At work in her Houston home office, Ruth Gay jots notes on a client’s building plans. Occasionally she glances up, scanning her elegant sanctuary for inspiration. Some of the best finds in her salvage of European antiques and stone pieces for her business, Chateau Domingue, surround her. A barrel-vaulted ceiling, clad in 17th-century stone from a French vineyard, casts a butterscotch glow. Three pairs of 18th-century French doors open to the Texas sun. And a stone mantel where generations of French families have warmed themselves today warms Ruth’s creative spirit. “I look for grandness and simplicity,” she says of her buying trips to Provence, Tuscany, and Umbria. “I don’t buy anything glitzy or over the top.”
These are the words of a woman who admits there isn’t much she likes that’s less than a century old. As Europeans modernize their homes, Ruth gladly searches local flea markets to rescue items—everything from town fountains to simple linens and silver—for her stateside clients.