Belle Maison

Franklin's French-Inspired Home And Gift Store

What started out for Carolyn Kalil many years ago as an eight-week adventure to study abroad in Strasbourg, France, with her high school French class developed into what would become her ultimate passion.“From the moment I got there, I fell in love with it all - the art, the architecture, the people. On the weekends we’d visit Paris and learn about French history,” says Carolyn. “From my first trip, it just felt like home.”

She adds, “I took a month off from work for my fortieth birthday and rented a house in Avignon, in the Provence region of France. My daughter Katie was about two-and-a-half at the time and I was a single mom. That time was so special and it created a special bond between us.” Carolyn notes this initial trip with Katie inspired her to travel with her daughter to many other countries over the years but adds, “France felt like home to us.”

Carolyn explains that her husband also shares a true love of France. “He proposed to me at the top of the Eiffel Tower! It was romantic – just perfect!”

Many years later, Katie spent a couple of months studying in Aix-en-Provence and felt the same way. As Katie was approaching college graduation, she and Carolyn discussed post-college plans. Says Carolyn, “Katie said, ‘I’ve always wanted to go into business with you.’ After a couple minutes we looked at each other and exclaimed, ‘A French store!’”

Their passion for all things French ultimately resulted in Carolyn and Katie Polenzani opening their French-inspired home and gift store, Belle Maison, in Franklin earlier this year at 443 Cool Springs Blvd. Shoppers will find a beautiful array of French-inspired furniture, décor, mirrors, tables, dining chairs, tableware, soaps, candles, antiques, and so much more. It’s 4,000 square feet of beautiful and unique home and gift items.

Carolyn and Katie travel regularly throughout the Southeast (and France) collecting French antiques for Belle Maison from private collectors. “Our kitchen table is 150 years old and made it through two World Wars. We wonder ‘Who sat at the table and what did they talk about?’ This is the part I’m totally in love with! That’s the richness of an antique you just can’t get with a new piece of furniture.” Carolyn adds that they also have a buyer in France and hope to have another one soon.

“My husband and I say our endgame is to purchase a big house in Provence and live there part of each year. For Katie, the store and (soon to launch) website offers her the opportunity to use her creativity, vision, and sense of design. It’s a dream come true for us!” Facebook and Instagram - @bellemaison-nashville

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