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Are you someone who hates following the rules?

I met Pat Ross in 1989 when she published "Formal Country," the quintessential book on relaxed decorating. We both lived in New York. She still lives in the city and has added a country home in Virginia. My pillow business was 5 or 6 years old by that time. The vintage and one-of-a-kind textiles that still make up the core of Pillow Talk's reputation were being bought by home accessory and gift stores along Madison Avenue. Pat owned Sweet Nellie, a popular antiques shop, and she eagerly included many of my pillows.

She wrote her book, with lovely photography by David Phelps, to dash the idea that a room or entire home should be one style of decor. The northeast is notoriously traditional in style. Few broke the rules. Duncan Fyfe furniture set on inherited oriental rugs, with damask drapes at every window was the norm. Pat wanted people to relax. She wanted to mix styles and countries of origin. Pictures in her book guide the reader with a gentle how-to. That a contemporary house or hi rise could be so much more inviting with primitive art, pastel colors, and even some lace became believable. Slipcovers, she felt, are for more than keeping the dust off beach house furniture in the winter.

It was really a time when "eclectic" became a direction. We all realized we could paint a table white and put a Mexican runner on it. And, that was really okay. Much of her book leans on accessories and how to mix them in the most interesting ways. Textures and textiles were her love.

You can understand why I was drawn to her and she to my pillows. Textile mixes as you see in this photo from her book really launched what we came to call shabby chic interiors. It's attainable for everyone. Similar looks are in my inventory right now. Timeless textiles.

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