We have a Coterie Crush on New York City based interior designer, Elaine Griffin. I sat down to visit with Elaine who happens to be from the same area as me– the Golden Isles of Georgia. Despite living up North now, Elaine has not lost touch with her Southern roots. She says, “True Southerners, like myself, know that if you’re born and raised south of the Mason-Dixon line, you are forever a denizen of Dixie. Being Southern is a lifestyle, where it’s always six o’clock somewhere, strangers greet each other warmly, there’s always room for one more at the table, and children still answer with ‘ma’am’ and ‘sir.’” Best of all says Elaine, “Southerners invented gracious living and nobody in the world does it better than we do.”
Here are a few of Elaine’s gracious living must haves:
Fabric collections: Peter Dunham Textiles and Bennison Fabrics are two of my ultra-faves. I’m wild about Geoffrey Bennison’s handprinted, document-inspired fabrics. Geoffrey is actually in the Top 5 of my Pantheon of Legendary Tastemakers.
China patterns: PR doyenne Lou Hammond (a native Charlestonian) gave me my first plate of Minton’s Denmark, an octagonal pattern from 1883, as a wedding present and I fell hopelessly in love with it. As a divorce gift to myself, I tracked down 16 more plates to entertain my next husband– whomever the lucky devil may be.
Candles: I almost always have a candle burning somewhere. I was truly a happy girl when I discovered Mrs. Meyer’s Geranium Soy Candles. These smell like they cost way more than the $9.99 price tag.
Antiques Shop: Because, honey, if you’re going to go antiquing, you should GO ANTIQUING at the Puces de Clingnancourt in Paris. I use EDET International to send containers of irresistible things home.
Designers: If I had a blank check and could hire my dream designers, I would hire Tom Scheerer and Robert Passal. They’re two of the most talented designers in the world. Plus they’re both really nice gentlemen, too, which is always important to a Southern lady.
Collection: A native of the Georgia coast, I started collecting seashells to remind me of home. It’s gotten a little out of hand now, but they’re still my favorite accessory. I use them as props on every photo shoot I style.
Southern Essential: Drinks at Latitude 31 at the wharf of the Jekyll Island Club hotel. It’s one of the first things I do when I go home. The view is phenomenal, especially at sunset, and I love imagining what it was like for J.P. Morgan to cruise up to the very same wharf on the Corsair as I sip my Chardonnay.
Elaine’s style in five words or less: Warm, Elegant, Inviting, Colorful, and Eclectic.
Interview by Cheri Leavy. Cheri is co-founder of ”The Southern Coterie,” the social network of the South.