High on a hill in Wildwood sits the home of Three French Hens owner Jeanie Hood, and her husband, Alan Schweiss. The house overlooks a large, spring-fed pond that is home to a pair of white swans and stocked with trout. “We go down there and fly fish,” Hood says, of the pond.
Gazing out a large, picture window, she describes the grounds that surround her home. “We have three fire pits, a fireplace, two gazebos and 25 gardens.” Hood tends to the grounds herself – a labor of love.
There’s a lot of love in Hood’s home and that, she says, is how it should be.
“I think this is the most beautiful room in the house,” she says as we enter the dining room. “I love beautiful things. I grew up very poor. We didn’t even have inside bathrooms. So when I was blessed to have this home I filled it with beautiful things.”
She describes her style as “eclectic – totally eclectic.”
“I’m not a big wallpaper person but I saw this wallpaper and it looks like it has little French birds on it. I fell in love with the color of the wallpaper and decided to do this room. That set the tone,” she said. To complement the birds, she added a “French grandfather clock from probably late 1700s, early 1800s” and a matador print from Spain along with a metal sign from England. “It’s just a bunch of stuff I saw that I love.”
Over the table hangs a rustic light fixture – a heavy beam wound with ropes from which dangle Edison bulbs. It is the room’s latest addition.
“We’ve been in this home 18 years,” Hood explains. “The chandelier that’s been over this table for 18 years was bought at Home Depot for a hundred bucks. It wasn’t the right chandelier but I would not put the one I loved into this room until I found it. I saw this light at market last year. I love it!”
She says a common question she asks her Three French Hens customers is “Do you love it?”
“You have to love it,” Hood says. “Your home is your sanctuary. This is where I fall in love. When I walk past these rooms, I fall in love because look at how beautiful they are.”
She glances around her dining room where we are sitting on stylish chairs upholstered in leather and leopard. “I love leopard,” she says, holding out her leg to show off her leopard print boot.
She’s also quite fond of antiques.
“I can feel energy from them. They have life to them, history. I think that’s why this home feels so warm and welcoming,” she says.
Good furniture, she says, will never be thrown away. “I’ve always bought good furniture even when I could only afford one chair.”
“Step outside your home and open the door and act like you’re walking into your neighbor’s home,”JEANIE HOOD
Raised in southeast Missouri, Hood moved to St. Louis when she was “10 or 12.” She opened Three French Hens in 2003 out of frustration. She says when she built her house and went to furnish it, she “didn’t like what St. Louis had.” The house stood empty for two years – “I had a bed and a kitchen table.”
About six to eight times per year, she goes to furniture and decor markets to select housewares and accessories for Three French Hens. When those items arrive in Wildwood, she styles the store.
“We add furniture, accessories, paintings, lamps – so customers can see the possibilities. Is it necessarily someone’s style?” she asks. “No. But you tweak it.”
That same philosophy permeates the work she does with her design clients.
“Step outside your home and open the door and act like you’re walking into your neighbor’s home,” she advises. “When you do, you’ll see things you love and things that can change.”
But she cautions, “Don’t do it all at once; remodeling a whole home can become overwhelming. Pick one room and start there. Get that completed and move to the next room as your budget allows. And, create your space with things you love.”
Hood, who years ago was diagnosed with breast cancer, healed herself naturally. Beating breast cancer gave her a heightened sense of gratitude for the people and opportunities in her life. This year, she made her 23-year-old granddaughter, Rae Sutton, the chief operating officer of her company. Hood says Rae and her sister, Keegan, are her inspiration for continuing to live a long and healthy life.
She believes people can do anything they set their sights on doing.
“When people believe that things can’t happen in life that’s their limitation,” she says, “because when I look at this [she spreads her arms wide] – there are no limits.
“I’m a perfect example. Look at what you can have if you just believe.
I always believed that I would own my own business. I always knew that! I own two. [Schweiss runs the couple’s commercial roofing enterprise.]
I always knew that I would have a beautiful home, not as beautiful as this, but I knew I would have a beautiful home. And I have a wonderful, incredible life!” A life she loves.