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Jill Brown's Belgian-inspired country house in Bellville, an hour from Houston. Architecture Reagan & André. grandfather," she says. "Everything has meaning." The house may be less than a decade old, but many aged and beautifully patinated elements give it timeworn character, such as antique pine floors and antique Belgian iron windows. The kitchen countertops and laundry-room floor are made from slabs of old weathered bluestone from Belgium. Both bathrooms have handmade encaustic tiles reclaimed from an 1869 Belgian house. "We intentionally tried to make the house look old," she says. "People always think it has been around a really long time. But it's a house built from things collected over time — It's very autobiographical." I n Brown's countr y house, ever ything comes with a story. "A lot of the furniture and art are family pieces," she says. "Ohio is a hotbed for Americana, and my mother collected really good American folk art. I grew up with those things." She inherited part of her mother's large collection of furniture and decorative items by Lew Hudnall, an Ohio folk artist from the mid-20th century who hand-painted charming countr y scenes and animals on furniture and toleware. He was a friend of Brown's mother, who often brought him antique benches, chests, and chairs to decorate. At one time, she had amassed the largest collection of his work. A pair of ornately car ved Victorian sofas in the living room once belonged to her husband's grandmother in Tennessee. "They were a part of that family from the time I met Foster," she says. "When his parents passed away, I took them and extended the legs, re-covered them, took some of the embellishment off the top." She placed them next to a pair of faded red crushed-velvet wing chairs she bought in Belgium and had seat cushions made from gently frayed fabric that belonged to his mother. Brown is passionate about fabric and pattern. A handsome antique crewel fabric that hangs at a window in her bedroom was destined for the landfill when Brown discovered it 30 years ago in a trash pile in front of a Michigan estate belonging to founders of the Packard automobile company. She took the fabric home and turned it into draperies, which she's used in many of her houses over the decades. Interior designer David Brantley helped her source new fabrics and rugs. "He would bring a big bag full of samples to dig through, and I would get so excited the night before we met that I couldn't sleep," she says, laughing. Among Brantley's finds is an embroidered Pollack fabric — a charming riff on a classic American alphabet sampler — which she used to cover the chairs around the library table. The alphabet sampler holds a particular fascination for Brown, who is charmed by anything to do with didactics and schools. "When I lived in Belgium, I'd do the markets very early looking for art," she recalls. "I'd pull out folios of kids' schoolwork and drawings — anything that is authentic and shows the work of a maker." She also discovered portraits by unknown or under-the- radar Belgian artists, many of which

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