days. In early November, there’s Ocean Springs’ annual Peter Anderson Festival, which features a lot of clay artisans.

Heading north, one of my favorite places is Natchez Pottery, part of Mississippi School of Folk Arts, which offers classes, workshops, and private events right next to the river. Here in Oxford, I’d visit the beautiful studio of Ole Miss professor emeritus Ron Dale, who shows work by appointment and has an annual holiday sale beginning on Black Friday. I’d end at Oxford Treehouse Gallery, which carries not just ceramics but also metalwork, paintings, jewelry, the whole gamut. It’s a beautiful country setting—you feel like you’re pulling into someone’s home.

Pottery by Andrew McIntyre at Oxford Treehouse Gallery

Photo courtesy of Oxford Treehouse Gallery

What’s your advice on starting a ceramics collection?
Purchase what you like. Start there, then learn more about it. That will probably inspire you to look for more, whether it’s a specific style or a type of ware, like a mug collection. It could lead down a path that’s remarkably satisfying.

This article appears in the Spring/Summer 2021 issue of Southbound.

Life in a Lustron: My futuristic steel prefab in Decatur is not for sale

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Lustron

Our home is being watched. Men in dark SUVs idle in front of our maize yellow ranch, jot down notes, then speed off. They send boilerplate letters inviting me and my husband, Andrea, to discuss a cash offer. The brief missives don’t mention our cascading phlox or well-placed boulders because the authors are real estate investors, the types who advertise their appetite for “ugly” houses.

Judging by their assault on our mailbox, investors must view our property as the perfect tear-down. After all, it’s a strange, dated home on a large, attractive lot near Decatur Square. But this is a historical Lustron, a modular kit designed completely in steel—from interior walls to roof shingles—during the housing shortages following World War II, in an era when metal was reserved for commercial buildings and instruments of war. They were high-tech at the time and intended to “defy weather, wear, and time.”

Lustron Decatur
The home’s porch shows off the steel tiles.

Photograph by Andrea Fremiotti

From 1948 to 1950, the Lustron Corporation manufactured six models of affordable homes in a former fighter plane plant in Columbus, Ohio. Buyers chose from four exterior colors of porcelain enamel baked onto the steel, and they could assemble the homes themselves over a weekend. The company made fewer than 3,000 Lustron kits before going bankrupt, and only about seven were trucked to metro Atlanta. (We think three remain.)

Today, thanks to renewed interest in prefabricated housing and efficient living, Lustrons are popular subjects in magazines, documentaries, and exhibits. A 1,000-square-foot “Westchester” model identical to ours (except for its dove gray color) was partially reconstructed inside the MoMA in 2008.

Lustron Decatur
The Kitchen

Photograph by Andrea Fremiotti

Lustron Decatur

But I suppose I can’t blame developers—or anyone, really—for not recognizing a lone Lustron among the Craftsman bungalows on our street. Even I had the home figured wrong when we decided to make an offer in the spring of 2005. Fresh from my honeymoon, I crept behind the vacant house so I could study its puzzling facade in private. The glossy, two-by-two-foot panels were ceramic tiles, I decided.

I got educated during escrow, reading The Lustron Home by Thomas T. Fetters cover to cover. I didn’t just buy a Lustron; I bought into it—the materials, the clean lines, the era’s cheerful spirit. When we added a shed and patio overhang, we dutifully clad them with steel panels salvaged from doomed Lustrons. I scoured vintage shops for Heywood-Wakefield furniture and atomic ashtrays. For the landscape, I co-opted the concrete pavers and pom-pom pine trees pictured in 1950s Sunset magazines.

Lustron Decatur
The living room

Photograph by Andrea Fremiotti

Living in a Lustron has its challenges. For instance, our nest will never rot, but it does rust. When the rolling bracket for our bathroom’s pocket door broke, we had to prowl online forums to find a fellow owner with a spare. We wrestle with a dizzying array of heavy-duty magnets to hang our artwork and curtains.

But our ranch has perks, too, such as more storage than some homes twice the size. The master bedroom has a built-in vanity with six drawers, two wardrobe closets, and 12 linear feet of overhead closets. Plus, the steel panels clean up beautifully with a soapy cloth, so the original enamel finish remains as smooth and shiny as a brand new coupe.

Lustron Decatur
A bedroom

Photograph by Andrea Fremiotti

Andrea and I moved to New York last fall for his work, and we’re renting out our little midcentury oddity in Decatur on Airbnb. Our new-construction apartment, a drywall box without one architectural flourish, is making me lonesome for the Lustron. I’m daydreaming about getting new screen prints for its living room, an S-shaped blue cedar for the front yard. Maybe I’ll have a sign made, too, in gleaming steel: Not for Sale.

Jeanée Ledoux is a lifestyle writer and nonfiction editor. Her stories appear in publications such as Domino, Dwell, and Travel & Leisure. She’s the author of a decorating book for young renters, Abode à la Mode: 44 Projects for Hip Home Decor. She and her husband, photographer Andrea Fremiotti, have moved into progressively smaller homes since marrying in 2005.

This article appears in our Spring 2018 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.

A fashion industry couple gave their midcentury Decatur cottage a glamorous touch

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Von Hoene home
The C-shaped home wraps around a heated, 13-by-26-foot pool and Japanese-inspired landscape designed by L. F. Saussy Landscape Architects.

Photograph by Andrea Fremiotti

As quick as the click of a Canon’s shutter, fashion photographer Liz Von Hoene decided to buy her 1952 house in Decatur’s Parkwood neighborhood. Peeking through the vacant home’s ample windows in the summer of 2015, she saw the sun-soaked open floor plan she’d been hunting for. Even more exciting, she spied original period elements. “I could see a Herman Miller floating sideboard. That was one of the things that made my heart go ka-thunk ka-thunk,” she says.

Von Hoene home
Homeowners Rebecca Weinberg, left, and Liz Von Hoene. The painting is a portrait of Rebecca by New York–based artist Tony DePew.

Photograph by Andrea Fremiotti

Von Hoene home
In the master bedroom, French bulldog Jip lounges beneath a brass and crystal chandelier that was original to the home’s dining room. “It’s romantic, and it’s one of those unique things we treasure because of the people that lived here before,” Liz says. The vintage bench is by Milo Baughman. The midcentury chair and ottoman by Adrian Pearsall were purchased from City Issue in Inman Park. Rebecca gave the pillows to Liz as a birthday gift.

Photograph by Andrea Fremiotti

Liz and her partner, Rebecca Weinberg, are no strangers to style. Liz shoots for high-end clients like Neiman Marcus, and Rebecca is an Emmy-winning wardrobe stylist best known for outfitting Carrie and company on the HBO series Sex and the City. In this house, the pair saw a gem, and the sellers found doting new owners who would appreciate the one-of-a-kind home, which was designed by their father, architect Thomas E. Garner. They even pulled out hand-drawn blueprints and news clippings about the house to show potential buyers. “It was very clear that the family wanted to make sure that whoever purchased the house understood the architectural integrity,” Liz says.

Von Hoene home

Von Hoene home
Padded plastic furniture made by Samsonite in 1965 graces the bluestone pavers. Carpenter David Jones built the rain chains.

Photograph by Andrea Fremiotti

Von Hoene home
The two children’s bedrooms can be combined or separated by sliding a central partition. The homeowners played with the mirror effect by choosing near identical furnishings in alternating colors. The vintage, molded plastic chests and headboards in the style of Raymond Loewy are from ReMOD Gallery in Medford, New Jersey. The armchairs and ottomans are from Ikea.

Photograph by Andrea Fremiotti

She and Rebecca promised the Garners that they would polish the 3,300-square-foot family home with respect. “That’s been really important to Liz and me—to understand what we have here and try to build on it, versus trying to make it something that it’s not,” Rebecca says. Most decisions were to preserve rather than replace, since the new owners loved so many native features of the cozy three-bedroom, 2.5-bath home, including the brown-black and charcoal-stained cedar shakes on the facade, the caramel brick chimney, the flame-orange doors, and the parquet floors in several rooms.

The women enlisted carpenter David Jones for delicate restoration projects—“things that most people would just rip out because they don’t know how to fix the situation,” Liz says. For example, two of the bedrooms are divided by sliding a central partition, but the doors were no longer operable. David restored and reinstalled them.

Von Hoene home
In the dining room, clerestory windows frame the trees in the ravine across the street. “It’s like having your own forest preserve,” Liz says. The dining table and chairs are by Eero Saarinen, and the midcentury nickel and Lucite chandelier is by Gaetano Sciolari.

Photograph by Andrea Fremiotti

Von Hoene home
The den hosts twin sofas from Bed Down and a vintage Saarinen coffee table. The shutters are original. “Someone else would have probably taken them right off, not realizing how amazing they are,” Liz says.

Photograph by Andrea Fremiotti

Von Hoene home
Flea market finds such as old cameras and doll heads are on display in a combination office and dressing room next to the master bedroom. The sofa is vintage.

Photograph by Andrea Fremiotti

An all-new, stone-gray-and-white kitchen is the most impactful change, although the original U shape was retained. “We just opened it up, made it a little bit larger,” Liz says. Designer Tory Winn and carpenter Brian Ashworth created custom cabinets incorporating open shelves to display collections of creamy ceramics and Cathrineholm enamelware.

Von Hoene home
Designer Tory Winn helped the homeowners execute their vision for an open, U-shaped kitchen. Brian Ashworth of Ashworth Cottage Kitchens built the custom cabinetry. The countertops are Caesar-stone, and the pendant lights are by Tom Dixon.

Photograph by Andrea Fremiotti

Von Hoene home
A model from a Neiman Marcus advertising campaign, photographed by homeowner Liz Von Hoene, presides over the living room’s floating shelf by Pace Collection, a curvy silk sofa, a coffee table by Isamu Noguchi, and swivel chairs by Adrian Pearsall.

Photograph by Andrea Fremiotti

The couple furnished the entire home with vintage treasures as glamorous as their careers. In the living room, for instance, a fashion model shot by Liz cranes her impossibly long neck over finds like Adrian Pearsall swivel chairs, a curvy sofa in robin’s egg blue silk, and a Noguchi coffee table.

Although the home is as well-dressed as a runway, it’s also suited for a casual, celebratory lifestyle that includes children (five between the two of them, ages 12 to 25). “We love cooking in the kitchen with groups of people around, sharing wine, sharing stories, taking it all outdoors, jumping in the pool, and watching the kids play four square on that little patio,” Liz says. “It’s a beautiful house, but we live in it.”

Resources
Landscape designer L. F. Saussy Landscape Architects, lfsaussy.com
Kitchen designer Tory Winn Interiors, torywinninteriors.com
Carpentry David Jones, davidjonescarpentry@yahoo.com
Cabinetry Brian Ashworth, cabinetcottagellc.com

This article originally appeared in our Spring 2018 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.

This unique hunters cabin in Ellijay is filled with abstract art instead of stuffed bucks

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Cabin
Photograph by Andrea Fremiotti/styled by Jeanée Ledoux

Atop a forested ridge in Ellijay sits a unique hunters cabin. The trophies in this board-and-batten retreat are tulip chairs and abstract art, not stuffed bucks and wildcats. Homeowners Jennifer Sams and Susan Fitzsimmons have stalked the perfect modern decor for their minimal yet earthy weekend getaway 80 miles north of their Atlanta home.

Hunting is Jennifer’s trade—she owns City Issue, a midcentury antiques store in Inman Park. She and Susan, an AT&T executive, bought their eight-acre lot in the Appalachian foothills in 2009 with the dream of eventually building a custom home and guest house. But when Jennifer snared a vintage book of vacation house plans at an estate sale, the couple decided to build one of them as a guest house right away, without hiring an architect. They went straight to a builder with a 1960s design for a one-bed, one-bath cabin with expansive glass.

The 1940s Franciscan Metropolitan dishes and the new seat cushions on the vintage Burke dining set bring pops of orange to the dining room. The Noguchi-style pendant light is from Ikea. Interface carpet tiles protect the pine floor.
The 1940s Franciscan Metropolitan dishes and the new seat cushions on the vintage Burke dining set bring pops of orange to the dining room. The Noguchi-style pendant light is from Ikea. Interface carpet tiles protect the pine floor.

Photograph by Andrea Fremiotti/styled by Jeanée Ledoux

The red enameled pot on the cooktop reminds Jennifer of her mom, who collects Kobenstyle cookware.

Photograph by Andrea Fremiotti/styled by Jeanée Ledoux

Josh Crayton of Barred Owl Builders constructed the 500-square-foot home and adjoining deck in 2010. “We’d adopt him if we could,” Jennifer says. He enthusiastically met all challenges, such as adding salvaged clerestory windows, expanding the bathroom to meet modern codes, and pouring concrete countertops in the kitchen. Josh is no modernist, but he shares Jennifer and Susan’s love of historical materials. For instance, it was his idea to use antique heart-of-pine boards from a textile factory as flooring and shelving.

But everything here has a back story. Like a proud rifleman surrounded by taxidermy, Jennifer has tales about most of her conquests. The Danish teak sconce over the sofa is from a Palm Springs trip when iconic architect Donald Wexler led her group on a modern homes tour. The red enameled pot on the stove evokes her mom, who always collected and still uses Kobenstyle cookware. Jennifer seems almost embarrassed by practical purchases like the Room & Board sleeper sofa for guests.

Friends gifted this art over the years. Oiled walnut furniture is from Design Within Reach.
Friends gifted this art over the years. Oiled walnut furniture is from Design Within Reach.

Photograph by Andrea Fremiotti/styled by Jeanée Ledoux

Shells and pods found on hikes add an organic feel to the living room’s built-in shelves.
Shells and pods found on hikes add an organic feel to the living room’s built-in shelves.

Photograph by Andrea Fremiotti/styled by Jeanée Ledoux

As a collector, Jennifer says the greatest challenge of tiny house living is curating just a few special furnishings. “That said, I love how minimally we live here. I like that there’s no room for more pieces. It makes it more relaxing,” she says. Susan takes a backseat on design but maintains “right of refusal,” as she puts it.

With the interior settled, the women put their energy into outdoor projects. They’re always designing new gardens with the berry bushes, ferns, sculptural branches, and pink-white quartz found on their land, and they’ve equipped a 1966 Airstream Caravel camper for guests. “I’m much more productive up here than I am at home,” Susan says. “We get up early and we get going.”

Overnight guests can camp in a 1966 Airstream Caravel. The homeowners lined the trailer’s pathway with quartz turned up by their garden shovels.
Overnight guests can camp in a 1966 Airstream Caravel. The homeowners lined the trailer’s pathway with quartz turned up by their garden shovels.

Not all weekends in Ellijay are packed with chores, however. In the blue hills, the women become more observant and relaxed. They might head out with mugs of coffee to watch their Italian bee colony or look for luna moths in the garden. They take long hikes with their dog, Ernesta, and bring back natural treasures to display. They watch the sunset from the floating deck, then grill dinner over the flagstone fire pit. “All the things we don’t have time to do at home seem to culminate here,” Susan says.

The floating deck, added in 2013, captures sunset views. The vintage orange wrought-iron patio set is by Salterini.
The floating deck, added in 2013, captures sunset views. The vintage orange wrought-iron patio set is by Salterini.

Jennifer and Susan are so content with their cabin that they’ve changed their minds about building a larger home nearby. “I doubt we’ll ever see that bigger house, because we really don’t need or want it,” Jennifer declares.

This article originally appeared in our Fall 2016 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.

The Carter connection behind Treehouse Milk

Treehouse Milk
Photograph by Andrea Fremiotti

Jason Carter’s 2014 run for governor may not have ended in his election, but it did lead to a business venture for Carter’s wife, Kate, and his campaign finance director, Bess Weyandt. Last August the two created Treehouse Milk, a brand of natural nut milks made from regionally sourced ingredients like pecans from Pearson Farm and honey from Sweetwater Creek Honey Farm. The milk comes in eight varieties, including cashew, macadamia, and almond oat. Don’t be afraid to think outside the cereal bowl: Stir the pecan flavor into bourbon for an after-dinner sipper. Available for delivery or at select farmers markets and stores.

This article originally appeared in our March 2016 issue.

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