[note from the author]
I met Brenda through work at Amélie’s French Bakery in Charlotte, NC where she is co-owner and decor master. Chandeliers, Mosaics and fun eclectic art pieces fill the rooms of the bakery from one corner to the next, from tabletop to ceiling rafter, every inch seems to have been cared for, loved and touched by her vision. The place is truly magical to be in. Its got a “no tile unturned, no salt shaker ignored” kind of vibe.
I have gotten to know Brenda not only as an artist, but as a wonderful family friend and an all around lovely person---seriously, a few minutes around Brenda will do that thing to your heart where it grows three sizes… (like the Grinch in Dr. Seuss’ famed novelette).
Her work has always been an inspiration for me as a photographer and blogger, so I finally took my camera and toured her home. We met a few weeks later at her "factory" for an interview.
Q: Let's start with the basics... where are you from?
B: I grew up in Florida (West Palm Beach). I went to school in Northern Virginia and Kentucky before finally settling in Charlotte after meeting my husband Larry.
Q: How did you get started in design?
B: Right out of college. I was making drapes for a design firm. I hated it... but I was learning. Then I started to get requests to do friends' houses and it evolved from there.
[click the above image to scroll through gallery]
Q: What's something that most people don't know about you?
B: I was a flight attendant for a long time. When I was in my early twenties, a girlfriend talked me into applying and on a whim, I did. They didn't hire her... but I got the job! It worked out really well for my design career. I got to work as many or as few hours as I wanted. I could travel for free. Every city I went, my co-workers would go out for drinks but I would explore the art museums.
Q: I see a lot of childhood images of you and Larry throughout your home, as well as pictures of your foster daughter and nieces… I know you are big on family (present and past), what about family is so important for you?
B: A seemingly simple question that is also provocative. My impulse is to say that everyone feels a strong affinity toward family, perhaps for different reasons. My family offers a level of comfort for me that can be found no where else. Unconditional love is the greatest gift of all in life and comes effortlessly in my family... I love to look around and see images of those I love, especially those that live many miles away.
Q: Who is your inspiration?
B: Children. I love to see the world through eyes that do not have the filter that comes with age. I also find interesting aspects in the most mundane objects, seeing them for what they could be, not what they are.
Q: Top five favorite things in your home:
B:  My husband, Larry.  Handblown bowl with easter eggs given to me from my Mother when I was a child.  Portrait of Van Gogh that our foster daughter and I "modified" by adding a bandage to his ear.  Two Cloth Dolls that I made representing Larry and I at age four.  My studio/art collection. My studio which once was my formal living room. I paint, mosaic, create chandeliers and build crazy objects there! Now you know why my husband is number one on my list! He lets me be me and do whatever I want to our home. I am very lucky.
Q: Artists and Icons that have inspired you?
B: I devour art books. I will turn a picture upside down or study its negative space. If it speaks to me, I will photo copy it and carry it around for days. My favorite artists are Spanish and Dutch. Picasso, Miro, Dali, Van Eyck, and Rembrandt.
Q: Your favorite words of wisdom, something you find yourself saying a lot & what it means:
B: I suppose I have two mantras that probably came from my father...
"what is done for others is actually done for oneself"
"find the good and praise it"
When you help somebody that can do you no good whatsoever, you get such a good feeling. Its a sense of nature’s force patting you on the back.
OH and there's my design philosophy:
everything is something else.
[indeed it is]