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Say “Oui!” to Eclectic French Decor

Say “Oui!” to Eclectic French Decor

Written by Kathryn Drury Wagner
Photography by Bret Gum
Styling by Karen Wilhhelmsen

Throughout Emily and Marshall Yep’s home, you’ll discover references to the City of Light. An old map of Paris, for example, serves as artwork. Tiny boxes feature the Eiffel Tower. “The Eiffel Tower is kind of my thing,” says Emily, who is the founder/owner of Magnolia and Willow, located in Long Beach, California. The couple honeymooned in Paris, and the romance of the place adds special accents to their home in Southern California.

Marshall surprised Emily with this bookshelf. “He came with me to a flea market on my birthday … This bookshelf was more than I would normally pay for a shelf, and somehow when we got back to the truck he had already gotten it loaded in.” The chair next to the shelf belonged to Emily’s great-grandfather.

Emily grew up in the antique business, as her grandmother, mom and aunt had a store in Emily’s hometown of Bakersfield, California. “I remember walking to the shop from school and doing homework in the back. As a teen, I started doing estate sales with my mom.”

Emily chose mirrors because, she says, “I wanted a gallery wall, without worrying about the artwork inside. And this is opposite a window, so it reflects a lot of light.” The column that makes the base of the coffee table was a flea-market find. “It was gross, chippy wood and we painted it white,” says Emily.

In October, Emily celebrates the seventh anniversary of Magnolia and Willow, a 500-square-foot space filled with offerings from various antique and vintage dealers. The store came about after Emily left her managerial job and began selling things on eBay.

She noticed there weren’t a lot of vintage or antique shopping places in Wrigley, the Yeps’ neighborhood in Long Beach. “On the corner of Magnolia and Willow, there was this vacant shop space. It was run down. It was sad.”

The couple’s wedding china blends easily with their collection of mix-and-match vintage napkin rings. Emily also has a collection of tea cups and compotes. Silver compotes can be used for so many things, Emily notes. “I like them tarnished, but if you were actually serving food in them, they polish up really well.”

Within a month, with her supportive family wielding paintbrushes, the space had been transformed, and the store was ready to open. It provides plenty of inspiration—and opportunity—for the Yeps’ décor.

“I do shop a lot from our store,” says Emily. “If I’m drawn to something, I try to make it work at the house. I upgrade as I go. If I find a better chair, I get rid of the current one and update. Since I’m constantly surrounded by opportunities to buy, I could be a hoarder otherwise!”

A German boudoir-style lamp produced by Munzerlite sits on top of a side table that was Emily’s grandmother’s when she was a little girl.

She and her husband have been in their current home about two years and while it dates to the 1940s, she says it had almost no style at all when they moved in. “Sadly, any character from that era had all been previously removed.” Luckily, she’s been working to give the place some joie de vivre.

The jewelry caskets designed for use on a vanity top, feature scenes from—where else?—Paris.
Another pincushion doll ,this figurine has been wired to be turned into art; in the past, it would have been sitting on a fabric skirt. To the right are French perfume bottles.

In addition to the Paris theme, another motif is nautical, both because Emily’s grandfather was in the navy and because of Marshall’s profession. He’s a seafood broker who works in downtown L.A. “There are some nods to that in the house, such as in our kitchen, where there is a lot of fish décor,” says Emily. “We’re kind of weird with the nautical, though; Marshall is Japanese- Chinese and he’s into fish that relate to sushi, which are harder to find in home décor.”

A map of Paris in this bedroom was a fun discovery: Emily found it as a backing underneath an artwork she had bought. “I liked the map better and decided to use that!” she says.
This shelf has a Fab Four history: It came from Ringo Starr’s home. “They have couple of a celebrity auction houses in Los Angeles and I got it there,” says Emily. “The French general with a hat image on the wall is out of Bob Hope’s auction; my dad bought it and gave it to us as a Christmas gift.” Emily’s grandfather used to repair clocks, and the one on the shelf is one of his.
The shelf in the bathroom was originally used for a display at the Magnolia and Willow store. It was crafted out of upcycled fence boards. “That’s the original paint, such a great color. I didn’t touch it! I wish all wood was that cool. We had a bunch of that wood and used it for so many projects,” says Emily.

Marshall gives Emily free reign to decorate, as he has little interest, says Emily. His only request? Not too girly, please, so she keeps just a few pink accents confined to the front living room. There, flea-market finds blend with items she purchased from dealers at her shop and gifts from her family.

Take, for example, an American-made blanket by Faribault Woolen Mill Co. “It’s one of my favorite gifts, from my mother-in-law. And the pillows on the couch spell out Y-E-P; those were found on Etsy and were gifts from my mom. If something isn’t vintage, we try to buy U.S. and quality made. And we support mom-and-pop businesses, because we’re mom-and-pop.”

The fan is from the store; one of the dealers brought it in, and I bought that right away,” says Emily. The painting of the gentleman in black has a tag on the back that indicates it was originally sold in the Marshall Field department store, back when it had an art gallery section. On the lower right, the painting with the eyes is by a local artist, Mark Hill. Under the cloche, Emily keeps a navy medical kit of her grandfather’s.
In this bedroom, the headboard is a fig-drying tray that Emily found for $10. The flags are all vintage; the “Don’t give up the ship” flag was found at the Rose Bowl Flea Market.

Since Emily has opened Magnolia and Willow, she’s seen the neighborhood transform, with a new brewery, Italian restaurant and coffee shop. It may not be Paris, but it’s the Yeps’ little slice of urban delight. And at home, there are always plenty of Eiffel Towers and charming vintage accents waiting.

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