By Julia Reed
Both Keith and I spent our childhoods in the Mississippi Delta, that rich alluvial floodplain formed by the Yazoo and Mississippi Rivers. The economy was based in the land and in the river, and the design ethos, at least among our families and their friends, was strong: dark pine floors covered in faded Oriental rugs, lots of English furniture, books everywhere, always a well-appointed bar. In those days, our town was full of craftsmen, and my mother availed herself of pretty much all of them. The talented metal worker Puddin Moore (who still makes many of our wares) made coffee tables and consoles. We had carpenters and decorative painters and potters just down the road, (not to mention musicians and artists and chefs). We were known for our parties.
Growing up, Keith and I were separated by an age gap that matters a lot when you are very young and not at all when you are grown. At a mutual friend’s legendary family Christmas Eve party, I was allowed to drink champagne with the grown folks downstairs while Keith was upstairs with the punch and cookies. I grew up and moved to Washington and then New York, and we barely saw each other until she and her husband, Jon Meacham came to New York. She became the sister I never had. I like to think I helped guide her through the decoration of a few apartments, and taught her the entertaining secrets my mother instilled in me. But at one point, the student becomes teacher, and now there isn’t a decision either of us makes without bouncing it off the other — menus, fabric choices, vacation ideas, and of course the more difficult decisions in life too.
By Keith Smythe Meacham
Reed Smythe & Company is not just a shop; it is an extension of the cherished friendship between Julia and me. Just as we both relished the laughter and mayhem in the hours of preparation for a party more than we enjoyed the dinner itself, we have loved the doing of Reed Smythe & Company most of all. Finding the perfect shade of green glass. Searching for a native Choctaw basket weaver. Designing nature-inspired pieces to add character to the table. We’ve loved it all. For what real meaning do beautiful things have if they are not an expression of home, of love for friends and family, a gracious welcome for those who walk through our doors?
Even in her absence, Julia is with me in all that I do. I hope that the Reed Smythe site will continue to be a place where you return again and again to find beautiful things for your own house and garden, to help give your space the layers and textures that imbue a home with story and meaning. Most of all, I hope the pieces you find here will always be used in service to the idea of home as an expression of love.