What's New With Annie Brahler?!

There are houses that are iconic in the design world. The home of Annie Brahler in Jacksonville, Illinois is one such house.  The William Howard Thompson house, a spectacular Beaux Arts home built in 1861, was converted in 1901 from Italianate Victorian and is characterized by its pediment front door, columns, arched windows and richness of detail. With a range of Greco-Roman influences, the Beaux Arts classic style of architecture was taught at L'Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and was popular in the United States from 1890-1920. The interior of the six bedroom home features parquet, plasterwork and archways.

As beautiful and memorable as the exterior of the home is, it is the interior which has captured the fancy of design aficionados. Despite a palette of white, gold and quiet pastels, Annie has created a home that is tailored to include family life. She decorates from the heart, recalling the influence of her Dutch parents and the importance of living authentically, enjoying and sharing life. Annie's design aesthetic derives from her belief that every day life should be celebrated in a style that embraces living- surround yourself with things you love and enjoy them, today! Annie's home is her greatest testament to the art of living- nothing is too precious not to be used and things do not need a pedigree to be valued.

 Annie's sons have been an active part of her antique import business and her daughter shares Annie's passion for French design. Annie's design philosophy allows for comfort and enjoyment for the whole family- slipcovers and bare floors are a must.

Annie believes in design reflecting personality rather than a stilted version of following the crowd. Annie embraces the natural over the fake and always look for opportunities to bring nature indoors.  She believes a room should evolve over time and appreciates the mix of old and modern and high and low. Especially, Annie believes in being true to what moves you and to that which has authenticity in your life.


1.  Are you a trained interior designer? If not, how did you develop your fabulous design aesthetic?
I am not a classically trained designer, I was raised by a father who didn't exactly color in between the lines and a mother who encouraged freedom of thought. My parents are Dutch immigrants and I inherited their general lifestyle aesthetic; things we own are meant to be used and enjoyed, not saved for a moment in life that may never come to pass.  I think my aesthetic is something of a dynamic.  Even when I hang a piece of art or create a vignette, I am enjoying and want my clients to enjoy it, as something that is happening now, but could and should change someday. I want my clients to discover what makes them happy, what makes their spaces function in a way that brings them joy. I think that is also why I love authentic materials, I want the people I care about to have a real experience in a space and interact with things that are not pretending do be something they are not. 

2.  What gave you the idea to begin Euro Trash and how did  you find the courage to take the plunge?
Because I travel to Holland frequently with family and another business there, I was always inspired by the bits I would find and would come back on the plane with all sorts of things jammed into garbage bags and carried on the plane.  I had some friends who admired what I was doing in my own home and asked for my help in finding things for them.  I decided to import a 20 foot shipping container with things I found over about 5 days.  I had a sad little binder of photographs of the treasures on board and started cold calling designers and interiors shops.  I was met with rejection, as you might imagine, more often than not, but I sold everything in that container before in hit U.S. soil.  I don't think I ever made the decision to start my company. I think it was something I was compelled to do.

3.  You epitomize a lifestyle a lot of people dream of- is it still possible to break into the antique import business?
 Owning any business is incredibly hard work, and even though my job involves finding and creating beautiful things, the work is the direct opposite of glamorous. I am not an expert in the antique world, and have no desire to be. I don't personally acknowledge many things for their provenance, but instead I choose to appreciate something for whatever moves me about it at the moment. I adore things I find in alleys and dumpsters just as much as pieces I have purchased from respected, educated antiquities dealers. Yes, of course it is still possible to break into the antique import business. The world is just getting older, there are always going to be treasures from the past. Always.

4.  I recall reading years ago that the European antique market was drying up- do you find this to be true?
 Dealers love to say those things in order to create some sense of urgency with buyers and I have read the same stories, but while it may be true that the American market is slow because of the economy, the antiques and wonderful old bits that tell a story will always be there waiting. 

5.  What are some your personal favorite finds?

Some of my favorite finds are every single one of the hundreds of little white French novels I collect, I have a towering bookcase filled with them,  a pair of gilt barrel chairs I placed in a very special clients home, a floral carved marble fireplace surround that I have yet to place because it is so very special, and  an oval chandelier I found for a treasured client and friend in Louisiana.

6.  Are you able to let go of the pieces you find uniquely special or do you always find a place for them in your home?

 I love to share my passion and the only thing better than the feeling I get when I find something that I find inspiring or beautiful is seeing that in the face of someone else that sees it, too. That makes it easy to let go.

7.   Your home in Jacksonville, Illinois is iconic in the design world. Even though your home is astoundingly beautiful, do you ever (like so many designers) get the itch to redecorate?

I redo things all of the time! I think a home is an ever evolving dynamic thing and it needs to grow and change just like a person. I have kept the same general aesthetic and philosophy present in my home, but change things up all the time.

8.  Are there any designers whose work you especially admire?
Mia Jannsens is my idol. She is a Belgian designer and has a talent that leaves me breathless.

9.  Even disregarding pedigree, imported antiques can be quite pricey. Any suggestions for incorporating antiques on a lesser budget?

 You can always find things for next to nothing at garage sales, the Good Will and other resale shops. Things just have to be beautiful to you, no one elses opinion of them matters at all.

10. You use chandeliers everywhere in your home with the idea that as they are a constant, they become almost a backdrop. You have managed this beautifully, but sometimes it is difficult to know where to draw the line, particularly in a small house. Any advice on this?

A Dutch chandelier

 If you really  love something, let it be a part of your persona. Let the world see you.  You'll know if you've over exposed your passion and when to pull back, because it matters only what you think, no one else.

11.  What advice would you give a homeowner on a budget living in a house without any architectural character? I think when you attempt to replicate that element you run the risk of being kitschy.

 I prefer to let a space be a part of the design.  If the space is modern and sparse in the way of  architectural elements, then use just a couple show stopper pieces to serve as focal points and let the simplicity of the space be a backdrop.

12.  When can we expect to see an Annie Brahler book on design?

Photographer Bjorn Wallander and I have just about finished shooting my first book and will begin editing this summer.

13.   You have managed to achieve a family, a stunning home and a successful business- what is your secret?

Be authentic in everything you do, don't worry about what anyone thinks. Find your passion and go for it.

14.  Annie, you are still young, gorgeous and amazingly successful!  Is there anything left you would like to achieve?  Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

 In ten years I hope to be doing the exact same thing I am doing now,  but with more time for some vacations!


A mix of Belgian and French antiques hold court under a Belgian crystal chandelier, all imports from Annie's business, Euro Trash.

The chandelier is spectacular!

The parlor's French furnishings, chandelier and the large empty picture frame propped against the mirror are all classic Annie.

 Antique fauteuils in the library

Annie loves the sparkle of chandeliers to be part of the dining experience and hangs them quite low- only 28 inches from the tabletop. Annie also loves mirrors for their visual trickery of doubling a space.

The slipcovered chairs are Rachel Ashwell and the table is 19 c Dutch.

A gorgeously styled cabinet

Annie's love of chandeliers continues in the kitchen with a bronze chandelier from Holland. The island made from a demilune chest, cabinets and a marble top illustrates the Euro Trash artistry of combining antique and vintage pieces.

The 18th and 19th c delft fireplace surround was a surprise gift from Annie's husband during a renovation of their kitchen and is a special reminder of her children at that age.

Beautiful delft

Marvelous pendant lights in the breakfast room

Annie joined together two pieces to make the master bedroom headboard.

Annie's daughter, Isabel decorated her own room displaying her love of French design.

Son Daniel's room reflects his interest in British history.

   Chocolate painted walls and a 1980s crystal chandelier add modern glamor to the master bath.

Annie's dressing area is the work of her carpenter who pieced together an island from mismatched cabinets and stretched an armoire for shoe storage. The chandelier is Belle Epoque.

 Annie recently opened her closet up to a major purge by the ladies of Resale Royalty that can be viewed on the Style Network here and here.


 The dining room with gorgeous, tasseled "ballgown" slipcovered fauteuils. Annie painted the Drexel claw-foot table a shade slightly askew of the slipcovers to avoid a "matchy" appearance.

An archway rimmed in tooled leather and featuring carved Indian heads divides the living room and sitting room.

An intimate dining nook off the kitchen

Linen and silk mingle happily on a carved and gilded sofa.

One of Annie's beloved dogs

Vintage books and an old sugar bowl repurposed as a vase

Isabel's bedroom with a bed that once belonged to Princess Lillian of Belgium.

A silk-swathed vanity

The master bath features a slipper tub

Vintage silver

Eleven previous photos
Photographer Miki Duisterhof

Annie oversaw the landscaping of the gardens herself.

Outdoor stying

The chandelier theme continues outdoors


Annie's company, Euro Trash (Annie's tongue in cheek response to pedigree snobs) takes her throughout France, Belgium and the Netherlands where her husband, Richard owns a business and family reside as well. Over the past 15 years, Euro Trash has evolved from an import business supplying vintage and antique finds to building houses and commercial properties, performing editorial, event and personal styling to offering customized private European buying trips.

 Her team includes lead carpenter Phil Black who heads a team of carpenters and installers, seamstress Pat King and designer Lizzie Carney. Salvaged pieces of furniture are married into useful and beautiful custom pieces while preserving the original patina and look of a piece. Along with a shipping warehouse on the Dutch border of Belgium, Annie and her team work out of an Illinois warehouse offering all the elements of concept development and design production in one location. Annie's fans include Restoration Hardware which have reproduced many of her original finds.

Annie and lead carpenter Phil Black

 Euro Trash designer Lizzie Carney

The Euro Trash team at the Kempton Racecourse flea market in Surrey.

A transformed garage workbench given new life as a kitchen island. 


The picture gallery in the lobby of York House, a Manhattan historic renovation with fixtures, furniture and accents by Euro Trash.

The York House library bar

The Drawing Room at York House

A private residence at York house designed by Annie

The York House penthouse apartment
All photos of York House via
Photographer Bjorn Wallander


 Materials salvaged from a civil war armory serve to create a small stone cottage in Mississippi evoking childhood memories for a favorite client.




Stables designed, built and styled by Annie


Bedroom design

All House Beautiful images here
Photos by Bjorn Wallander here


 I make every effort to credit original sources and link wherever possible. I would be grateful if you can provide information on any unnamed source.  If you are the owner of any uncredited images, no deliberate infringement of copyright is intended. I respect all intellectual property and will remove or modify any image or post at the owner's request.

Thanks for visiting A House Romance!