AN x Willow & Pearls: Inside the Bold & Colorful Home of a Maximalist

Emily and one of her favorite secondhand finds, a French chair

Emily Mabe is a Southern Belle/Francophile who has never met a gold mirror, French chair (well, French anything) that she didn’t want to be in a long-term relationship with and  always breaks for blue & white!

Emily has moved a lot (13 times in the last 18 years to be precise), which has exposed her to an incredible array of styles and aesthetics. She tends to gravitate towards items which remind her of happy times - which has created a very eclectic vibe in her home. 

“I grew up “thrifting” with my mom and have always loved the thrill of finding treasures! This passion took a backseat to my career for many years- then after becoming a mom and moving to Europe the flame was reignited. Well it actually exploded to be precise. I found myself in a thrifters paradise!” 

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After three years of living/buying in Europe she found herself back in the states and looking for a new adventure. Slowly, Willow & Pearls, which offers curated antiques & vintage home decor items was born.

Emily enjoys colorful, bold, collected & maximalist interiors. She has spent the last three years slowly renovating her 1960s home & sharing the process on Instagram! “It has been an absolute joy!”, shared Emily.


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Your home features a lot of fun wallpaper. How do you choose the patterns and how do you pick home decor that compliments them so well?

As a former military spouse, I was never able to paint or add wallpaper to our many homes. So when we settled in our current forever home I was itching to add color! 

The very first time I saw our foyer, I instantly knew Schumacher Hydrangea Drape was the perfect paper for the space. It was my dream paper. It was actually used on the set of Gone with the Wind!

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All the decor in the space was simply art & pieces I had already collected. I’m often asked “how did you know all of this would work together when you purchased it”….the answer is I didn’t. 

I never buy a piece because I feel it will work. I buy a piece because it speaks to me! I think we all have a personal aesthetic & if we buy what we love it tends to work out!

When I selected the paper for our laundry room I was hoping to create a cheery & unexpected space! When we were stationed in Europe I spent a lot of time in France & became a hopeless Francophile. So when I stumbled across Camont by Rifle Paper Company it was love at first sight. 

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The paper is full of happy details like lemons & bright colors. It was so fun to accessorize! I played off the lemons with a vintage lemon toleware chandelier! The rest do the decor were pieces collected while traveling in France!

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Your reel telling people to "buy the weird stuff" is true- many of the best items out there are the furthest outside the box. What is the weirdest piece of decor you've ever bought?

If you ask certain members of my family all the stuff I buy is weird! I really have to think about this one! 

I guess the strangest thing I’ve purchased was a very large portrait of a complete stranger! She was found at an estate sale in Atlanta Georgia. I call her "The Green Lady". 

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She is absolutely magnificent & regal. I make up little back stories about her identity. I am working very hard to determine her true identity & now know the artist was James Anthony Wills who painted three American presidents!


Your looks contain lots of blue and white. What was it about these two colors that made you decide to base your color scheme on them?

Well blue & white is always right! I’ve been drawn to the color combo since childhood. I grew up in the Deep South & we tend to use the color combination a lot. 

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I don’t believe I made a conscious decision to use the colors so often in my decor it just happened naturally. The other day I was asked about the colors in my home and realized each room is some shade of blue, green or peach!

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What are the one or two things that you always find yourself bidding on/looking for when shopping secondhand? 

Hmmm this is tough, I love art so I always have an eye out for new pieces! It’s always such a thrill to add a new piece to my collection! I also have a huge chair addiction, I simply cannot pass up a good French chair.

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What's your absolute favorite item ever purchased at an estate sale or online auction? 

That’s so hard, I absolutely adore the portrait of The Green Lady purchased at an estate sale in Atlanta. However, just recently, I went to an estate sale in Mobile Alabama & the home was absolutely magnificent! 

The decor was so bright & colorful, very Mario Buatta! I purchased a stunning chair from one of my favorite rooms & it matches my peach room perfectly. The home really haunts me. It was so beautiful I just knew it had been so cherished by its owner so I love having a tiny piece of it.


Any tips or advice for online auction or estate sale newbies? 

To simply stay true to yourself & your likes. Sometimes we can get caught up in the excitement of it all and bid on or purchase items we don’t truly love. 

Also, if you do truly love it don’t think just do!! You’ll be devastated if a treasure slips away! Your first gut reaction to an item will never let you down! 

I also like to carry a large canvas boat bag with my name embroidered on it to sales! It’s an easy way to carry items and to place your items all together on hold tables!

Emily’s AuctionNinja Picks:

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  1. French Empire Style Chandelier (BuyU International)

  2. Vintage Florentine Box with Mignon Opera Glasses in Case (ReHome Estate Sales)

  3. Beautiful Herend Hungary 23 Piece Tea Set (All American Tag Sales)

  4. Tassel Base Lamp with Gold Tone Flecked Shade (Fairlight Estate Sales)

  5. Fitz And Floyd Majolica Wildflowers Pitcher (Culper's)

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