PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Dallas July:August 2022

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J ill Brown is a country girl at heart. "I grew up in Ohio on a family farm, and some of my fondest memories a r e p l o w i n g c o r n , " she says. "I'd rather be in the country than anywhere else." So, at least twice a week, she heads to her farm in Bellville, a little over three hours from Dallas and near the town of Round Top and its antiques shows. Brown fell in love with the charming, historic town seven years ago while hunting for a rural house to buy and renovate. The right one never materialized; instead, she discovered six acres of bucolic woodlands and meadows for sale — the perfect land on which to build a family retreat. "I wanted to build a modest family house where we could enjoy the outdoors and make lots of memories," she says. Her grown sons and their families often join her there, tending a small kitchen garden that includes a blueberry patch planted so her young granddaughter can enjoy picking berries. The house was designed by late Houston architect Reagan Miller of Reagan & André, who understood the simple and humble feel Brown was going for. "He grew up on Iowa farmland, and we were on the same page from the get-go," she says. Old American farmhouses and barns built from wood inspired the architecture, but there's also a distinct Belgian farmhouse influence, with arched windows and doors and exterior portions clad in painted brick. Brown lived in Belgium during the 1990s with her late husband, Foster Brown, where she first fell in love with the design and architecture. Back home in Houston, she began importing Belgian lighting and furnishings, and her line, Brown House & Wares, is sold via her website. She also has a regular booth at Blue Hills in Round Top during the shows. Brown spent the months during COVID at her country house, working and planning future projects. A large ebonized Napoleon III table in the library serves as an ideal surface to spread out her work papers and catalogs. "It's where I do everything, from sourcing products to sorting through European orders and wires," she says. "We even have our meals there. I love eating and entertaining surrounded by books. If people look at the titles on the shelves, they probably know more about me than I want to reveal." Tucked among books on travel, art, design, history, and philosophy are "small parts of our lives, like mom's baby shoes and rocks that belonged to Foster's 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 AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL FARMHOUSE JILL BROWN ESCAPES CITY LIFE AT HER BELGIAN-INSPIRED RURAL RETREAT IN BELLVILLE. BY REBECCA SHERMAN. PHOTOGRAPHY JACK THOMPSON. INTERIOR DESIGN JILL BROWN AND DAVID BRANTLEY. ARCHITECTURE REAGAN & ANDRÉ. A painting in the foyer purchased in Belgium echoes the straw-colored walls. 53

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