Meet Nola Burt: The sparkling, talented, stylish, artistic, slightly irreverent and entirely fictional great great grand-daughter of the original owners of Burt Farm, this year’s Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Show House!
Nola is our muse: an artist and writer and figment of our imagination with a storied past, who happens to live in the guest house that we are designing for the Cashiers Show House this year. As her fictional character has developed over time, along with our interior design, Nola has slowly come to life (in our minds at least). She feels like a quirky old friend with an admittedly familiar past, and we are delighted to introduce her to you!
HH: Hey Nola! How did you get the name Nola?
Nola B: My mother was from New Orleans, and very close to her family there, as you will gather from my full name, Marie Noel Duchanel Burt. Marie Noel was a mouthful for my brothers so my family nick named me Nola and it stuck. (My mother disapproved of nick names but she could live with Nola!)
How are you connected to Burt Farm Cottage?
Nola B: Burt Farm belonged to my great great grand-parents and the current owners have been kind enough to let me rent Burt Farm Cottage. I’ve just gone through a rather traumatic separation (HH:which you may gather by reading the first chapter of Nola’s latest novel), and Burt Farm Cottage is my safe place that I will always call home. I have decided to stay at least for the summer to regain my strength and hopefully write the Great American Novel that has been brewing for years.
(Shhh, don’t tell … but in trying to learn more about our elusive and enigmatic muse, we have surreptitiously stolen the first page of Nola’s novel, as seen below! Do we think this may be ever so slightly autobiographical?)
Where do you live when you’re not at Burt Farm Cottage?
Nola B: I have been living in Paris for 20 years. I am, uh, was married to Jean-Paul de C. (I am legally bound from divulging his identity, not that I even want to give him the pleasure of uttering his full and ever so aristocratic name), and we lived in a sprawling and perfectly proper apartment on the avenue Foch in the 16th Arrondissement. Since our separation, I have moved into a fabulous little pied-a-terre in the 7th, that I just love. I imagine that artists and writers have inhabited this same small space, where I can sit for hours at a time watching how the light hits the Eiffel tower at different times of the day. My neighborhood feels like a little community and it feels like home.
But you’ve left the glamorous life of Paris for the Cashiers countryside. Don’t you miss it?
Nola B: Actually, I’m happy in both places. Burt Cottage has some of my favorite objects, books and artworks, including a collection of paintings and portraits from Paris, so I feel like I’m always surrounded by old friends. I have loads of friends and contacts in Cashiers and Atlanta, and there’s nothing like the gracious life of the South. Paris isn’t going anywhere, so I’ll return when I’m ready.
Burt Cottage is a little unexpected: It feels like a bit of Paris chic mixed in with contemporary USA. What would you call your style?
Nola B: I don’t think it’s a conscious style, it’s just who I am: Admittedly a slightly bohemian artist and collector, who loves to travel, appreciates art, antiques and well-designed furniture, lives life to its fullest and can comfortably knock back a good bourbon as a well as a fine French champagne! I’m as comfortable wearing Louboutins with torn jeans and a tee shirt as I am mixing a Louis XVI mirror with a crunchy French workbench, over a lucite stool, topped with a mounted turtle shell I found by the pond at Burt Farm!
What do you love best about Burt Cottage?
Nola B: I love it all because it’s all about the mix. I am crazy about the chairs that were designed by my friend Ron, at Square Feathers, and of course I couldn’t live without my vintage typewriter that came from my friend David, from Redefined Home in Atlanta. I love everything that I found at Huff Harrington Home (Ann and Meg: “thank you Nola!”), for their Frenchie vibe, and especially the art I found at Huff Harrington Fine Art. That Linda at Huff Harrington Fine Art is darling – I thought she was French when I first met her! (Ann and Meg: “We love her too! And she was French, in a previous life!”)
Of course, as an aspiring writer who always craves encouragement, I love the rejection letters I’ve framed from famous authors. They keep me going and make me smile every time I walk by them!
What makes you happiest?
Nola B: Art. It feeds my soul. And beauty. I see it everywhere. Friends. They’re my anchors, in every port. And let’s not forget a little Champagne … or Bourbon, when I’m at Burt Farm!
Your mother’s portrait is beautiful and she seems to be quite an influence. What advice did you receive from her?
Nola B: Never tell all!
PS We’ll have more from Nola in the next few weeks, as we prepare to unveil Nola’s guest house at Burt Farm, the Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles historical Show House in Cashiers. Stay tuned!