When Sarah and Cheairs Porter moved into their Fan home about a year and a half ago, they took their time choosing just the right pieces. Sarah brought cherished items that had been passed down through her family and carefully mixed in new items and special antiques to create a relaxed, elegant look: "I like the mix of high and low… the antique heirloom and the brand-new Pottery Barn thing," she says.
Porter's love of flowers developed from spending time in her grandmother's New Orleans garden in as a child. Last April, in addition to her work as a traveling exhibitions coordinator at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, she decided to turn her passion into a business. Her company, Sarah Porter Flowers, focuses on floral design for small events like luncheons, showers and dinner parties. "My style is classic and European-inspired, but with an edge," Sarah says. "I always try to take my designs to the next level a little bit."
Blended Trim Sarah always chooses one color for walls, trim and ceiling but uses varying finishes for a look she picked up in New Orleans. The walls get an eggshell latex finish, the trim gets satin oil and the ceiling, a flat finish. "I think it creates an envelope of color." Glass Chandelier from Ruth and Ollie The Porters' entryway fixture was custom made to fit their home: "We had an empty house, and this was one of our first purchases." Antique Chairs Covered in White Duck Fabric Sarah and her husband found these Belgian chairs in Franklin, Tenn., near Cheairs' hometown of Columbia. They often squeeze in time for home shopping on their travels: "We like the whole process of looking around for things together and combining it all in our home." Cheairs' silver baby rattles Cheairs' mom gave them to Sarah as a gift while she was pregnant: "I just love these. I started crying when I opened them up." Elsita Prints Porter found these elaborate paper-cut prints to decorate her soon-to-be-born child's room on Etsy.com: "They're really whimsical and curvilinear." Inlaid Bone Benches Sarah got these inlaid benches (she added the salmon upholstery) along with many other items in her home from Wisteria.com: "They just have affordable things that are not run of the mill." Dining-Room Table The couple first saw kayanite (a mineral usually ground into insulation) in the home of a friend who mines it. They purchased a slab marbled with quartz, then found a craftsman in Charlottesville to design the iron base. Quartz Substantial chunks of natural quartz decorate Porter's living-room coffee table: "It's very humble as a mineral, but it's very beautiful at the same time."