Houston Shopping: The Bissonnet/Kirby Corridor Antique District

Every few weeks or so, I get an email from someone coming to Houston and wanting to know where to go shopping for antiques and decor.  So, I’ve been thinking for a while about putting together a short series on the best shopping areas to go see the most in one afternoon.    As luck would have it, I recently had a few visitors to test out my itineraries.      Of course, this series won’t cover every shop in Houston – there are too many to name, and how boring would that be anyway?  But, there are several distinct areas where numerous antique and decor stores are clustered, thus making it worth your while to venture out for a few hours.    My visitor is Stefan Hurray, a young architect from Pennsylvania now working in Washington D.C.  Stefan is the voice behind the very interesting and always intellectually stimulating blog - Architect Design - concentrating on, what else, but architecture!    It is so much fun to meet another design blogger in real life after building a friendship through countless emails, and without fail, it feels like you’ve known that person forever.   It must be due to the kindred spirit found between design bloggers and the readers too.   Last Saturday, after a few missteps, Stefan and I met up for lunch at Raven Grill on Bissonnet – a perfect place to start off on a shopping adventure in the Museum District.   Finishing lunch with a drive through at a convenient Starbucks, we are ready to test out the newly named:  Cote de Texas Bissonnet/Kirby Corridor Shopping District.  First Stop:   AREA.


AREA:   5600 Kirby

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The front lobby:   old and new, trendy and classic – the perfect recipe for a successful interiors store.


AREA is a large store, owned by interior design extra0rdinaire, Don Connelly, and run by the man in charge - Daniel.   Daniel’s been with AREA from day one starting at the original location on Shepherd.   AREA is a wonderful mix of antique and modern design, with a heavy dose of trendy.   It’s a great store to pick up accessories and lamps, candles, and vases.  There are always interesting sets of dining chairs and tables,  along with antique consoles and chests.  Be sure to look up at the ceiling  - their selection of lighting fixtures is one of the best in town.  Introduce yourself to Daniel once, and he’ll never forget your name – it’s a gift that’s helped make AREA one of the more successful decor stores in town.   Don travels to Europe and Round Top and the markets to stock the store, so there is always a generous amount of the old mixed in with the newest.


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There are interesting vignettes around every corner:  lamps and tables, pillows and artwork, and  hard-to-find coffee table books.


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  Whenever I have an installation, I stop by AREA first to pick up accessories like baskets and urns.


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AREA has a great assortment of trays and boxes for tablescapes.


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And there’s the cute as can be Stefan, nursing his Starbucks!  I think he really enjoyed AREA.



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Smile!    Handsome Daniel, the energy and brains behind the store.   He should write a book on how to greet and treat your customers the proper way!  OK, we are moving on - next stop is Watkins and Culver.



Watkins Culvers Antiques and Design:  2308 Bissonnet


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Babs Watkins and her daughter Nelta run Watkins Culver – an antique store that will make you think you actually are on Magazine Street in New Orleans – not Houston.  The store itself is sometime to see – the walls are fauxed painted by the brilliant Jay Iarussi which give the shop an appearance of having been built in another century.  Truly beautiful!  Of course, so are the antiques, handpicked by Watkins from France and Italy – this store has been at the forefront of developing the French look in Houston that is so popular with Veranda and Southern Accents readers. 



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Besides all the antiques bought abroad, Watkins Culvers carries the BViz line of specialty pillows from New Orleans.  Each pillow is handmade by Rebecca Vizard using antique textiles and each is a work of art. 



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Watkins Culver has many mirrors of all sizes, lamps, and chandeliers.   The design is mostly French here, but Swedish pieces have been creeping into the store for the past few years.



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Out back in the alley are the design studios of Babs and Nelta, and the Watkins Culver annex.   Hey Stefan, finish up the coffee already!



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The annex’s merchandise is just a bit more relaxed – be sure to notice the Zuber papered screen.  Watkins Culver have the best antique Parisian lanterns that are so hot right now.  


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Watkins Culver has been carrying the oh-so-hot wood chandeliers and metal tables for years – they were way ahead of the trend with these items.    Watkins and Culver Antiques and Design is available online with 1st Dibs here.     OK,  time for the next stop - right next door.


Shabby Slips:  2304 Bissonnet


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Shabby Slips is owned by Renea Abbott, a much in-demand interior designer with several Veranda covers under her belt.  She recently repainted the walls going from dark to white and the effect, along with all the mirrors and crystal chandeliers is stunning – the store absolutely sparkles!   The ceiling is filled with the crystal chandeliers and the Venetian mirror shown above has to be the prettiest one I have ever seen!  Shopping here is such a treat – a true eye candy experience.


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Right in the middle of the store is this limed table with these stunning shell chairs!   What a find!    When Shabby Slips first opened, the focus was on slip covers, but that has long since changed.  Today, the focus is on the finest antiques for the younger set.  To be sure, the store is still stocked with wonderful slipcovered furniture and there are beautiful pillows tossed about, but the antiques take center stage now.    The trendy new lamps and accessories mix in with the old.    The chandeliers and mirrors are exceptional, and there is a large selection of them to choose from.



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Most of the furniture is upholstered in white – making these black and white striped chairs pop in the store. 



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Mixed in with all the antiques and upholstery is a nice selection of modern art.  In fact, one of my favorite galleries in town, the Jack Meier Gallery, is just two doors down.   Shabby Slips always has great pillows like these shown above.   And, while we were there, we learned that the little house behind Shabby Slips, that was once an annex, is just now getting the final touches done on a total remodel and will be back open for business soon!   Can’t wait!   OK, time to cross the street.


Neal and Co:  4502 Greenbriar


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Right across the street from Watkins and Culver and Shabby Slips, is Neal and Co. – another high end antique store dealing mostly in French product.  Cindy Neal, a veteran of the business, moved several years ago to the corner of what has t0 be the heart of  Houston Antiques, and she’s been a great addition.   Sweet and affable, Cindy is very knowledgeable about what she buys and is happy to share her expertise with you.   The store is large and full of wonderful French and Swedish delights.  Not everything is out of the world expensive, which is I why I love to shop here.  She carries lots of smalls, French candles, dishes, and confit pots – perfect for those of us who are on a budget.   But, there is plenty for those who aren’t!   I love this canap√© covered in a gray check – the back is almost prettier than the front.  And look at those green lanterns – I lusted after those – and the metal side tables, on the right – the best! 



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There are a lot of nooks and crannies to the store, owing to the fact that it used to be several different businesses, until Cindy bought the entire center, tore down all the walls and made it Neal and Co.    So, be sure you don’t miss anything hiding around a corner.  She carries wonderful botanicals and has a large supply of French wood tables.



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Here’s another wonderful set in Cindy’s office that she explained was one man’s lifetime collection.  Besides being an antiquarian, she is also an interior decorator! 


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As with all the better antique shops in Houston, there is a good selection of Swedish antiques available.



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 Neal and Co. carry the entire Les Indiennes fabric line AND they have a huge selection of Dash and Albert rugs to pick from.   Neal and Co. is available on 1st Dibs, so be sure to check them out here.


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OK,  Stefan needs to leave now, but hopefully he’ll be back in Houston soon.   So I’m on my own to finish the CdT Bissonnet-Kirby Corridor Shopping District.   Next stop, down the street:


M. Naeve – Antiques and Uncommon Luxuries:  1926 Bissonnet



Without a doubt, one of the most charming antique stores in Houston, M. Naeve is a must see when visiting.   Carrying hand picked inventory from France, the antiques are relaxed – not stuffy or dressy in any way.  But, make no mistake, they are beautiful – the entire shop is breathtakingly beautiful.   Every chair, every table, every fixture, every lamp – your heart just aches to take it home.   Visiting M. Naeve is almost like a religious experience – such exquisite beauty!!!



The owner is the very young and very adorable Margaret Naeve and she is just perfectly matched for such a shop.   I mean, just look at this settee – with its original linen batting and nailheads – could it get any better?   Well yes, look at the fireplace behind it!



Everything in the store is painted crusty cream…….



or Swedish gray…



or green!!   Be sure to visit  M.  Naeve when in Houston, located right next to the Raven Grill.  Website is here.    Next stop, Carl Moore Antiques, a few blocks down.


Carl Moore Antiques:  1610 Bissonnet



Carl Moore Antiques is located on Bissonnet in a large, old, two story house.  Since the famous Carl Moore has moved on to selling art, Geoffrey Westergaard is at the helm, buying for the store all over Europe.   As a result – Carl Moore has a wonderful, well –rounded array of antiques:  English, French, Swedish, German, and Asian!  There isn’t much they don’t carry, which is a huge part of their appeal.  A powerhouse, a mainstay, the ultimate in class!



Carl Moore is the best place in Houston to find Biedermeier pieces. 



They carry a large array of chandeliers, lamps, and oriental accessories.  The store is well-stocked and the sales people are helpful and friendly – a definite asset to the shop.




And they carry my favorite, French, of course.   On top of antiques,  they have reproduction dining tables available, which is great when the real thing is price prohibitive.  Carl Moore Antiques has a very comprehensive web site for online ordering, so be sure to look at it here.   And finally, we are on to our last stop on the CdT Bissonnet-Kirby Corridor Antique District – but you need your car, we’re headed back towards Kirby:


Found for the Home:   2422 Bartlett



Found, owned by Aaron Rambo and Ruth Davis is “industrial chic” and a whole lot more.  It is located in a former factory, right off Kirby, and is filled with objects from each era.  Besides the usual French antiques, there are French industrial items, vintage upholstery, and objects made of found objects, hence the name.  It’s an eclectic assortment – you never know what you will see here, but it will all be great, to be sure.  Those pillows look familiar!



The upholstery is all remade vintage.



The complex where Found is located is itself worth a peek.  Carved out of a former factory and an old apartment complex, many of Houston’s finest interior designers are renting space upstairs, while below are several retail  shops.  In this picture, you can really see the unique space and how the owners have taken the old factory and made it their own.




I’ve got my eye on the pair of Gustavian settees, myself!




Charming!   Rambo and Davis are both very friendly and helpful which makes shopping here so much fun!   Found for the Home is also on 1st dibs, here.


We’re at the end of the Cote de Texas  Bissonnet-Kirby Corridor Antique District – what a mouthful!!!  While you are out, Houston’s museums are located nearby at the end of Bissonnet and are definitely worth visiting.   There’s also a wonderful independent bookstore close by, the Brazos Bookstore at 2421 Bissonnet and next door is Jaya – specializing in Asian furniture.    Below is a map for easy driving.  If you are coming to Houston for shopping and need help – be sure to email me for more information!    


A.  Found for the Home

B.  Area

C.  Watkins Culver and Shabby Slips

D.  Neal and Co.

E.  M. Naeve

F.  Carl Moore Antiques



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