Setting A Thanksgiving Table

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Dear Diva Readers,

This time of year makes me think of warm sweaters, roaring fires in the hearth, mulled wine and dinners with all the trimmings shared with family and friends. With Thanksgiving only hours away, I want to share my tips on how to get a festive feel when it comes to setting your Thanksgiving table, and, of course, give you some ideas on how to incorporate antiques!

Setting a Thanksgiving Table, How to decorate a table, Festive Holiday decorating tips, Unique Centerpieces

When setting the table I always start with the tablecloth.  For my own dining table, which is an oval shape, I cheat and use simple king size bed sheets in a luxe high thread count silky finished Egyptian cotton as I love the way a large tablecloth drapes and falls nearly all the way to the ground around the table. The holidays however are a good time to add in rich colors and patterns.  Paisley is always a good idea.

Next comes the centerpiece and nothing says autumn like natural materials. Begin with a unique container—maybe an antique silver trophy cup or a beautiful vintage champagne bucket. You can never go wrong with a clustering of gourds.  Fill it with roses – all in one color –  and mix in pheasant feathers or bits of evergreen. Combining these natural textures will certainly set the scene for a festive meal.

Of course no table is complete without candles—lots of them! Scatter a mixture of votives around the table and utilize the silver or brass taper holders for the center of the table. In my dining room I have two floor-standing candelabras on either side of the dining room that add a grand yet intimate feel. Floor-standing candelabras also allow you the luxury of candlelight even if you’re running short on table space!

Setting a Thanksgiving Table, How to decorate a table, Festive Holiday decorating tips, Unique Centerpieces

Speaking of table space, I love to lay the table with antique china and serving pieces. Nothing says “holiday” like using fine tableware. And don’t worry if you don’t have a complete set of china or even flatware for that matter. Mix and match patterns—just make sure the colors coordinate. I may use one pattern of silverware for the salad forks and pair them with knives and dinner forks from a different set. Trust your eye and don’t be afraid to get creative!

By taking cues from formal tables of the past and mixing in pieces that reflect your tastes, you’ll be creating a highly personal atmosphere for you and your guests to enjoy. Remember, the holidays come but once a year so why not have fun and step outside your usual comfort zone. Be bold and have fun – and most importantly, make sure to invite friends and family around for the holidays.

Setting a Thanksgiving Table, How to decorate a table, Festive Holiday decorating tips, Unique Centerpieces, Antiques Diva Home in Berlin

From my house to yours Happy Holidays,

The Antiques Diva® 

Customizing Antique Fireplaces

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Dear Diva Readers,

A
rchitectural salvage is one of the most sought after items on our clients’ lists as of late. People are transforming antique zinc window frames into mirrors, taking gorgeously carved doors and creating headboards, and using decorative architectural fragments and making them into lamps. While all these ideas are wonderful (and put antiques to good use), some architectural salvage pieces are being used for their original purposes.We recently helped a client source antique European mantels and fireplaces for their new home in the USA. And you may not know it, but our favorite vendors have the ability to take a centuries old fireplace and customize it to fit into a brand new home, thus giving a new space old world charm!

Chimney S819

While visiting one of our sources in the Belgian countryside, our clients were struck with the vast array of fireplace styles he offered. The lovely antique dealer had laid out a beautifully simple spread of sandwiches and wine in his garden for us when we first arrived. While sitting in the sunshine, our clients were able to discuss with the vendor what type of pieces they were looking for, and they even came prepared with photos of their new home along with measurements. Upon finishing our delicious meal, we entered the nearby warehouse which was filled with gorgeous architectural salvage!

After perusing several buildings of fireplace mantels, the clients eventually came back to one in the first row we’d looked at. Isn’t that always how it is? There was only one problem with this fireplace…it was too big for their space! But the vendor took out a sketch pad and assured us that it is common for him to customize mantels to fit into new construction. Relieved, we began the customization plans right there in the warehouse. See below the sketches of the original state of the mantel piece and the adjusted drawing.

Present State

Original State of Mantel

Adapted

Adjusted State of Mantel

Once the clients were back in the USA, they were able to work with their stone mason to determine exact measurements and requested that the antique dealer in Belgium source additional stone for the hearth floor surrounding the fireplace as well as for the back of the fireplace.

Comparison

After modifying sketches and measurements, the fireplace is ready to go! The lesson here is that when you’re working with the right people—skilled artisans and knowledgable antique dealers— dreams really CAN become a reality. Many of our sources have excellent workshops on sight where they are able to restore, modify or adjust pieces of all kinds. Just because you spot something that isn’t exactly how you’d like it doesn’t mean that it can’t be transformed into the perfect piece for you!

The Antiques Diva®

Swedish Mid-Century Furniture

Swedish Mid-Century Furniture

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Dear Diva Readers,

One of our most popular tour countries  — and one of my personal favorites to shop— Sweden offers an excellent variety of quality antiques. Of course, when most of us think of Swedish antiques, we picture Gustavian chippy furniture and Mora Grandfather clocks, all with beautifully worn white or pale blue patina. And while these are lovely classic antiques, there is also a huge modern mid-century movement in Sweden. If you’re a modernista, Sweden may be just the place for you to start sourcing abroad!

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If you look at companies like IKEA or France & Son Furniture, you can see that mid-century Danish and Swedish designs are enjoying a renaissance and have been for the past several years. And I’ve got to tell you – I track the trends in antiques – I don’t see this trend changing any time soon. The design language of popular Swedish designers of the 20th century is still so relevant in the interior design world. Look at the pieces designed by Hans Wegner— several of his designs have been reinterpreted and reproduced for the masses. But wouldn’t it be wonderful to own an original piece by this renowned designer?

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Swedish Antiques, Mid-Century Design, Trends in Antiques, Sleek mid-century chairs, Swedish Design, The Antiques Diva, Modernista,

Swedish Antiques, Mid-Century Design, Trends in Antiques, Sleek mid-century chairs, Swedish Design, The Antiques Diva, Modernista,

Even if you don’t have the budget, however, for collector pieces, there are other lesser-known Swedish designers of the mid-twentieth century who produced a similar aesthetic. Alvar Aalto, Finn Juhl and Poul Kjaerholm are a few talented names to look for when sourcing Swedish mid-century. From sleek chairs to tables, you can incorporate these pieces into a modern or traditional space. And don’t forget designers such as Verner Panton Dana who experimented with plastic chairs, all made from one piece of plastic. Quite chic and forward for the time, and oh so hot right now!

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There are vendors in Denmark and Sweden who deal in this style and time period. The good news is that it’s going to be more affordable to source these pieces in Sweden than in America, and our Swedish Divo Guide Daniel Larsson knows exactly where to go to find gorgeous mid-century pieces.

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If you’d like more information on taking an Antiques Diva Buying Tour in Sweden or any of our 8 tour countries—France, Italy, England, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands or Sweden— email us at [email protected]. We’d love to help you find the antiques of your dreams!

The Antiques Diva®

Off Season Provence Sale

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Dear Diva Readers,

Antiques Diva Provence Off Season Sale, Antiquing in Provence, Sourcing Antiques in Southern France, Buying Tours in Provence, Inspiration Tours in Provence, The Antiques Diva

The best time to get a bargain when buying antiques is to go shopping when the competition is low.  The less people buying, the more motivated the vendors are to sale!   Between November 17, 2014 and February 28, 2015 you can save on a multi-day Antiques Diva® Buying Tour in Provence.  Book a 2 Day Provence tour and receive an additional half day free.  Better yet book a 3 Day Provence Tour during this period and we’ll give you an entire free full day extra making it 4 Days of Antiquing – Diva Style! Mention Off Season Sale when inquiring [email protected].

Bonne Shopping!

Toma Clark Haines

Original or Repurposed Antiques?

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Dear Diva Readers,

Part of why I enjoy leading antique buying tours is I love to tell a good story. And when it comes to antiques there is always a story to tell… about the history of the piece, how it was used and why. My guides and I get to share our passion and knowledge with our clients and we believe that educating clients about their purchases is important.

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As Europe’s largest Antiques Sourcing Company we work with a large range of clients with a variety of knowledge levels. When taking a client on tour our objective is to first find out what they’re looking for – if they want period pieces or simply a certain style. Once on tour, educating our clients on all parts of the buying abroad process is part of our job. We try to give tips so the clients know the difference between a “period piece” or a piece that’s just in the style of a certain period.

Sourcing antiques in Europe, Repurposing Antiques, The Antiques Diva, Tijdloos Antiques, French country farmhouse table

A big movement as of late is repurposing antiques and this can be done any number of ways. You might repurpose a vase so it’s made into a lamp, or, on a bigger scale, imagine a French country farmhouse table custom-made to size using antique wood. It could be 18th C wooden flooring repurposed into a table. (see a gorgeous example here where you can order wooden planks made into a table). While the materials are still antiques, these pieces wouldn’t have the same inherent value as an original 18th C farm table – that said they are still gorgeous and still have value. Just a different value than the one made 200 years ago!

Sourcing antiques in Europe, Repurposing Antiques, The Antiques Diva, Tijdloos Antiques, French country farmhouse table

I love antiques and vintage pieces of all kinds, whether a pure period piece or a repurposed piece – I’m all about equal opportunity antiquing! But the key thing for my clients is that they UNDERSTAND what they are buying and that it’s the right price for the piece they’re buying. Obviously a repurposed piece costs less than an original piece, but if the price is right on a repurposed piece, then my recommendation is go for it!

Sourcing antiques in Europe, Repurposing Antiques, The Antiques Diva, Tijdloos Antiques, French country farmhouse table

Knowing the difference between original and repurposed antiques comes down to knowledge and trust. That’s why we build lasting relationships with vendors and dealers whom we know and trust – one of my favorite vendors for buying antique farm house tables in Belgium is Roderique and Evy at Tijdloos Antiques. They have a gorgeous inventory but also really spend time with clients to educate them on what they’re buying. If a client is looking to purchase original pieces, we know exactly who to take them to. On the other hand, if they’re wanting to source pieces made from antique materials but are perhaps better price points, we also know the perfect dealers for those repurposed pieces.

The important thing to remember as you train your eye to differentiate between original and repurposed antiques is that it all comes down to trust. If you can learn from someone, be they a dealer, a restorer, or one of our Antiques Diva Guides, you’ll know that you’re getting correct information and being led in the right direction!

Happy hunting,

The Antiques Diva®

Paris Hotel Recommendations

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Dear Diva Readers,

While our specialty at The Antiques Diva & Co is custom planning Antique Buying Tours, when clients are traveling abroad they often ask our advice…“Where should I stay?” and “Are there any good restaurants you’d recommend?”  With 18 locally based Diva Guides in 8 different countries, we certainly try to help our clients by giving them a short list of our favorite European hotels and restaurants.

When choosing a hotel in Paris, you first must decide what sights you want to see.  This will help you determine which arrondisment to stay.  As they say it’s all about LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION!

Today, Paris Diva Guide Danielle shares a few of her hotel recommendations for a trip to Paris!

Paris Diva Guide Danielle, Paris Hotel Recommendations, Where to stay in Paris, Paris hotel tips

Paris Hotel Recommendations, Where to stay in Paris, Paris hotel tips,

Paris Hotel Recommendations, Where to stay in Paris, Paris hotel tips

Paris Hotel Recommendations, Where to stay in Paris, Paris hotel tips

If you want to be in the vicinity of the Palais Royal, Danielle’s recommendation is the  Grand Hotel du Palais Royal because it literally overlooks the Palais Royal Garden. Just steps away from the Louvre Museum, the Comédie Française theater, rue Saint-Honoré, and the Tuileries Gardens, this luxury hotel is in an ideal spot. If you’re looking to shop exclusive boutiques, eat at superb restaurants and enjoy classic architecture this is an excellent choice.

marquis faubourg saint honore hotel domino 002

Paris Hotel Recommendations, Where to stay in Paris, Paris hotel tips

Close by is the Marquis Faubourg Saint Honore which is located in the intimate setting of the 18th century private mansion at 8 Rue d’Anjou. Also walking distance to the Louvre, Opera House and the Champs-Elysées this boutique hotel retains the feel of a private mansion. With impeccable personalized service, your stay in Paris will surly be memorable!

pbanner_citadines_suites_louvre_paris_facade_01, Paris Hotel Recommendations, Where to stay in Paris, Paris hotel tips

pbanner_citadines_suites_louvre_paris_premiere_suite_02 Paris Hotel Recommendations, Where to stay in Paris, Paris hotel tips

There is also in the same area the Citadines Suites Louvre Paris which is walking distance to the same attractions as the previous two hotels mentioned. Danielle had clients stay there recently and they were very happy with their stay.

Bellechasse, Paris Hotel Recommendations, Where to stay in Paris, Paris hotel tips

Photo credit: Small & Elegant Hotels

Ahhh… then there is the left bank.  Rive Gauche.  My ‘hood in Saint-Germain des Pres – the neighborhood where I lived for 5 years.  You can stroll down the Boulevard Saint Germain shopping it’s boutiques and then pop over the Musee D’Orsay before meandering your way back to the boutique hotel – the Bellechasse.

Hotel Derby Alma, Paris Hotel Recommendations, Where to stay in Paris, Paris hotel tips

Photo credit: Agoda.net

Now while I love to meander the back streets of Saint Germain the fact is many people’s dream when visiting Paris is to crawl out of bed and take a stroll each morning by the Eiffel Tower.  Danielle recommends a hotel just a couple of blocks from the Eiffel Tower called the Hotel Derby Alma.  A modern convenience hotel Danielle’s last clients who stayed here were thrilled with this 4 star hotel.

Thanks Danielle for your expertise in not only antiques but also in fabulous places to stay in Paris!

Bonne Nuit! Sweet Dreams of Paris!

The Antiques Diva®

The Future of Antiques

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Dear Diva Readers,

I am delighted to be speaking alongside some major players in the antiques world coming up on November 20 in New York City! Join us for cocktails, a book signing, and panel discussion on The Future of Antiques: Antiques & Design in the 21st Century.  The panel will be moderated by Doris Athineos, of Traditional Home Magazine, with antiques experts Judith Miller, Olga Granda-Scott of The HighBoy and myself – founder and CED (that would be Chief Executive Diva) of The Antiques Diva® & Co.

Doris Athineos, Traditional Home Magazine, Judith Miller, Millers Antiques Guides, Olga Granda-Scott, The HighBoy, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, The Future of Antiques, Antiques and Design in the 21st Century, Alhambra Antiques, The Pier Antique Show

Doris Athineos, Traditional Home Magazine, Judith Miller, Millers Antiques Guides, Olga Granda-Scott, The HighBoy, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, The Future of Antiques, Antiques and Design in the 21st Century, Alhambra Antiques, The Pier Antique Show

Moderator DORIS ATHINEOS is Senior Antiques and Art Editor, Traditional Home magazine.  She writes about fine and decorative arts, artisans, design, and collecting. Her job involves tracking down culturally significant one-off designs, whether a Chippendale chair, a Tiffany lamp or a freshly-made Moulthrop bowl. Prior to joining Traditional Home, Athineos served as an editor at Forbes magazine, where she covered the art market. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times, The New York Observer, Architectural Digest, Wine Spectator, Art & Auction, and other publications.

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Perhaps the Queen of the Antiques Scene is JUDITH MILLER, – Antique Expert & Author, Miller’s Antiques & Collectibles.  She is one of the world’s leading antiques experts and has authored more than 100 books, including the newly published Arts& Crafts: Living with the Arts & Crafts Style and the international best-seller, Miller’s Antiques Handbook & Price Guide, founded in 1979. She appears regularly on British television, pens an antiques column for Forbes, and lectures around the world including the V&A in London and the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

Doris Athineos, Traditional Home Magazine, Judith Miller, Millers Antiques Guides, Olga Granda-Scott, The HighBoy, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, The Future of Antiques, Antiques and Design in the 21st Century, Alhambra Antiques, The Pier Antique Show

OLGA GRANDA-SCOTT is the Founder of The HighBoy a curated marketplace for Antiques & Fine Art. As an antique dealer herself for over a decade at Alhambra Antiques in Miami, Olga was frustrated by the lack of technological innovation in the industry, and thus The HighBoy was born. Dubbed “a hip contender to the antiques throne” by The Wall Street Journal, The HighBoy marries the beauty and sophistication of antiques, decorative arts, and jewelry with the innovations of 21st century technology.

Doris Athineos, Traditional Home Magazine, Judith Miller, Millers Antiques Guides, Olga Granda-Scott, The HighBoy, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, The Future of Antiques, Antiques and Design in the 21st Century, Alhambra Antiques, The Pier Antique Show

While you probably already know me since you’re reading my blog – I thought you might enjoy finding out a bit more about me too! I’m TOMA CLARK HAINES – founder and entrepreneur of The Antiques Diva & Co European Tours.  Since opening in 2008, The Antiques Diva® & Co. has become Europe’s largest antiques touring company, offering customized, private one-on-one antiques buying tours in 11 countries to both private individuals and to the trade. When I’m not on a buying tour, I’m also a freelance travel and design writer and an international public speaker.

Join us in NYC!
Thursday November 20, 2014 7:00-9:00pm
At Jonathan Burden, Antiques and Works of Art
180 Duane Street, New York, NY 10013
RSVP is required – email me [email protected].

All attendees will receive complimentary tickets to The Pier Antique Show on November 22 & 23 – where if you didn’t yet know it – The Antiques Diva & Co is delighted to be a sponsor!!  Admission is free for all attendees who confirm their attendance at futureofantiques.thehighboy.com.

See you in NYC!

The Antiques Diva®

U.S. Antique Shows

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Dear Diva Readers,

One of my favorite parts of my job is meeting interesting antique lovers from all over the world. Recently while taking clients on an Antiques Diva Tour at Mercanteinfiera in Italy I was fortunate enough to meet the team from U.S. Antique Shows and we just hit it off!  If you’re not familiar with U.S. Antique Shows, you should be. That’s why I’m happy to announce that I will be collaborating with them on some special stateside events in the USA next year!

Pier Antique Show, Pier 94, U.S. Antique Shows, The Antiques Diva, Mercanteinfiera in Parma Italy, Miami National Antique Shown, Antique Shows Calendar, The Original Miami Beach Antique Show,

Pier Antique Show, Pier 94, U.S. Antique Shows, The Antiques Diva, Mercanteinfiera in Parma Italy, Miami National Antique Shown, Antique Shows Calendar, The Original Miami Beach Antique Show,

As the world’s largest producer of indoor antique shows, U.S. Antique Shows focus is on serving the unique needs of both customers and the entire antique community by featuring internationally recognized dealers and a wide range of antiques, antique jewelry and watches. With nine shows, collectively spanning 400,000 square feet, U.S. Antique Shows attracts more than 3,000 dealers from 22 different countries. No other show producer brings together experts in every category and discipline from all over the world. I love the fact that vetted dealers are able to expand their audiences while collectors and shoppers are able to buy with confidence and learn more about antiques. I can’t wait to share more about U.S. Antique Shows in the near future!

Pier Antique Show, Pier 94, U.S. Antique Shows, The Antiques Diva, Mercanteinfiera in Parma Italy, Miami National Antique Shown, Antique Shows Calendar, The Original Miami Beach Antique Show,

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In the mean time, here are the dates for their Antiques Shows that are coming up— Mark your calendars!

2014-15 U.S. Antique Shows Dates:

Pier Antique Show
Nov. 22-23, 2014 & March 28-29, 2015
Pier 94
www.PierAntiqueShow.com

 

Miami National Antique Show
Jan. 24-26, 2015
Miami Airport Convention Center
www.MiamiNationalAntiqueShow.com

 

The Original Miami Beach Antique Show
Jan. 30-Feb. 3, 2015
Miami Beach Convention Center
www.MiamiBeachAntiqueShow.com

 

Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show
May 28-31, 2015
Paris las Vegas Hotel and Casino
www.VegasAntiqueJewelry.com

 

New York Antique Jewelry & Watch Show
July 24-27, 2015
Metropolitan Pavilion
www.NYAntiqueJewelry.com

 

LA Antique Jewelry & Watch Show
August 14-16, 2015
Hyatt Regency Century City
www.LAAntiqueJewelry.com

 

Not only will I be attending the Pier Show this November 22-23 but The Antiques Diva & Co will be one of the sponsors of the show!!! Please join us there as we shop New York!!!!

The Antiques Diva®

Venetian Textiles

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Dear Diva Readers,

Every antiquer has their little obsessions… pieces that capture their imagination and their mind.  For me it’s antique textiles.  I have a weakness for them, running my fingers over pieces I shouldn’t touch, fascinated with texture and patterns.  While I love French and Belgian fabrics, it’s the Venetian textiles with their rich 1000 year long history that most captures my imagination.  Famous fabric weavers like Bevilacqua, Fortuny and Rubelli represent three different stories of a 12th Century tradition which turned Venice from an importer of luxury Eastern goods exported to the Western market into a producer of lavish fabrics. Woven on enormous and complicated looms, the production was regulated and protected by a strict legislation. The earliest precious textiles, the “samites,” were inspired by the East, especially Byzantium. The decoration was reproducing wheels with symbolic animals like lions and parrots and were enriched by other details that were brought to Venice from China by Marco Polo at the end of the 13th Century.

O&C Antiques, Venetian Textiles, Italian Textiles, Antiques Diva, Antique Textiles, Tuscan Antiques Tour, Buying Antiques in Italy,

O&C Antiques, Venetian Textiles, Italian Textiles, Antiques Diva, Antique Textiles, Tuscan Antiques Tour, Buying Antiques in Italy,

O&C Antiques, Venetian Textiles, Italian Textiles, Antiques Diva, Antique Textiles, Tuscan Antiques Tour, Buying Antiques in Italy,

And while we always think of the east influencing the Venetian textile design in fact one of the most important contributions to Venetian style actually came from within Italy.  The weavers of Lucca sought refuge in Venice for political reasons in the 1300’s – with them they brought and shared their traditions, cultural styles and creative talents, weaving them – if you will – into their adopted culture. This unique sharing of practical knowledge made possible the production of velvets that incorporated spectacular motifs and designs.

O&C Antiques, Venetian Textiles, Italian Textiles, Antiques Diva, Antique Textiles, Tuscan Antiques Tour, Buying Antiques in Italy,

O&C Antiques, Venetian Textiles, Italian Textiles, Antiques Diva, Antique Textiles, Tuscan Antiques Tour, Buying Antiques in Italy,

In the 15th Century new floral patterns came from the East and inspired fresh Venetian designs. This combination of East and West is always present in Venetian textiles and is what makes Venice’s art, architecture and products special and unique. Our local Venetian Guide Orseola  explains, “We were the gateway to the East.  The Serenissima Repubblica – as Venice was known in the past – imported Eastern luxury goods.  Not just art and architecture but they imported carpets and textiles and different ideas and ways of thinking.  Venice is very different from the rest of Italy.  We’re not just divided by our canals, but rather we’re divided by our mindset –  we always look outward for inspiration.” 

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O&C Antiques, Venetian Textiles, Italian Textiles, Antiques Diva, Antique Textiles, Tuscan Antiques Tour, Buying Antiques in Italy,

Today, gorgeously preserved textiles can be purchased and incorporated into traditional or modern homes. One of my favorite sources for textiles happens to be our Venetian Diva Guides antique business O&C Antiques that they run in addition to leading our Veneto Antique Buying Tours.  They’ve taken fragments of a highly ornamental Venetian textile and framed them in contemporary, minimal ways making antique textiles some how feel modern and relevant.  Appreciating antiques textiles as art is an excellent way of incorporating them into your home.  While I’ve always had a passion for textiles I’ve found over the years I tend to pick up little pieces here and there… but they get tucked away in a cupboard.  Thanks to O&C Antiques I’m thinking outside the box with my antique textiles.  Do you have any ideas on how can you display them as art.

O&C Antiques, Venetian Textiles, Italian Textiles, Antiques Diva, Antique Textiles, Tuscan Antiques Tour, Buying Antiques in Italy,

If you’re as interested in Venetian textiles as me – consider booking our Venetian Textile tour that not only allows you to shop but delves deep into the local culture and historical traditions.  But don’t stop there… moving beyond in Tuscany you can continue this textile tour in a sensational way, exploring the culture of Italy through art, politics and local traditions.  Our Tuscan Guide Susan has some amazing secret sources up her sleeve that we can’t wait to share with you.

O&C Antiques, Venetian Textiles, Italian Textiles, Antiques Diva, Antique Textiles, Tuscan Antiques Tour, Buying Antiques in Italy, Toma Clark Haines

Ciao Bella,

The Antiques Diva®

Winter Art & Antiques Fair at Olympia

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Dear Diva Readers,

Coming up on November 3-9 2014 is the longest running London Winter Fair, the 24th Winter Art & Antiques Fair Olympia. It is the only high calibre art and antiques fair between October and March and a highlight of the Winter art season. For the second year running it coincides with Asian Art in London, making London the focus this week for serious collectors.

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London Winter Fair, Winter Art & Antiques Fair Olympia, Olympia, Asian Art London, English Antiques, Modern British Design, Buying English Antiques in London, Antiques Diva

The fair showcases over 100 top dealers selling the finest British craftsmanship through the centuries. There’s sure to be a variety of offerings with 30,000 pieces available for sale including furniture, 20th century design, jewelry, art, Asian pieces, ceramics, sculpture, silver, mirrors, lighting, fossils, clocks, textiles and glass.

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Popular with collectors, interior designers and those looking for something different, the stock on sale ranges from 16th century to Modern British and from dining tables to diamond rings. In fact,  jewelry is one of the top sellers at this fair…after all, Christmas is coming!!! Maybe I should send my husband!

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Every piece on sale is strictly checked by experts before the fair opens to ensure it is authentic so visitors can buy with confidence. Incorporating a Mosimanns Bistro and champagne bar and with stylish presentation of the 130 stands, this is a glamorous event that is certainly a Diva Destination!

London Winter Fair, Winter Art & Antiques Fair Olympia, Olympia, Asian Art London, English Antiques, Modern British Design, Buying English Antiques in London, Antiques Diva

Last year one of the more unusual items for sale were a pair of glasses given by Humphrey Bogart to his publicist to say thank you for all his hard work. As expected, the glasses sold very soon after the fair opened. It’s pieces like this—with a story and with provenance— that are fun to shop for! This year there are rumored to be a few stand out pieces available, including an enormous American Civi War flag, an oil painting by Sir Alfred Munnings (for £750,000) and works on paper by Hirst, Picasso, Banksy and Warhol.

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If you plan on attending the fair, we’ve got a couple of tips for you. Definitely go on one of the free highlights tours. This is the first year they will be available and Vanessa Curry is a knowledgeable art historian who will bring the pieces to life. She also offers jewelry and furniture tours. And don’t forget, if you want to get back into the fair on another day, ask for a pass from the security desk when you leave. It may take more than one day to soak in all there is to see at Olympia!

Happy hunting,

The Antiques Diva®

Spooky Antiques

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Dear Diva Readers,

Happy Halloween – Antiques Diva Style! In honor of this spooky holiday, I had to share some ghostly ideas on how you can use antiques and vintage pieces to add a touch of mystique and the macabre to your home. Many items may already be hidden away in your attic or cellar but they also can be found at flea markets throughout the year, (yes, I’m the girl who does Christmas shopping in March at the flea market as I believe in buying for holidays all year long).  With a bit of imagination, antique accessories can create the ideal haunted atmosphere for a Halloween party or just for seasonally witchy décor.

Decorating for the holidays with Antiques, Holiday antiques, Decorating for Halloween, Decorating for Thanksgiving,

Decorating for the holidays with Antiques, Holiday antiques, Decorating for Halloween, Decorating for Thanksgiving,

Masks are a Halloween staple, but they don’t just have to be for wearing to a party. Affix masks to vintage photos or antique portraits and you’ll have an inexpensive tongue in cheek easy decoration around the home!

les-fleurs-du-mal-baudelaire-charles-first-edition-first-issue-paris-poulet-malassis-et-de-broise-1858, Decorating for the holidays with Antiques, Holiday antiques, Decorating for Halloween, Decorating for Thanksgiving,

Decorating for the holidays with Antiques, Holiday antiques, Decorating for Halloween, Decorating for Thanksgiving,

Decorating for the holidays with Antiques, Holiday antiques, Decorating for Halloween, Decorating for Thanksgiving,

You know I belive that antique books are a fabulous decorative accessory any time of the year, but during the ghost days of autumn search for books with creepy titles to set out on the coffee table.  The Headless Horseman? Check.  Also pay attention to the covers and bindings—anything having to do with skeletons, spiders and bats make perfectly spooky tabletop or shelf decorations.

Decorating for the holidays with Antiques, Holiday antiques, Decorating for Halloween, Decorating for Thanksgiving,

Speaking of books, always be on the lookout for natural history books. They are filled with beautiful prints that can be framed. For Halloween, search for scientific illustrations of bats and spiders—how creepy!  And oh my goodness don’t get me talking about taxidermy.  I personally happen to love taxidermy anytime of year (I’m still trying to get my husband to let me buy that ostrich for our living room) but taxidermied birds and rodents could be particularly useful for Halloween décor.

Decorating for the holidays with Antiques, Holiday antiques, Decorating for Halloween, Decorating for Thanksgiving,

Pewter candelabras are the perfect accessories to use on Halloween. Unlike polished silver, pewter’s dull finish lends itself to a time-worn, earthy look. Let wax drip down for an even more foreboding feel! In fact, candles in general are great for creating fall ambiance. Every once in a while I line my stairwell with votive candles to create ambiance for my husband when he comes home from work.

Decorating for the holidays with Antiques, Holiday antiques, Decorating for Halloween, Decorating for Thanksgiving,

For something a bit on the lighter side, fill antique apothecary jars with mini gourds and pumpkins and set them on your sideboard or kitchen counter. You can also use vintage cake stands with pumpkins perched on top to line the dining table as a festive centerpiece.  A trend in recent years has been painting pumpkins black.

jane_howarth-bonne-bouche, Decorating for the holidays with Antiques, Holiday antiques, Decorating for Halloween, Decorating for Thanksgiving,

No matter how you decide to decorate for Halloween, antiques are positively perfect for creating ambiance.  We’ve been discussing accessories – but even antique furniture in general creates a spooky past lives vibe.  If you want to go all in with Halloween Décor pull out some Neo Gothic or Hunt Style Antiques (those heavily carved pieces with the dead animals) to add splash from the past for your Halloween Decor. I’m loving this Jane Howarth interpretation with pearls of bird guts!!

Decorating for the holidays with Antiques, Holiday antiques, Decorating for Halloween, Decorating for Thanksgiving,

If you’re decorating with antiques this Halloween I’d love to see your décor and more!!  Visit The Antiques Diva & Co’s Facebook page to share your spooky photos of how you do seasonal décor with antiques! And while today’s post is about Halloween – let’s get a headstart on Thanksgiving!!!  Show me how you use antiques in your THANKSGIVING DÉCOR by posting photos on our Antiques Diva Facebook Page and our favorite image wins an Antiques Diva Tote Bag!!!

The Antiques Diva®

Layering Antiques into Your Rooms

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Dear Diva Readers,

Autumn is the perfect time to think about decorating your house. As the days get shorter and cooler, we spend more time at home and that means it’s time to add those warm touches that make your rooms comfy and cozy! And what makes a room more comforting than nostalgic antiques?

Layering Antiques, How to make your room warm and cozy, Antique Rugs, Sheep skin, Reindeer hides, Perfectly Imperfect, Antiques Diva, Bric-a-brac

Create a sense of warmth by layering antiques into your rooms. What do I mean by this? Add antique rugs—thick wool rugs that keep warmth under toe are ideal. Or why not layer a few rugs—think sheep skin or reindeer hides placed on top of oriental rugs or worn persian rugs. And don’t be afraid of a bit of wear… rugs that are threadbare in a few spots can be charming!  We’re talking perfectly imperfect is charming!

Layering Antiques, How to make your room warm and cozy, Antique Rugs, Sheep skin, Reindeer hides, Perfectly Imperfect, Antiques Diva, Bric-a-brac

Layering Antiques, How to make your room warm and cozy, Antique Rugs, Sheep skin, Reindeer hides, Perfectly Imperfect, Antiques Diva, Bric-a-brac

Now is also the time to bring out the bric-a-brac that you’ve packed away during the summer when flowers from the garden are filling the coffee table . A bare coffee table can play host to a stack of books topped by a small sculpture and a beautiful bowl filled with potpourri. When you’re at the flea markets, look for items with lots of texture— i.e. small wooden boxes perfect for hiding clutter like remote controls, marble bookends, leather bound books, pretty dishes and small paintings to prop on easels.

Layering Antiques, How to make your room warm and cozy, Antique Rugs, Sheep skin, Reindeer hides, Perfectly Imperfect, Antiques Diva, Bric-a-brac

Think about creature comforts as well. Having a nice tea set is always a good idea whether you’re enjoying a hot cup of tea while curled up in your favorite reading chair or sharing tea time with a friend.

Layering Antiques, How to make your room warm and cozy, Antique Rugs, Sheep skin, Reindeer hides, Perfectly Imperfect, Antiques Diva, Bric-a-brac

No matter how you choose to warm your home up this fall season, layering antiques into your decor is a sure-fire way to create a cozy atmosphere that will have you and your loved ones spending quality time in the most important place—home sweet home.

The Antiques Diva®

Sourcing in the Venetian Countryside

Sourcing in the Venetian Countryside

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Dear Diva Readers,

Mamma Mia…..  Here at The Antiques Diva & Co we custom plan each client’s tour route, taking into account their travel time, budget and what type of antiques they are looking to source. This means that sometimes we take them to specialized shops in the cities and other times we schedule their tours around specific flea markets. And still other times we go off the beaten path to warehouses and private residences in the countryside to find the perfect pieces. This is pretty much the case for each of our 8 tour countries, but today I want to talk about Venice—or rather, Veneto!

Sourcing antiques in Italy, Venetian Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Veneto Antiques, Architectural Salvage, 15 Century Antiques,

Sourcing antiques in Italy, Venetian Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Veneto Antiques, Architectural Salvage, 15 Century Antiques,

Sourcing antiques in Italy, Venetian Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Veneto Antiques, Architectural Salvage, 15 Century Antiques,

Sourcing antiques in Italy, Venetian Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Veneto Antiques, Architectural Salvage, 15 Century Antiques,

Yes, we lead fabulous tours in Venice proper, guiding clients through canals and hidden alleyways to shops which house museum quality pieces. But we also are excited to start offering tours in Veneto! Imagine the experience of our local Diva Guide picking you up from your hotel and whisking you to a small town in the north area of Vicenza where 15th century architecture dots the landscape. In fact, we can recommend a 15th century castle in the area where you can actually stay! Now that’s traveling fit for a Diva!

Sourcing antiques in Italy, Venetian Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Veneto Antiques, Architectural Salvage, 15 Century Antiques,

Sourcing antiques in Italy, Venetian Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Veneto Antiques, Architectural Salvage, 15 Century Antiques,

When it comes to sourcing antiques however, we drive you to a 17th century palazzo filled with furniture, objects and art—all for sale. You’re greeted by the owner, a kind man who lives in this historic palazzo and has aptly named it “The Palace of Old Things.” And old things he has! Meander though the grand country house itself, complete with its stone walls, wooden beams and private courtyard, shopping for not only architectural salvage but also antique furniture from Veneto, France and other European countries. If you happen to have something specific that you’re looking for, just tell Francesco and he can find it for you.

Sourcing antiques in Italy, Venetian Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Veneto Antiques, Architectural Salvage, 15 Century Antiques,

Sourcing antiques in Italy, Venetian Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Veneto Antiques, Architectural Salvage, 15 Century Antiques,

Sourcing antiques in Italy, Venetian Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Veneto Antiques, Architectural Salvage, 15 Century Antiques,

Sourcing antiques in Italy, Venetian Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Veneto Antiques, Architectural Salvage, 15 Century Antiques,

From 17th century pieces to vintage furniture from the 20th century, you can find restored or unrestored condition. As many of our sources offer two prices (restored or unrestored), the same goes in Veneto. This is a convenient option because it puts the decision in your hands whether you want to do the restoring yourself or have your purchases arrive ready for use.

Sourcing antiques in Italy, Venetian Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Veneto Antiques, Architectural Salvage, 15 Century Antiques,

Sourcing antiques in Italy, Venetian Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Veneto Antiques, Architectural Salvage, 15 Century Antiques,

If you’d like more information on taking an Antiques Diva & Co Buying Tour in Veneto or any of our 8 European tour countries— France, Belgium, Italy, England, Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands or Denmark— email us at [email protected].

Ciao Ciao,

The Antiques Diva®

Revival of the Salon

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Dear Diva Readers,

My love for antiques got me into this business and being surrounded by like-minded people and sharing this passion with clients, vendors and colleagues is part of what makes my job such a joy.  When I first met Chiara Zanella and Orseola Barozzi Rizzo  – who later became our Antiques Diva Venice Antiquing Guides – they confided, “We want to create a different concept of selling antiques and of antiquing in general; we’d like to bring antiques to a younger target of collectors.  We believe people are beginning to reflect more on what they will buy for their home décor. We all need more personal spaces, reflecting our personalities and taste.”

O&C Antiques, Salon, Drama, Antiques Diva & Co, Venice Antiques, Chiara Zanella, Orseola Barozzi Rizzo, Design network, Artist network, Berlin Salon

O&C Antiques, Salon, Drama, Antiques Diva & Co, Venice Antiques, Chiara Zanella, Orseola Barozzi Rizzo, Design network, Artist network, Berlin Salon

These two ladies who not only lead our Venetian and Veneto antique buying tours also co-own O & C Antiques.  They are filled with youth and vigor and the kind of energy that makes one think they could singlehandedly stop Venice from sinking.  Explaining to me about their store, they said, “The world today is so connected on the internet.  It sometimes feels people have stopped living real life in lieu of an online life.  We think the future of antiques is in Salons  – real life meetings of the minds.”

O&C Antiques, Salon, Drama, Antiques Diva & Co, Venice Antiques, Chiara Zanella, Orseola Barozzi Rizzo, Design network, Artist network, Berlin Salon

At the mention of the word “Salon” my mind immediately races to the salons hosted by Ayn Rand in New York in the 1950’s but I am quickly reminded the would-be Americans such as Rand weren’t the ones who invented the concept.  Orseola explains, “The Salon is an Italian  invention from 16th century Italy when circles formed in the smaller courts with patronesses such as Isabella d’Este or Elisabetta Gonzaga.  Later the movement moved onto 18th century France with some of the last Salons hosted in the 20th century by Marie-Laure de Noailles with guests such as Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dali.”

Chiara continues, “Women were always the center of the life in the Salon and they carried a very important role as regulators. They could select their guests and decide about the subjects of their meetings. Those subjects could be social, literary, or political. They also had the role as mediator by directing the discussion. They were called Salonnières.”

O&C Antiques, Salon, Drama, Antiques Diva & Co, Venice Antiques, Chiara Zanella, Orseola Barozzi Rizzo, Design network, Artist network, Berlin Salon

Orseola cries…. “We’re bringing back the Salon.  We host mobile events in our homes.  While we’re in Venice this could be held in any city of the world – gatherings  in private spaces with  sellers, artists and designers combining discussion with antiques, contemporary art and vintage furniture.” During these events Salonieres educate their guests about cultural topics, all the while enjoying antiques, art, music and scintillating conversation meant to enhance the participants’ taste and increase their knowledge. These gatherings consciously followed Horace’s definition of the aims of poetry, “either to please or to educate” (“aug delectare aug prodesse set”).

O&C Antiques, Salon, Drama, Antiques Diva & Co, Venice Antiques, Chiara Zanella, Orseola Barozzi Rizzo, Design network, Artist network, Berlin Salon

And you, dear diva readers, are invited to the first of their salons…..  Chiara and Orseola have teamed up with their friend Jens Soneryd to organize the first of their Salon style evenings on October 31 in Berlin, Germany.

The theme of this inaugural Salon is “DRAMA”— a word which relates to any aesthetic experience—that through visual art, poetry, music and literature translate intuitions into beauty. The goal is to have these Salon evenings in several different cities throughout the world, almost as an international movable Salon!

The evening will be more the launch of a different way to meet like minded people, giving the chance to make a network in several different cities, between interior designers, antique dealers, designers, artists and collectors. In the frame of a private space that for the occasion, will be used as the visual platform where people can have the experience of distinct elements combined together in the same “exhibition” concept. The meaning of this gathering is also to provide collectors with a different way to look at art, design and antiques, and to make an ideal background for discussion for all guests.

O&C Antiques, Salon, Drama, Antiques Diva & Co, Venice Antiques, Chiara Zanella, Orseola Barozzi Rizzo, Design network, Artist network, Berlin Salon

For that, the hostesses have selected artworks and photography (by artists based in Berlin, NYC and Warsaw), some objects from a contemporary design store in Berlin, some pieces of O&C Antiques inventory and guests will be delighted by an Opera singer and nice Italian wine.

The entrance to this exciting evening is free (although a donation is encouraged). If you’d like more information on the Salon concept, email us at [email protected]. Whether you’re interested in attending the inaugural Salon or if you wish to come to or host a future Salon, we’d love to hear from you!

The Antiques Diva®

The Antiques Diva Shops Guinevere in London

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Dear Diva Readers,

While on tour in London recently, I was very excited to take our client to an iconic London antiques establishment called Guinevere . This store, famous for its showroom displays which are to die for, juxtaposes the old and new, east and west, wild and sober in a way that reflects how the stylish set live now. From the moment you set foot in the door, you know that you are somewhere special where quality is prized above all else.

Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in London, English Antiques, Guinevere, Marc Weaver, Genevieve Weaver, Kings Road, Chelsea,

Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in London, English Antiques, Guinevere, Marc Weaver, Genevieve Weaver, Kings Road, Chelsea,

Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in London, English Antiques, Guinevere, Marc Weaver, Genevieve Weaver, Kings Road, Chelsea,

Co-owner Marc Weaver was kind enough to meet us at the door and take our group on a private tour of their meandering, multilevel store. From small Chinese sculptures and Asian screens to European oil paintings and mid century lighting, everywhere you look vignettes are thoughtfully put together. The buying team at Guinevere scours the globe for the most exquisite pieces, resulting in an interesting mix that’s both inspiring and informing.

Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in London, English Antiques, Guinevere, Marc Weaver, Genevieve Weaver, Kings Road, Chelsea,  Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in London, English Antiques, Guinevere, Marc Weaver, Genevieve Weaver, Kings Road, Chelsea,

And their textile collection, which is put together by Heather Weaver, is a go-to source for those in the know. A combination of antique dhurries, French linens, embroidered napkins, tablecloths, and cotton bedspreads from India, the inventory is always coming in the door and flying out.

Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in London, English Antiques, Guinevere, Marc Weaver, Genevieve Weaver, Kings Road, Chelsea,

Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in London, English Antiques, Guinevere, Marc Weaver, Genevieve Weaver, Kings Road, Chelsea,

Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in London, English Antiques, Guinevere, Marc Weaver, Genevieve Weaver, Kings Road, Chelsea,

The founder was French-born Genevieve Weaver who trained as a hat designer in Paris in the 1950’s. After moving to London, she became intrigued by antiques and opened Guinevere in 1963 in what was then a “not-so-nice” end of Kings Road in Chelsea. It’s funny how time changes things, as today that same area is a very prominent section of the neighborhood.

Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in London, English Antiques, Guinevere, Marc Weaver, Genevieve Weaver, Kings Road, Chelsea,

Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in London, English Antiques, Guinevere, Marc Weaver, Genevieve Weaver, Kings Road, Chelsea,

Her flair for mixing styles and eras has continued with her sons Marc and Kevin who now run the company. Their forward-thinking combinations of antiquities and mid-century modern are unique in the antiques trade where dealers often specialize in one era or style. Their desire to mix things up puts them at the forefront as innovators in this industry rather than trend followers.

Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in London, English Antiques, Guinevere, Marc Weaver, Genevieve Weaver, Kings Road, Chelsea,

Today the company caters to discerning collectors and interior designers from all over the world. Their international following is loyal, consistently coming back for more. And more is something Guinevere always has. Consisting of four adjoining shops and windows on Kings Road, this showroom is constantly evolving. In fact, they were changing some of the windows the day we dropped in. It was such a delight to tour this famous store – a landmark on Kings Road – and hear a bit of its history from Marc himself. Thank You Guinevere for being such gracious hosts on our recent visit!

Consider this shop a Must Visit Antiques Diva London Resource!

Happy shopping,

The Antiques Diva®

Fromental

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Dear Diva Readers,

While recently taking a group of top American interior designers on an Antiques Diva tour in conjunction with Nobelinks, we stopped into the Fromental Showroom in London for inspiration and a little fete, Diva style! Known for its gorgeous hand-painted wallpapers, Fromental is a leader in the design industry, using traditional styles and elements but bringing them into the twenty-first century, making luxury wallpapers for the way we live now. Of course, they also produce luxury fabrics, often times adding hand embroidery depending on the client’s needs.

Fromental, Nobelinks, Antiques Diva, Luxury Wallpaper, Custom-made wallpaper, hand-painted wallpaper, London design, Bespoke wallpaper

Fromental, Nobelinks, Antiques Diva, Luxury Wallpaper, Custom-made wallpaper, hand-painted wallpaper, London design, Bespoke wallpaper

Fromental, Nobelinks, Antiques Diva, Luxury Wallpaper, Custom-made wallpaper, hand-painted wallpaper, London design, Bespoke wallpaper

Keeping in mind that the owner is the former creative director of de Gournay, the Fromental look is informed by historical patterns, but isn’t married to them. They’ve taken these classic patterns and injected new life into them by playing with color and scale. Think classic chinoiserie in a monochromatic color story. And traditional isn’t the only look you’ll find at Fromental. Bold patterns playing off of the current London fashion scenes liven up the show room. And what I love is that whether traditional or modern, Fromental’s wallpapers make a lovely backdrop for antiques!

Fromental, Nobelinks, Antiques Diva, Luxury Wallpaper, Custom-made wallpaper, hand-painted wallpaper, London design, Bespoke wallpaper

Fromental, Nobelinks, Antiques Diva, Luxury Wallpaper, Custom-made wallpaper, hand-painted wallpaper, London design, Bespoke wallpaper

Fromental, Nobelinks, Antiques Diva, Luxury Wallpaper, Custom-made wallpaper, hand-painted wallpaper, London design, Bespoke wallpaper

Fromental, Nobelinks, Antiques Diva, Luxury Wallpaper, Custom-made wallpaper, hand-painted wallpaper, London design, Bespoke wallpaper

All of Fromental’s products are made to order, making it the perfect choice if you’re looking for something custom. Color, composition and technique can all be modified to fit each client’s needs. Isn’t that a luxurious experience?! Imagine ordering a customized wallpaper to use as a backdrop for a stunning antique console table. Divine! See for yourself—here are some photos from our lovely evening at the Fromental Showroom. Thanks to the staff for being such welcoming hosts and thanks again for that gorgeous dinner next door!

The Antiques Diva®

Colefax & Fowler

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Dear Diva Readers,

While in London on an Antiques Diva & Co tour with a journalist recently, we stopped into Colefax & Fowler for a private tour of the showroom and a look at some of the archives from this prestigious decorating firm. While it was a treat to see some of the original design boards used by the firm for high-end international clients, it was also interesting to meander through the rooms of the shop, which once had a life as a town house.

Colefax & Fowler, London Antiques, Nancy Lancaster, Using Antiques in Modern Ways, Antiques Diva, English Designers,

Colefax & Fowler, London Antiques, Nancy Lancaster, Using Antiques in Modern Ways, Antiques Diva, English Designers,

Colefax & Fowler, London Antiques, Nancy Lancaster, Using Antiques in Modern Ways, Antiques Diva, English Designers,

Each room of the rambling building is decorated with the company’s highly sought after wallpapers. But a pleasant surprise is that the rooms are also sprinkled with some of the firm’s bespoke pieces and antiques they offer for sale. From antique chest of drawers and sofas to mirrors and engravings, the hand-selected pieces are displayed in thoughtful groupings as if Sibyl Colefax or John Fowler had arranged them.

Colefax & Fowler, London Antiques, Nancy Lancaster, Using Antiques in Modern Ways, Antiques Diva, English Designers,

Colefax & Fowler, London Antiques, Nancy Lancaster, Using Antiques in Modern Ways, Antiques Diva, English Designers,

Colefax & Fowler, London Antiques, Nancy Lancaster, Using Antiques in Modern Ways, Antiques Diva, English Designers,

Yet the rooms are not exactly 1940’s English Country style— as one thinks of Nancy Lancaster’s interiors. Instead they are decorated in what you might call “updated traditional”, with perhaps a bit less decorative items. In other words, every surface on every table isn’t filled with objects! Nevertheless, these rooms exude comfortable, relaxed elegance just as they once did when John and Nancy worked in them.

Colefax & Fowler, London Antiques, Nancy Lancaster, Using Antiques in Modern Ways, Antiques Diva, English Designers,

Colefax & Fowler, London Antiques, Nancy Lancaster, Using Antiques in Modern Ways, Antiques Diva, English Designers,

Colefax & Fowler, London Antiques, Nancy Lancaster, Using Antiques in Modern Ways, Antiques Diva, English Designers,

Colefax & Fowler, London Antiques, Nancy Lancaster, Using Antiques in Modern Ways, Antiques Diva, English Designers,

What I love about the Colefax & Fowler showroom is that it proves that antiques CAN be used in a modern way. You don’t have to choose just one end of the spectrum—chintz and tchotchkes or sleek and minimal. You can decorate a space with traditional principles but in an updated fresh way, still using classic antiques of course! And for me, that’s the way of the future.

Toma Clark Haines, Colefax & Fowler, London Antiques, Nancy Lancaster, Using Antiques in Modern Ways, Antiques Diva, English Designers,

Happy decorating,

The Antiques Diva®

Nancy Lancaster’s Yellow Room

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Dear Diva Readers,

Nancy-Lancaster-sitting-room-main, Colfax & Fowler, London Antique Shops, Antiques Diva, Nancy Lancaster, Yellow Room, Avery Row, Yellow Drawing Room, Barrie McIntyre

While the majority of my time spent on tour with clients is jotting from antiques warehouse to flea markets to by-appointment-only antique stores helping our clients source the right pieces, sometimes we get special requests from press clients. We recently took an American journalist on an Antiques Diva & Co experience in London and one of our stops was the historic showroom of distinguished designers Colfax & Fowler.

Colfax & Fowler, London Antique Shops, Antiques Diva, Nancy Lancaster, Yellow Room, Avery Row, Yellow Drawing Room, Barrie McIntyre, Toma Clark haines, Andrew Joseph,

With a special appointment, we were guided around the first 2 floors of the showroom by archivist, Barrie McIntyre. What a treat it was to meander from room to room having Barrie tell poignant stories about the decor of each space, highlighting the names of wallpaper patterns and fabric collections. After passing through a small corridor on the second floor (or the first floor as it would be known in the UK, since the ground level floors are typically known as floor zero), we came to a beautiful, high-ceilinged drawing room radiating an egg-yolk yellow from the walls and curtains in the afternoon light. Yes, we had completed our pilgrimage to Nancy Lancaster’s iconic “Yellow Room.”

Colfax & Fowler, London Antique Shops, Antiques Diva, Nancy Lancaster, Yellow Room, Avery Row, Yellow Drawing Room, Barrie McIntyre

Colfax & Fowler, London Antique Shops, Antiques Diva, Nancy Lancaster, Yellow Room, Avery Row, Yellow Drawing Room, Barrie McIntyre, Toma Clark Haines

To give you a little history, Nancy Lancaster purchased Sybil Colfax’s decorating business and, as a result, inherited business partner John Fowler. The two were described by Nancy’s aunt, Lady Astor, as “the most unhappy unmarried couple in England.” What a duo they must have been! Their business, however, consisted of an inventiveness which was well received after the second World War.

In 1957, Nancy decided to live above the shop on Avery Row in London. Together, she and John transformed the private quarters into a sort of stage set for their designs. In a way, I suppose, they were able to show clients how a home decorated by them would feel. Once the drawing room was painted a rich color of yellow and the baseboards given a faux marble paint treatment, it was filled with an eclectic mix of 18th, 19th and 20th century English and continental furniture, mirrors, paintings, china and other decorative objects. The result was a space that was both grand and comfortable all at once. This room became and still remains one of the most renowned rooms in London.

Colfax & Fowler, London Antique Shops, Antiques Diva, Nancy Lancaster, Yellow Room, Avery Row, Yellow Drawing Room, Barrie McIntyre

Colfax & Fowler, London Antique Shops, Antiques Diva, Nancy Lancaster, Yellow Room, Avery Row, Yellow Drawing Room, Barrie McIntyre

Fast forward to our lovely afternoon spent there with Barrie who has a knack for telling stories and making these characters come to life. He pulled out a box containing stacks of samples and room boards that were put together for some of the firms most distinguished clients. We were treated to seeing the original fringe and wallpaper that was designed for clients such as Bunny Melon, Mrs. J.F. Kennedy and Baroness Pauling de Rothschild. Can you imagine!?

Colfax & Fowler, London Antique Shops, Antiques Diva, Nancy Lancaster, Yellow Room, Avery Row, Yellow Drawing Room, Barrie McIntyre

Before leaving this inspiring room, we were able to sneak a peek behind a set of double doors at the far end of the room, which hide a small kitchen. The Yellow Drawing Room also boasts gorgeous views of the picturesque courtyard below, which beckons one to come down and enjoy a nice cup of tea.

Colfax & Fowler, London Antique Shops, Antiques Diva, Nancy Lancaster, Yellow Room, Avery Row, Yellow Drawing Room, Barrie McIntyre

I cannot be more grateful to Colfax & Fowler and Barrie for allowing us a glimpse into the life of one of the 20th century’s top decorating talents. I’ve come away with inspiration and a greater appreciation for thoughtful design.

The Antiques Diva®

Preview Party for The International Fine Art & Antiques Show

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Dear Diva Readers,

I am so thrilled to be attending the 26th Annual Preview Party for The International Fine Art & Antiques Show hosted by The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) in New York on Thursday October 16! While the show itself promises to be a feast for the eyes with many of the world’s most prominent art and antiques dealers bringing pieces, the Preview Party will kick off the weekend with over 1,000 guests enjoying a night of glamour, culture and philanthropy. Now if that isn’t a Diva-style party, I don’t know what is!

Preview Party for The International Fine Art & Antiques Show, The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering, Park Avenue Armory in New York, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Elle Décor, Michael Boodro, Maison Gerard,

Preview Party for The International Fine Art & Antiques Show, The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering, Park Avenue Armory in New York, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Elle Décor, Michael Boodro, Maison Gerard,

Stars of the design world, including Editor-in-Chief of ELLE DECOR, Michael Boodro, will gather at the Park Avenue Armory in New York to get a first look at art, furniture and rare books, jewelry and glass being offered by sixty-five high profile dealers. Before opening to the public, serious antiques connoisseurs and collectors on the guest list to the party have a chance to peruse the show and sip champagne— how glamorous!

Preview Party for The International Fine Art & Antiques Show, The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering, Park Avenue Armory in New York, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Elle Décor, Michael Boodro, Maison Gerard,

Preview Party for The International Fine Art & Antiques Show, The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering, Park Avenue Armory in New York, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Elle Décor, Michael Boodro, Maison Gerard,

Now it’s not all about glitz and glam that night. The Preview Party is a wonderful way to raise funds for The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering, a volunteer-led organization within MSK dedicated to promoting the well-being of patients, supporting cancer research, and providing public education on the early prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer.

Preview Party for The International Fine Art & Antiques Show, The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering, Park Avenue Armory in New York, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Elle Décor, Michael Boodro, Maison Gerard,

Preview Party for The International Fine Art & Antiques Show, The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering, Park Avenue Armory in New York, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Elle Décor, Michael Boodro, Maison Gerard,

If this sounds like the kind of event you’d be interested in attending, contact Elizabeth Howard at The Society by phoning 212.639.7972 or emailing her at [email protected] for ticket information. And if you’re at the party, please find me and say hello! It will be a fabulous night of culture, philanthropy, and of course, antiques!

Preview Party for The International Fine Art & Antiques Show, The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering, Park Avenue Armory in New York, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Elle Décor, Michael Boodro, Maison Gerard,

A few of the things I’m interested in seeing first hand at the show include the  Maison Jansen Unique Bibliothèque – Corner Bookcase and the Vittoria Limited Edition Contemporary Chair presented by Maison Gerard Ltd.

See you soon in New York!

The Antiques Diva®

Battersea Decorative Fair Autumn 2014

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Dear Diva Readers,

The Decorative Fair, Battersea, Buying Antiques in England, The Antiques Diva, Mid-Century Modern, Battersea Decorative Fair, Antiques Buying Tours, European Antiques Fairs

It seems like my travel schedule has been insane lately! Between taking private and trade clients on tours, international speaking engagements and press trips, it’s been a whirlwind! But one of the perks of my job is being able to attend some of the best antiques fairs in the world. This week I had the privilege of taking a journalist from America on an Antiques Diva & Co tour of London which was perfect because it was in conjunction with The Decorative Fair at Battersea Park!

The Decorative Fair, Battersea, Buying Antiques in England, The Antiques Diva, Mid-Century Modern, Battersea Decorative Fair, Antiques Buying Tours, European Antiques Fairs

The Decorative Fair, Battersea, Buying Antiques in England, The Antiques Diva, Mid-Century Modern, Battersea Decorative Fair, Antiques Buying Tours, European Antiques Fairs

The Fair opened on September 30 and we were privileged to get a handful of Press passes which allowed us to enter the fair before the public. Being able to meet with dealers and see the inventory before it flies out the door is always a thrill. And being one of the top antique fairs, there are trays of champagne being passed, which fits perfectly with the Antiques Diva experience! As people line up outside to enter the fair, they are also served glasses of champagne… now that’s the kind of line I wouldn’t mind  waiting in!

The Decorative Fair, Battersea, Buying Antiques in England, The Antiques Diva, Mid-Century Modern, Battersea Decorative Fair, Antiques Buying Tours, European Antiques Fairs

The Decorative Fair, Battersea, Buying Antiques in England, The Antiques Diva, Mid-Century Modern, Battersea Decorative Fair, Antiques Buying Tours, European Antiques Fairs

Of course there is so much to see at this fair— styles range from French and English antique furniture to tabletop to mid century modern. And what I love about the Battersea Decorative Fair is that not only is there something for everyone’s taste, there is also a range of price points. If you want serious antiques, you can find them. But you also can find very decorative pieces that won’t cost you a fortune and may even fit in your suitcase!

The Decorative Fair, Battersea, Buying Antiques in England, The Antiques Diva, Mid-Century Modern, Battersea Decorative Fair, Antiques Buying Tours, European Antiques Fairs

However, there are definitely serious shoppers at this renowned fair. Famous actors,  international socialites and philanthropists all frequent Battersea. In fact, just a few days after we were there, Oprah Winfrey dropped by to peruse the stalls. Nothing like bumping elbows with celebrities while sipping champagne and shopping for antiques!!!

The Decorative Fair, Battersea, Buying Antiques in England, The Antiques Diva, Mid-Century Modern, Battersea Decorative Fair, Antiques Buying Tours, European Antiques Fairs

All in all I’d say that this is certainly a “do not miss” event. More than just shopping, The Decorative Fair at Battersea Park is an experience. And my team at The Antiques Diva & Co feels so privileged to count several dealers at the 2014 fair as friends and favorite sources that our clients consistently have access to. Sometimes it’s surreal to think that we have the same sources as celebrities and royalty…but the truth is, we do!

If you’d like information on taking an Antiques Diva & Co Buying Tour in any of our 8 tour countries, email us at [email protected].

Happy Shopping,

The Antiques Diva®

Decorating with Antique Books

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Dear Diva Readers,

While I love to shop (and take clients on shopping tours), I also love to decorate! I think a great way to add personality and a sense of history to any space is by using antique books in your decor. Not only do they look beautiful, but they also are practical—you can actually READ them! When my husband started collecting first editions he made a promise to himself that he would always read the books regardless of how many zeroes were included in the price tag.

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

Now whether you’re placing antique books on shelves or using them as art in themselves, I’ve got a few easy ways that you can incorporate antique books into your home.

Of course if you have built-in shelves or even just a bookcase, books are the perfect way to fill these spaces. You can mix up the colors or color block them in groups of green bindings, red bindings, etc for more of a statement. I recently had the opportunity to visit Ashley Hicks – son of designer David Hicks – at his home in the English countryside and was able to sneak a picture of his famous father’s red office fitted with gorgeous antique red leather books.

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

Make sure you intersperse some books that are stacked horizontally so you can sit a small object d’art on top of them. This is a great way to show off a special piece.

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

If you come across antique books that aren’t in the best shape, consider bundling them together with twine and sitting them on a table. It’s a cost effective and fun way of displaying tired books almost as sculpture. You could also remove the bindings and just use the monochromatic pages lined up on a shelf as a modern take on the classic library. In Designer David Hicks’ personal bedroom at his house, The Grove, his books are all white toned and rumor has it that when the famous designer had insomnia he would wash the spines of his books keeping them shelves spic and span in lieu of counting sheep!

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

If your table lamps are sitting just a bit too low, perch them atop a stack of antique books.   In David Hicks’ office I loved his specially designed “library lamp”  in which the shade is cut in half in an updated modern version of the Italian shades to shine light on the books behind it.

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

The principle of using books as risers can apply to any object you’re wanting to elevate. Place a beautiful bowl on top of a stack of books or sit a sculpture on top of the stack. It will make the object seem more important, as if on a pedestal of its own!  In my own secretaire in my living room at home in Berlin I’ve stacked a giant inkwell on the shelf.  These books were a gift from an English friend – which reminds me – antique and vintage books make great presents! You can be really creative in picking books that have to do with your friends interests, travel plans, or even use their name in the title.

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

Regardless of how you use antique books, they are sure to add personality to your space. Books tell people about your interests and they create dimension in interiors. While my husband collects first editions from Parisian expat writers in the 1930’s – I collect interior design books – both vintage books such as David Hicks as well as current day books from friends such as Ronda Carmen’s book Designers at Home to Judith Miller’s latest tome.  On my reading list at the moment is Susanna Salk’s Decorate Fearlessly.  We’re traveling together in Italy this week doing some stylish shopping at Mercanteinfiera and I’m excited to get to spend time IRL with a favorite author shopping by her side!

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

Whether an antique or vintage book – a brand new book from a favorite designer – I want to know what are you reading?

The Antiques Diva®

 

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

Photo Credit: Laila McCubbin Jones

Top Flea Markets in France

Top Flea Markets in France

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Dear Diva Readers,

Top flea markets in France, Villeneuve Les Avignon, Porte de Vanves in Paris, Allées Jules Guesde, Paris Flea Market, Buying antiques in France, The Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in Provence

While there are several flea markets throughout France, each offering something unique and specializing in different types of antiques, it’s easy for me to choose the TOP TWO flea markets in France!  Without a doubt the top 2 flea markets in France are the Paris Flea Market and L’isle sur la Sorgue in Provence.  Here you can find absolutely anything and everything French & chic from antique furniture – chest of drawers, Bergers and Fauteuils oh my – to art de la table and art for your walls, impossibly gorgeous kitchenalia and divine vintage frocks and jewels. The more important question is, what won’t you find?

Top flea markets in France, Villeneuve Les Avignon, Porte de Vanves in Paris, Allées Jules Guesde, Paris Flea Market, Buying antiques in France, The Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in Provence

Top flea markets in France, Villeneuve Les Avignon, Porte de Vanves in Paris, Allées Jules Guesde, Paris Flea Market, Buying antiques in France, The Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in Provence

But to choose a 3rd favorite flea market in France?  Oh la la… I fear that’s almost impossible! Of course I’ve spent many a morning wandering the stalls at the Porte de Vanves in Paris. It’s ideal for smalls.  But I fear if I mention Porte de Vanves I’m only focusing on Paris… and there is a whole nation out there ready and waiting for Diva Readers to shop. Villeneuve Les Avignon is one of my favorite Provence markets tucked away under the shadow of the town’s chateau and Allées Jules Guesde, in central Toulouse has a plethora of perfectly polished collectables.  Carpentras is worthy of a hit as well.  And buyers looking for a day trip out of Paris are sure to enjoy the amazing prices on inventory at the Orleans market in the Loire Valley!

Top flea markets in France, Villeneuve Les Avignon, Porte de Vanves in Paris, Allées Jules Guesde, Paris Flea Market, Buying antiques in France, The Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in Provence

Top flea markets in France, Villeneuve Les Avignon, Porte de Vanves in Paris, Allées Jules Guesde, Paris Flea Market, Buying antiques in France, The Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in ProvenceTop flea markets in France, Villeneuve Les Avignon, Porte de Vanves in Paris, Allées Jules Guesde, Paris Flea Market, Buying antiques in France, The Antiques Diva, Shopping for antiques in Provence

brocante market Isle de la Sorgue

So the next time you’re planning a trip to France, just know that there is a plethora of flea markets just waiting for you! If this seems overwhelming, we’re here to help. For more information on booking a French flea market tour, email us at [email protected]. We’d be happy to custom plan an antiques buying tour to suit your needs and your budget.

Bonne shopping,

The Antiques Diva®

Belgian Boot Scrapers

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Dear Diva Readers,

While taking a client on tour in Belgium recently, my American colleague Andrew Skipper was walking with me to the car in Antwerp when he asked, “What is that, a mouse entrance?!” pointing to the left of the base of a doorway to a townhouse.

Antiques boot scrapers, Belgium Boot Scrapers,

Having been to Belgium more times than I can count, I have gotten used to the small arched niches at the base of entrances that line the streets of European cities. While they may look like little mouse entrances, they serve quite a different purpose!

Antiques boot scrapers, Belgium Boot Scrapers,

These ground-level cut outs are actually boot scrapers, used by visitors to clean the mud off their shoes before entering the house. They’ve been around since the 18th century and are almost like a pre-curser to the modern door-mat. Like any functional piece of architecture, many of these iron pieces are highly decorative, complementing the overall design of the building they are attached to.

Antiques boot scrapers, Belgium Boot Scrapers,

Of course they served an important purpose in daily European life before streets were covered with bricks and asphalt. Can you imaging the amount of mud that would be tracked into the house after walking home on a dirt road? During the 19th century, it became socially acceptable for the upper class to walk along dirt footpaths rather than strictly riding in their horse-drawn carriages. It is during this time that the boot scraper became highly decorative and a necessity for every house in urban areas.

The next time you’re in an urban city in Europe, particularly Belgium, take notice of these tiny remnants of days gone by. I always find it fascinating that we sometimes overlook the things that we pass by on a daily basis!

The Antiques Diva®

Antiques Diva at Fall Market NYC

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Dear Diva Readers,

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva Speaking Engagement, D&D Building, New York City, Eco-Elegant Interiors, Fall Market, Trudy Dujardin, Le Cuona Showroom, Kerry Howard

Making your home “green” has never been so chic.  Join me Wednesday, October 15 at 2pm at Fall Market at the D&D Bldg in NYC to learn how to create an eco-elegant interior.

Along with LEED accredited professional, designer and author Trudy Dujardin, I’ll be discussing how to achieve green spaces and the ways in which antiques can play a roll.  This event is moderated by Atlanta-based designer and Bravo’s “Top Design” star Kerry Howard.

A book signing of Trudy’s latest book, “Comfort Zone: Creating the Eco-Elegant Interior,”  published by Pointed Leaf Press, and light snacks and refreshments will follow at the de Le Cuona showroom at the D&D Bldg.

See you in New York!
The Antiques Diva®

Paul Jones Pop-up Shop at Spencer Swaffer

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Dear Diva Readers,

Recently on an Antiques Diva Tour, renowned antiques dealer Spencer Swaffer played host to a group of Designers on an an Antiques Diva / Nobelinks Design Tour in the UK.

Spencer Swaffer, The Antiques Diva, English Antiques

The role of host is a well-known role for Spencer and his wife Freya.  Spencer continues his hospitality hosting this month a pop-up shop as part of a mentoring program offered through Antiques Young Guns.

As part of the Antiques Young Guns awards earlier this year a young Welsh dealer named Paul Alexander Jones won a coveted spot to open a small pop-up shop within Swaffer’s store for the next ten days (cleverly in conjunction with Battersea Decorative Fair which is less than a two hour drive from Swaffer’s store).

image001

Much of the stock offered by Jones does not appear online so venturing to the pop-up gives would-be clients a glimpse into an exclusive inventory of antiques. Hailing from a very rural North Wales town, Jones offers ‘country’ style pieces- think richly glazed potter, beautifully figured timbers and charming, naive folk art. Paul confided he’s bringing some warm Welsh tapestry blankets to sell—perfect timing if you ask me, as Autumn is upon us!

Antiques Young Guns, Spencer Swaffer, Paul Jones, English Antiques, Country style decorating, Battersea Decorative Fair, Nobelinks, Steve Nobel,

Antiques Young Guns, Spencer Swaffer, Paul Jones, English Antiques, Country style decorating, Battersea Decorative Fair, Nobelinks, Steve Nobel,

As I’m constantly combing over Europe for the best antiques dealers, whether that be quality of pieces or best prices, I’m always thrilled when new talent developed in the antiques field. Having opened his shop in July 2012, Paul Jones is sure to learn a lot about the antiques trade while being mentored by sage Spencer Swaffer. I’m excited to hear more from Paul and see how networking with other established dealers enhances his business!

If you’ll be in the Arundel area over the next week, stop by and say hello to Paul and Spencer. Tell them The Antiques Diva sent you!

Happy shopping,

The Antiques Diva®

Guten Tag Oktoberfest

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Dear Diva Readers,

Prost! Cue the clinking of beer steins…. Tomorrow is the official beginning of Oktoberfest in Munich! What better way to commemorate the… er… beer season than to talk about antique beer steins?

Munich, Oktoberfest, Dirndle, German Beer, Beer Steins, Earthenware, Stoneware

German beer steins tend to be made of stoneware or earthenware but you’ll also find them in pewter, porcelain, silver and glass. Mentally when I think of beer steins I envision a buxom, dirndle-clad frauen carrying handfuls of steins artfully in front of her…. These steins you see in the Beer Halls of Munich tend to be open at the top.  But when shopping the market you’ll find some donning pewter lids which has an added benefit of keeping the flies out of the beer when drinking alfresco in a beer garden!  But originally these lids were implemented as a caution against spreading disease such as the bubonic plague.

Munich, Oktoberfest, Dirndle, German Beer, Beer Steins, Earthenware, Stoneware

You find steins in half liter and full liter sizes (a friend told me the half liter is for girls and the full stein for the boys).  It is thought that the original area of beer stein production is Kannenbäckerland in the Westerwald region in Germany. Potters have been making beer steins in this area for centuries.

Munich, Oktoberfest, Dirndle, German Beer, Beer Steins, Earthenware, Stoneware

Munich, Oktoberfest, Dirndle, German Beer, Beer Steins, Earthenware, Stoneware

Munich, Oktoberfest, Dirndle, German Beer, Beer Steins, Earthenware, Stoneware

Munich, Oktoberfest, Dirndle, German Beer, Beer Steins, Earthenware, Stoneware

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of beer steins is their décor.  Often nostalgic in nature they typically depict scenes from Germany or, more specifically, Bavaria and often have historical significance. There may be battle scenes on a Regimental stein and in this case, check to see if there is a rank and last name of the original owner. Whether they are simply painted on or carved as a relief, the scenes are usually detailed and elaborate.

5200087499_german stein 009

While the first German beer steins were made as early as the 14th century, antique Oktoberfest German beer steins were first produced in the early 18th century when the first beer drinking party was held. If you can find one of these beautifully rustic steins, snatch it up and enjoy a cold beer as the Germans do! And if you’re like me – and NOT a beer drinker (yes, this is practically blasephemy to confess as I live in Germany) – you can always order a Radler:  half beer- half lemonade.

Prost!

The Antiques Diva®

P1030342

My husband enjoying a beer in Munich!

Italian Fashion

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Dear Diva Readers,

Milan’s Fashion Week begins tomorrow and I’ve got Italian fashion on my mind (somehow when I wrote this I sang it to the tune of “Georgia on My Mind”). Any time we have clients take Antiques Diva Buying Tours in Italy, they inevitably comment on how chic the women look and how impeccably put together the men are. There’s just something about the Italian STYLE.  My mouth wants to speak their language, eat their food, and devour their fashion.

Fashion  Italy     1960   Cesare Guidi, Milan Fashion Week, Italian Fashion, Antiques Diva Buying Tours in Italy, Gucci fashion, GG monogram, Vintage Italian fashion

Fashion Italy 1960, Milan Fashion Week, Italian Fashion, Antiques Diva Buying Tours in Italy, Gucci fashion, GG monogram, Vintage Italian fashion

But did you know that prior to the 1950’s Italy was not known for its high fashion style? Most of the world was still taking fashion cues from Paris. It wasn’t until February of 1951 that Italian businessman Giovanni Battista Giorgini decided not to export fashion creations but rather to hold a multi-designer fashion show right in Florence. The first of many, his show was quite a success and Italy began to be known as a force in the fashion world. Of course most of the Italian fashion designers at that time were still modeling their designs after those in Paris, but they were able to produce them and sell them at a lower cost. This targeted approach proved to be successful and appealed to the American clientele.

Milan Fashion Week, Italian Fashion, Antiques Diva Buying Tours in Italy, Gucci fashion, GG monogram, Vintage Italian fashion

Fashion Italy 1962, Milan Fashion Week, Italian Fashion, Antiques Diva Buying Tours in Italy, Gucci fashion, GG monogram, Vintage Italian fashion

Creation by the Mirsa Fashion House, Milan Fashion Week, Italian Fashion, Antiques Diva Buying Tours in Italy, Gucci fashion, GG monogram, Vintage Italian fashion

By the 1960’s Gucci grabbed the attention of high-profile American women such as Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The Italian label’s “GG” monogram became synonymous with elite ladies in the United States and all over the globe. To this day, vintage Gucci handbags are highly sought after (and mamma mia, I’ve got to tell you the vintage fashion room at Mercanteinfiera has the most wonderful collection of these for sale) . Of course this same decade also saw the beginning of Valentino’s influential career. Dressing the social elite both in Italy and abroad in sculptural evening gowns and seductively chic and sexy cocktail dresses became a big business for Italian designers.

Fashion Italy 1960, Milan Fashion Week, Italian Fashion, Antiques Diva Buying Tours in Italy, Gucci fashion, GG monogram, Vintage Italian fashion

Creation by Eleanora Garnett Fashion House, Milan Fashion Week, Italian Fashion, Antiques Diva Buying Tours in Italy, Gucci fashion, GG monogram, Vintage Italian fashion  Creation by the Fabiani Fashion House, Milan Fashion Week, Italian Fashion, Antiques Diva Buying Tours in Italy, Gucci fashion, GG monogram, Vintage Italian fashion

By the 1970’s and 80’s, fashion designers in Milan started catering to the masses by making ready-to-wear pieces, making Italian fashion accessible and helping Milan to become known as a European fashion capital.  The attention to style, detail and quality has kept this city as a powerhouse in the world of fashion.

Next time you’re in Italy, try and pick up a piece of vintage Italian fashion.  Imagine yourself in La Dolce Diva (er I mean Vita) or Roman Holiday. Whether you’re buying a handbag, gorgeous pair of shoes, or perhaps even a stunning dress, you’ll own a slice of Italy – Diva Style!

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Florence

Ciao Bella,

The Antiques Diva®

Vogue Magazine Covers

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Dear Diva Readers,

If you know me at all, you know I love all things glamorous!  This includes gorgeous antiques, classic interiors, decadent food, bubbly champagne and, of course, chic fashion.  The September issue of Vogue is traditionally the biggest, most important issue of the year, often being 800+ pages of pure unadulterated bliss.

Vogue Magazine, Decorating with vintage Vogue magazine covers, Charlotte Moss, Flea market finds,

Vogue Magazine, Decorating with vintage Vogue magazine covers, Charlotte Moss, Flea market finds,

Just like with Hermes scarves being used as art as well as fashion…I don’t just recommend reading Vogue magazine – I recommend decorating with them!  Frame Vogue magazine covers to make fashionable art perfect for your inner diva.  Of course you can purchase them already framed, but for me that takes all the fun out of it!! I like to dig through piles of vintage magazines at the Puce de Paris and then frame them myself!

Vogue Magazine, Decorating with vintage Vogue magazine covers, Charlotte Moss, Flea market finds,

When you frame vintage Vogue magazine covers with a wide white mat, they become works of art in themselves. Hang them gallery style for a curated look. Line a hallway with row after row of framed covers hung just a couple of inches apart and you’ll have transformed a pass-through into an interesting archive of fashion throughout the decades. For a more eclectic feel, hand them at random, interspersing other artwork of different mediums and sizes with them.

Vogue Magazine, Decorating with vintage Vogue magazine covers, Charlotte Moss, Flea market finds,

I love what designer Charlotte Moss did in her powder room at her winter house. She framed vintage Vogue covers from the winter months and hung them over a beautiful green striped wallpaper, proving that these often mod-looking covers can fit into a very traditional setting as well.

However you choose to inject these iconic images into your home, have fun with it! By surrounding yourself with these beautiful Vogue covers, you’ll always be fashionable!

Until next time,

The Antiques Diva®

6 Must Haves for Antique Collectors

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Dear Diva Readers,

I’ve asked one of my favorite designers, Eric Ross, to share what he feels are the MOST important vintage or antique pieces you MUST have in your home if you consider yourself an antiquarian!

If Eric Ross isn’t already on your radar then you’ll be delighted to meet this full service residential interior designer who is famous for the homes he’s doing in the Greater Nashville, Brentwood, and Franklin, Tennessee area! This boy is designing a whole new south – traditional with a twist! I simply adore Eric and his gorgeous wife Ruthann!

Toma Clark Haines and Eric Ross Design Bloggers Conference, Eric Ross, Ruthann Ross, Must Haves for Antique Collectors, Tennessee Interior Designer, Slipper Chair, Bergere Chair, Chinoiserie, Decorating with Antiques

Meeting Eric Ross at the Design Bloggers Conference in March 2014

While I’m certain Eric could talk for ages and pages about what each antique collector must haves, he’s promised to be brief!  But if these tidbits whet your appetite for more details, just head over to Eric’s blog to read more of what collectors shouldn’t live without – and follow his 6 part series.

GUEST BLOG:
Designer Eric Ross’ 6 Must Have Antiques Include:

 1. Chairs

Chairs are like friends – you need a few good ones. A few examples of my favorite styles are:

The Slipper chair.  I find this style very comfortable as it allows ones arms and hands to fall naturally into the lap without worrying about the arms of the chair being the wrong height for someone’s body.

eric ross, Eric Ross, Ruthann Ross, Must Haves for Antique Collectors, Tennessee Interior Designer, Slipper Chair, Bergere Chair, Chinoiserie, Decorating with Antiques

Eric also has a small obsession with tiny chairs

A Bergère chair, THE classic French armchair, is considered masculine because it has solid arms.  The feminine version, a Fauteuil, has space under the armrest open to allow room for a lady’s skirts.

2. Dishes

Whether they’re displayed on a table, in a bookcase, or on a wall, the glint of the polish creates an interesting play with light in a room.  Colorful dishes help enhance a room’s color scheme, but don’t forget about plain white. The milky-white of cream-ware also takes on the hue of what’s around it.

eric ross, Eric Ross, Ruthann Ross, Must Haves for Antique Collectors, Tennessee Interior Designer, Slipper Chair, Bergere Chair, Chinoiserie, Decorating with Antiques

The best thing about dishes is that they are a beautiful and inexpensive decoration.  Don’t have the budget for art?  Break out your grandma’s china and hang it.

3. Rugs

Rug rule #1: Spare no expense! Spend the most you can afford. If you spend the least you can afford you’ll end up with a glorified bath mat. Shudder!

eric ross, Eric Ross, Ruthann Ross, Must Haves for Antique Collectors, Tennessee Interior Designer, Slipper Chair, Bergere Chair, Chinoiserie, Decorating with Antiques

Rug rule #2: Always go with wool! A good rug is a workhorse.  If you’re spending money on a high quality antique you have to remember that this rug has been traipsed on for over 100 years… and still looks good! Twenty years in your home isn’t going to kill it.

4. Pillows

You really can’t have too many pillows in a room.  And, they’re an inexpensive way to add pizzazz to a hum-drum sofa or chair.

Pillows are also a great way to recycle fabrics that have moved past their prime in other areas: Needlepoint or tapestry that has frayed at the edges of a chair can be given new life on a pillow. I’ve also seen beautiful vintage tea towels featuring hand embroidery put to good use by adding a little vintage touch in children’s bedrooms.

eric ross, Eric Ross, Ruthann Ross, Must Haves for Antique Collectors, Tennessee Interior Designer, Slipper Chair, Bergere Chair, Chinoiserie, Decorating with Antiques

So, don’t be afraid to re-purpose Grandma’s needlepoint into a lovely pillow that can be enjoyed for generations to come.

 5. Chinoiserie

The term “Chinoiserie” covers anything with a Far-Eastern or Oriental theme.  From faux bamboo furniture, through hand-painted wallpaper panels, inlaid screens, lotus blossom art, ginger jars (swoon) and willow pattern plates, statues, pagoda shapes, caramondel screens… the list goes on and on. And, so does my passion for this style! I have several Pinterest boards set up as altars at which I worship. If you ever get the chance check it out.

eric ross, Eric Ross, Ruthann Ross, Must Haves for Antique Collectors, Tennessee Interior Designer, Slipper Chair, Bergere Chair, Chinoiserie, Decorating with Antiques

For people who don’t want a lot of it, consider adding just one small foo dog, or blue and white bud vase. From a small accent to a whole wall, Eastern flavor adds just the right amount of spice to your décor.

6:  Books

Antique books are a wonderful and inexpensive way to decorate.  They don’t have to be old and they don’t even (all) have to be pretty… they just need to be placed well.

Placement is key because it can easily look like you don’t pick up after yourself.

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On shelves, mixed in with your favorite photos, art and collectibles, books give the eye a place to rest. A couple of books under a small ornament raises it into the middle of the shelf, displaying it more effectively; and a section of vertically stacked books distances one area from the next, making your shelves look well thought out rather than filed under “Boring!”

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Coffee table books are a MUST.  Clients of mine have flinched at the idea of spending $75 on a beautiful volume, but if you compare that with the $500 you might spend on a good vintage box, books are definitely an inexpensive accessory.

So whether you are starting a collection or just adding to, take an inventory of your treasures to see if you need to start out on a new hunt.

Don’t forget to check out Eric’s blog for more great design advice!

The Antiques Diva®

Fascinated with Fascinators

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Dear Diva Readers,

The month of September is known for a few things— cooler temperatures, shorter days, and, of course, Fashion Week!!! With the London Fashion Week beginning today and running through the 17th of September 2014, I thought I’d pay a little homage on the blog to a quintessentially English tradition in fashion—the fascinator!

English Traditions, Fascinator, Princess Beatrice of York, Extravagant hats, headdress, London Fashion Week

19th C hats, English Traditions, Fascinator, Princess Beatrice of York, Extravagant hats, headdress, London Fashion Week

The history of the fascinator goes back to Marie Antoinette who made it fashionable to decorate ones head with ostrich feathers and jewels.  Essentially, a fascinator is a small ornamental headpiece worn by ladies that fits on the head via a headband or small comb.  Typically garnished with feathers, beads, lace or other lightweight trimming, the purpose of the fascinator is not to shield one from the sun (like a hat would) but rather to compliment the hairdo as an ornamental accessory.

PrincessBeatrice, English Traditions, Fascinator, Princess Beatrice of York, Extravagant hats, headdress, London Fashion Week

English Traditions, Fascinator, Princess Beatrice of York, Extravagant hats, headdress, London Fashion Week

English Traditions, Fascinator, Princess Beatrice of York, Extravagant hats, headdress, London Fashion Week

Fascinators really came on my radar while watching the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.  You’ll recall Princess Beatrice of York caused a sensation with her fascinator!  (Incidentally she then used that publicity to auction her fascinator for charity, selling it for 99,000 Euros!!)

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I’ve a penchant for extravagant hats so ever since fascinators have came on my radar I’ve been hooked, seeing them the perfect accessory for glamming up a special fete! I’d buy Beatrice’s butterfly fascinator in a heart beat!  (By the way, the photo above of me mid-giggle was taken at a friend’s casual New Years Eve party in their home!)

In London, these lovely hair pieces really entered into the millinery scene in force during the 1970’s but the term ‘fascinator’ has been around for centuries.  In the 17th century, a fascinator was simply a lacy veil, but as fashions evolved in the upper class, their head pieces began to become taller and more elaborate. By the 18th century, British women were dressing their hair with all sorts of frills such as feathers, ribbons and jewels. Clearly I was born in the wrong era… I look good in feathers!!  Headdresses were meant to reflect one’s mood by strategically placing various items on your hat or attached to your hair-piece. Anything from feathers to fruit could be used. Even elaborate miniature gardens could be placed on the head to show status and wealth.

During the 19th century, hair accessories become simpler, as the lower classes were able to afford different fashion accessories. Less expensive items are used to adorn the head such as shells and ribbons.

In the mid 1800’s we began to see a fashion for miniature hats being placed on top of women’s heads. A return to unique style and more embellishments begins during the Edwardian era with entire stuffed birds being affixed to the hair! Of course when WWI  broke out, fashions became much simpler.  But in the 1930’s simple cocktail hats became in vogue. It is during this time period that we see the influence of the modern day fascinator—small hats or pieces of lace with feathers and beads attached.

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By the 1980’s we see the likes of Princess Diana wearing fascinators which put them back into fashion. About a decade later, Sarah Jessica Parker dons these chic accessories on the hit show “Sex in the City.”

Throughout the centuries, fashions come and go but certain elements always remain if only popping up again with a slight twist. A fascinator is one of those classic pieces that I don’t see disappearing any time soon! Why not try one out in honor of London Fashion Week?!

Cheers,
The Antiques Diva®

Avignon Antiques Fairs Trade Exclusive

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Dear Diva Readers,

Antiques Diva Provence Tours

Extra, extra read all about it… If you’re an Antiques Dealer wanting to start buying antiques abroad in France this secret, To The Trade Only Antiques Fairs in Provence happens to be one of the best addresses to do so!  On the arm of your Diva Guide, a native-speaking French antiques courier,  you’ll gain access to a slew of bottom dollar, er make that euro,  priced French antiques, vintage, and more whilst rubbing shoulders with some of the top dealers around the world.  I must confess I like the fair for the people watching as much as I do for the shopping as it’s a veritable who’s who of antiquing.

Antiques Diva Provence tours

Shopping these trade fairs is NOT for the faint of heart.  You need to queue before the fair opens and the doors open for the event at 8am on the nose!  Elbows fly as dealers push and shove to get first dibs on buying antiques in Provence.  It’s a mad house and one that I personally don’t brave without French reinforcements – but it is some of the most exciting antiquing in France!   Don’t worry about getting the goods home, we’ll liaise you with international shippers ready to pack and carry!

Antiques Diva Provence

Antiques Diva Provence Tours

But I’m sooo sorry – if you’re a mere shopping mortal and not an antiques dealer or interior designer this fair is not the fair for you!! It’s reserved only for professional traders on presentation of your pre-approved trade card.

This is the tour for antique dealers who want to source antiques abroad stocking their store with the best French antiques and vintage finds. Our Guide picks you up at your hotel and takes you to this trade only fair where you’ll buy wholesale antiques in Europe, giving you access to the best priced French antiques, vintage and more. This trade fair is for serious buyers and is available only through pre-registration. Plan on queuing early before the fair opens. Let your Antiques Guide clear the way as she translates and negotiates on your behalf. This is a fast and furious antiques fair and can be overwhelming. As always, we’ll liaise you with a preferred shipper.

Below are the remaining 2014 dates for the Avignon Trade Fair:

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Monday 27 October 2014

Monday 1 December 2014

The fair will be releasing 2015 dates this Fall.  If you would like us to email you the 2015 dates upon receipt, please let me know at [email protected] and I’ll ensure you receive this vital information on antiquing in Provence!

Want to learn more about how you shop like the pros?  Email [email protected]

The Antiques Diva ®

The Antiques Diva Belgian Experience

The Antiques Diva Belgian Experience

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Dear Diva Readers,

When I take clients on tour, my goal is to maximize their time and give them the most bang for their buck so to speak. If a person is flying across the ocean to source antiques, chances are they want to utilize their time and resources to the best of their ability and that’s where we come in.  Not only do we custom plan a shopping route according to each client’s needs, but we also translate and negotiate on their behalf. We typically start the day pretty early in order to arrive at each appointment on time, which means that while on tour, fatigue can set in and quick meals on the go are usually a must to allow more shopping time!

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Lunch at Mulino – an Antiek Café on the French/Belgian border

However it’s not all work and no play. Our relationships with our trusted dealers and sources allow us to offer clients the best shopping experience possible—Diva style!  Last week I was leading a tour in Belgium where the antique dealers seem to be the most hospitable in Europe.  On our first day, just about the time when we needed to refuel, a favorite antiques dealer we were visiting met us at the door with a bottle of Champagne. How thoughtful! He and his wife then offered to make us a gorgeous lunch consisting of croque monsieur and fresh cherry tomatoes. This little bit of down time allowed the client and I a few moments to go over the morning’s purchases and discuss items that she was considering. After our lunch break, we were refreshed and ready to hit the road for our next appointment! (and a few more purchases were made in the store after refueled with lunch and some bubbly).

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Anne-Marie of Antiques Histoire in Tongeren opening a bottle of champagne for Diva clients

The second day on tour, we stopped into another favorite dealer around lunch time. She too had a bottle of Champagne at the ready and after toasting to a successful buying trip, we enjoyed a beautiful spread of ham & cheese sandwiches that she had prepared. To finish, she offered us apple cake, made with locally grown apples. How decadent!

Sourcing antiques in Europe, Filling a container with antiques, Buying Tours of Belgium, Antiques Diva, Belgian Antiques Dealers, Champagne, European Lifestyle

Sourcing antiques in Europe, Filling a container with antiques, Buying Tours of Belgium, Antiques Diva, Belgian Antiques Dealers, Champagne, European Lifestyle

Sourcing antiques in Europe, Filling a container with antiques, Buying Tours of Belgium, Antiques Diva, Belgian Antiques Dealers, Champagne, European Lifestyle

Sourcing antiques in Europe, Filling a container with antiques, Buying Tours of Belgium, Antiques Diva, Belgian Antiques Dealers, Champagne, European Lifestyle

It’s the kindness and thoughtfulness of antiques dealers whom we know and trust that help make The Antiques Diva Buying Tours what they are. When you come on one of our tours, it’s all about introducing you to the best dealers in Europe and building lasting relationships so that we can help you source antiques for years to come. More than just shopping, The Antiques Diva & Co gives you a glimpse into the European lifestyle—and what’s better than a little champagne while you work?  My husband always jokes, “Do you really work? I’m only seeing photos of you drinking champagne!!” Our client filled her container in 2 days  – so that’s proof positive that shopping with The Antiques Diva® is more than just fun, but when shopping for antiques does it ever really feel like work?!

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Bonne Shopping!

The Antiques Diva®

Best Finds at Paris Flea Markets

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Dear Diva Readers,

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Paris Antiques Diva Buying Guides – Katie, Danielle, Toma, Jennifer and Debbie

At The Antiques Diva & Co, one of our most popular tours is our Paris Tour. Of course there are many reasons for this— the beautiful architecture, the romance, the food, the history, and, of course, the antiques! From Les Puce to other smaller flea markets that are held throughout the year, Paris offers an extremely vast inventory of antique and vintage pieces. With so many options to choose from, it can be a daunting task to know what to buy (albeit a daunting task I’d gladly take up any day of the week!!!). That’s where my Diva Guides and I come in! I’ve asked each of our Paris Diva Guides to share their top picks for the best finds in Paris Flea Markets.

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Danielle says that anything Art Nouveau is a great find at the Paris Flea Market. She often spots crystal and glass pieces including Baccarat, and porcelain Saint-Louis dining sets. She also says that classic French 18th and 19th century furniture is a great buy right now as prices are very low. But she warns that while there are some stunning French mid-century modern pieces available, be prepared to pay a bit more money for them.

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Diva Guide Debbie advises that if you’re looking for items you can pack and take home with you, artwork and linens are smart things to shop for. If you’re planning to ship a container overseas, armoires are a steal right now. Often times the bigger the piece, the better the price so keep that in mind. She also says that Paris flea markets offer beautiful lighting options.

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As a lover of vintage Chanel and high-fashion brands, Diva Guide Jennifer is always finding the best vintage Chanel jewelry and little French pieces that can be made into jewelry. She also comes across vintage Louis Vuitton trunks and vintage Hermès scarves. Beyond vintage fashion, Jennifer also suggests keeping an eye out for Pastis water pitchers, antique seltzer bottles (what a perfect piece for the home bar!), vintage fabrics and vintage posters or prints.

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Dive Guide Katie thinks that the best thing about the Paris flea market is that it is just so eclectic and you can find absolutely everything there. She also says that meeting specialists and people so incredibly passionate about what they’re selling is a huge benefit of shopping Paris flea markets.

As for me, I think the best Paris flea market finds are crystal-laden chandeliers. Bedside tables, Taxidermy & Horns, Vintage postcards, gorgeous French linens, not to forget canapés, fauteuils and seats of all shapes and styles!

If you’d like to take an Antiques Diva & Co Buying Tour of the Paris Flea Markets email us at [email protected].

Bonne Shopping!

The Antiques Diva®

Le Salon Antiquaires Galeriestes – Paris

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Dear Diva Readers,

Oh la la…  Traveling to Paris next week? While site-seeing in the city of light, we’re inviting you to take time to shop at a special antiques fair set up along my favorite bridge, Pont Alexandre III. Held September 10-21, 2014 the ambiance for Le Salon Antiquaires Galeriestes couldn’t be more perfect for a high-end antiques fair!

Le Salon Antiquaires Galeriestes, Paris Antiques Market, Buying French Antiques in Paris, Pont Alexandre III

The antiques fair takes place on this Beaux-Arts style bridge in the light cast by the Art Nouveau cherub and nymph clad lamps. The style of the bridge reflects that of the nearby Grand Palais.  Both the Palais and the pont were inaugurated in 1900 for the Exposition Universelle World’s Fair.  At the antiques fair you’ll find treasures from this period and beyond!

Le Salon Antiquaires Galeriestes, Paris Antiques Market, Buying French Antiques in Paris, Pont Alexandre III

Enjoy with our compliments an invitation to attend the antiques fair for free  – just print this invite and bring with you to enter for some seriously diva-style shopping!

Bonne Antiquing!
The Antiques Diva® 

(seen below on Pont Alexandre III in a photo with my husband – taken in 2007)

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Antique Tea Sets

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Dear Diva Readers,

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Enjoying tea with others is a tradition that has been around for centuries – whether ladies gathering for a gossip, husbands and wives recapping at the end of the day or formal rituals worthy of the royal family. The tea time ritual transcends geographical boarders, but I fear has become a forgotten art.  Tea time is the perfect way to reconnect with friends, family and colleagues. And tea sets have been an important part of culture in many parts of the world for centuries. We recently had a client on an England antiques buying tour seeking to source hundreds of antique tea cups and pots for her wedding rental company which got me thinking a bit about the history of the tea set.

Hans Dynasty Vintage tea sets, Antique tea sets, the history of tea time, The Antiques Diva,

Having their debut in China during the Han Dynasty around 206 B.C., tea sets were much different than what we typically think of today in the Western world. At this time and in the Chinese culture, tea was primarily used for medicinal purposes rather than as a social repose and it was typically served out of small bowls rather than cups. By the Song Dynasty (960-1279 A.D.) teapots began to be made out of iron ore. Because these were porous, each teapot was used for a specific type of tea. This time period also gave birth to the first ceramic teapots.

Eventually as explorers discovered the Orient this Eastern tradition was adopted by the West and, over the centuries, has been modified to suit certain cultures. As an American when I think about tea parties I immediately imagine a children’s tea party complete with dolls and stuffed animals or English royals sipping Earl Gray whilst wearing over-the-top hats and fascinators.  In both of my imaginings – regardless of scenario – whether high or low –  the one thing that is constant is the gorgeous tea set from which everything is served.

silver-tea-set-by-oidiot-paris-c-1880, Antique tea sets, the history of tea time, The Antiques Diva, Silver Tea Set French

In the seventieth century, the upper class in France began drinking tea from silver tea services. Having the tea sets made in silver allowed families not to have to match porcelain tea services to their china patterns. Tea sets typically consisted of a teapot, coffee pot, waste bowl, sugar bowl, creamer and a tea caddy. Sometimes a matching silver tray completed the set but it was not a requirement.

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During Victorian times, English tea sets were made of bone china. As everything from this period was intricate and elaborate, patterns were detailed and sets could consist of quite a few pieces. Cups and saucers as well as plates and serving pieces could be purchased to match tea sets.

Antique tea sets, the history of tea time, The Antiques Diva, Porcelain tea sets

Today, much like the client we had recently who was sourcing to stock her wedding supply store, I personally love to mix and match my tea sets, repurposing pieces to suit my needs.

Antique tea sets, the history of tea time, The Antiques Diva, vintage tea sets

Antique tea sets, the history of tea time, The Antiques Diva,

I take a silver tray and layer it high with cucumber sandwiches and I fill my antique ceramic tea pots with bouquets of tight budded roses.

The Antiques Diva®

Antique tea sets, the history of tea time, The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines

Labor Day Diva Style

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Dear Diva Readers,

As an American who has lived in Europe for more than 14 years, I say why not celebrate both European AND American holidays?! I’m all about a party regardless of which side of the pond I happen to be celebrating.  With Labor Day being tomorrow, I am reminiscing over Labor Day weekends past and also thinking about how we can celebrate in general. This weekend tends to be Summer’s last hurrah – so why not say good-bye to summer with a party— Diva style!

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, The Antiques Diva Apartment, Labor Day Party, Using Style in Everyday Life, Antiques Diva Party,

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, The Antiques Diva Apartment, Labor Day Party, Using Style in Everyday Life, Antiques Diva Party,

On this day off work, relax with friends and family outdoors while you enjoy the fruits of your labor because the nice weather won’t be lasting much longer! As a lover of all things antique…and all things luxurious… I like to actually use my “good stuff!”  My crystal and silver get a really good work out.  And while I love throwing fancy parties such as this roof-top fete I threw when we lived in Amsterdam, entertaining diva style doesn’t mean that things have to be fussy or high maintenance, but rather that the atmosphere should feel special.

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, The Antiques Diva Apartment, Labor Day Party, Using Style in Everyday Life, Antiques Diva Party,

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, The Antiques Diva Apartment, Labor Day Party, Using Style in Everyday Life, Antiques Diva Party,

Since I am constantly shopping flea markets and antiques stores all over Europe (and America and Asia when I am there), I tend to pick up little tabletop accessories and serving pieces that catch my eye. Rather than save these fun finds for special occasions only, I prefer to use them frequently.  All my china is the everyday china regardless of price.

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For a Labor Day party, it’s all about relaxing in style so why not serve easy snacks (you could even do potato chips, dips and hummus) in beautiful antique crystal serving bowls or set out on silver trays? Trust me there’s nothing like eating a classic potato chip out of a sterling silver bowl – it elevates the taste to gourmand when your eye sees style! The Antiques Diva lifestyle is all about taking something common and elevating it.  Live everyday with gracious style. While you’re upping the style factor, why not sit out bottles of wine in a beautiful antique ice bucket? Garnish your glasses with strawberries or rasperries.  Better yet – buy a bottle or two of champagne for a fete.  Nothing makes it feel like a party faster than a bottle of bubbly.  When entertaining this is an way to make guests feel special without going to a lot of trouble.

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Utilize your treasures and create a unique environment for your guests. Think outside the box and try to incorporate your antiques into your Labor Day fete. There’s nothing better than sitting in the sun with loved ones while you enjoy each other’s company and…the good things in life.

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Happy Labor Day,

The Antiques Diva®

Venetian Glass Chandeliers

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Dear Diva Readers,

Venetian glass has long been a highly sought after commodity, adding artistic touches to interiors not only to Italian residences but also all over the world. Perhaps one of the best known and most appreciated products made of Venetian glass is the chandelier. These intricately detailed pieces seem to float when hanging and they create an atmosphere of fantasy, whimsy and grandeur all at once.

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Many clients that take an Antiques Diva Buying Tour in Italy will stop and stare when they first see these marvelous creations. They’re mesmerizing! The skill of Venetian craftsmen leaves you speechless when you think about each tiny piece being made by hand!

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Sometime around the year 1700, Venetian glassmakers began making chandeliers from Murano glass. Murano glass comes from the island of Murano in Venice and had been used to make lovely items for centuries before this. Being known as the most beautiful and pure glass in the world, Murano glass would be molded and sculpted into flirtatious forms often incorporating flowers, vines and leaves. Glassmakers also used various shades of colored glass to enhance these chandeliers and make them look even more like bouquets of flowers.

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Whether transparent or colored, many Venetian glass chandeliers have arms covered with blown glass. This requires tedious attention and many hours to craft each small piece by hand to seamlessly fit together. While these chandeliers are still crafted in Venice, purchasing an antique is most certainly a good investment that not only retains but gains in value. Often these antique chandeliers come with provenance, having previously hung in palazzos, theaters and other important historical buildings. On our Venetian tours we’re able to visit palazzo’s where you can buy chandeliers straight from the palazzo’s frescoed ceiling…. In essence it’s magic. Diva Style.

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If you would like more information on our Antiques Diva Buying Tours or Buying Services, email us at [email protected] We’d love to help you source the perfect antique Venetian glass chandelier!

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The Antiques Diva in Venice with Venetian Diva Guide Orseola

Ciao Bella!

The Antiques Diva®

Ham and Antiques Special Tour

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Dear Diva Readers,

The smell of ham is in the air… The National Fair of the Flea Market and Ham is back again this September 26 to October 5 2014 in the Parisian suburbs!!! Do you need glasses? Did you read that right? A Ham & Antiques FAIR!?!!?

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Yep… it’s one of the biggest fall traditions in France! And as we all know – in France everything is based on tradition (key the music for Fiddler on the Roof  ). While at first I thought the odd combo of selling pork and antiques was a marketing ploy to get reluctant husbands to go brocanting, the fair’s origins date back to the Moyen Age. Today over 800 vendors from toute la France bring a gorgeous assortment of antiques to one locale… and how the fair got its start is based on… TRADITION.

special offer i heart ham

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In the Middle Ages, during Holy Week, pork butchers came to Paris selling their products. One year an enterprising butcher decided that he wanted to “bring home more bacon” so he started selling not only braised ham but the equipment for making it as well! The other vendors caught on to the idea and started bringing more items, focusing on specialties from their region, namely furniture, pottery and antiques. Before they knew it, a festival celebrating both the flea market and ham was born. You have the opportunity to celebrate one of the most beloved French flea market (and gourmand) traditions in the country on the arm of your local diva guides. Book a 2 day tour – one day at the Ham Fair and another at the Paris flea market – between September 25 and October 5, 2014 and save 200 Euro by mentioning discount code JAMBON!

Bonne Shopping!

The Antiques Diva®

 

The Green Man

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Dear Diva Readers,

As my Diva Guides and I shop all over Europe, we see a few consistent themes in antiques that span various countries and time periods – one recurring face that’s seen all over the antique world is the mythological “Green Man” which appears as sculpture, in drawings or as a representation on certain furniture pieces.

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The Green Man is usually depicted as a human-like face surrounded by or incorporating leaves, branches and vines. On rare occasions you may see a Green Woman or a Green Lion, but it is most often a male face and sometimes there is a body as well, also made of vegetation. Some representations will have a head completely covered in leaves while others depict a man’s head simply spewing vegetation from its mouth. Still others will have a more stylized head made up of vegetation such as leaves as eyebrows and vines as a beard.

green-man-winchelsea-east-sussex

In some cultures the Green Man is thought to be a symbol of rebirth, nodding to the cycle of growth each spring. Other cultures view the Green Man as a deity, being lord over vegetation. Either way, he is a figure that has remained constant in several different cultures throughout the ages.

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The Green Man can be spotted in architecture from all over the world. Sometimes he is incorporated into a plaster ceiling while other times he is cast in brass and made into a door knocker. From secular buildings to religious places, the Green Man is a decorative element that crosses lines of class and religion. While it may seem strange that this “deity like” symbol would be seen in Christian churches, one must realize that early missionaries would sometimes incorporate local gods into architecture so they wouldn’t alienate new converts.

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Regardless of the origins, the Green Man is most definitely still a familiar symbol in antiques and architecture. The next time you’re out and about, try to spot one of these leafy faces!

Happy Hunting!

The Antiques Diva®

Antique Tapestries

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Dear Diva Readers,

Because we offer Antique Buying Tours for tourists as well as trade professionals, many of our clients are interior designers or antique store owners who want to stock their stores. Having these trade clients on tour allows us to have a glimpse into what styles are trendy now and what pieces remain classic in the world of interior decorating.  Tapestries are among the classic pieces since they have been around for centuries and continue to be used in homes across the world.

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Tapestries weren’t originally just decorative items. People of the ancient world would hang large textiles on their walls to keep the cold air out of their homes. As with most utilitarian aspects of the home, people began adding decorative elements to tapestries and eventually they became works of art in and of themselves. The weaving process became more intricate and certain weavers would create their own trademarks that they became known for. In fact, one way to identify the manufacturer of a tapestry is to look at its border. Different weavers would use unique border styles sort of as a signature to their tapestries.

Antique Tapestries, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Sourcing European Antiques

Countries like Italy, England Belgium and France became specialists in this art form, offering wealthy clients custom designed tapestries, perhaps depicting important people or commemorating important events. As with anything, tapestries were a way to show status and wealth. In Paris, high-class clients would have gold threads incorporated into their tapestries.

Antique Tapestries, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Sourcing European Antiques

Antique Tapestries, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Sourcing European Antiques

By the 16th century, the jacquard loom was developed in Flanders which made tapestries more accessible to the masses. However the skill of hand weavers cannot be matched and therefore the older and more intricate tapestries are often harder to find and more expensive.

Antique Tapestries, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Sourcing European Antiques

If you’re looking to purchase an antique tapestry, here are a few things to look for— see if there is a border on the tapestry. Often times the border is the first part of the tapestry to be destroyed, cut or deteriorate. Also observe the coloring—has the dye faded? Are the colors rich? Another thing to look at is the subject matter. Usually older tapestries depict Roman scenes while later tapestries incorporate hunts and other activities the noble class would have partaken in. Also ask the dealer if they know any history about the tapestry. Finding out where it came from and who owned it will not only be interesting but may lead to a discovery of an important historic provenance.

Antique Tapestries, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Sourcing European Antiques

Antique Tapestries, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Sourcing European Antiques

Antique Tapestries, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Sourcing European Antiques

If you would like us to help you source an antique tapestry or if you’d like to take one of our Antique Buying Tours, email us at [email protected].  We’d love to share our knowledge with you!

The Antiques Diva®

Edd in the Clouds

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Dear Diva Readers,

In July I wrote about attending the Antiques Young Guns Awards Ceremony in London.  That night I had the pleasure of meeting Edd Thomas, the mastermind  who choreographs the antiques collection at Edd In The Clouds where he focuses on antique and vintage furniture that suit the modern home.  He looks for pieces that have a real story to tell where possible. Most of Edd’s pieces date to the decorative art period of the 1850s-1950s including important designers and retailers.

Antiques Young Guns, Edd in the Clouds, Edd Thomas, Decorative Antiques, Marc Allum, The Antiques Roadshow, Gothic style Victorian mahogany dining table

Edd Thomas of ‘Edd in the Clouds’, winner of a Lorfords showcase prize during the Antiques Young Guns Awards with AYG co-founders Mark Hill and George Johnson

Edd explains, “There is nothing better than finding an unloved item from the dusty corner of one persons home and putting it pride of place in someone elses.”

Dealing is far more than just work for Edd and he is a proud member of the Antiques Young Guns movement, a passionate group of young people working in the Antiques industry.  Part of the awards ceremony in July was pairing Antiques Young Guns with trade legends for a mentorship program.  Edd Thomas was paired with Marc Allum of The Antiques Roadshow.

Antiques Young Guns, Edd in the Clouds, Edd Thomas, Decorative Antiques, Marc Allum, The Antiques Roadshow, Gothic style Victorian mahogany dining table

After the party we went for dinner with a group of Antique Young Gun friends and Edd was telling me about a recent purchase he’d acquired for his store –  a 10 seat Gothic style Victorian mahogany dining table which is one of the original tables from the opening of the Natural History Museum in London.  I love pieces with provenance.  When I buy antiques I’m looking for a story – for romance – for adventure!  I was hooked and immediately began asking questions.

Antiques Young Guns, Edd in the Clouds, Edd Thomas, Decorative Antiques, Marc Allum, The Antiques Roadshow, Gothic style Victorian mahogany dining table

Edd explains, “The Gothic style dining table seats 10 comfortably.  Constructed in solid Cuban mahogany it has aged beautifully.  With its 6 legs and very solid top, the piece dates to 1880-1881 and would have been used to display larger animals in either the main hall or one of the side wings of the museum.”  Indeed early photos of the museum show a very similar example with a giant stuffed crocodile on top!

Antiques Young Guns, Edd in the Clouds, Edd Thomas, Decorative Antiques, Marc Allum, The Antiques Roadshow, Gothic style Victorian mahogany dining table

The Natural History Museum, designed by Sir Alfred Waterhouse, remains one of the jewels of London. As with most civil projects the original costs of the building spiraled out of control. However, as Edd explains, “despite this the Treasury were still willing in Dec 1877 to sign off a substantial furnishing cost of £177,000 understanding the importance of the tables and show cases to the visitor experience. While Waterhouse designed some of the cases and benches himself, the majority of the furnishings were designed by Sir John Taylor  who was senior surveyor at the office of works and a joint designer of the British Museum. The detailing on the legs of this table is a common one found on other items throughout the museum even today and the table was most likely a designed by Taylor. It was most certainly constructed by the firm of W.Cubitt and Co.”

With changing needs this example was finally sold off by the Museum in 2005 to the previous owner and a quick tour around the museum today shows only one or two similar tables (but far smaller) still exist, making this almost unique. It comes with a letter of sale from the museum as well as relevant research Edd has collected from their archives.

Offered in good condition with great original patination to the top, this table is an opportunity to buy a piece of British history with a  story to tell!  Measuring  235cm long x 140cm wide x 77cm high – it’s priced £3700.

Contact Antiques Young Gun Edd Thomas of  Edd in the Clouds for more details.

Until Next Time,
The Antiques Diva®

French Cafe Chairs

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Dear Diva Readers,

Most often when clients come on an Antiques Diva Tour, they’re looking to purchase a piece of Europe and take it home with them. What’s wonderful about Europe is that each country has distinct historical styles and specific furniture pieces they are known for. In France, one of the quintessential pieces people think of when they imagine Paris is the French café chair.

Bistro Table, French Cafe Chairs, Paris Cafe Chairs, Rattan, Les Deux Magots

Anyone who has strolled the streets of Paris (or done so vicariously while watching a movie set in this romantic city) has seen row upon row of cafe chairs and tables, beckoning tourists and locals alike to sit and enjoy a cappuccino and a croissant.  I’ve whiled many a morning at Les Deux Magots and nearly 10 years ago when Les Deux Magots was doing a renovation I was able to buy some chairs direct from the famous café, commemorating our 5 years living around the corner from this landmark institution.

Bistro Table, French Cafe Chairs, Paris Cafe Chairs, Rattan, Les Deux Magots

Bistro Table, French Cafe Chairs, Paris Cafe Chairs, Rattan, Les Deux Magots, Antiques Diva Berlin Apartment, Terrace Furniture

I brought my Les Deux Magots café chairs with me when I moved from Paris to Amsterdam and Amsterdam to Berlin where I currently call ma maison.  These chairs add a French flair to any seating area and are a great way to “bring Paris home”!

Bistro Table, French Cafe Chairs, Paris Cafe Chairs, Rattan, Les Deux Magots

Bistro Table, French Cafe Chairs, Paris Cafe Chairs, Rattan, Les Deux Magots

What I love about café chairs is that they work in so many situations. When used in a modern kitchen, they bring a sense of history and savoir flaire without being old fashioned. Use them on a front porch for effortless European style. Or do what I’ve done and use them on a terrace for casual outdoor dining that instantly transports you to another time and place.

Bistro Table, French Cafe Chairs, Paris Cafe Chairs, Rattan, Les Deux Magots Bistro Table, French Cafe Chairs, Paris Cafe Chairs, Rattan, Les Deux Magots

With a plethora of designs and colors, you can surely find a style to fit your taste. From classic and clean to whimsical and vibrant, the French bistro chair is the perfect piece to add into a space –  and being made of rattan, they’re durable! This makes them family and pet friendly, not to mention usable for outdoor rooms (thought I will note I keep mine in good condition by storing them in the covered area of my terrace when not in use).

Bistro Table, French Cafe Chairs, Paris Cafe Chairs, Rattan, Les Deux Magots, Antiques Diva Berlin Apartment

Where would you use these classic French chairs? Indoors, outdoors, in the kitchen, on a deck?

Until next time,

The Antiques Diva®

Special Group Tour in London for Designers

Special Group Tour in London for Designers

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Dear Diva Readers,

I’m delighted to announce that I’m teaming up with Steve Nobel, design industry sage and adviser, who links people, places and ideas through his consulting business Nobelinks for a special group tour in London this fall.   In addition to working privately with interior designers, Steve is renowned for taking exclusive groups of interior designers to destinations such as New York, Los Angeles, Paris, and – coming this September – London. Through exploring design abroad with like-minded professionals, designers are given the opportunity to explore first hand and sharpen their overall strategic outlook.

Nobelinks, Steve Nobel, Design Trust, Antiques Diva, London, English Antiques, London Design Festival, DECOREX, FOCUS at Chelsea Harbor, Design Strategy

For this upcoming British invasion partnering Nobel’s group with The Antiques Diva & Co was a natural connection.  The AD&CO takes people to places and introduces them to people they would not have access to on their own.  As a company, our mission is to make European antiques accessible, helping to navigate the international waters of buying overseas and introducing clients not only to antiques vendors but also to international shippers and to European life in general.  On our antique buying tours we lend our experience and long-term relationships to our clients, making introductions to off-the-beaten path antique dealers and giving designers inside access that usually takes decades to achieve. My business is based on relationships as we build a bridge between North America and Europe.

Meanwhile Steve Nobel explains, “The real benefit for the participants in my Nobelinks groups is the people; collegiality is based on trusted relationships. We give interior designers the opportunity to make not only professional connections, but, perhaps more importantly, to make personal connections. Profound connections are made in our groups that are life changing for our designers.” Past participants in these ventures include Mark Cutler, Sherry Hayslip, Skip Sroka, Wendi Young and many others.

Nobelinks, Steve Nobel, Design Trust, Antiques Diva, London, English Antiques, London Design Festival, DECOREX, FOCUS at Chelsea Harbor, Design Strategy

With the help of The Antiques Diva & Co, Nobelink’s Design Trust will delve deeply into design during the top industry events in the UK this fall, traveling abroad September 19 – 23, 2014 during the International London Design Festival, DECOREX and FOCUS at Chelsea Harbor. Going further afield into the English countryside, this intimate group tour will help designers curate resources from British town and country, visiting country houses, historic castles and some of the top decorative antiques dealers in the Cotswolds and Sussex. Designers will learn how buying antiques abroad can increase their profit margin while also giving them a competitive edge in the marketplace.

For more information email [email protected]

Cheers Mate!
The Antiques Diva®

Secret Compartments in Desks

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Dear Diva Readers,

As a continuation of our Back to School with The Antiques Diva series this month, I want to talk about something that sparks the imagination; something that brings out the inner child in all of us! I’m talking about secret compartments! What child, at some point or another, hasn’t dreamed of finding a hidden compartment in an armoire? Even as adults we enjoy reading mysteries where a secret letter is found in a hidden drawer.  Well these secret compartments are not just found in fictitious tales. For centuries, antique furniture pieces have possessed drawers with false bottoms and secret panels that were used to hold money, ancestral jewelry or legal documents.

Antique desks, hidden compartments, back to school series, Antiques Diva,

These compartments were often so well hidden that anyone who didn’t have knowledge of them would never know they existed. This was to keep thieves or snoops at bay. Today, antique collectors may find a hidden compartment in a desk or secretary that they didn’t even know was there!

And some pieces of furniture have not one, but several secret hiding places. Some spots may only be large enough to hold a letter, while other compartments are larger. The most typical place for a hidden compartment on a desk is in the central interior section. There is typically a small door flanked by two pilasters, and this entire section may be removed to reveal a hiding place behind. One also must inspect each pilaster, as there may be tiny hiding places behind them, only big enough to store a few folded pieces of paper currency.

Antique desks, hidden compartments, back to school series, Antiques Diva,

Antique desks, hidden compartments, back to school series, Antiques Diva,

False bottoms and moveable boards are another trick cabinet makers would use. Some sliding boards can only be moved by using the fingernail or a thin knife to nudge or lift them gently, revealing shallow hiding places. Some cabinet makers also utilized wooden springs which, if pressed at the right place, would release a hinge and open to a secret compartment.

Antique desks, hidden compartments, back to school series, Antiques Diva,

Antique desks, hidden compartments, back to school series, Antiques Diva,

The lesson here is that whether you’re shopping for an antique desk or already own one, make sure that you give it a good look-over and run your fingers over various surfaces to feel for seems or indents. You never know where a secret compartment might be hiding, and what might be hidden in it!

The Antiques Diva®

Shopping in Chiang Mai

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Dear Diva Readers,

I’m delighted that my friend Carla of CF Michaels is Guest Blogging again today giving a few tips on shopping in Chiang Mai. I’m currently in Thailand on vacation and her travel shopping tips have been invaluable for me so it’s a pleasure to share her tips with you. Carla is an American who has lived around the world from Berlin to Bangkok and wherever she goes she seeks out chicness to sell in her online global boutique.

carla stopler in thailand

When I told Carla I was traveling to Chiang Main in Northern Thailand she dipped into her little black book to share her tips! She writes: “If you travel all the way to Thailand you really shouldn’t miss the Northern city of Chiang Mai, an inexpensive hour flight from Bangkok. Traditional handicrafts and works from extraordinary local artisans encircle the city. Independent vintage and antique shops dot the landscape. Side-of-the-road vendors are overflowing in architectural remnants and furniture. Day and night bazaars sell it all alongside live music and endless food venues.

carla in chiang mai

You can hire a taxi/driver for the day at a very reasonable rate, right from the airport – they’re waiting for you and know just where to take you, but being specific about what you are interested in will help you make the best of your time.

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chiang mai

Perhaps the best place to go is the San Kampaeng District – Hwy 106 – also known as the Handicraft Highway. Famous for silk and umbrella factories there is literally shopping at every corner! Although you literally could fly from Bangkok in the morning, shop all day, and return on an evening flight, if you have the time, lodging choices are top-notch… My favorite place to stay is the Four Seasons Chiang Mai which is out of town a bit but worth the additional taxi ride!

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Shopper’s Tips – Learning the local lingo!

Certain words are pronounced differently in Thailand based on your gender.

For example:

Sa-wat-dee-kah = Hello (Females)

Sa-wat-dee-kop = Hello (Males)

Kop khun kah = Thank You (Females)

Kop khun kop = Thank You (Males)

More importantly, and same for both:

Tao rai = How much is it?

Paeng = Expensive!

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Buddhas … Reverence for Buddha is a defining aspect of Thai culture. In an effort to safeguard historical and spiritual treasures there are specific laws regulating their export out of Thailand. It is important to know that any Buddha image over 12cm (5 in) cannot be taken out of the country without approval from the Fine Arts Department / Ministry of Culture. Shop owners should have legitimate pieces tagged and can provide or assist with certificates.

chiang mai shopping

Discount… While many vendors do not speak English, they all know and use the word “DISCOUNT.” Be reasonable, but feel free to use it too indiscriminately – everything is negotiable.

Morning Price… Thai merchants believe a sale before noon will bring them good luck & good fortune for the day, so they almost always will offer you a “Morning Price.” If they don’t, be sure to ask for it.

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Attitude … Thais are extremely friendly, gracious and hospitable and like for you to be happy. However they don’t respond well to loud, aggressive, impatient behavior – having an attitude will get you nowhere. There’s a reason it’s called The Land of Smiles. So smile, a lot!

On that note – Cheese!
The Antiques Diva® & FriendsCF MICHAELS GLOBAL BOUTIQUE

 

Antique Oyster Sticks

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Dear Diva Readers,

Part of the fun of taking clients on tour is that so many of them have such creative minds!My Diva Guides and I love to see what attracts each client’s eye and hear what they plan to do with their purchases. Recently on tour, a client purchased antique French oyster sticks. You may not be familiar with these, so I wanted to share a bit of history on them and also show you some ways they can be repurposed!

Originally these wooden oyster sticks were used by oyster farmers in the South of France to raise oysters. Exposure to the elements gave the sticks a rustic weathered patina while the spots where the oysters would attach gave the sticks several indentions.

Today, this once strictly utilitarian item can be repurposed in many decorative ways! Simply standing them up on iron mounts elevates them as sculptural elements in a modern space.

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Or have them made into lamps for a beach house.

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How about creating a unique mirror?

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Or use them as a fresh take on a classically shaped chandelier.

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Simply hung on a wall, they act as 3D art pieces.

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Who would have thought that something so simple as oyster sticks could be used in so many ways? I’d love for you to share with me what other ways you could see them being used! Leave me a comment!

Until next time,

The Antiques Diva®

Back To School With The Antiques Diva: The History of Desks

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Dear Diva Readers,

As part of our “Back to School with The Antiques Diva” series this month, I wanted to give you a little background on a piece of furniture that all students use— the desk! This once strictly utilitarian object has transformed over the centuries to become not only functional, but also a beautiful addition to any home.

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Long before the printing press was invented, anyone who wanted to have a written record of anything—be it a story, a legal document, or a personal letter—had to sit down and hand write it. Imagine if you wanted 50 copies of something! They all had to be hand copied! This required plenty of surface space as well as various slots to hold writing tools. Because many manuscripts were large and heavy, most desks or writing tables of this early period were large and hefty.

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As time progressed and carpenters honed their skills, desks began to take on a bit more of a decorative feel. Drawers with dividers in them were added to writing tables with room for inkwells, blotters and feather pens. Desks of the Renaissance period began to have more delicate features as opposed to the massive desks of previous generations.

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From about 1700 onward, desks could also be referred to as bureaus. These were sloped desks with drawers below and were often used by civil servants and scribes to copy legal documents. As societal class structures were an important part of life at that time, nobility and the upper class desired a different desk style to write their own personal letters on. This is where the secretary desk came in. Secretaries have a tall hutch atop the desk portion with a lid that can be lowered into a writing surface. The upper cabinet often holds books and other writing accouterment.

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Of course as professions became more precise, the desk evolved. Architects needed larger, angled surfaces to create plans, and these desks became what we refer to today as the drafting table. Professional office workers required dividers and pigeon holes to stay organized.

By the 1800’s, the pedestal desk became the standard type of desk in England and America. It still holds a very popular status today! You can find pedestal desks being used by anyone from an office assistant to the President of the United States. I suppose the idea of class-distinction from the 1700’s no longer applies. Talk about full-circle!

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Like any piece of furniture, desks have evolved with the lifestyle and needs of humans. The great thing about antique desks is that many of them that were made before the Industrial Age were hand crafted and are of excellent quality, making them good investments. Now, I think it’s time for some more homework!

Happy learning,

The Antiques Diva®

Mandarin Oriental Hotel

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Dear Diva Readers,

While staying at the Mandarin Oriental I was reminded of the simplicity of gracious and elegant living. Each day during our stay in Bangkok a new variety of fresh fruit was left daily in our hotel room – today these are Mandarin Oranges. How easy to replicate this at home with guests staying Chez Diva! These small touches – however simple – make the experience of staying either in a fine hotel or with a friend in their guest room more indulgent. What do you do to make your guest room at your home more inviting?

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Warm regards,

The Antiques Diva®

Antiquing in Bangkok

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Dear Diva Readers,

This August for summer holiday I’m leaving Europe behind and heading to Asia! And since I was traveling abroad in Thailand I sought out advice from one of the most savvy people I know asking Carla Stopler CEO of the E-commerce boutique CF Michaels to guest blog! Carla’s guest blog proves the New York Times commentary correct, “To travel across Bangkok is to see several worlds at once…infused with the Thai village traditions of hospitality and graciousness.”

Guest Blog – Antiquing in Bangkok by CF Michaels E Boutique

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I’m always at risk of wandering madly off topic when I first attempt to set the stage and sum up the vibe of living in Southeast Asia. The cultural landscape here colors everything you do in such a distinct way that I always feel compelled – it almost seems essential. Fortunately for all of us I have no problem staying on point when the point is shopping, and the scene here is like no other. It stands to reason that ancient cultures have a lot of interesting things hanging around, and from high-end showrooms to street markets to back-alley shops and village crossroads, Thailand is rich with treasures and curiosities.

bangkok 2nd photo insert after sentence from high-end showrooms to street markets to back-alley shops and village crossroads, Thailand is rich with treasures and curiosities.

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Antique and vintage venues are peppered throughout this urban sprawl. But without doubt the most internationally recognized shopping spot in Bangkok, with the largest mix of new, vintage, antique and everything including the sink, is the Chatuchak Weekend Market.

bangkok4 Chatuchak Weekend Market

By most accounts this market encompasses nearly 35 acres, with 27 sections and 15,000+ vendors selling items in roughly 11 categories. You can find everything from framed formaldehyde insects to jewelry to crystal chandeliers, wrapping paper to vintage clothes, aromatherapy and gongs, dishes and glasses and cutlery to Buddhas and wooden boats, doorknobs and oil paintings to baskets and antique chests, to, well, live pythons. To say it’s an assault on the senses is selling it short. More importantly, it’s a marvelous place to see a true cross-section of daily Thai culture – a must for the global shopping bucket list.

(Design industry icons Vicente Wolf and John Robshaw are fans – I’m always on the lookout.)

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Shopper’s Tip: Chatuchuk is officially open on Saturdays and Sundays, but most shops in the market are open for business by 10 – 11:00am on Fridays. You’ll have about 50% less crowd to navigate through. Additionally, you can find gems hidden in nooks and crannies on most any soi surrounding the market (“soi” is the Thai word for “street”).

bangkok 7 insert after shoppers tip and explanation on soi

A significant amount of the antique furniture you find on the market in Bangkok actually comes from 18th-19th century China, as well as Myanmar (Burma), Tibet and occasionally India. What they do brilliantly here is repurposing – the piece as a whole may be relatively new construction, but most if not all of the typically teak parts are old.

Teak has been a protected national resource in Thailand for about 25 years and harvesting is prohibited. Trees that produce the resin used to make lacquer are also indigenous to SE Asia, so you see it widely used in the refinishing process.

bangkok 8 insert after teak explation

But here’s an important note to keep in mind when antiquing in Thailand: This is a massive international tourist market, and coupled with the on-going, ever-growing interest in the traditional styles and cultural and spiritual symbols of the Far East, it’s also the land of extraordinary reproductions in both quantity and quality. Authenticity can be a tricky area.

An antiques dealer here shared with me a tip that made identifying a particular piece of furniture seem far less intimidating. He said if you have a table made from a very large, single slab of wood, no visible joiners, common sense tells us it had to have been cut from a very large tree. And we of course know, the larger the tree, the older the tree. I filed that one away…

All that said, legitimate pieces are plentiful here, but if you’re a stickler for provenance and pedigree, if you don’t speak the language, and if you’re not an expert in identifying the real deal, your best bet is to shop the higher-end showrooms where you can communicate with informed dealers.

CF Michael’s Bangkok Antiquing Recommendations include:

OP Place

River City Antiques and Auction House

Silom Galleria

These three resources in particular are multi-story complexes housing vendors specializing in Southeast Asian antiquities and Asian art, sculpture, furniture, porcelains and ceramics, jewelry, textiles, carpets and more. In addition to their reserve of collectibles, a couple fun notes:

OP Place happens to hold court next door to the uber luxurious Mandarin Oriental, Thailand’s oldest hotel, which happens to be home to the most luscious cocktail in the world, the Thai Noon – having one on the riverside terrace is a cool way to beat the Thai heat!

The Mandarin and OP Place, as well as River City Antiques, are also perched on the edge of the Chao Praya River and can be accessed by boat, taking the whole shopping experience up a notch.

And Silom Galleria shares the street with various antique and collectibles shops and other shopping stops, as well as numerous custom tailors and reams of Thai silk (here I could rapidly spiral off topic).

Another trusted resource showcasing a beautifully curated collection of antique Tibetan and Chinese furniture, art and décor is Amantee. Formerly located outside the city in traditional Thai-style houses surrounded by a lush Zen garden, their new location sits in Bangkok proper. A couple things are particularly lovely about Amantee: 1) the owner, who loves to talk antiques and chat about origin and history, 2) its French café and bakery – nothing like a fresh baguette and fine wine to elevate a shopping day.

BIG thanks to The Antiques Diva for the opportunity to share a small snapshot of our current side of the globe! You can find more design and travel, where to follow us, and our E-commerce boutique at www.cfmichaels.com. All images CFMichaels.

Pop kan mai – See You Later!

Carla @ CF Michaels for The Antiques Diva & Co

Sourcing Bath Fixture Salvage

Sourcing Bath Fixture Salvage

1 Comment

Dear Diva Readers,

When taking clients on antique buying tours of Europe, my Diva Guides and I see all sorts of architectural salvage. It’s one of the hottest requests we have right now. In the countryside we come across yards and warehouses filled with antique bathtubs, sinks, and other bathroom fixtures that are usually priced very decently. But when buying architectural salvage that you plan to use (i.e. a bathtub), you want to make sure you’re getting something that is functional as well as beautiful.

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I am all about repurposing and incorporating antiques into remodel or new construction projects. I think antiques add a comfort and warmth to any space with their rich patina. However when it comes to bathroom fixtures, you want to ask lots of questions—to the dealer AND to your plumber and contractor. Make sure that your plumber is aware that you want to use antique pieces such as sinks, tubs and faucets. If they’re not comfortable working with old fixtures, you may want to find someone who is. Secondly, ask the dealer if the pieces you’re interested in have been refurbished for modern use. This is critical as vintage plumbing is often incompatible with today’s systems. You also want to look for any damage such as cracks. Of course a bit of wear is desired and a nice patina is a plus, but if you see actual cracks in stone, enamel or ceramic, you could run into major damage down the line.

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The good news is that most specialist dealers will be able to fix these problems or connect you with a trusted person who can. Of course, this also means that that really great deal you got on the tub may very well cost a whole lot more! But it’s better to know exactly what you’re getting into before making your purchases. It’s just important to weigh your options. Most vintage fittings are better quality than new ones however there are other factors like budget, timeline and functionality that you must keep in mind.

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Lastly, when shopping for antique bathroom fixtures, take a measuring tape and your room/plan measurements. You’ll also want to be sure that your floors ( and ceilings for 2nd story bathrooms) are strong enough to hold a fixture you buy. Cast iron tubs are heavy, especially when filled with water so make sure there is enough support to hold them.

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All in all, sourcing architectural salvage and incorporating it into your current home should be a fun process. With a trusted dealer, a skilled plumber, and a good vision, the possibilities are endless!

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If you’d like more information on taking an Antiques Diva & Co Architectural Salvage Buying Tour in one of our 8 tour countries – France, Belgium, England, Italy, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden, email [email protected]

The Antiques Diva®