French antiques take center stage at a 40-year-old family business

by ELLEN URIBE / photography by HOLGER OBENAUS

Owned and operated by a single family, Le Chateau has been showcasing beautifully curated French antiques for the past 40 years. With an inventory sourced from auctions, historic hotels, chateaus, liquidation sales and antiques stores and markets, Le Chateau, which translates to The Palace, is the undisputed go-to for exquisite French pieces, authentic heirlooms and true treasures that can’t be found anywhere else in Atlanta.

The family business, which runs like a finely tuned watch, was founded by Iten Ibriham. Her husband, Magdi Abdullah, resides in Paris and is largely responsible for traveling the full breath of France searching for one-of-a-kind ‘must-haves.’

In Atlanta, their oldest son, Mohammed Abdullah, is an expert in French antiques and is also very interested in design. He and his mother serve as the faces of the business.

This family triumvirate is so entrenched in French antiques, it would be difficult to find anyone in the United States who could rival their knowledge or inventory. “This is truly a family business,” says Mohammed Abdullah. “I love that I get to work with my mom and dad every day.”

“We work with designers and the general public in equal measures,” notes Ibriham. “Designers love to come to the showroom and hand select treasures for their clients. We also love when the public comes in to enjoy a glass of champagne and browse for their own home décor. Recently, social media and our website have played a large role in us expanding to the public.”

It’s the ever-changing selection of timeless antiques and the inviting ambience of the showroom that keep the public and the trade coming back for more. The customer experience, as one might expect in a fine, French establishment such as Le Chateau, is sublime.

“Stepping into our new Atlanta showroom is like stepping through time and into another world,” notes Abdullah. “Immediately, you’re enveloped in a multisensory experience, from French music and wine to spectacular furnishings—armoires, sofas, tables, chairs, lamps, chandeliers and rare odds, ends and accents that date from the 16th century to the 1950s.”

For Abdullah, Le Chateau has always been a big focus of his life—he muses that he has been working since the day he was born—and he wouldn’t have it any other way. “I love this business because I get to be challenged every day,” he says. “It is so gratifying to be working in this field, seeing something different every day—one-of-a-kind pieces that no one has seen before. It’s exciting to discover something that can transport you to another time and place. Every piece has its own unique history. It’s a fascinating and totally absorbing business.”

Magdi Abdullah’s partnerships with French antiques dealers go way back—about four decades to be precise. “My parents have had a crazy passion for the arts, mostly French arts,” Mohammed Abdullah says. With their Eurpean connections in place, Ibriham, who was only 17 at the time, was able to build partnerships in the United States, conceiving of and eventually opening Le Chateau. Abdullah also says that his mother personally designs and selects the merchandise and has since the origins of Le Chateau.

“We have a 10,000-square-foot warehouse just a few buildings down from our showroom,” notes Ibriham. “Once the items are shipped from France, they are restored and then added to the showroom. The close proximity makes it easy for us to transfer newly finished pieces from our restoration warehouse to our showroom floor.” She adds that although the business certainly ebbs and flows, the bedroom furniture and, more specifically, the nightstands are always in high demand with clients. The showroom’s lighting fixtures are also widely popular.

“Whether you’re looking for that one perfect signature piece or wanting to furnish an entire room or house, we offer a complimentary design consultation for every customer,”Abdullah says.

In addition to the showroom, Ibriham says there are two additional warehouses, totaling another 50,000 square feet. “So, if a customer doesn’t find exactly what they’re looking for in our showroom or on our website, I always encourage them to just ask us,” she says. “Chances are we have what they need at one of our warehouses.”

Combining luxury and functionality is the ultimate goal for Le Chateau, and building off of a customer’s inspiration is how the process begins. “Anything can be anything,” Ibriham frequently says, meaning she can transform any piece into anything the customer wants, which is undoubtedly another reason that Le Chateau has stood the test of time for 40 years and counting. *

Ellen Uribe is an award-winning journalist and a communications expert. She is a sought-after speaker, participating as a moderator and panelist at numerous industry events, conferences and broadcast outlets. She has contributed to Vanity Fair, Palm Beach Life, The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Women’s Wear Daily and Time Magazine.

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