Grandmother of nine, energetic Jackie Howard takes us on a jaunt of her Smyrna town home filled with Tramp art, chandeliers, memories and objects from the turn of the century. A sunny overflowing of orange, bronze and citrine hues, toy poodles, and remarkable history from the family’s Lovable Brassiere Company.
“I would describe my house as a museum including a lot of found objects,” Howard said. “My interior evokes Primitive American, including Tramp art, a lot of ‘funk’ and color, and most things I’ve been collecting for over 50 years. I’ve taken doors off closets and found antique metal pieces purchased for my store and repurposed for my home.”
Tour Howard’s captivating off-beat commentary on her robust, sunlit wonderland.
Jaffe: You describe yourself as a motorcycle riding /beatnik/ innovator and fourth generation member of The Temple on Peachtree. What’s your mojo?
Howard: I was born at Emory Hospital and lived at the Briarcliff Hotel, across from the Plaza Theatre on Ponce de Leon. I grew up in Buckhead near the end of West Paces Ferry as the oldest of four siblings, the only girl with three younger brothers. [One of them is Atlanta consumer advocate Clark Howard].
I worked at Grandfather’s company Lovable, an international women’s undergarment/lingerie manufacturer headquartered here, where I quickly learned how to operate every machine in the factory. My official title was assistant in the sample department. By today’s standards, it was essentially the design department.
I designed my own bra (1966) with the original prototype now hanging in the powder room. We call it the first “Spanx.” Think of the ad slogan, “I dreamed I was a college freshman in my Lovable bra.” I also framed every Lovable employee Christmas party picture since 1938.
Almost 50 years ago on my kitchen table, I started Paces Papers by Jackie, which still operates today. Interestingly I designed the logo still used by The [William] Breman Jewish Home and the old logo of the [Atlanta] Jewish Community Center.
Jaffe: Why Smyrna?
Howard: Before I started looking, I made a list of everything I wanted in a house. The main things were natural light and big windows. Also, the neighborhood felt safe as a single woman.
Jaffe: Elaborate on your fondness for unusual lighting.
Howard: The art deco chandelier in my master bedroom was from [a now-defunct boutique] in Buckhead.
I found the classic crystal chandelier in my dining room at a flea market in Paris.
I commissioned the Czech crystal dark orange (my favorite color!) chandelier in Prague. My dream is to source Venetian glass for the master bathroom.
Jaffe: What are some of your eclectic collectibles?
Howard: Brown Decorating in downtown Atlanta was the place to buy furniture. I found this Flemish dresser. At that time, it was not in vogue, so I bought it. I loved its beautiful intricate inlay. This is a treasure that I will pass on to my children.
I have an Asian bar that a Lovable employee brought home from the war and sold to Frank Garson, Lovable’s founder. The exterior is carved in a deep relief and every part opens with secret compartments.
I have a collection of children’s chairs, one made out of roots I found 55 years ago in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. It was 150 years old then.
Another my parents bought as a door-to-door salesman’s sample in a miniature version. Then one from the waiting room of my family pediatrician, Dr. Joseph Yampolsky, who cared for three generations of my family.
Jaffe: Who are your favorite artists?
Howard: I don’t really focus on artists. I have an affinity for the “decorative,” but I do appreciate the arts. For my wedding, mother’s two friends Shirley Rohm Wender and Peggy Ellman created original paintings hanging in my home today. I grew up going to camp in Maine. There’s a portrait that my camp counselor drew of me at 15 in tempera hanging in the kitchen. I have an oil in pastel tones in the master bath by Phyllis Franco.
I designed and built my previous home as an ode to my summer camp lodge in Maine, also inspired by my first visit to Jackson Hole in the 1960s. I fell in love with the entire scene there. When I moved from my log house, I took the art nouveau doors, had them cut into the headboard for my master bedroom.
My office is filled with art created by my children and grandchildren.
Jaffe: How do you use your “open” Florida room?
Howard: It’s centered around a single bed-sized suspended swing so I could face directly outdoors and see my favorite tree and “to-die-for” patio. The table is papier-mâché from my shop that we had redone in rust. The glass lights are from a shop in Atlantic Station. Five original Russian drawings are of figures from various areas like Ukraine. I got them in Leningrad. The pair of taxidermied deer heads, well that’s another story from my log cabin days.
Jaffe: Relate your fascination with Tramp art.
Howard: It was generally made from after the Civil War through the Depression by itinerant men traveling the country in exchange for food and a place to sleep.
Jaffe: Do you have any Judaica?
Howard: My grandmother’s sterling silver menorah. I was told by maternal grandmother Gussie Garson that it was a gift from our relatives in Mexico. I got it because I promised that I would never have a Christmas tree. I’ve honored that promise even though I grew up having one every year.
Sentimentally from all that is collected here, my grandchildren are most keen on the tiny fragile antique birdcage from Germany.
Jaffe: Are you done collecting?
Howard: What I’m doing now is what’s next: jewelry. I discovered eBay!
- Marcia Caller Jaffe
- Chai Style
- Jackie Howard
- Tramp art
- Lovable Brassiere Company
- The Temple
- Briarcliff Hotel
- Emory Hospital
- Plaza Theatre
- clark howard
- Paces Papers by Jackie
- Breman Jewish Heritage Museum
- Atlanta Jewish Community Center
- Brown Decorating
- Dr. Joseph Yampolsky
- Shirley Rohm
- Wender and Peggy Ellman
- Phyllis Franco
- Atlantic Station
- Gussie Garson