Entertaining with Grace
By June Naylor
Photos by Lisa Petrole, Davis Tsay and Robert White
Use your favorite things to define your style.
Grace Mitchell loves a good story. And getting you to tell her yours is central to the success of her work. Before she became an HGTV star, the charismatic interior designer was a FWISD teacher and language therapist for deaf children. Her experience, training and open nature puts those she interacts with at ease, all the better for coaxing out personal histories.
That’s a good thing, because the host of One of a Kind and owner of Storied Style Interiors in Fort Worth specializes in creating rooms that reflect not only the client’s history but the sort of family stories that define what’s important to a clan. That philosophy extends client satisfaction beyond the good looks of the interiors she creates. She extrapolates all she learns about who you are to help you better enjoy your spaces and more successfully share them with your inner circle.
She believes that entertaining in your home further articulates who you are: How you display and use your favorite things — particularly special dishes, glassware and serving pieces — goes a long way toward defining how your nest makes you happy. Sharing that happiness with guests by putting your pretty things into service creates a symbiotic relationship between collectibles and the sense of welcome.
We caught up with Mitchell between trips to Atlanta — where she is filming a new HGTV series, yet to be announced — and making preparations for this year’s plan to home-school her four kids, ages 9 to 12. This September, she launches an eponymous line for At Home, a national home goods store. During our chat, she shared the entertaining story that her own home in Fort Worth’s Mistletoe Heights neighborhood tells whenever she opens the door to family and friends.
817 Home We spotted a wonderful room on your Instagram that made us envy your collectibles and the way you’ve displayed them. It’s too sunny to be a traditional butler’s pantry — what is it?
Grace Mitchell That’s our garden room. We added it onto our kitchen to create a view to our great backyard and modeled it after an orangery. Our house is more than 100 years old, and I didn’t have a place to put my large collection of things, so I chose the garden room wall. I found metal shelves at Old Home Supply and metal support brackets at Lowe’s. We had to reinforce the wall because it would all be so heavy. When it’s nice outside, we turn the space into a dining room for entertaining with a garden view.
817 That garden room wall shows off a beautiful assortment of treasures. What tickles your collecting fancy and how do you use your collectibles?
GM I’m a big fan of estate sales, and we have so many good ones in all the great neighborhoods in Fort Worth. It’s how I use any leisure time. And I’ve found things everywhere, from Salvation Army and Berry Good Buys to the Chelsea Flea Market in New York — my collection has amounted to a lot over the years. I have a vast collection of jadeite — before Martha Stewart posted about it and jadeite went to five times the price it used to be! My blue and yellow sets are French opaline, but I’m very careful with this. It’s very thin and chips easily, but I love the colors. I have white plates and set the table mixing in some older pretty plates for salad and dessert, so the look feels very out of the ordinary.
817 Is the idea of only using the “good stuff” for important occasions outdated? Shouldn’t we be using the so-called formal pieces whenever we want?
GM Things don’t need to look too perfect and untouchable. And if you have odd things — like I have some weird zebra dishes — it’s a conversation starter. If they’re displayed, you have a nice way to share about yourself and your family. When people see that you amass things, it shares you. If a client has that ginormous bookcase or an old secretary that’s just holding books they don’t read or it’s just filled with tchotchkes, I’ll say, “Hey, let’s try this,” and create a mix of china and books from a beloved grandmother’s collection, and it’s beautiful.
817 What are your favorite pieces to bring out when you have a special gathering of family and friends?
GM A few special cake stands in all different sizes. If it’s one of the kids’ birthdays, I’ll showcase a special cupcake on one of the little cake stands. These can also be used to show off other decor pieces, too. I have clients with large collections of cake stands that we find a way to spotlight. But we sometimes find a special piece of furniture can work the same way; we stack things on that special chair or table to look artistic and also serve a function.