Style Court

Eight Years of Textiles, History, Art, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes

6.30.2008

Learning from Mimi


At age three Emily already had her eye on one of her grandmother's chic finds: a round gilt-metal table with a stylized "wheat" base and a glass top. Emily said, "Mimi, when I grow up I'm going to have a table just like this."


Emily and her twin sister Julia, now age four and three quarters, know that fashion icon Coco Chanel had a similar table in her Paris apartment on the Rue Cambon. (Their grandmother has on display a vintage book open to the page that shows this.)



Helene B., or "Mimi" as the twins call her, is an elegant former teacher from Montreal who now can be found assisting customers at Interiors Market. She began introducing the girls to fine art when they were babies, using pieces around her Atlanta home to stimulate the twins' minds by asking them to find the biggest shape or the longest line, or to identify colors.

Figures and anatomical sculptures are a passion of French-speaking Helene's. She and her husband recently took the girls to the High, not to the children's area, but to the Louvre Atlanta exhibition to sketch and view the busts of Voltaire and other luminaries.



When Helene became a grandmother, many of her friends thought she would have to put away her vast collection of fine objects. Instead she chose to keep everything out and teach the twins to be at home around these things. Her dressing room is a fantasy hang-out for all little girls.



But more important than an appreciation for art and beauty is the sense of belonging and wonder Helene offers the girls. Beneath the grand rock crystal chandeliers are pint-sized furnishings that let the twins know they are welcome.





Many thanks to Helene for generously giving us a sneak peek at her exquisite collections.



17 comments:

The Peak of Chic said...

What lucky little girls! They are indeed getting an excellent education in the appreciation of fine things. Helene has a beautiful home.

Mrs. Blandings said...

Courtney - a truly charming post. My grandmother's home was not nearly so grand, yet she let me paw through her things at will. Won't those girls have stories to tell?

Pigtown-Design said...

FABULOUS!!! I think that if you teach children to be careful from the beginning, then they will understand not to touch certain things.

TheParisApartment said...

Girls after my own heart! I bet they will never forget these days. Learning early is wonderful cause it really sinks in. Great pics!

linda said...

What lucky little girls! Helene's house is stunningly beautiful.

Style Court said...

And in person Helene's skin is the most beautiful I've ever seen! Don't know if you can tell from the picture but her perfume bottle collection is enormous :)

Cote de Texas said...

ooh - this is fabulous! What possessions!!!!

But the first picture with the little girl on the left with her legs perfectly crossed - that is the cutest thing I think I have ever seen!!!!!!!

They are just adorable!!

Joni loving the red and shabby too!

Style Court said...

joni -- they are at the Chanel counter :)

You would love shopping with Helene--you are kindred spirits!

annechovie said...

Helene's home is orgeous and the twins are absolutely adorable! What a great post. Thank you, Courtney, and hope you have a great holiday weekend!

pve design said...

C'est magnifique! "Mimi" is really imparting a lovely message to those twins.
In Paris and today went to the Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay!
Truly a lovely and inspiring post!

Style Court said...

Patricia -- hope Paris is just perfect! Thanks for stopping by here too. Imagine the illustration you could do of the girls and that dressing room.

Anne -- happy fourth to you too.

simply seleta said...

I think what touched me the most about this post is that Helene [MiMi] so lovingly made the girls a part of her abode . That connection is so meaningful to little ones. I can just imagine the twins coming over to visit and being oh so careful with their little tea porcelain set that was pictured. And feeling pride in having their own special art table in the kitchen. To be introduced to history and art at such tender ages is priceless.

It's inspiring how she continues to enlighten them with her own passions. Fantastic childhood memories, the best gift one can give a child!

Style Court said...

Seleta--what a wonderful insightful comment. It will mean so much to Helene.

I know everyone's comments have touched her. Thanks to all!

breathing in the dreaming world said...

What a charming story, Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Inspirational, what a wonderful influence.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Brilliant! And how wonderful that Grandmere has brought them into her world so beautifully. I'm jealous!

I didn't grow up in a childproof home. Although, with two little ones of my own, I now know the origin of those toothmarks on the silver and crystal ashtrays my parent's had scattered about.

I can't wait to get my kids into the museums and concert halls. I think this is the year for The Nutcracker Ballet with my four year old daughter!

Style Court said...

E & E,

You will be an amazing guide! I can just imagine all that you have planned, all that you can share.