Designer Debbie Jones of French Laundry Home combines her affinity for quality and comfort with exquisite design.
By Ande Fanning
Photography by Kamin Williams
Debbie Jones has an appreciation for the finer things in life—things like horseback riding, family time, and flea markets. On any given Saturday, she could be at the soccer field with her daughter, getting together with friends, or cleaning out the stable, but chances are that at some point between dusk and dawn, she will be dreaming up and designing something wonderful for her line of fabrics and furnishings dubbed French Laundry Home, all made in the Southern region of the USA.
Found at Horchow, Neiman Marcus, and other respected retailers around the country, the luxurious and eclectic line of vintage-inspired pillows, bedding, sofas, table linens, and more is earning a reputation for being one of the best on the market. Toiles, tweeds, ticking, and matelassé all have a place in Debbie’s collection, which relies on her knack for creative compositions for its artful impact.
“My mom has a great sense of style,” says the North Carolina native. “She decorated on a budget out of necessity, and even though our furniture didn’t match, the house always looked amazing. Her philosophy: Make do with what you have, and mix and match to make it work. And now that’s how I dress and how I put the bedding together for French Laundry.”
Debbie’s signature move is to play with a juxtaposition of prints. She says, “I love to do something different, quirky, and fun, like putting a leopard pillow on a toile bed.” Buyers and trend watchers love it, too.
At the heart of this burgeoning business are two things Debbie values greatly: hard work and craftsmanship. She says, “When I moved to North Carolina from Atlanta and started working for a furniture factory, I didn’t realize how many furniture and textile workers were displaced. For some families, four generations were out of a job, and we were losing a lot of talent. It became important to me to see people go back to work.”
Debbie developed the idea for a fabric line after coming across a French “feed sack” during a flea-marketing adventure and decided to add cotton to an all-linen look to make the yardage more durable and usable. She was determined that her goods would be made in America, and she sought out a mill in her native North Carolina to accomplish the task.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised that people in the U.S. appreciate where things are made and that they want to buy American,” says Debbie, who has since brought local seamstresses and other employees into the fold as the product line and production have increased. Still, she remains focused on basic principles. “My mom and dad have always been so supportive, and they’re a big part of the day-to-day happenings with French Laundry,” says Debbie. “I learned my work ethic from my parents; you never ask anyone to do anything for you that you wouldn’t do yourself. And value people—that’s what I try to do. I’m a firm believer, the good stuff you do comes back to you.”