How Hudson Grace’s Owners Combine Practical with WhimsicalAuthor:Leilani Marie Labong
Nothing says love and friendship like a good old-fashioned leveling tool. At least Gary McNatton thinks so. The co-proprietor of the Presidio Heights design shop Hudson Grace gifted one such gizmo to his best friend and business partner, Monelle Totah, to help her straighten the menagerie of flea-market food art hanging in the dining room of her Marina flat. “Hello, I live in the city!” she says. “There are buses that rumble by my house and shake things up.”
Not that McNatton doesn’t appreciate a little lived-in charm. Though you might not know it from looking at his stark St. Helena home. But at Hudson Grace, which opened last fall, the painstakingly curated inventory is “hardly lined up like soldiers on a shelf like at Crate & Barrel,” says McNatton, a former senior vice president at Gap Inc. From chunky hand-woven baskets to overstuffed linen pillows and everyday trattoria glasses, products at Hudson Grace are effortlessly nestled, layered, and stacked, evoking the unmistakable undone-ness of home.
Not surprisingly, the shop’s soulful tableau is more in sync with Totah’s personal style. A Louisiana native, she’s a die-hard collector of all things artisanal and timeworn, and she’s cultivated an enchanting look over a lifetime of flea market reconnaissance. That is not to mention her 22 years as director and VP of design at Williams-Sonoma Home. “In a way, I’m the ultimate consumer,” she says. “I don’t just design with beauty and practicality in mind. I buy that way, too.”
As such, nothing is off limits in Totah’s home, a haven of European eclecticism. She unapologetically displays her collections, intending them to be used rather than just admired. For her regular dinner parties, she doesn’t hesitate to serve shrimp-and-chicken-sausage gumbo in one of her vintage silver soup tureens. And she always lights the candles on her fireplace mantle with matches sparked on one of her rare glass-and-silver match strikers. Highly collectible, black terracotta pieces by Astier de Villatte hold things like fruit and cheese. And the coffee table books? They’re actually reading material.
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