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To know Iten Ibrahim is to know a powerhouse seller. Egyptian by birth, she was raised in France, where, as the consummate entrepreneur, she sold candies to her classmates. In 1983 at age 17, she started Le Chateau European Interiors.

That entrepreneurial mentality has served her well. She, along with her son and co-owner Mohammed Abdullah, runs Le Chateau European Interiors, one of the country’s most prolific antique showrooms. Clients fly in to see wares they’ve sourced from France, Italy, Sweden and more. They sell everything from 18th-century French antiques to refurbished midcentury Swedish pieces out of the Upper Westside location. Here, the two discuss the business, their ties abroad and what motivates them.

How do you source your pieces?

MA: My French father has a natural eye for design and knows the local spots for the best auctions and markets for authentic antiques. He continues to be our primary source, living in France full-time. Your Upper Westside location isn’t the first you’ve had.

Can you tell us about your time in Florida?

II: I went to the University of Tampa for graduate school, selling everything I could. Another container, another container, while I was still in school! Then we got a bigger store, and we started to travel to antique markets and shows, including to Scott Antique Markets. One night in Tampa, there was a huge fire. Everything was gone. My husband wanted to go back to our country, but I decided to move to Atlanta. I bought a building in Macon and a house in Canton, and every day I drove 200 miles. I had nothing, but I said to myself, ‘You started one day, and you can start again.’ And I just kept selling. Now we have a 20,000-square-foot showroom, a 10,000-square-foot restoration house and two warehouses (one is 20,000 square feet, and the other is 30,000).

What makes the pieces at Le Chateau unique?

MA: Our quality control process. We source the highest quality items in person, and then each goes through a rigorous inspection process. Items in perfect original condition are unchanged, while items that need more love are sent to our in-house restoration team to be refinished or reupholstered. We can bring a piece back to life: That’s not just furniture but art. We also customize pieces, offering a complimentary design consultation and plan. Our expert restoration team then gets to work. We even have our own line of paints with Benjamin Moore, so our customers can select their exact finish color. We can change the legs, add a marble top, rebuild doors and so on. We recently launched a new line of textiles, too, to provide unique upholstery options for our customers.

Are there any trending periods or antique styles?

MA: The Louis XVI vintage look is always trending. It’s classic and simple with hints of detailing; it’s elegant, not overbearing, and people love that timeless design. Trending colors are the classic golds and French blues. People like pieces that pop while remaining subtle.

What drives you?

II: I love to have beautiful things no one else has. When you are raised with beauty and quality like I was, it’s not how much you pay for it. I believe in real stuff! I don’t like fake furniture or jewelry, and I don’t like fake people. I’d rather have nothing until I get the one good thing. I also love solving problems. I’m an immigrant in America with a beautiful American family.


PHOTO: Joann Vitelli

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