PaperCity Magazine

September 2017 - Houston

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Page 136 of 195

In the family room, sofas from Shabby Slips. Chairs from a dealer in Palm Beach, covered in Ralph Lauren charcoal wool. Vintage gilt light fixture from Paris. Pair of tables from Shabby Slips. 135 Designer Renea Abbott. Draper look," she says. When she was growing up, her mother, interior designer and Shabby Slips co-founder Barbara Carlton, decked out their Shreveport, Louisiana house in white furniture and carpeting, animal prints, gilt Rococo mirrors, and palm trees. The apple doesn't fall far: "I'm walking around my house now, and I still have all-white furniture, palm trees, and leopard!" Abbott says. A bbott cut her decorating chops in New York City in the 1980s, where she studied at the private New York School of Design and in summers at Parsons School of Design and Fashion Institute of Technology. "Design can be learned, and I learned that moving furniture around and matching colors wasn't design," she says. "We worked with form and function first." After school, she spent the next 10 years at old-guard design firm Irvine & Fleming, where she was Keith Irvine's assistant. Their clients were Manhattan's well-heeled and well-bred, including William F. and Pat Buckley and most of the Kennedy clan in NYC and Boston. Once, while she was installing lighting in Caroline Kennedy's new Park Avenue apartment, the doorbell rang. Abbott opened it and came face-to-face with Jacqueline Onassis. Caroline was expecting her first child with husband Edwin Schlossberg, and Onassis had come to inspect baby Rose's nursery. After looking around, Onassis said in a voice barely above a whisper, "The apartment is so beautiful, I find it criminal to put furniture in here." But fill it with furniture they did, and Caroline's apartment remains much the same today, having stood the test of time. "Irvine & Fleming were at the top of the game, and that's where I learned what was needed for a successful room: symmetry, drama, harmony, elegance, beauty, and restraint," Abbott says. "Simplify and buy the best quality." This was the genesis of the bold black-and-white style for which Abbott is known. "I tend to work monochromatically. It's simple, and you get a lot of bang for your buck." Irvine & Fleming also planted the seed for Shabby Slips — the firm had kept a stash of antique and heirloom chairs and tables, lamps, and decorative pieces at their offices to help finish projects. "At the end of an installation, we always needed something last-minute — Keith would send me to the office to pick up a table or something from John Rosselli," she remembers. Years later, after Abbott and her mother opened an interior design business in Houston, Abbott needed a shop where she could pull items for their own projects. For the past 25 years, Shabby Slips has carried the custom-designed slipcovered seating you'll find in all their interiors, as well as fine antiques, which Abbott sources from the Paris flea market and Round Top, as well as decorative objects found at Maison et Objet in Paris or the Atlanta gift market. (continued on page 136) "I'm always traveling for finds," she says. "So I will get one for the shop, and one for me. If something doesn't sell, I'll bring it home." For their new house in Royden Oaks — a community built in the 1940s on

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