Imagine a 1940’s bungalow. Light streams into the window, past a trio of repurposed theatre seats, and pools onto original hardwoods. Carefully selected vintage art adorns the white walls. There are antique wedding photos, a fascinator, a pair of worn ivory church gloves: each with a story. In the midst of the pretty, there is a collection of the most stunning vintage and designer wedding gowns–ivory, blush, golden–each awaiting its perfect bride. This is what Gabi Lee has created… The Sentimentalist.
Name and age: Gabi Lee, 27
Current neighborhood: I live in Grant Park and our shop, The Sentimentalist, is in West Midtown.
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
What brought you to (or kept you in, or brought you back to) Atlanta?
Born and raised! I did live in Portland, OR for a bit before last year, but the plan was always to come back to Atlanta. It’s where my heart is and where my family is.
How do you pay the bills? What is your “slash”? (i.e. teacher/ amateur cupcake baker)
I am so lucky to be working full time on my little dress shop of dreams.
What do you create?
My job, and passion, at The Sentimentalist is to create a thoughtful collection, an inspired environment and a happy experience.
What do you collect?
Professionally, dresses. Personally, a lot! Vintage alarm clocks, jadeite everything, stationary, costume jewelry, and antique portraits. Oh, and I always have a ridiculous stash of sunglasses and lipsticks around.
Last memorable home-cooked meal:
Well…last week, my mom made spaghetti, which is always memorable because I seriously love spaghetti.
An only in Atlanta moment:
When I have out of town friends or designers visiting Atlanta, my favorite afternoon activity is to take them to Ebenezer Baptist Church and the tomb of MLK, then directly to Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium for sangria. It’s the kind of contrast you can only get in Atlanta.
A favorite local business:
This could be a long list, but… I love everything at Star Provisions. Young Blood Boutique is my go-to for gifts, and I’m a frequent Highland Row Antiques shopper. And The Optimist is definitely my favorite dinner spot.
Favorite way or place to unwind:
Bloody Marys at Octane with friends, coffee while walking around Oakland Cemetery, antiquing with Rhi, and wine on the front porch with my parents. I’m aware that most of these involve beverages.
Longest plane ride:
Atlanta to Singapore for sure. I briefly lived and taught ballet in Singapore in 2008 and those flights were brutal.
What occupation did you want to do as a child?
I danced my whole childhood and was always a performer, so…dancer, singer, or actress. Now I’m less interested in being on stage, and more interested in running the show.
What is your favorite artifact, heirloom, or art piece in your home?
I’m incredibly sentimental (duh), so several of the pieces we have at The Sentimentalist are my grandmother’s things. I’m partial to the 60’s green brocade armchair in our office and her cuckoo clock that hangs in the main room of the shop. One of our designers, and my dear friend, Elizabeth Dye, painted it gold and neon pink during our opening weekend.
What song do you love most (or what’s on your playlist now)?
The last few years, I’ve been on a serious chick-pop kick. I’m currently obsessed with Lana Del Rey and Robyn. Otherwise, I’m a devoted 88.5 listener.
Sweet or savory (or your favorite brunch menu item)?
Savory- definitely! And brunch is probably one of my most favorite things in the whole world. I’m an old-school breakfast girl- give me 2 eggs over-easy, bacon, and cheese grits. The grits are very important.
A lesson you’ve learned the hard way:
Oh, all of them. I’m stubborn and often fearless, so I tend to learn most lessons the hard way.