A little piece of Europe has just opened in Clifton, courtesy of an enterprising designer.
From the pale green paint on the walls to the brightly colored prints depicting Mediterranean seascapes, Teresa Fannon has combined antiques with new talents inside Willow Antiques and Interiors, her new shop on Main Street in Clifton.
"It's been wonderful," said Fannon, a former ballet dancer who dreamed of owning her own antique shop since her children were born.
While driving through Clifton one day in December, she saw a "for rent" sign on the window of the little shop, next to the Heart in Hand restaurant in the heart of the town.
"When I saw that sign, I immediately picked up my phone," Fannon said. She called the number on the sign and got to work setting up the store, which opened on Saturday, Feb. 11, just as the storm that covered Northern Virginia in several inches of snow began.
"It's a little store, but it's mine," she said of the 450 square foot shop, filled with antiques, paintings, linens and home decorating items. "I'm a little surprised how much I was able to fit in here."
FOR YEARS, Fannon played host to "French hen" parties in her home. Fannon would fill a room with antiques or pieces of art that the women she'd invited could purchase if they liked.
"I helped people design their homes and I developed a love for it," she said. "One thing just fell into another."
While Fannon said she's had tables and store space in other locations before, this is her first solo endeavor.
To keep things from becoming stagnant in her store, Fannon said she plans to bring in new themes and items every six to eight weeks. "The next look will be for spring, so I hope to have lots of garden statues, wicker furniture and flowers, but I'll still have chandeliers and plate sets," she said.
A sample of the table clothes sold by Linens of Provence, a company owned by two former flight attendants, Yvette Roche and Denise Yavorsky, will have a permanent home in the store, Fannon said. She met and became friends with the women when they had adjoining displays at the Super Flea market in Richmond.
"When we first met, Teresa said she'd love to include our table cloths in her store when she had one," said Yvette Roche, co-owner of Linens of Provence.
The vivid-colored linens hang from an antique wardrobe inside the store, which Roche describes as "sparkling."
"We're all so thrilled for Teresa, she really has a good eye and good taste. This is a wonderful addition to Clifton," Roche said.
This is the first prominent display for Linens of Provence, which imports all its products from a small company in France, she said. "We're so flattered she thought of us," Roche said."
The store has "a very European flair" that shows off Fannon's "talent for finding things that go together beautifully," she said.
The palette of colors in the linens act to enhance the prints of Manassas-based artist Jeanie Collin Keys, which hang on the opposite wall.
"The pieces Teresa chose are considered giclee' prints, which are made from conservative inks," said Keys, a painter whose work was featured in Nordstrom stores nationally for 13 years. "The paintings are memories and pieces of flowers and objects that have meaning to me."
AS A FIRST-GENERATION American born to Hungarian parents, Keys said she met Fannon through antique shows several years ago. "I was invited to show some work at one of her 'French hen' parties and we got to talking about her dream of opening a store," she said.
Keys said Fannon's "passion and interest" has always been in designing interiors and using antiques to add character to homes.
"I guarantee within a year, Teresa will move to a bigger store," she said. "She has all the ingredients to be successful. When you have a passion for something, you can't stop it unless you let incredible fear get in your way. I knew she'd do this and do well at it."
Fannon credits turning 50 with her decision to open the store.
"I always knew I wanted to do something like this, and I like the idea of helping other artist get started," she said.
On the day the store opened, Fannon said she wasn't sure anyone would come in because of the storm that was predicted. She had brought in a book to read, but was pleasantly surprised to find she didn't have the chance to open it.
"So many people came in," she said.
The store is open on Thursdays through Sundays, and in her first week, much of the inventory has been sold.
"This is a quirky little town and the people who live here are real characters," she said. "Everyone's been welcoming. We've lived in Clifton for 11 years and we just love it."
Diane Pearson met Fannon several years ago and invited her to decorate her lake home in Deep Creek, Md.
"Teresa has a French country look in everything she does," Pearson said. "She can pull things together in a way I'd never think of and it just looks beautiful."
The premise of opening an "upscale antique store" in Clifton seemed a perfect fit to Pearson, saying the store was something "it just never had. There was an antique store before, in the same place, but it was more little pieces," she said. "This has everything from candlesticks to furniture."
While she's enjoying her early success, Fannon said she's quickly lining up new customers and artist to be featured in her store.
"This store is a little clubhouse for me and my girlfriends," she laughed. "There's so much talent and good taste in all the people around me, I just put their things on display."