Dream of Venice

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Dear Diva Readers,

A mother isn’t supposed to pick favorites…. and as CEO of The Antiques Diva & Co all my tour countries are like my children.  And while I’m not supposed to pick favorites one of our new tours has me so smitten I can’t help but to give that child a little extra love.  I’m talking about Venice! Our Venice Antique Buying Tours offer beyond gorgeous opportunities for sourcing antiques in one of the most dreamy cities in the world!  While Venice is full of historic gems and centuries old buildings (not to mention palazzo’s where you can shop off the palace walls), it is still very much alive as a 21st century city. It’s a complex and magical city – and perhaps one of my favorite places on earth.

Our friend JoAnn Locktov has created a book called “Dream of Venice” that celebrates contemporary Venice while still honoring its past.

JoAnn writes:

“Nothing can really prepare you for Venice. The stunning agglomerate of architectural styles, the sinuous maze of narrow calli, and the languid water that follows you everywhere. It is a city built on dreams. Several years ago I met the photographer, Charles Christopher. He had a portfolio of remarkable Venice images that were unlike anything I had ever seen before. His photographers were personal and textural and so still, you could hear the silence. We decided to collaborate and publish a book on contemporary Venice. We paired the images with words from all sorts of people- writers,  poets, film directors, actors, and designers. We identified Venetophiles that had an intimate connection to the city and could express their thoughts in a unique way.

In Dream of Venice there is no table of contents, nor are there page numbers to guide your way. We do not identify any of the locations. It was our intention to create a passeggiata, a meander through Venice, where turning a corner, you never quite know what will greet you. So please, join me for a stroll through the floating city. We’ll stop on our way for an ombra…”

JoAnn Locktov, Dream of Venice, Antiques Diva Venice Tour, Buying Antiques in Venice, Charles Christopher, Venice Tips, Things to do in Venice,

Venice is a state of mind. That is, the scintillating, kaleidoscopic, shifting colors of that watery realm remain alive inside me long after I depart the actual city. -Frances Mayes

JoAnn Locktov, Dream of Venice, Antiques Diva Venice Tour, Buying Antiques in Venice, Charles Christopher, Venice Tips, Things to do in Venice,

I call my late night peregrinations “once around the block,” and although I have discovered many routes and sometimes have the pleasure of choosing different crossroads, I have come to discover that “all roads lead to Rome”- which, for me, always means San Marco. -Hutton Wilkinson

JoAnn Locktov, Dream of Venice, Antiques Diva Venice Tour, Buying Antiques in Venice, Charles Christopher, Venice Tips, Things to do in Venice,

The unexpected mystery of Venice… misleading reflections, startling shadows, ominous light and shade, and endless corners. What’s round the next one? -Julie Christie

JoAnn Locktov, Dream of Venice, Antiques Diva Venice Tour, Buying Antiques in Venice, Charles Christopher, Venice Tips, Things to do in Venice,

At night Venice’s lights dim, its sounds are submerged in those of slapping water, and it wraps itself in mystery, as does our consciousness when dissolved in sleep. -Marcella Hazan

JoAnn Locktov, Dream of Venice, Antiques Diva Venice Tour, Buying Antiques in Venice, Charles Christopher, Venice Tips, Things to do in Venice,

JoAnn Locktov, Dream of Venice, Antiques Diva Venice Tour, Buying Antiques in Venice, Charles Christopher, Venice Tips, Things to do in Venice,

I looked up at these rooms illuminated by enormous chandeliers made centuries earlier in this very city. They didn’t sparkle like the crystal chandeliers of Paris— the Venetian chandeliers glimmered. They glimmered with a dim luster like the inky water that held us aloft as we floated into the heart of my dream city. -Matthew White

JoAnn Locktov, Dream of Venice, Antiques Diva Venice Tour, Buying Antiques in Venice, Charles Christopher, Venice Tips, Things to do in Venice,

PJoAnn Locktov, Dream of Venice, Antiques Diva Venice Tour, Buying Antiques in Venice, Charles Christopher, Venice Tips, Things to do in Venice,

From the windows, the curtains are alive, shaken by the wind and the sun. Una meraviglia- a wonder- in the only city that makes you wish, while closing your eyes, to relive each moment just as it has appeared. -Patrizia Gucci”

As JoAnn is an expert on Venice I asked her to share some of her top trips (beyond booking an Antiques Diva(R) tour) on what to do in Venice:

  1. Lodging: There are many splendid boutique hotels; one of my favorites is Ca’Gottardi in the Cannaregio.  If you are looking for modern design in a resplendent palazzo I recommend PalazzinaG designed by Philippe Starck.
  2. To eat: Venice is famous for their bacari, the small wine bars that offer cicchetti, a Venetian version of tapas. It is easy to make a small meal out of these tasty bites but for a full repast I recommend La Cantina for the convivial spirit and Francesco’s mastery in a kitchen the size of well, it is so small, there actually is no kitchen.  Estro is impeccable and Oliva Nera is lovely.
  3. To shop: The Sent sisters create beautiful and bright modern glass jewelry.  Giovanna Zanella is a master cobbler; see her on your first day so that she can measure your feet for a custom pair of shoes. For gorgeous glass, a Venetian artisan tradition, I recommend Seguso. The showroom is by appointment only. The family has been creating glass on Murano since 1397. Giampaolo Seguso, the family patriarch is also a poet. He dreamt an evocative poem for Dream of Venice.
  4. To do: Did you know Venice had spectacular pastries and chocolate? You can join the irrepressible Monica Cesarato for this sweet tour and walk off any calories you might happen to consume.  Venice is best seen from the water, so why not learn to row when you are there?  Join Cristina Gregorin for an architectural tour and learn about built Venice, the agglomeration of styles and the architects who designed her most ravishing buildings and bridges.  Visit an artisan studio and learn an authentic Venetian craft with one of the workshops offered through Italian Stories.

Grazie Mille JoAnn!

The Antiques Diva

Exporting Antiques With The Help of a Courier

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Dear Diva Readers,

Perhaps the biggest challenge when shopping overseas is knowing how to get goods home sweet home safely and cost effectively. Oh the thrill of the hunt! On tour we have a range of clients – from ones who fill multiple 40 foot containers, spending hundreds of thousands of euros on inventory to stock their stores to ones who are seeking just a few small items that are perfectly packable and brought home in the their luggage. Occasionally clients even buy a second suitcase on tour to bring their goods home! Now here’s a surprise… sometimes it costs less to MAIL that second suitcase with a courier than it does to bring it with you on the plane home.

International Shipping, Using a courier to ship antiques home, Sourcing antiques in Europe, ParcelHero

When you’re shopping the fleas and decide to mail items home you need a professional international courier with the appropriate customs documents (and licenses when applicable). Typically the shipper advise of any additional arrangements required like crating for fragile objects or customs documentation.

We always recommend clients discuss with their courier or shipper their insurance needs. A good courier will offer added insurance to cover high-value items. When sending antiques with a courier, it is important the inventory is packaged carefully following the recommended packaging guidelines carefully. If the item is not packaged correctly, it will not qualify for cover in the event it is damaged during transit.   On tour – when you’re out buying – we always recommend clients take photos of their purchases as they shop! This gives you extra security, in the event there is any dispute or damage in transit.

International Shipping, Using a courier to ship antiques home, Sourcing antiques in Europe, ParcelHero

When it comes to shipping, accidents happen and snafu’s occur. But sometimes those snafu’s are more than lost of damaged goods. What happens if you buy something you’re not allowed to ship internationally? One of the best recent examples of export restrictions is the story of Jane Austen’s ring that made headlines in 2014. Singer Kelly Clarkson was forced to give up Jane Austen’s turquoise ring that she bought at a Sotheby’s auction in 2012. Clarkson was unable to take the ring out of the country due to a temporary export ban placed by Jane Austen’s House Museum. The official deadline was 30 September. The museum was able to raise £152,000 to save the ‘national treasure’ for Austen readers around the world! This complex, but fascinating case shows how important the paperwork is for collectors. The UK is notoriously strict when it comes to buying and exporting items which may be classified as ‘national treasure”!

So what are the Rules & Regulations for Export from the UK?

  • In the UK, items under 50 years of age, which do not include precious metals and are not of national significance are generally exempt from restrictions.
  • However items which contain precious metals and are of national significance or are over 50 years of age will be subject to stricter export regulations.
  • Always check with the Portable Antiquities Scheme or Arts Council if you are unsure.
  • If the object falls under the definition of the treasure outlined in the UK Treasure act, you should check that the item has been reported to a UK coroner within the legal period of 14 days. The inquest will always have final say whether or not the finds qualify as national treasure.
  • If the treasure is found to constitute a national treasure, the finder must first offer the item to a museum. If a museum does not express interest, then the finder will retain ownership.
  • Keep in mind, that under English Law, landowners will have rights to objects found on their land. It may be necessary to qualify with the seller where the item was found (this only applies to coins, ring, jewellery or artefacts over 50 years).
  • Certain carriers like DHL have different rules and restrictions for various countries, particularly Australia. So, check with several carriers if possible.

When in doubt if the item you’re buying is suitable for export professional couriers such as the UK-based customer service team at ParcelHero.com. can advise on shipping costs and restrictions to your recipient country. You can also estimate costs of shipping excess luggage or individual antiques with their handy booking tool to help you plan your trip. The site will allow you to track up to 25 items at one time with real-time scan updates, so you can follow your packages’ movements before you even step foot on the plane.

Now if you are planning to mail your purchases home sweet home yourself – here’s a few Hints & Tips on Packaging Your Items for Mailing Correctly:

  • Whether you are stuffing a suitcase or boxing items for shipping via courier, the principles remain the same – wrap and insulate correctly to avoid any damage in transit.
  • Protect each item against damp and dust by wrapping the item in a clean plastic bag.
  • If it is a framed artwork, use foam board and corner supports for additional protection.
  • Insulate the item in bubble-wrap, secured with packaging tape.
  • Use a new or strong, suitably sized box with the joins and seams reinforced.
  • Place packaging chips or other insulation within the box (scrunched up paper will do)
  • Place the wrapped item or items within the box, ensuring the items do not touch each other or the outer walls of the box
  • If you have customs documents, place duplicate copies within the box with your items.
  • If you are using a second-hand box, remove all old labels and barcodes from the box.
  • Seal the box with dedicated strong packaging tape.

Happy Shopping!
The Antiques Diva®

P.S.  Thanks to our friends at ParcelHero.com for providing additional information on export restrictions.

Les Merveilles de Babellou

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Dear Diva Readers,

I love Paris in the Spring time… I love Paris in the Fall.  Paris is perhaps the city where any Diva would feel most at home – it is the epitome of style and taste. It also happens to be one of our most popular tour cities at The Antiques Diva & Co. The Paris Flea Market alone is a huge draw as you can find almost any type of antique you are looking for – but for fashionista’s our Paris Vintage Fashion Tours are a dream come true.  I wanted to share with you today one special source Les Merveilles de Babellou.  This boutique is THE BEST source for vintage fashion in Paris! In fact, you can see a snippet of the store in a video we did last year for The Editor at Large when I ran into one of our Diva Guides while I was shopping the Puce on film with VIP Designers David Dalton and Jennifer Mehditash.

Isabelle Klein, Marché Paul Bert, Paris Flea Market, Antiques Diva Paris Tours, Vintage Fashion Tours Paris, Vintage Hermes,

Isabelle Klein, Marché Paul Bert, Paris Flea Market, Antiques Diva Paris Tours, Vintage Fashion Tours Paris, Vintage Hermes,

Isabelle Klein is one of our favorite dealers at “Marché Paul Bert”.  Her luxury vintage fashion boutique “Les Merveilles de Babellou” is actually bearing Isabelle’s  childhood nickname – Babellou! The store has the ambiance of an old time Paris boutique which transports customers to a time and place when Paris fashion was at its height. Top fashion brands of the twentieth century like Chanel, Hermes, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and many others fill the store, beckoning all who enter to take a piece of fashion history home with them.

Isabelle Klein, Marché Paul Bert, Paris Flea Market, Antiques Diva Paris Tours, Vintage Fashion Tours Paris, Vintage Hermes,

Isabelle Klein, Marché Paul Bert, Paris Flea Market, Antiques Diva Paris Tours, Vintage Fashion Tours Paris, Vintage Hermes,

Celebrities, stylists, and vintage fashion lovers can find clothing, haute-couture, accessories, and jewelry that elicit “oohs and ahhs.” If you’re looking to add to your collection or even purchase a special piece for an event, this is the place to find it! But inspiration can also be found on their website where you can click through stylish and rare pieces from the comfort of your home. All products in the store and online are guaranteed to be authentic and of good quality.

Isabelle Klein, Marché Paul Bert, Paris Flea Market, Antiques Diva Paris Tours, Vintage Fashion Tours Paris, Vintage Hermes,

If you happen to be in Paris, stop in and tell them The Antiques Diva sent you—or better yet, take one of our Paris Vintage Fashion Tours and shop on the arm of one of our lovely Diva Guides! If you’d like information on our Paris Tours, email us at [email protected].

Au revoir,

The Antiques Diva®  

Hermes Art

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Dear Diva Readers,

So here’s my confession du jour. I have a few vices.  I love to drive fast cars.  I drink way too much champagne. When I travel I’m known to pack 2 pairs of shoes for every day of the week  And I adore vintage fashion.  While my feet dance an Italian beat – pounding out the syllables of Ferragamo, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana – my head and shoulders are purely dedicated to all things French…  at night when I sleep visions of vintage Chanel and Hermes dance through my head.  And while I love draping myself in the glamorous style of the past, I love even more when I can Decorate Diva Style using Vintage Fashion as Art!

Hermes-box-cake2, Decorating with vintage fashion, Hermes, Silk scarves, original Hermes sketchings, Antiques Diva, European buying services, Paris vintage fashion buying tour

Decorating with vintage fashion, Hermes, Silk scarves, original Hermes sketchings, Antiques Diva, European buying services, Paris vintage fashion buying tour

Every once in a while we come across something so special on our tours that we know we MUST tell you about them.  At the Paris Flea Market we recently found a set of 10 framed original sketches of Hermes scarf patterns.  For years I’ve been encouraging clients to buy vintage Hermes and frame it for chic art – but this takes the cake!  These are the original drawings upon which the scarves were made!

Decorating with vintage fashion, Hermes, Silk scarves, original Hermes sketchings, Antiques Diva, European buying services, Paris vintage fashion buying tour

Decorating with vintage fashion, Hermes, Silk scarves, original Hermes sketchings, Antiques Diva, European buying services, Paris vintage fashion buying tour

The designs for the scarves were first sketched and then engraved into wood blocks which were used to produce the silk scarves. Over the years, different artists have been commissioned to create their own designs and more than 2,000 unique designs have been produced since 1937. Often incorporating bold hues, the subject matter of the scarf designs range from equestrian, to flora & fauna, to constellations! Many vintage designs are re-released in fresh color palettes.

Decorating with vintage fashion, Hermes, Silk scarves, original Hermes sketchings, Antiques Diva, European buying services, Paris vintage fashion buying tour

Decorating with vintage fashion, Hermes, Silk scarves, original Hermes sketchings, Antiques Diva, European buying services, Paris vintage fashion buying tour

Wouldn’t it be fun to own a piece of the company’s history? With our Buying Services you can!  We can shop on your behalf as your PERSONAL SHOPPER IN PARIS!   We love acting as your “(wo)man on the ground” throughout Europe, but especially when it comes to something as Diva-licious as vintage Hermes! We happen to know that the vendor selling these Hermes designs is retiring, which means we can negotiate a fantastic price for our clients.

Decorating with vintage fashion, Hermes, Silk scarves, original Hermes sketchings, Antiques Diva, European buying services, Paris vintage fashion buying tour

Decorating with vintage fashion, Hermes, Silk scarves, original Hermes sketchings, Antiques Diva, European buying services, Paris vintage fashion buying tour

Before I close…one last fashion fact!  Did you know that Hermes didn’t start out making women’s fashion? While their scarves have graced the heads and necks of fashion icons such as Grace Kelly, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and even Queen Elizabeth II, the company began by creating harnesses and bridles for horses. After being in business for one hundred years, the company started designing scarves in 1937, made from the same silk that lined their riding jackets.  Paying homage to that particular time in the company, I went elephant trekking this past summer in Thailand and wore one of my Hermes as my headscarf!

Decorating with vintage fashion, Hermes, Silk scarves, original Hermes sketchings, Antiques Diva, European buying services, Paris vintage fashion buying tour

I need to dash… I’ve got some shopping to do! But if you’re interested in a Paris Vintage Fashion Buying Tour or if you want more information on our Buying Services, email us at [email protected]. We’d love to help you source exactly what you’re looking for!

Be chic, Be fashionable, and do it with Diva Style!
The Antiques Diva® 

(seen here in my “new” vintage fox fur stole purchased this weekend while vintage fashion shopping in Berlin)

vintage fox fur, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Berlin Flea Market Tour, Andrew Joseph

First Impressions Matter – Decorating the Foyer

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Dear Diva Readers,

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

We’ve all heard that saying and it’s been around for a reason—it’s true! We all make snap judgements—good or bad— based on first impressions. We see with our eyes, feel with our touch, smell with our noses, hear with our ears—basically we use our 5 senses to make a judgment whenever we encounter something for the first time. And the reality is that first impressions DO MATTER-especially when it comes to the home. Each time you open your door to a friend, neighbor, colleague, even yourself, the first impression should be one of comfort and it should reflect your tastes and personality.

Antiques Diva Decorating Tips, Decorating the Foyer, Toma Clark Haines, Berlin Apartments,

The foyer is the ideal place to create a vignette and atmosphere that shows off your style. This is where you can BE DRAMATIC!!! BE BOLD! SPLASH IT WITH COLOR and SET THE TONE TO YOUR HOME!  In my own home, my entry way is small leading towards a stairwell… but a small space doesn’t mean you can’t be big on style. I put in a Spanish secretaire that’s older than America (with original paint) and painted the space (even the ceiling) a moody black – hung some dramatic art and accessories… et voila, when people enter my home they know they are entering an experience.

Antiques Diva Decorating Tips, Decorating the Foyer, Toma Clark Haines, Berlin Apartments,

Whether your entry way is big or small, once anyone crosses your threshold, they should be welcomed into your world.

First things first— get a nice table to set things upon like keys, purses, gloves, etc. This can be a gorgeous antique console table or if your space allows, a statement center table which can also hold a beautiful bouquet of flowers that smell delightful—see we’re already involving the senses!

Speaking of the senses, don’t forget about “touch.” There should be at least a chair or bench at the ready for guests who want to remove their shoes. This doesn’t necessarily have to be something plush or super comfortable, as it isn’t an area of the house where anyone spends much time. Rather, this piece should be a place to perch for a moment, which means it can be more decorative.

Antiques Diva Decorating Tips, Decorating the Foyer, Toma Clark Haines, Berlin Apartments,

Anything that resembles clutter should be hidden in the foyer. If you have a closet, outfit it with shelves or baskets to hide things like hats, gloves, coats, shoes, umbrellas, and other necessities. If you don’t have a closet, consider using hooks on the wall or a coat rack, along with beautiful baskets (perhaps antique) to store things in.

Lighting is also important – if ceiling height allows – go for a chandelier baby!  Or add a couple of buffet lamps to your console table or even a few candle holders for ambiance.

A mirror is the ideal piece for an entryway as it allows you to “check yourself out” before leaving the house and also gives guests an opportunity to tidy their hair when arriving on a windy day. Not to mention, mirrors reflect light and add sparkle to any space.

Antiques Diva Home Netherlands, Toma Clark Haines Apartment

Of course, a rug is necessary especially in the winter months when snow and dirt are dragged into the house. Opt for something that’s durable and easy to clean. Antique rugs are perfect for foyers as they were made to withstand lots of use and often incorporate beautiful colors and classic patterns.

However you choose to decorate your foyer, keep in mind that it must be functional and beautiful. A place to wipe feet, a spot to sit down and remove shoes, an area to store coats and other accessories, a mirror to check your appearance, and a table to sit things down are all necessary pieces to the puzzle that will create a perfect entrance to your home—your world!

Happy decorating,

The Antiques Diva® 

Antique Belgian Chocolate Molds

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Dear Diva Readers,

Hippity Hop Hop! Hippity Hop Hop! Easters on its way!!  It’s hard to believe that it’s already officially spring time! That means that Easter is almost upon us and that’s got me thinking about Easter baskets. You know what I think stinks? Is that as adults we no longer wake up to an Easter basket. This year I might just have to buy myself my own basket!!!!  And of course not only would I fill it full of chocolate and candy but I’d also add in some antique Belgian chocolate molds so the gift just keeps on giving throughout the year.  Incidentally Brussels’ Place de Grand Sablon Flea Market is THE PLACE to find these molds. In fact the largest vendors of antique chocolate molds in the entire world has a stand right there at the antiques market!

Antique chocolate molds, Brussels, Place de Grand Sablon, Flea Markets in Beligum, Belgian Chocolates, Easter,

Antique chocolate molds, Brussels, Place de Grand Sablon, Flea Markets in Beligum, Belgian Chocolates, Easter,

Antique chocolate molds were traditionally in the shapes of butterflies, bunnies, and eggs along with various other shapes which developed over time. As with many utilitarian items, these molds became more and more decorative as time went on. The detail and craftsmanship has improved over many years, yet their original purpose is still served—to create yummy and gorgeous chocolates! They come as single molds, which are usually larger, or tray-like moulds which allow you to make several of the same shape at once.

Antique chocolate molds, Brussels, Place de Grand Sablon, Flea Markets in Beligum, Belgian Chocolates, Easter,

Chocolate-Easter-Bunny, Antique chocolate molds, Brussels, Place de Grand Sablon, Flea Markets in Beligum, Belgian Chocolates, Easter,

Another fantastic thing about antique molds is that they make beautiful decorative accents. With many of them being made of metal, which takes on such a wonderful patina, they can be hung in mass on a kitchen wall to create an interesting focal point. You can also use them on a plate shelf as objects of interest. From copper to tin, these molds have been around in grand kitchens as well as humble abodes throughout Europe.

ANTIQUE-BIG-CHOCOLATE-MOLD-TIN-SHEEP-COMPLETE, Antique chocolate molds, Brussels, Place de Grand Sablon, Flea Markets in Beligum, Belgian Chocolates, Easter,

Golden-Eggs, Antique chocolate molds, Brussels, Place de Grand Sablon, Flea Markets in Beligum, Belgian Chocolates, Easter,

Of course if you’re a serious collector, you’ll want to look for a maker’s mark (stamp) and definitely take into consideration the condition of the molds you find. Another factor that plays into the value of each mold is the rarity of its shape. Most antique molds were made in France and Germany, then exported all over Europe. From the early 18th century through modern times, chocolate molds have evolved and reflected the style of each era. For instance, earlier molds were very detailed in Victorian times while during the Art Deco era they became more streamlined with an air of fantasy.

If you’d like information on taking one of our Antique Buying Tours in Belgium or any of our 8 European tour countries, email us at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you!

Happy Easter,

The Antiques Diva®  

Come Hear Me Speak at High Point!

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Dear Diva Readers,

Are you heading to High Point Market?  If so then you won’t want to miss me at the Antique & Design Center of High Point where I will be doing 2 events!

High Point Market, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, The Antique & Design Center, The Secret Life of Antiques, Melissa Mittag, Cari Cucksey, Heather Karlie Vieira, Fromental,

Saturday, April 18th, 4pm at The Antique & Design Center
As owner of Europe’s largest antiques touring and buying service company, The Antiques Diva & Co takes you on a tour of the major antique periods and styles to identify their key characteristics, utilizing modern day metaphors and featuring inventory found at the Antique and Design Center in High Point. No passport required. See you there!

High Point Market, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, The Antique & Design Center, The Secret Life of Antiques, Melissa Mittag, Cari Cucksey, Heather Karlie Vieira, Fromental,

Monday, April 20th, 5pm-6pm for a Panel Discussion on The Secret Life of Antiques
The Secret Life of Antiques:
a panel with Toma Clark Haines Melissa Mittag Cari Cucksey and Heather Karlie Vieira

Have you ever wondered just how those incredible antique finds end up on the covers of your favorite shelter magazines and in the showrooms of the top designers? Well, we’re here to uncover their past, reinvent their present and revitalize them for the future. Join Toma, Melissa, Cari and Heather as they discuss the journey from flea market find to show stopping favorite. The discussion will focus on just how the vintage and antique pieces are sourced by dealers, then how their histories are revealed through research and restoration, going forward the panel will discuss the marketing of vintage and antique finds and how the interior design community has been at the forefront of the resurgence of popularity of these pieces, and they’ll also discuss how those vintage and antique pieces are placed in homes, showrooms and how they wind up on the pages of our favorite shelter magazines.

Join us for a fun and lively discussion on the Secret Lives of Antiques!

You already know me – Toma Clark Haines aka, The Antiques Diva CED (that would be Chief Executive Diva) of Europe’s favorite antique buying tours – Melissa Mittag is an expert on antique and contemporary wall coverings and is a representative for Fromental llc, Cari Cucksey is an HGTV personality and has her own line of paints, Heather Karlie Vieira is a vintage and antique dealer with a showroom on the South Shore of Boston called @20th Century by HKFA.

See you there,
The Antiques Diva®

Vintage Chanel Gets an Upgrade

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Dear Diva Readers,

hire catherine, Vintage Chanel, Hire Catherine, Catherine Russell, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Repurposing, Vintage Purses, Mautto, Lynette Sedenquist

My dear friend Catherine, a social media expert and content curator, and I have known each other for ages.  We lived in Paris together back at the start of the millineum and have been shopping the world together ever since.  She was with me when my I first developed my passion for Chanel and so I was so excited when she emailed me recently to say she was lucky to be gifted a vintage Chanel camera bag for Christmas.  It was everything she was looking for….

  • black lambskin
  • quilted patent leather
  • tassel
  • gold chain strap
  • front outer pocket with CC logo
  • inside zip pocket

Vintage Chanel, Hire Catherine, Catherine Russell, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Repurposing, Vintage Purses, Mautto, Lynette Sedenquist, Chanel Photo Bag

The bag was perfect for life in the city: the right size to hold a wallet, smart phone, keys and lipstick. Not too big or heavy, waterproof for year-round walking the streets of NYC. And it would fit easily inside her LV shopper carry-on when traveling.

She had been coveting the purse for several weeks, but with the holidays coming it wasn’t the time to buy herself a gift. But Santa’s helper must have whispered in her husband’s ear, because on Christmas morning the little black bag was hers! All Hers!

Vintage Chanel, Hire Catherine, Catherine Russell, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Repurposing, Vintage Purses, Mautto, Lynette Sedenquist, Chanel Photo Bag

Catherine writes,

“We were heading out for dinner, and I decided it was a good night to try out my new bag. The bag looked stunning against my black and gold coat: as a shoulder bag. The chain strap was simply too short to use as a cross-body, the purse rested snugly above my waist. Living in the city I strongly prefer the convenience of a cross-body purse, easy for hands-free walking, subway rides and carrying groceries home.

The next few days I did some online research and discovered Mautto, makers of purse straps, replacement straps and handbag accessories. After studying their prices and photos, I ordered a 12” strap extender made of gold chain and black leather with mini hooks. $31.00 less 10% first-time customer coupon, for $27.90 shipping included. Express delivery is available starting at $12.99.

Because I decided to travel after I ordered the strap extender, I emailed Lynette, the owner of Mautto, and changed my shipping address. Lynette couldn’t have been nicer or more prompt with her response: perfect customer service.

Vintage Chanel, Hire Catherine, Catherine Russell, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Repurposing, Vintage Purses, Mautto, Lynette Sedenquist

The strap arrived in less than 2 weeks (with another 10% discount coupon), and I easily attached it to my Chanel chain strap with the tiny gold hooks. The length is perfect: my cross-body now rests comfortably on my hip. And you can barely notice where the strap extender attaches to the original chain strap.

I have a myrtille blue Louis Vuitton Speedy bag and have been searching to find a matching strap; unfortunately LV discontinued the myrtille color a few years ago. I’ll be purchasing my strap from Mautto – with the 10% discount coupon!

Thanks, Lynette!

The Details:

Lynette Sedenquist
http://www.mautto.com/
www.facebook.com/MauttoHandbags
www.instagram.com/MauttoHandbags

The Mautto website is easy to use with lots of pictures and examples of their custom straps and extenders. A blog, photo gallery and tips make it easy to pick your best solution from the literally hundreds of combinations possible – Mautto has dozens of colors, metals, hook styles, and accessories to choose from. They also provide custom solutions to your designer bag strap dilemmas.”

At The Antiques Diva & Co we love vintage fashion and we love repurposing items to fit modern day living!! What an excellent idea Catherine shared!  How are you repurposing your vintage fashion items?

The Antiques Diva®

U.S. Antique Shows Partners with Antique Young Guns

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Dear Diva Readers,

Attention! Attention! You’ve heard me wax poetically about The Antique Young Guns – those wild and zany dealers from the UK.  But we’ve got great news! The Antique Young Guns is coming to America!!! Yep – American dealers under the age of 39 are now able to become Young Guns too!

Antique Young Guns, Andrew Skipper, U.S. Antique Shows, The Antiques Diva, Pier Antique Show, Gail McLeod

Antique Young Guns, Andrew Skipper, U.S. Antique Shows, The Antiques Diva, Pier Antique Show, Gail McLeod

This weekend our friends at U.S. Antique Shows will be announcing their strategic alliance with our friends at Antiques Young Guns U.K. at the Pier Antique Show in NYC at a press conference.  In fact, our very own Divo Andrew Skipper who works at Antiques Diva headquarters will be acting as the ambassador for the Antique Young Guns U.K. based group. How fitting since Andrew is the first bi-continental member, splitting his time between Europe and America where he is from.

Antique Young Guns, Andrew Skipper, U.S. Antique Shows, The Antiques Diva, Pier Antique Show, Gail McLeod

The exclusive licensing agreement will allow U.S. Antique Shows to promote growth, education, and exposure to those in the trade, 39 years old or younger, to an international audience of antiques enthusiasts. The partnership will help develop the next generation of antique dealers and those involved in the antiques trade, which means more connections between the U.K. and U.S.A. Our U.K. Diva Agent Gail McLeod is one of the founders of Antiques Young Guns U.K. which currently boasts almost 100 members along with many established “alumni” acting as mentors to the younger members of the association. Other benefits of membership include online exposure through the Antiques Young Guns marketplace, several buying and selling events throughout the year, and additional recognition in numerous trade and national publications. Members also have the opportunity to win a variety of awards including Antiques Young Gun of the Year.

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Andrew Skipper, Gail McLeod, Judith Miller, George Johnson, English Antiques, Antique Young Guns

The new Antiques Young Guns U.S.A. will host a press conference at the Pier Antique Show, March 28 at 9:30 a.m. which will provide more details on the U.S. program. The Antiques Diva & Co would like to congratulate both groups as many of our friends, sources, and Guides are associated with them. We can’t wait to see what this bridge across the pond will bring for the next generation of antique enthusiasts! Long live antiques!

Cheers,

The Antiques Diva®  

Shabby Is The New Chic in Provence

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Dear Diva Readers,

Our lovely Antiques Diva Guide in Provence is Caren. Today she’s sharing a bit about why antiquing is so much more exciting than simply shopping big box stores—especially in Provence where markets have constantly changing inventory! She even shares some of her favorite places to score antiques.

caren and lavender, Flea Markets of Europe, Buying antiques in France, French Antiques, Sourcing antiques in Provence, The Antiques Diva, Brocante, Puce, Vide-Greniers, Isle sur-la-Sorgue, Nice – Cours Saleya, Carpentras, Villeneuve les Avignon

Diva Guide Caren writes:

“Antiquing… it’s so much more exciting than just shopping. It’s like looking for hidden treasure. You’re never sure what you will find and it’s often not in plain view, but when you discover the right piece, you know it’s a keeper. For most of us, shopping is a chore. Not so with antiquing. In a world where so many of the stores pump out the same old, same old, it is a breath of refreshing air to be in Provence with daily possibility of shopping at a market.

Flea Markets of Europe, Buying antiques in France, French Antiques, Sourcing antiques in Provence, The Antiques Diva, Brocante, Puce, Vide-Greniers, Isle sur-la-Sorgue, Nice – Cours Saleya, Carpentras, Villeneuve les Avignon

And remember, nowadays, even top fashion houses are looking to combine shabby with chic. When you’re antiquing you won’t see the same brand names that are found in high streets, airports and shopping malls the world over. The French markets are a daily and weekly delight, brimming with fresh local produce and handicrafts.

Flea Markets of Europe, Buying antiques in France, French Antiques, Sourcing antiques in Provence, The Antiques Diva, Brocante, Puce, Vide-Greniers, Isle sur-la-Sorgue, Nice – Cours Saleya, Carpentras, Villeneuve les Avignon

If you’re looking for a bargain or something that won’t be found in any of the high street shops, it’s the Puce or Flea markets, the Brocante (Second Hand goods) and the Vide-Greniers (literally, Empty Attics,) which are the ones to seek out.

Flea Markets of Europe, Buying antiques in France, French Antiques, Sourcing antiques in Provence, The Antiques Diva, Brocante, Puce, Vide-Greniers, Isle sur-la-Sorgue, Nice – Cours Saleya, Carpentras, Villeneuve les Avignon

Some Flea Markets take place on a regular basis and the stallholders are mostly professional dealers, but the Brocante and Vide-Greniers sales tend to be held only occasionally. Vide-Greniers normally attract private sellers who in the UK might attend a Car Boot Sale or in the US would hold a Yard Sale. Really big Vide-Greniers may attract hundreds of sellers and thousands of bargain hunters. This is the place to find collectables or pick up a bargain— something that you won’t find at any chain store.

Flea Markets of Europe, Buying antiques in France, French Antiques, Sourcing antiques in Provence, The Antiques Diva, Brocante, Puce, Vide-Greniers, Isle sur-la-Sorgue, Nice – Cours Saleya, Carpentras, Villeneuve les Avignon

The great news is, that if you’re in Provence, there’s a flea market to be found every day of the week. Here’s a list of some of the Antique markets.

Saturday: Villeneuve les Avignon.

One of my favorites is held every Saturday morning across the Rhone from Avignon. Moderate in size, it is held in the car park underneath the ancient fortress of Villeneuve. Between 80 and 100 vendors set up here, offering a wide range of items, many with a focus on Provence. Buyers who own shops in the near-by Isle sur la Sorgue come here in search of a bargain.  Provençal ceramics, pots, linens, agricultural tools and clocks.  A great market where you might well make an interesting discovery, and at a reasonable price.

 

Sunday: Carpentras – parking des Platanes

Carpentras is approximately 30 km north of Avignon.  Late on a Sunday mornings a delightful flea market unfolds in a lovely tree-lined parking area– parking des Platanes.  It starts around 10.00 am and it’s a preferred meeting place for some of the more serious collectors: those who a happy to do their own digging. Here you often have to rummage through boxes and crates to find your treasure. Between  130 to 150 vendors set up and often, they are selling their own belongings, which fall more into the category of “second-hand” than “collectable”. The variety in terms of wares and prices is huge, with an emphasis on the rustic and every day, rather than on up market decorative objects. If you are looking for something really unusual and surprising, this is one of the best places to find it, though you will have to expend some energy in the process.

This is the perfect flea market for someone to dig around and hunt for something special and affordable!

Also on Sunday…

Aubagne: Antique market: last Sunday of every month at the Marche de Gros, quartier de la Tourtelle

Isle sur-la-Sorgue: Antique and flea market: every Sunday all along the avenue des 4 Otages, in the village centre

 

Monday:  Nice – Cours Saleya

There are about 200 vendors here until to mid-afternoon. Cours Saleya is just behind the Promenade des Anglais and it’s a great place to rummage.  The market is mostly high quality, but treasure hunters can often find a special something. Many items have also found their way here from across the Italian border which makes for an interesting mélange and some vendors speak English, as well as Italian.  Lots of silver, vintage clothing, posters, nautical and travel items and ceramics.

 

Tuesday and Thursday: Aix en Provence, Place Verdun in the mornings

 

Wednesday : Pernes les Fontains
Antique market in the morning in the car-park at the centre of the village

 

Friday: Toulon
A Brocante market at Place du Théâtre in the morning

 

If you would like more information on an Antiques Diva Provence Tour, email us at [email protected].

Au revoir et Bonne Shopping!

The Antiques Diva® 

UK

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Dear Diva Readers,

One of the best parts of my job is that I get to travel all over the world and meet the most interesting people. Recently, we partnered with Steve Nobel and took a VIP group of interior designers on an Antiques Diva England Tour. Of course, our local Diva Agent Gail was able to help us find the perfect places to eat and perhaps do a little sight-seeing in between our shopping appointments. While on tour we dined at The Village Pub at Barnsley, just outside the Cotswolds town of Cirencester. This local pub is at the heart of village life and is in fact owned by the same company that owns nearby Barnsley House.

Steve Nobel, Nobelinks, Sourcing antiques in England, British Buying Tours, The Village Pub, Barnsley House, Calcot Manor, The Antiques Diva

Steve Nobel, Nobelinks, Sourcing antiques in England, British Buying Tours, The Village Pub, Barnsley House, Calcot Manor, The Antiques Diva

Barnsley House was the home of one of the area’s premier lady gardeners, Rosemary Verey. Our Diva Agent Gail used to sell to her daughter Denzil who ran a small garden antiques shop in the grounds— what a small world! The house is now an extremely stylish Cotswolds hotel, which also features a restaurant on the premises. Visitors can tour the expertly maintained grounds which include knot gardens, ornamental fruit, and vegetable gardens.

Steve Nobel, Nobelinks, Sourcing antiques in England, British Buying Tours, The Village Pub, Barnsley House, Calcot Manor, The Antiques Diva

Steve Nobel, Nobelinks, Sourcing antiques in England, British Buying Tours, The Village Pub, Barnsley House, Calcot Manor, The Antiques Diva

Steve Nobel, Nobelinks, Sourcing antiques in England, British Buying Tours, The Village Pub, Barnsley House, Calcot Manor, The Antiques Diva

Steve Nobel, Nobelinks, Sourcing antiques in England, British Buying Tours, The Village Pub, Barnsley House, Calcot Manor, The Antiques Diva

The Village Pub where our group dined is much in the same vein as Barnsley House and sits on the enchanting Cotwolds High Street in Barnsley.  The traditional country pub has been refurbished but still retains a cozy atmosphere complemented by excellent service. They’ve reworked classic English dishes, bringing tradition into the 21st century.

Steve Nobel, Nobelinks, Sourcing antiques in England, British Buying Tours, The Village Pub, Barnsley House, Calcot Manor, The Antiques Diva

If you find yourself in the area for a few days, another house turned hotel owned by the same company is Calcot Manor which is on the other side of Tetbury and a popular place for US visitors. Complete with a spa, this hotel may be the place to end your Buying Tour with a little R&R!

Steve Nobel, Nobelinks, Sourcing antiques in England, British Buying Tours, The Village Pub, Barnsley House, Calcot Manor, The Antiques Diva

If you’re planning an Antiques Diva Buying Tour in the UK, be sure to ask us for suggestions on dining and hotels. We’d be delighted to recommend places that our locally based Guides trust and know. For more information, email us at [email protected].

Cheers,

The Antiques Diva® 

Use Antiques to Make Your Home Feel Like a Luxury Hotel

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Dear Diva Readers,

Due to my travel schedule, sometimes I feel like I live out of a suitcase! Most often, I spend 2 weeks of each month traveling for business, not to mention countless vacations, holidays and getaways away from home.  All said that’s a lot of time away from my abode. But one thing that helps ease the stress of being gone so much is staying in fine hotels around the world. While every trip isn’t a 5-star experience—after all, when I’m on an Antiques Diva Buying Tour, I’m hardly at the hotel so we often choose budget accommodations to lay our head at night, preferring to save money on the purchases! — but every so often I indulge in a truly luxurious accommodation. So today I want to share some tips I’ve picked up on how we can all make our homes feel a bit like a luxury hotel—and of course, antiques can play a part in this as well.

mandarin oriental

Mandarin Oriental

 

Now of course I don’t mean that you have to install a full-service spa in your house—although, how bad could that be!? Don’t forget Mr Steam is available for both residential as well as hospitality projects!! But I’m talking about adding little touches that add up to an exceedingly comfortable abode that welcomes you home each day.

Blake hotel london

Blake Hotel, London

 

Speaking of spas, let’s start in the bathroom. Stock up on thick white towels and hand made soaps from Provence!  Why not invest in a towel heater—think about it— this is something you’ll use every single day. While you’re at it, buy plenty of candles for those evenings that you want to indulge in a nice long bath. I love Diptique.

Siam Bangkok

Siam Bangkok

 

hotel crillon paris

Hotel Crillon, Paris

 

Another thing that luxury hotels always seem to get right is lighting. A mixture of overhead lighting (on dimmers), wall sconces, table lamps and candles allows you to control the mood. I’m partial to antique crystal chandeliers as I think they instantly add a luxe feeling. But mix it up with an art deco lamp as well. Just make sure everything harmonizes.

hotel ritz madrid

Hotel Ritz, Madrid

 

Hotels are known for passing the “touch-feel” test with flying colors.  From sheep skin rugs to cashmere blankets, everything seems to beckon you to relax. At home you can upholster furniture in soft velvets and add cashmere pillows and throws. Why not purchase the best sheets and pillows possible for your bed? After all, you spend every night slipping into them!

Il Salviatino's

Il Salviatino’s

 

And lastly, try to incorporate wow moments. This is where antiques can play a huge role in your decor. Every luxury hotel you walk into has some sort of signature style that is usually played up in the lobby. Perhaps it’s a unique center table topped with vases of flowers. Maybe it’s a feature wall with a stunning piece of artwork. It may even be an over-sized sculpture that takes your breath away. Chest of drawers and side tables are a great place to bring antiques into the bedroom – and what about antique headboards as well.  These are the types of items you can source at antique stores, flea markets and of course your European Antique Buying Tour with us. They add that something special that makes your home individually yours!

The goal here is to create a place that makes you want to come home everyday. Add a lot of luxe and a little fantasy to your house to make it feel like the escape you’ve always longed for!

Happy decorating,

The Antiques Diva®

Villeroy & Boch

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Dear Diva Readers,

I was delighted when Veronika Miller CEO of Modenus invited me to join her group on #BlogTourFrankfurt for a day as a special guest which allowed me to catch up in person with some of my favorite design bloggers for a day at Ambiente – the world’s largest furniture fair!

villeroy and boch dinner at villa kennedy, BlogTourFrankfurt, Modenus, Veronika Miller, The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Villa Kennedy, Best hotels in Frankfurt, Villeroy & Boch, Louis Guntrum, German Wine, Ambiente, World’s Largest Furniture Fair

Villeroy & Boch dinner at Villa Kennedy

 

Louis Guntrum, BlogTourFrankfurt, Modenus, Veronika Miller, The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Villa Kennedy, Best hotels in Frankfurt, Villeroy & Boch, Louis Guntrum, German Wine, Ambiente, World’s Largest Furniture Fair

Louis Guntrum Winery

 

We started the day by enjoying a wine tasting at one of Germany’s best wineriesLouis Guntrum and then moved on to exploring the collection at Villeroy & Boch at the furniture fair! The day was capped off by dinner at Villa Kennedy – the chicest new hotel in Frankfurt (voted one of the top hotels in the world) by having dinner with the Villeroy & Boch team.  The hotel was chosen because they use a variety of V&B’s products in their hotel – from plateware to bathroom décor.  At the dinner I was honored to be seated right next to Monsieur Villeroy who shared with me some behind the scenes history on this truly European firm….

Meet the Bloggers Blog Tour Frankfurt - Monsieur Boch along with Jennifer Mehditash, Jeffery Johnson, Carmen Natschke, Robin Gibson, BlogTourFrankfurt, Modenus, Veronika Miller, The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Villa Kennedy, Best hotels in Frankfurt, Villeroy & Boch, Louis Guntrum, German Wine, Ambiente, World’s Largest Furniture Fair

Meet the Bloggers Blog Tour Frankfurt – Monsieur Boch along with Jennifer Mehditash, Jeffery Johnson, Carmen Natschke, Robin Gibson

 

villa kennedy, BlogTourFrankfurt, Modenus, Veronika Miller, The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Villa Kennedy, Best hotels in Frankfurt, Villeroy & Boch, Louis Guntrum, German Wine, Ambiente, World’s Largest Furniture Fair

Villa Kennedy, Frankfurt

 

In 1748 Francois Boch and his three sons started manufacturing ceramic crockery. In 1791, Nicolas Villeroy acquired an earthenware factory, and by 1836 the two competitors joined forces, forming a partnership which was one of the first Global Players in the business world. The company helped make porcelain accessible to the masses, whereas it was once quite expensive to produce, and thus only available to nobility. With exports to several European countries, by 1850, they were sending goods across the Atlantic to North and South America.

Deco Porter Blogger Jennifer Mehditash Strikes a Pose with Villeroy & Boch, BlogTourFrankfurt, Modenus, Veronika Miller, The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Villa Kennedy, Best hotels in Frankfurt, Villeroy & Boch, Louis Guntrum, German Wine, Ambiente, World’s Largest Furniture Fair

Deco Porter Blogger Jennifer Mehditash Strikes a Pose with Villeroy & Boch

 

In the second half of the 19th century the company began expanding their products to include tiles and terra-cotta items. No longer just a crockery manufacturer, Villeroy & Boch were commissioned to complete restoration tile work in many historical buildings across Europe including the famous Cologne Cathedral. At this time Villeroy & Boch also creates products including their well-known crockery for very important clients like the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and the Castle of the Prince of Thurn and Taxis in Regensburg. Their global client list grows and encompasses many noble and ruling households throughout Europe.

villa kennedy v&B, BlogTourFrankfurt, Modenus, Veronika Miller, The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Villa Kennedy, Best hotels in Frankfurt, Villeroy & Boch, Louis Guntrum, German Wine, Ambiente, World’s Largest Furniture Fair

Villa Kennedy Villeroy & Boch

 

By the 1950’s the company was even commissioned to create custom crockery for the Pope. Since then they’ve created tableware for several Popes which is used during formal occasions at The Vatican.

Today the company continues to manufacture and distribute tabletop pieces as well as decorative items, bathroom necessities, gorgeous tiles, and innovative flooring. The longevity and prestigiousness of Villeroy & Boch are a testament to the commitment to quality they have. From residential tableware to fine place settings (and gorgeous bathrooms) at some of the best hotels- such as the famous Villa Kennedy – chances are you’ve come across their products.   They’re simply the best.

The Antiques Diva® 

Villa Necchi Campiglio

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Dear Diva Readers,

When shopping recently for antiques at Italy’s largest antiques fair, Mercanteinfeira with VIPS John Eason, Jennifer Mehditash and Caleb Anderson, we took time out of our busy antiquing schedule to soak in some serious design inspiration by visiting one of the best kept secrets in Milan – Villa Necchi Campiglio.

Villa Necchi Campiglio, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Mercanteinfiera, Parma Art and Antiques Fair, John Eason, Jennifer Mehditash, Caleb Anderson, Milan Architecture and Design, Portaluppi, Italian Design

Villa Necchi Campiglio, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Mercanteinfiera, Parma Art and Antiques Fair, John Eason, Jennifer Mehditash, Caleb Anderson, Milan Architecture and Design, Portaluppi, Italian Design

The villa was built between 1932 and 1935 for the wealthy Lombard industrialist family made up of Angelo Campiglio, his wife Gigina Necchi, and her sister Nedda Necchi. It is situated in a very well-to-do part of Milan and was designed by Italian architect Piero Portaluppi. Both architect and client paid close attention to detail to create a house that would be the backdrop to a life well-lived in Milanese high society.

Villa Necchi Campiglio, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Mercanteinfiera, Parma Art and Antiques Fair, John Eason, Jennifer Mehditash, Caleb Anderson, Milan Architecture and Design, Portaluppi, Italian Design

Villa Necchi Campiglio, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Mercanteinfiera, Parma Art and Antiques Fair, John Eason, Jennifer Mehditash, Caleb Anderson, Milan Architecture and Design, Portaluppi, Italian Design

The home isn’t so much a gaudy “look at my wealth” statement—as many mansions of the gilded age were— but rather it is a mixture of architectural styles of the 19th and 20th centuries. The house is made up of an enfilade of rooms, each flowing into the next, but able to be separated by sliding doors. It is almost as if Portaluppi imagined the day-to-day life that would play out in the house and designed each space to be used at a certain time of day. Thought was given to the fact that there needed to be intimate spaces for everyday life but also larger, open rooms that could accommodate social functions.

Villa Necchi Campiglio, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Mercanteinfiera, Parma Art and Antiques Fair, John Eason, Jennifer Mehditash, Caleb Anderson, Milan Architecture and Design, Portaluppi, Italian Design

Villa Necchi Campiglio, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Mercanteinfiera, Parma Art and Antiques Fair, John Eason, Jennifer Mehditash, Caleb Anderson, Milan Architecture and Design, Portaluppi, Italian Design

The house is set in a large garden which includes a swimming pool and tennis court. Inside, the sculpted ceilings are an interesting feature as is the collection of 20th century paintings and sculpture. With no corridors, one must pass through each room to get to the next which creates a theatrical atmosphere, particularly if you imagine the sliding screens being shut and then suddenly opening to reveal the dining room with its table set for a dinner party.

Villa Necchi Campiglio, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Mercanteinfiera, Parma Art and Antiques Fair, John Eason, Jennifer Mehditash, Caleb Anderson, Milan Architecture and Design, Portaluppi, Italian Design

Villa Necchi Campiglio, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Mercanteinfiera, Parma Art and Antiques Fair, John Eason, Jennifer Mehditash, Caleb Anderson, Milan Architecture and Design, Portaluppi, Italian Design

Villa Necchi Campiglio, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Mercanteinfiera, Parma Art and Antiques Fair, John Eason, Jennifer Mehditash, Caleb Anderson, Milan Architecture and Design, Portaluppi, Italian Design

While it’s not ostentatious, the villa is most definitely the epitome of luxury. From the grand veneered staircase which greets you to the goat’s leather paneling of the dining room walls, the attention to finishes and detail is paramount. There is even personalized crockery in the staff quarters that was designed by Portaluppi himself. Now that’s what I call understated decadence!

Villa Necchi Campiglio, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Mercanteinfiera, Parma Art and Antiques Fair, John Eason, Jennifer Mehditash, Caleb Anderson, Milan Architecture and Design, Portaluppi, Italian Design

If you happen to be in Milan, you simply must visit this inspirational house museum – it’s one of Milan’s best kept secrets. It certainly is a lesson in architecture and design as it successfully mixes impressive 19th century style with progressive 20th century design. Perfection!

Ciao Bella!

The Antiques Diva® 

The English Library

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Dear Diva Readers,

I know in this digital day and age libraries are a thing of the past… but I’m The Antiques Diva® – I LIVE In the PAST! My décor fantasy is to have a dedicated room in my home someday to serve as my library.  Of course, if I’m going to dream I’m going to dream BIG…so that home would actually be a Chateau or Manor House.  Something simple, like Highclere Castle, where Downtown Abbey is filmed would do the trick.

downton abbey, Decorating tips, Recreating English Country Style, Staffordshire Dog, vintage tea caddies, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Sourcing antiques in Europe, Decorating English Libraries

While I might not have the English country house just yet…. I’m working on it. In the meantime, there are a few easy ways to achieve a look reminiscent of these traditional English country homes.  First off, start with a great library shelving unit.  Those lovely boys at my favorite Belgium boutique hotel turned antique shop JVR 108 have recently acquired all the contents of the famous Chateau Rozenhout (as seen on the cover of The Houses of Veranda book) which means you could actually buy an iconic piece from one of the great houses of Europe.

highclere castle downabbey,

Of course, then once you have the book case you could add some traditional English antique pieces to line your shelves.

Decorating tips, Recreating English Country Style, Staffordshire Dog, vintage tea caddies, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Sourcing antiques in Europe, Decorating English Libraries

So here’s my confession… While I’m a big reader – reading nearly every night for an hour before bed – I also buy books I never intend to read.  I buy gorgeous antique leather-bound books to stage my shelves! Pretentious? Maybe. Gorgeous? Absolutely!  And trust me… I’m not the only one who buys books they don’t read… flip open any decorating magazine, you’ll see miles of leather bound antique journals! You can pick these up at markets for a song.

Whenever we take clients on a Buying Tours, I always encourage them to buy small pieces as well as furniture. Why? Because if you’re going to ship a container full of bureaus and cabinets home, you might as well fill the drawers with small accessories! Volumes of antique books are the perfect thing to fit into drawers and cabinets, taking up no extra space in your shipping container – so essentially those smalls are shipped for free if you’re already shipping larger items! And once you get them home or back to your store they make the perfect addition for accessorizing your shelves.

Decorating tips, Recreating English Country Style, Staffordshire Dog, vintage tea caddies, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Sourcing antiques in Europe, Decorating English Libraries

living room bookcase, Decorating tips, Recreating English Country Style, Staffordshire Dog, vintage tea caddies, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Sourcing antiques in Europe, Decorating English Libraries

The next quintessentially English accessory has to be Staffordshire Dog statues. These typically come in matching pairs and are frequently used on mantles however they make fantastic additions to shelving. I love that they are traditional… but are also wonderfully KITCH!  I’ve even seen them used as bookends which is quite a good look especially when paired with old leather-bound books.

Another accessory that looks fabulous on open shelving is antique English tea caddies. Wooden tea caddies were first introduced in the early 18th century and by the second half of that same century, they were widely considered to be a stylish home accessory. We’ve had several clients purchase these items while on tour. In fact, many people buy them in multiples as they make a lovely displayed collection in a study or even a kitchen!  Add in some traditional blue and white Delft or for that Antique Young Guns look mix it up with some taxidermied birds!

Decorating tips, Recreating English Country Style, Staffordshire Dog, vintage tea caddies, Antiques Diva Buying Tours, Sourcing antiques in Europe, Decorating English Libraries

If you’re after that old English look, try using these perfectly English accessories on your shelves. By simply adding these few elements, you’ll transform your room into something reminiscent of an English country manor! And if you’d like more information on our English Antique Buying Tours email us at [email protected]

Cheerio,

The Antiques Diva® 
(seen here at the Real Life Downton Abbey – Highclere Castle with my gorgeous niece Kyrra)

downton abbey, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Highclere Castle

Euro at 12 Year Low!

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Dear Diva Readers,

Have you been thinking about booking an Antiques Diva Tour?? Now is the time to do it the EURO is at a 12 year low!!! Which means you get more for your money when you convert your dollar to Euro – this saves you money on the COST OF YOUR TOUR and on EVERYTHING YOU BUY!!!

EUROS

The last time the US DOLLAR was this strong against the Euro was 2003!!!!  All this to say… It’s time to SHOP- Antiques Diva Style!!

The Antiques Diva®

Using Antique and Vintage Lighting

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Dear Diva Readers,

I was recently asked as part of a panel where I would start on designing a room.  For me it’s all about setting the mood – and lighting is imperative in creating atmosphere.  I believe lighting is the most important element in any room’s design.  So when I walk into a space the first thing I see is what I want the overhead lighting to be and from there I build my room around it.

Decorating with lighting fixtures, antique lighting fixtures, vintage lighting fixtures, decorating tips, Antiques Diva Interior Decorating, Chandeliers,

chandeliers antiques diva home in berlin, Decorating with lighting fixtures, antique lighting fixtures, vintage lighting fixtures, decorating tips, Antiques Diva Interior Decorating, Chandeliers,

Lighting can make or break the atmosphere in a space. Far too often people underestimate the power of having multiple light sources and simply rely on one overhead light – I start with a fabulous chandelier but then use select lighting to highlight specific pieces, add depth to nondescript rooms and dark corners, to make spaces seem larger and to enhance the overall mood. Sconces as well as floor lamps always come into play… and the BEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD to buy lighting is ITALY!  Mamma Mia… Italian lighting (specifically Venetian) is good.  I’m in search personally for a waterfall Murano floor lamp for my own living room… lucky for me I have “friends” in high places and the team at Art Glass (who deconstructs hotels) has my wish list on file so they can email when my personal piece becomes available.

Antiques Diva home in Berlin, Toma Clark Haines, Alte Malzerei, Decorating with lighting fixtures, antique lighting fixtures, vintage lighting fixtures, decorating tips, Antiques Diva Interior Decorating, Chandeliers,

You must focus on the floor and table top lighting when decorating a room.  If all of your lighting is coming from overhead, the end result is going to be unflattering. We need overhead lighting for tasks and overall illumination of course, but chandeliers and ceiling fixtures can’t be the only source of light in a room. In order to create a flattering space, you must have a combination of overhead lighting (on a dimmer), table lamps, floor lamps, and, of course, candlelight. In my home there is always LOTS of candlelight (and antique silver candelabras, bien sur)!!!

Decorating with lighting fixtures, antique lighting fixtures, vintage lighting fixtures, decorating tips, Antiques Diva Interior Decorating, Chandeliers,

Decorating with lighting fixtures, antique lighting fixtures, vintage lighting fixtures, decorating tips, Antiques Diva Interior Decorating, Chandeliers,   Decorating with lighting fixtures, antique lighting fixtures, vintage lighting fixtures, decorating tips, Antiques Diva Interior Decorating, Chandeliers,

Now don’t think I’m dissing overhead lighting—there’s nothing I love more than a gorgeous crystal antique chandelier! In fact, an antique chandelier incorporated into a modern space is one of my favorite things. But these can’t be your only source of lights. Many clients that come on tour purchase statement chandeliers and also purchase architectural pieces that they can have made into table lamps. I love this idea because it offers you a way to create custom, one-of-a-kind lamps. After all, each room needs at least five light sources, so why not make them unique?

Decorating with lighting fixtures, antique lighting fixtures, vintage lighting fixtures, decorating tips, Antiques Diva Interior Decorating, Chandeliers,

Decorating with lighting fixtures, antique lighting fixtures, vintage lighting fixtures, decorating tips, Antiques Diva Interior Decorating, Chandeliers,

The truth is, almost anything can be made into a lamp. Get creative – why not use antique jars as lamp bases? You can also take antique silver pieces such as trophies and create lamps out of them.

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And last, but certainly not least, antique candle holders are a must. I love the patina of antique silver candle holders. But you can also use crystal, porcelain, wood—any material of candle holder really. Nothing sets the tone like candlelight, so be sure to sprinkle plenty of them throughout the room.

No matter what style of lighting you choose, be sure to incorporate antique and vintage pieces. There are always so many ways to use more lighting in any room of your house. If you’d like information on coming on an Antiques Diva Buying Tour to source lighting, email us at [email protected].

Shine brightly,

The Antiques Diva® 

Creating a Bedroom Sanctuary

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Dear Diva Readers,

I travel 2 to 3 weeks each month for work and I love nothing more than a good hotel room – but Dorothy said it best, “There is no place like home”.  It’s the place we begin and end each day— even if our house is our castle, our bedroom should be our sanctuary. After all, is there any other place on earth where we can be express ourselves so fully? However, creating a bedroom sanctuary is a process, as all decorating is. Here are a few tips to help you along the way!

Decorating a bedroom, Decorating tips,

Starting with a relaxing background is key. Now – in my own bedroom, I have painted the walls and ceiling black! You might think this sounds a bit drastic, but trust me, it sets the tone for a wonderfully soothing atmosphere. Think about it, dark colors allow the walls—and ceiling— to recede, creating an enveloping sense of space! Plus, I suffer from insomnia and so it keeps the room dark while I sleep.

no place like home, Decorating a bedroom, Decorating tips,

Next, you want to make sure that your bedroom is nurturing. What do I mean by this? There needs to be at least one thing that says, “This space is meant to rejuvenate you!”. I am lucky enough to have a gorgeous soaking tub in my bedroom which, whether I’m indulging in a bubble bath or not, reminds me to take some time out and relax. Perhaps you can incorporate a fainting sofa or a beautiful set of plush chairs in your bedroom to give your mind that visual cue that this space is about indulgence!

Decorating a bedroom, Decorating tips,

Speaking of luxe, I say go all the way with linens in the bedroom. Purchase the best quality you can and maybe even incorporate luxurious antique velvet throw pillows. Glamorous touches like this help make your bedroom feel special and comfortable. The reality is that you will spend more time every single night sleeping on your bed and in your sheets than any other place. They should be viewed as an investment!

former bedroom, Decorating a bedroom, Decorating tips,

Another very important element in any bedroom is lighting. Of course you want to have task lighting for reading in bed, but you also want to sprinkle mood lighting throughout the room. A gorgeous crystal chandelier or semi-flush mount fixture is ideal—just be sure to put it on a dimmer! Decorative antique lamps can make lovely additions to the bedroom. And if you have artwork on the walls, use wall mounted art lights to highlight them.

Remember that your bedroom should be all about you—and your partner if you have one! It’s a place to unwind and gently close the door on the outside world. By incorporating antiques and modern conveniences, today’s bedrooms can be the ideal place to end and begin each day!

Happy decorating,

The Antiques Diva® 

IACF Love Antiques

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Dear Diva Readers,

We love taking clients on antique buying tours, scouring the continent and British isles in search of European antiques and decorative items. There is something about the physical hunt that all antique lovers seem to crave – we like to see antiques in real life, verify their patina, touch them, hold them.  But in this age of the internet – through our antique sourcing service – we are also able to email clients photos of specific pieces in which they may be interested.  The advantage to the buyer in receiving emailed photographs from us is that we are able to personally verify these objects – seeing if they’re as good in real life as the photo and we’re able to negotiate with vendors whom we have long term relationships, helping you to get the best price.

IACF, Love Antiques, Antiques Diva Buying Services, Buying Antiques in Europe, The HighBoy, Antique Young Guns,

The internet has become an invaluable tool in our business and many antique dealers all over the world have embraced its power. Today I want to share a bit about the International Antiques & Collectors Fairs new project LoveAntiques.com. The IACF have been organizing Europe’s largest antiques fairs for over 25 years and we’ve come to expect the best from them! With LoveAntiques.com, the IACF is offering a place for qualified dealers to sell antiques to a broader audience. This is also good news for buyers since having all of these trusted vendors in one convenient place allows you to view thousands of items without leaving your desk (though we all know that visiting the fairs and antique warehouses in REAL life is always more fun!).

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Items on this website are updated daily, which makes it like a brand new shopping experience each time you visit the site. Of course, there are many websites out there that sell antiques, but we have our few trusted online marketplaces where we feel they are doing a fabulous job selling antiques online.  LoveAntiques happens to be one of those alongside The HighBoy and Antique Young Guns.

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If you happen to see something you are interested in on LoveAntiques.com, you are able to communicate directly with the dealer who is listing that item. You can also purchase pieces directly from the dealer via PayPal, making buying antiques even simpler.

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With a vast array of pieces available—from jewelry to furniture to china and glassware— LoveAntiques.com is another fantastic online source whether you want to sell or buy antiques.

The Antiques Diva® 

Decorating with Antique Textiles

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Dear Diva Readers,

Antique textiles are a great way to add character to your home, particularly when you want to create warmth and depth. For centuries, textiles have been used both functionally and for decorative purposes. In medieval Europe, large tapestries hung on the walls of great estates and castles to help keep cold draughts out. However, these intricately woven pieces were often highly decorative as well, often telling stories or incorporating nature and architecture. While we don’t need tapestries to keep the cold out today, their decorative nature keeps them on the list of sought-after pieces in the interior design world.

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Decorating tips, Decorating with Textiles, Antique Textiles, Antique Rugs, Decorating with Tapestries

cuscino, Decorating tips, Decorating with Textiles, Antique Textiles, Antique Rugs, Decorating with Tapestries

When it comes to antique textiles, repurposing is also the name of the game. We find that clients often purchase antique textiles and have them made into one-of-a-kind pillows. Imagine perfectly worn velvets enhanced by intricate brocades being sewn into custom throw pillows. How decadent! These are the perfect additions to sofas, beds, and chairs that really add that element of personality to a room.

Vintage fur coats, Decorating tips, Decorating with Textiles, Antique Textiles, Antique Rugs, Decorating with Tapestries

Speaking of pillows, we’ve even seen people purchase vintage fur coats and create decorative—and plush— pillows from them. It’s a great way to repurpose something that may otherwise never be used again.

Decorating tips, Decorating with Textiles, Antique Textiles, Antique Rugs, Decorating with Tapestries

Decorating tips, Decorating with Textiles, Antique Textiles, Antique Rugs, Decorating with Tapestries

Of course, special antique textiles are art in themselves. Our Diva Guides in Venice, Italy know this to be true. They have access to collections of museum quality textiles from Italy and Asia that can act as artworks in a well-curated home. Simply by taking a remnant of an ancient piece of embroidery and framing it in a modern frame, you can achieve a very sophisticated look that would be at home in a traditional or contemporary space.

Decorating tips, Decorating with Textiles, Antique Textiles, Antique Rugs, Decorating with Tapestries

Lastly, whether you count them as textiles or not, antique rugs are always a great addition to a well-decorated room. They are not only soft with interesting patterns, but they were made to last. Think about it— a rug is something that gets a lot of wear every day!

Decorating tips, Decorating with Textiles, Antique Textiles, Antique Rugs, Decorating with Tapestries

However you choose to decorate with antique textiles, one thing is for sure—you’re going to be adding warmth and personality to your home! If you would like more information about taking an Antiques Diva Buying Tour or utilizing our Buying Services abroad, email us at [email protected].

Stay warm,

The Antiques Diva® 

Antique Sourcing in Belgium

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Dear Diva Readers,

Here at The Antiques Diva & Co, there are many moving parts that all work together to create our successful European Antiques Buying Tour Service. My team of 18 Diva Guides, who operate locally in 8 different countries, are an indispensable part of the business. They bring to the table their antiques expertise, local connections, translating, and negotiating skills. Today we’re going to hear from our Belgian/Dutch Diva Guide, Lucretia Hunsucker.

Antiques Diva Guide Lucretia Hunsucker, Buying antiques in Belgium, sourcing antiques in Europe

Lucretia explains, “I love helping clients source a variety of pieces but my favorite times are when a client is searching for something specific—almost like a treasure hunt! Even when clients can’t come on tour, we can help them source pieces through our Antiques Sourcing Services. Recently one of our favorite New York Interior Designer clients asked if we could help him source a pair of De Coene consoles for a project.  De Coene was a furniture company founded in the early twentieth century based in the Flemish town of Kortrijk, which went out of business in 1975.

Leopold_III_van_België_(1934)

As fate would have it, a few days before I received this client’s email, I had happened to visit an exhibition in Brussels, dedicated to Henry Van de Velde, the famous Belgian designer. The exhibition included a gigantic desk that this firm, De Coene, had made for the Belgian king Leopold III, based on Van de Velde’s designs of the 1930s. Indeed it was common knowledge that only the rich could afford De Coene furniture, making it a prestigious brand throughout Europe. Even French customers coveted these pieces because of the excellent quality and craftsmanship.

Buying antiques in Belgium, Sourcing antiques in Europe, Antiques Diva & Co, Toma Clark Haines, Diva Guide Lucretia, De Coene console, New York Interior Designer

Upon returning home and receiving the client’s email, I immediately tapped our Antiques Diva database and contacted a Brussels antique dealer who had just what we were looking for – a black De Coene console for sale! The only problem? Our Antiques Diva client was specifically looking to buy a pair of them! Where was I going to find a second one? The hunt was on…

Murat, Buying antiques in Belgium, Sourcing antiques in Europe, Antiques Diva & Co, Toma Clark Haines, Diva Guide Lucretia, De Coene console, New York Interior Designer

Back to the drawing board… a few phones and numerous emails later we stumbled upon an exact duplicate of my first find, but this time it was in mahogany. This console was identified as a “De Coene Murat”. It was almost an exact match to the black console— the only difference was that this one had a mahogany finish. Although made in the 1950s, this De Coene Murat console was designed in that “Retour d’Egypte” style,  made out of polished mahogany with mat guilt bronze classical detail. I knew there had to be a way to make this pair work—even if they weren’t exactly twins! Never say Die!

I contacted the vendor and told him that the Murat console I wanted had to be black. His solution was that he could HAVE THIS PIECE LACQUERED IN BLACK making it THE PERFECT COMPANION to the first console table we found.  In my opinion, the console looked so much more modern and glamorous in black, with all the gold accessories shiny and polished. Problems solved!

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De Coene Murat furniture fetches sky-high prices in the US. In 2007, the Murat console was featured on the cover of a catalog issued by a New Orleans auction house — where it later fetched the sum of $21,600. A New York antique dealer, Kemp, sells Murat consoles for $60,000! Now, even with the extra labor – the lacquering – and transportation costs, our New York client could acquire this beautiful pair of Murat consoles for a fraction of what it would have cost him in the USA.

For myself, it was an eye-opener too. Once this mahogany neo-empire furniture had undergone this transformation – being painted black and having the gold trimmings polished – it looked very modern and perfect for our client’s needs!  Resembling art deco rather than empire, it fit very well in a contemporary interior, and the neutral black finish offered great possibilities for mixing well with the flamboyant colors that are so en vogue now.  I also learned that the firm De Coene had been selling black- lacquered furniture from the beginning, taking away my reservations about changing the looks of such carefully executed heirloom pieces.

The lesson here is that no matter what you’re looking for, where there’s a will there’s a way. From the client, to our company Antiques Diva headquarters, to me as the local buying agent to two of the dealers we know, the exact pieces that we sought were found, modified, and purchased for a fraction of the cost they could have been purchased for in the US.”

If you’d like information about an Antiques Buying Tour or our Buying Services, please email us at [email protected]. We’d love to help you source the perfect piece!

The Antiques Diva® 

Collecting Antique Artwork

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Dear Diva Readers,

A house without artwork is like an outfit without jewelry… and I never leave the house without wearing a bauble or two. No matter what your style, art adds personality and character to a space – finishing an interior! If your walls are feeling bare and boring, hanging artwork will add depth, color, pattern, texture and an element of surprise, making a room anything but bland!

Tips on buying artwork, Collecting antique art, decorating with art, antiques diva tips, Toma Clark Haines Artwork

It can seem daunting to start an art collection, especially with the vast array of pieces available on the market. However, you should always purchase what you love – like my client Susan’s son (in a recent blog post). Start with this one rule in mind and you’ll be on the way to creating a collection of pieces that reflects your individual tastes.

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A great way to ensure that you’re investing in something that will at least retain its value is by buying antique art pieces. This doesn’t mean that they have to be outrageously expensive. Even if your budget only allows you to purchase one good piece, that is a great place to start. Establishing a collection takes time and is rarely achieved at a one-stop-shop. From antique store to auctions to flea markets, there are many avenues from which to procure artwork.

Tips on buying artwork, Collecting antique art, decorating with art, antiques diva tips

Tips on buying artwork, Collecting antique art, decorating with art, antiques diva tips

When selecting art, you also want to be sure that it will work with your decor. Perhaps it’s the color palette that you want to coordinate. Maybe it’s the subject matter. Either way, don’t just purchase something and hope it will fit. Be mindful of the vibe you already have going at home and choose something that will mesh with that.  But don’t be afraid to take chances.  When it comes to art work and antiques, opposites attract, just like in love.  Using modern artwork alongside antique furniture pieces is a great way to achieve a chic modern relevant look. So go with your gut and trust your eye!

Tips on buying artwork, Collecting antique art, decorating with art, antiques diva tips

When it comes to displaying art, consider a gallery wall. This can take many shapes and forms. From hanging pieces in symmetrical rows to placing them randomly on the wall, gallery walls add interest to any space. Aside from walls, try using easels to display your art. Whether it be a floor easel or table-top, there’s something about an easel that makes a piece feel special.

Tips on buying artwork, Collecting antique art, decorating with art, antiques diva tips

The key with art is to not be intimidated! Remember it should speak to you and if you educate yourself about the pieces you’re interested in, you will know exactly what you’re purchasing. Art is fun and the process of researching, purchasing, and decorating should be fun too.

If you’d like information on how The Antiques Diva & Co can help you source antique art abroad, email us at [email protected]. Through our Buying Tours or Buying Services, we’d love to help you start or expand your collection!

Artfully yours,

The Antiques Diva® 

European Decorative Arts – Sotheby’s

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Dear Diva Readers,

Here at The Antiques Diva & Co we are thrilled to be part of an exciting global community of antiques and design enthusiasts. With our staff of locally based Diva Guides throughout Europe, we have developed—and are constantly expanding— a vast network or dealers and experts in the field who constantly teach us more and more about the world of antiques. Continuing education is an important part of what we do… both internally within our company and externally, educating our clients.  When asked where we look for ongoing education I have to say the Sotheby’s Institute of Art is my first source!  They are currently offering a new course called “European Decorative Arts”, covering decorative arts from the seventeenth century with the rise of the Baroque and culminating in Art Nouveau at the end of the nineteenth century. Participants will study stylistic developments in Western European design and decorative arts, learning about furniture, ceramics, glass and metalwork. The course will also focus on the broader historical and cultural forces that have influenced the production and consumption of decorative art objects. I’ve always found that the more you know about antiques, including historical context and significance, the better you are able to source what you’re looking for. And in fact the more you know – the better you’re able to spot bargains along the way whilst shopping abroad!   Think about it— if you have knowledge, which we all know is power, you can spot period pieces and know what you are talking about. This helps with negotiating and procuring the right piece for your personal or professional collection.

sothebys institute of art, Sotheby’s, Institute of Art, European Decorative Arts, Continuing Education in Design,

Not only will participants of this course be part of lectures, but they’ll also visit leading museums, galleries and country houses. After all, the world is a classroom! A great way to learn about antiques is firsthand. Many of our own clients often comment on how much they learn just by talking to our Guides and dealers at our sources.

header course, Sotheby’s, Institute of Art, European Decorative Arts, Continuing Education in Design,

Sometimes antiques can seem intimidating, but this particular course requires no prior knowledge, allowing you to learn without feeling self-conscious. A sample of topics that will be covered are as follows:

  • Louis XIV and the influence of Versailles
  • Trade with the Far-East in the 17th century
  • Rococo interiors
  • Neo-classicism
  • Arts and Crafts
  • The impact of Japan in the 19th century
  • Aestheticism
  • Art Nouveau

If you would like more information on the course which runs from May 26 to June 19, 2015 click this link.

sothebys institue of art, Sotheby’s, Institute of Art, European Decorative Arts, Continuing Education in Design,

sothebys institue of art, Sotheby’s, Institute of Art, European Decorative Arts, Continuing Education in Design,

And as always, if you’d like more information on an Antiques Diva & Co Buying Tour, please email us at [email protected]. We’d love to help you source antiques in Europe!

The Antiques Diva®

Layering with Antique Rugs

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Dear Diva Readers,

Winter weather always has me wanting to nest… spending time snuggling up indoors and creating cozy, winter-worthy interiors.  One way to warm up the indoors is by layering in antique rugs.   Think about it—when cold temperatures hit with fashion we layer on the clothes, adding a turtleneck, sweater, scarves, coats, gloves…anything that will keep us toasty. The same principle can be applied to the home. By adding layers with rugs you can keep nice and cozy all winter long.

Vintage rugs, antique rugs, decorating with layers, layering rugs, Decorating tips for winter weather, The Antiques Diva

Layering a small rug over a larger one can help define a seating area. It visually pulls things together, creating a sense of intimacy in a given space.  Another easy way to add texture with small rugs is by using animal hides. We recently had a client purchase a vintage reindeer hide on tour! And, remember: don’t be afraid to layer rugs over carpet either.

Vintage rugs, antique rugs, decorating with layers, layering rugs, Decorating tips for winter weather, The Antiques Diva

 

While we’re talking about texture, be aware of the rugs you’re layering. You want to make sure they are of different weaves. For instance, if you have a jute or seagrass rug on your wood floors, layer a rug of a different material on top—like wool. You want to have a mix of flat and textured rugs.

Vintage rugs, antique rugs, decorating with layers, layering rugs, Decorating tips for winter weather, The Antiques Diva

I think it’s best to have your main rug be pretty neutral and for it to have less pattern. Then you can layer colorful patterned rugs on top to add interest. By starting with a neutral base, you open up your options when it comes to layering on smaller rugs throughout the year. This allows the smaller rugs to be more like accessories.

Vintage rugs, antique rugs, decorating with layers, layering rugs, Decorating tips for winter weather, The Antiques Diva

And lastly, consider adding antique rugs to every room in the house. Of course you’ll want them in the living room, but why not add a rug in the kitchen to spice things up? Also think about the bedroom—wouldn’t it be nice to step out of bed each morning onto a soft rug?

As the foundation of any room, rugs are not only a good idea but also a good investment!  So the real question is … where should you buy your antique rugs?? Of course, we’ve got a source for you! The The London Antique Rug and Textile Art Fair – held this 16-19th April 2015. Visitors to LARTA 2015 will have the opportunity to source items originating from Anatolia, the Caucasus, Persia, Central Asia, India and China, as well as from Europe and Africa, and from all periods up to the early 20th century.

Vintage rugs, antique rugs, decorating with layers, layering rugs, Decorating tips for winter weather, The Antiques Diva

Address : The Showroom, 63 Penfold St, London NW8 8PQ

The Showroom is an arts venue about half a mile north of Marble Arch, 100 yards from Edgware Road.

Dates & Opening Times 2015

Thursday 16th April – Opening Night, 6pm – 10pm (by invitation only).
Friday 17th April, 11am – 7pm
Saturday 18th April, 11am – 7pm
Sunday 19th April, 11am – 5pm

Entry is free at all times!

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva

Stay warm,

The Antiques Diva® 

Antiques Roadshow Moment on Antiques Diva Tours

Antiques Roadshow Moment on Antiques Diva Tours

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Dear Diva Readers,

The number one rule of advice I give clients on our antique buying tours is to buy what you love.

Buy What You Love, Antiques Roadshow, Antiques Diva Tours, Susan Cohan Gardens, Mucha, Art Nouveau print, LANGAGE DES FLEURS, projet de teinture, Flea Market Finds, Toma Clark Haines

Recently Susan Cohan, principal of Susan Cohan Gardens, a boutique design studio which specializes in residential landscape design, booked a 10 day long Antiques Diva Gardens and Ornaments tour in France & Belgium to shop the flea markets, warehouses and architectural salvage stores, bringing a group of her friends with her to shop abroad with diva style.

susan cohan gardens and ornaments group antiques diva tour, Antiques Roadshow, Antiques Diva Tours, Susan Cohan Gardens, Mucha, Art Nouveau print, LANGAGE DES FLEURS, projet de teinture, Flea Market Finds, Toma Clark Haines

While we were in Belgium her son was rummaging through a flea market and fell in love with a gorgeous Art Nouveau Mucha print which he bought for 12 Euro.  Bringing it back to New York he and his mother dropped the print off at the framers.  As they were unmatting it they discovered that this “print” was in fact “the real deal.”

Mucha, Antiques Roadshow, Antiques Diva Tours, Susan Cohan Gardens, Mucha, Art Nouveau print, LANGAGE DES FLEURS, projet de teinture, Flea Market Finds, Toma Clark Haines

LANGAGE DES FLEURS.
Plate 35 from Album de la Decoration.

10 3/8×14 1/4 inches. F. Champenois, Paris.
Condition A.
A brunette with flowing hair is caught in the midst of a fantastic swirl of Art Nouveau flowers in red, blue, green and yellow. A “projet de teinture” (“a study for fabric”) , Rennert/Weill refers to the finalized cloth version (printed on “satin or velveteen and possibly on silk” p. 396) and pictures two images clearly from the same series. Rennert/Weill A.11 (var).

It had been auctioned off at the Swann Galleries in 2002 for more than $2,000.

Susan’s son had his treasure framed behind UV glass with an acid free backing and matt and smiled all the way home – delighted with his Antiques Diva Antiques Roadshow moment.

The moral of this story according to Susan Cohan, “Buy art that you love and you will never be a loser!  And, sometimes, you will be a really big winner!”

With Susan Cohan Shopping the Paris Flea Market, Antiques Roadshow, Antiques Diva Tours, Susan Cohan Gardens, Mucha, Art Nouveau print, LANGAGE DES FLEURS, projet de teinture, Flea Market Finds, Toma Clark Haines

Bonne Shopping!
The Antiques Diva®
(seen above with Susan Cohan while shopping The Paris Flea Market)

Decorating with Antique Mirrors

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Dear Diva Readers,

Whether we’re taking private clients or trade clients on Antique Buying Tours, there are a few key items that people are ALWAYS looking to buy!. Antique mirrors, large or small, are one of the most sought after pieces.  Not only do they work in nearly any space – enhancing it and reflecting light – as we age (yes, I’m talking people, not antiques) we look better and better in old, mottled mercury mirrors!  My theory is:  if you can’t turn back the hands of time at least you can turn back seeing the wrinkles!  Antique mirrors allow us to see ourselves in new ways.

Decorating Tips, Decorating with Antique Mirrors, Trumeau, Best place to hang a mirror, Decorating with style, Antiques Diva

Decorating Tips, Decorating with Antique Mirrors, Trumeau, Best place to hang a mirror, Decorating with style, Antiques Diva

An entryway is the ideal place for an antique mirror, preferably a large one so that you can check yourself one last time before you leave the house – it also imbues the home with light, making it feel immediately welcoming.

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Above the mantel is obviously a traditional place to put a mirror and my theory is that this is where you should GO BOLD.  The bigger and the more ornate, the better.  In the evenings, light a slew of candles and watch how the flames flicker in the reflection.   On this cold day in February I’m dreaming of snuggling up next to the fire with the candlelight reflected above.

Decorating Tips, Decorating with Antique Mirrors, Trumeau, Best place to hang a mirror, Decorating with style

While we’re talking about candlelight, try to hang mirrors any place that candles can be reflected across the room, etc.  Think about a long mirror hung horizontally above the sideboard in the dining room. Then you can fill the sideboard with candles that will make your dinner hour sparkle or it can catch the light from the dining table as you entertain.

Decorating Tips, Decorating with Antique Mirrors, Trumeau, Best place to hang a mirror, Decorating with style

If you have a strangely placed electric panel, why not prop a mirror up against the wall in front of it? This can also be a great way to use a mirror if you’re a renter and don’t want to put holes in the walls. Propping a large mirror against a wall creates a sense of depth and space and also makes a room feel casual – in fact in my bedroom at home (which has brick walls) I’ve propped an oversized trumeau.

Decorating Tips, Decorating with Antique Mirrors, Trumeau, Best place to hang a mirror, Decorating with style

Hanging a mirror at the end of a dark hallway or in a closed stairwell will reflect light and give the illusion of a continuation of space. Mirrors make cramped spaces less claustrophobic so anywhere that feels tight, just add a mirror!

Decorating Tips, Decorating with Antique Mirrors, Trumeau, Best place to hang a mirror, Decorating with style

Mirror Mirror on the Wall… Who’s the Fairest of them All?

The Antiques Diva®

Antiques Diva Resources

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Dear Diva Readers,

While at The Antiques Diva & Co we’re known for our customized private antique buying tours throughout Europe – our contacts go beyond “just antiques”.  Our local Diva Guides are our greatest assets because they know their regions like the back of their hand… and they have contacts beyond your wildest dreams! Many of our clients are interior designers, which means finding antiques is just one thing on their long to-do list to finish their projects.  In Italy our local Diva Guide Susan has not only antique sources but so much more! Her little black book of artisans and skilled craftsmen is bulging with brilliant ideas.  In addition to sourcing antiques we can also help with new custom Italian furniture either from reclaimed or new materials that can match or coordinate with your antiques.

Antiques Diva Italy, Buying antiques in Italy, Sourcing design elements in Italy, Little black book of Artisans and Skilled Craftsmen, The Antiques Diva & Co, Toma Clark Haines, Tuscan Diva Guide Susan, Shopping in Tuscany, Painted Pieces in Italy, Forged Ironworks in Tuscany, Italian Design,

Locally based Tuscan Diva Susan explains, “We know that being a decorator or buying for your private home is very different to being an antiques dealer. How often does one look at a piece and say, ‘If only it was a little shorter, a smidgen wider…’ Sometimes the European measurements just don’t match up. Or perhaps you found the perfect table but need twelve chairs instead of just four. With this in mind, it occurred to us on our travels that for you as a designer, maybe we can help with this dilemma.”

Over the years we have gotten to know and become friends with lots of interesting artisans – Italy is famed for its design, taste, and talented craftsmen. Albeit this latter category is a rare and dying breed so we have traveled far and wide to seek out the best small family-run businesses that have been passed down from generation to generation to ensure our clients find the artisans for which they are looking. Passion and pride play a fundamental role in their dedication and success.

Antiques Diva - Italian antiques, Buying antiques in Italy, Sourcing design elements in Italy, Little black book of Artisans and Skilled Craftsmen, The Antiques Diva & Co, Toma Clark Haines, Tuscan Diva Guide Susan, Shopping in Tuscany, Painted Pieces in Italy, Forged Ironworks in Tuscany, Italian Design,

Traditional Elements

We have a source that is fantastic at making high-quality ‘antiqued’ furniture. In particular they have a beautiful range of marquetry dining tables, chairs, and cabinetry and will make bespoke pieces just for you. This eliminates your problems with length, width, height, and style of legs or finish. And better still, we know from past clients that their prices are a fraction of those in the USA.

Antiques Diva Buying antiques in Italy, Buying antiques in Italy, Sourcing design elements in Italy, Little black book of Artisans and Skilled Craftsmen, The Antiques Diva & Co, Toma Clark Haines, Tuscan Diva Guide Susan, Shopping in Tuscany, Painted Pieces in Italy, Forged Ironworks in Tuscany, Italian Design,

Painted Pieces

The father & son business we work with specializes in painted furniture of fine artisan quality. You’d be forgiven for mistaking it for old! The furniture consists of Italian style chests, buffets, cupboards, as well as sconces and chandeliers. The plus is that you can choose the color and the hardware. They use Farrow & Ball, so you will know exactly how the color will turn out, and their standards are high.

Buying antiques in Italy, Sourcing design elements in Italy, Little black book of Artisans and Skilled Craftsmen, The Antiques Diva & Co, Toma Clark Haines, Tuscan Diva Guide Susan, Shopping in Tuscany, Painted Pieces in Italy, Forged Ironworks in Tuscany, Italian Design,

Forged Iron

Tuscany in particular is well known for its ironwork. Our blacksmiths—and truly they are much more than that— are a family of 3 brothers, their father, and nephew. Together they are quite a force, designing and creating some of the most handsome hand-forged wrought iron around, many taken from centuries old designs, but others surprisingly contemporary. They also love to make original and unique pieces of furniture using old wood and adapting older pieces.

Buying antiques in Italy, Sourcing design elements in Italy, Little black book of Artisans and Skilled Craftsmen, The Antiques Diva & Co, Toma Clark Haines, Tuscan Diva Guide Susan, Shopping in Tuscany, Painted Pieces in Italy, Forged Ironworks in Tuscany, Italian Design,

These are just a few of our friends to whet your appetite. We have many, many more sources throughout Europe that can customize, restore or even build pieces to your specification. In fact, we have connections that can customize centuries-old fireplaces or even help you adapt antique staircases, gates, and fountains for your projects! We guarantee that your clients will be delighted with the end result because we have worked with these craftsmen for years.

If you would like more information on taking an Antiques Diva Buying Tour in any of our 8 tour countries, email us at [email protected] and we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Toma Clark Haines and Susan, Italian Diva Guide, Buying antiques in Italy, Sourcing design elements in Italy, Little black book of Artisans and Skilled Craftsmen, The Antiques Diva & Co, Toma Clark Haines, Tuscan Diva Guide Susan, Shopping in Tuscany, Painted Pieces in Italy, Forged Ironworks in Tuscany, Italian Design,

Yours truly,

The Antiques Diva® 

Antique Young Guns in Love

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Dear Diva Readers,

Love is in the air in Britain… just in time for Valentines!  My favorite group of young antique dealers are setting shopper’s hearts atwitter with their #AYGINLOVEPOP UP SHOP in LILLIE ROAD, LONDON 11-14 FEBRUARY 2015 to celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend.

AYGINLOVE, Antiques Young Guns, Pop Up Stores, London Antiques, Lillie Road, George Johnson

Curated by AYG co-founder George Johnson and AYG of the Year finalist Lily Trunfull, these darlings will present a gorgeously choreographed collection of seriously sexy stock in which to fall in love!  Find a rare c1865 bentwood Thonet rocking chair or an early C19th Scandinavian settee, a vintage lead cherub sculpture for the garden or a late Victorian burr walnut boxed decanter set for the dining room.  And have no fear… should LONDON not be on your travel list this Valentines….  The Antique Young Guns website will also run a virtual Pop Up #AYGINLOVE gallery for one month from 11 February 2015.

AYGINLOVE, Antiques Young Guns, Pop Up Stores, London Antiques, Lillie Road, George Johnson

Lillie Road #AYGINLOVE POP UP SHOP
315 Lillie Road, London, SW6 7LL
11-14 February 2015

The shop will be open:
Wednesday 11 February – 12pm – 6pm
Thursday 12 February – 10am – 6pm
Friday 13 February – 10 am – 6 pm
Saturday 14 February -10am – 7.30 pm

Late night opening and drinks party:
Friday 13 February from 7pm till late

Happy Valentines!
The Antiques Diva®

Mastering the Eclectic Mix

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Dear Diva Readers,

My greatest indulgence is when I’ve got an evening at home alone and I can pour up a glass of chilled white wine, run the hottest, steamiest bath, and grab a decorating magazine to flip through the pages of my favorite publications – Veranda, House Beautiful, Elle Decor…  I gain inspiration and new ideas and always feel compelled to rearrange the house (or at the very least redo the table top decor) once getting out of the tub!  The key to achieving the same look you see on the pages of top shelter magazines is in gravitating towards the eclectic – and with antiques you’re immediately given that sense of personality – with a capital P. When you walk into most big box furniture stores, things are often sold in matching sets.  However, when you look at rooms in the pages of design magazines, there are never matching sets!

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Antiques & vintage pieces are great additions to every room because they are unique. As you shop, look for items from different time periods and
styles. However, don’t go too crazy. A few key statement pieces will be enough to keep your room feeling fresh and personal. It’s all about choosing material things that reflect your inner self—items that show off your tastes and personality! If you’re shopping the flea markets or antique stores and something calls out to you, buy it!  If you buy what you love your house will reflect your personality.

Decorating with Antiques, Decorating Tips, Eclectic Decorating, Designing with Style, Antiques Diva,

On a similar note, try to keep one common thread that appears throughout your decor. This is an important step in mastering the eclectic mix.  Perhaps the common element in your house is a color. Tie in rugs, upholstery, lamp shades, and window treatments to keep things feeling cohesive. These really are the things that keep a room feeling cohesive.

Another way to weave a common thread though your home is to have the majority of your pieces come from one particular style such as English or
French and then add in a few modern pieces to act as counterparts to them.

Decorating with Antiques, Decorating Tips, Eclectic Decorating, Designing with Style, Antiques Diva,

It’s all about trial and error. Don’t be afraid to experiment with decor. Remember there is no one stop shop to furnish your home. It takes time and  patience to create a space that nourishes you and your family. As with anything in life, it’s so important to enjoy the journey. Decorating should be one of the fun aspects of life, so get out there and find the pieces that can make your home as eclectic and special as you are!

Eclectically,

The Antiques Diva®

University of York Antiques Fair

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Dear Diva Readers,

Here at The Antiques Diva & Co we have a little black book—actually it’s NOT so little, it’s practically bulging with the best antiquing addresses in Europe.

We use this resource list to decide where to take our clients so they can find just what they are looking for.  And while the antique warehouses, private by appointment only stores are divine, there is a time and place for a good old antiques fair!!  Attending an antiques fair is down-right convenient when you get a gathering of vendors in one place – giving you the opportunity to do one-stop shopping!

Exhibition-Centre-Main-Entrance-Best

There is a prestigious antique fair this year on July 4 and 5 that promises to be a do-not-miss event. Translation— it has some of the top dealers in the area! Members are selected for their expertise, integrity, and reputation.

18th-Century-Caughly-Mask-Jug-247x300

The University of York Antiques Fair  will be held in the University of York Exhibition Centre and it will have approximately 40 exhibitors. Items on display will include period furniture, high quality silver including Scottish provincial items, 18th, 19th and early 20th century ceramics, antique arms and armour, high quality jewelry, art nouveau, art deco and arts and crafts metalware, glass, lighting and pottery and both contemporary and antique fine art. The event will have exhibitions from a number of Yorkshire based antiques dealers trading in items with a Yorkshire bias.

18th-Century-1st-Period-Worcester-Tea-Cannister-241x300

George-Wright-Oil-on-Board-1-300x225Rose Antiques Fairs Ltd aims to establish the fair at the University of York as an annual event.  If you would like more information on The University of York Antiques Fair or any other antiques fairs throughout Europe, email us at

[email protected] and we’d be happy to discuss how we can custom plan a private tour for you, combining special fairs and our secret sources
throughout 8 countries.

Happy antiquing,

The Antiques Diva®

Create a WOW Factor with Antiques

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Dear Diva Readers,

A person’s home is their palace…   for me, as an American who has lived overseas nearly 15 years, I often say “my home is my country.”  When people come into my home they always remark how unique it is… and the secret to my home decor lies in my antiques.  Antiques make a home special and unique because they bring their own stories and pasts into the present, becoming a perfect way to showcase a truly individual point of view.

Every home is made up of pretty much the same elements— a living room with a sofa and a couple of chairs, a coffee table, end tables, a rug, lighting, and accessories. However, it is those “wow” pieces that really make a home stand out. So what should you look for when you shop for wow pieces?

Decorating with Antiques, WOW Factor, Decorating Tips, The Antiques Diva, Chandeliers,

Try to find things that are unique. Rather than looking for the same piece that your sister has, find something that no one you know has in their home. Even if it’s a similar style—e.g., you like the desk your friend has… you can still buy a similar antique desk but with a few minor differences. This will help your home to stand out and make a statement all its own!

Also, no matter what the size of your home is, play with scale. Finding one huge piece of furniture, whether it be an extra long sofa or a bookcase that almost touches the ceiling, really will make your space feel grand.

Decorating with Antiques, WOW Factor, Decorating Tips, The Antiques Diva, Chandeliers,

Why not hang an enormous chandelier above the dining table or in the middle of the living room or off-balanced in the corner of a room…. better yet, if going off-balance why not do a trio of chandeliers? These extra large pieces give that “WOW” moment when a guest walks in the door.  Be daring in your decor.  The worst thing you can do is play it safe.

Decorating with Antiques, WOW Factor, Decorating Tips, The Antiques Diva, Chandeliers,

Another way to create a sense of wow is with texture. Adding in unexpected textures like leather walls or raw silk curtains can completely change the feel of your room. Luxe= wow so go for the fabrics and materials that scream “oh, la, la!” Think antique rugs, but perhaps you use them to upholster an ottoman. If you want to do this on a small scale, try adding throw pillows made from antique fabrics such as velvets and silks. You can make them yourself or find a seamstress to custom make luxurious pillows that will definitely add the drama to your house.

Decorating with Antiques, WOW Factor, Decorating Tips, The Antiques Diva,

And lastly, look at items with a fresh eye. Take something like a gorgeous textile or a vintage piece of clothing and have it framed in a super modern frame—then put it in a prominent place on the wall. By framing something other than a canvas, you can make it into your own art and instantly have a one-of-a-kind piece on the wall.

Regardless of how you choose to decorate your house, use interesting antiques to create wow moments and leave guests wondering how you thought to decorate your home this way! Decorating should be fun and coming home to a space that reflects you is the ideal way to end each day. Of course then once home serving up a signature drink isn’t a bad way to cap off a day…

Happy decorating,

The Antiques Diva®

Antiques Diva Styles a Room With Chairish

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Dear Diva Readers,

Last year during Maison Objet I was delighted to meet one of the team members of Chairish, a curator approved online marketplace for vintage and used furniture.  When they recently asked me to choose a vintage rug from their site and design a style board for a room around said rug, I was up for the challenge!   When choosing a color palette for a room, it can be hard to step away from basic neutrals– going bold is a big decision. But as I always say “Fortune Favors the Bold!”… and “Go Bold or Go Home!”

Part of my mission is to make antiques relevant in today’s lifestyle. To me, that means mixing antiques with vintage and modern pieces to reflect
the way we live in the 21st century. Below you’ll see the rug I chose and then a mix of pieces—all available at Chairish.com—that I think would work
well together in a space.

Hand Woven Black & Cream Design Wool Rug, Chairish, Fortune Favors the Bold, Go Bold or Go Home, Maison Objet, The Antiques Diva, Design Style Board, Decorating with Antiques, Mid-Century Modern

Chairish, Fortune Favors the Bold, Go Bold or Go Home, Maison Objet, The Antiques Diva, Design Style Board, Decorating with Antiques, Mid-Century Modern

I love this beautiful Mid-Century Modern style sectional sofa. It looks comfortable and sleek. It’s fairly new, being only a year old and
well maintained. Starting with this piece we’ve already got a hip vibe going, but I want to mix in some antiques that will make my imaginary room
super stylish!

Chairish, Fortune Favors the Bold, Go Bold or Go Home, Maison Objet, The Antiques Diva, Design Style Board, Decorating with Antiques, Mid-Century Modern

This suede pair of classic French chairs with nailhead trim would be the perfect foil for the modern sofa. Probably from the mid-20th century, the pair is nicely made and are in very good vintage condition, with a couple of very small spots on the upholstery—which is one reason I would suggest reupholstering them. While at the upholsterers, I’d have them painted black and recovered in a malachite patterned fabric to give them an entirely new look!

Chairish, Fortune Favors the Bold, Go Bold or Go Home, Maison Objet, The Antiques Diva, Design Style Board, Decorating with Antiques, Mid-Century Modern

This stunning vintage Neo Deco brass ram’s head coffee table is the ideal statement piece. The gleaming brass finish of the three ram’s
heads contrasts brilliantly against the shiny black lacquered bass. It features outstanding quality construction with a three quarter inch thick
circular glass top. Here is where we start to add in touches of brass and gold to warm up the space.

Chairish, Fortune Favors the Bold, Go Bold or Go Home, Maison Objet, The Antiques Diva, Design Style Board, Decorating with Antiques, Mid-Century Modern

Across the room, I’d place this French provincial Louis XV Style serpentine walnut and veneer commode. This piece would compliment the chairs while contrasting with the sofa and modern rug. Things are starting to get interesting!

Chairish, Fortune Favors the Bold, Go Bold or Go Home, Maison Objet, The Antiques Diva, Design Style Board, Decorating with Antiques, Mid-Century Modern

Chairish, Fortune Favors the Bold, Go Bold or Go Home, Maison Objet, The Antiques Diva, Design Style Board, Decorating with Antiques, Mid-Century Modern

Above the commode, I’d hang this vintage-inspired portrait of an aristocratic lady in the 1500’s. With its ornate gold frame, this sets the tone for a dramatic room. However, I’d place some modern accessories such as this unique black glass head, which was once a display mannequin. Mixing in some modern pieces keeps the commode from feeling stuffy.

Chairish, Fortune Favors the Bold, Go Bold or Go Home, Maison Objet, The Antiques Diva, Design Style Board, Decorating with Antiques, Mid-Century Modern

While we’re dotting the room with modern touches, I love this 1960’s Noguchi styled sculpture on a custom stand.  This piece would be stunning in front of a window.

Chairish, Fortune Favors the Bold, Go Bold or Go Home, Maison Objet, The Antiques Diva, Design Style Board, Decorating with Antiques, Mid-Century Modern

Chairish, Fortune Favors the Bold, Go Bold or Go Home, Maison Objet, The Antiques Diva, Design Style Board, Decorating with Antiques, Mid-Century Modern

For the walls, I’d hang this vintage monochromatic portrait which features a restrained color palette, offset by the gilt wood frame. Above
it I’d also hang this original 1896 framed and matted etching of whitewater rapids in Glen Affaric River in the Scottish Highlands.

Chairish, Fortune Favors the Bold, Go Bold or Go Home, Maison Objet, The Antiques Diva, Design Style Board, Decorating with Antiques, Mid-Century Modern

Over the sofa, I’d hang this French style gold leaf mirror for added glamour. Every room needs a mirror and the style of this one contrasts with the modern sofa perfectly while also tying in the French chairs and the commode.

Chairish, Fortune Favors the Bold, Go Bold or Go Home, Maison Objet, The Antiques Diva, Design Style Board, Decorating with Antiques, Mid-Century Modern

Chairish, Fortune Favors the Bold, Go Bold or Go Home, Maison Objet, The Antiques Diva, Design Style Board, Decorating with Antiques, Mid-Century Modern

For a few pops of color, I love this purple JuJu African feather headdress along with this emerald green glazed ceramic Asian-style lamp.  With its brass neck and a new black fabric shade, it ties in nicely with other pieces in the room.

Chairish, Fortune Favors the Bold, Go Bold or Go Home, Maison Objet, The Antiques Diva, Design Style Board, Decorating with Antiques, Mid-Century Modern

For overhead lighting, I’d finish the room off with this modern brass sputnik light with a raw brass (unpolished) finish. I think it adds just the right touch to this eclectic mix of pieces!

So there you have it! A fun melange of antique furniture and mid century pieces create a playful yet stylish space that is comfortable and elegant
at the same time – exemplifying that Antiques Diva Style!!

Thanks to the lovely people at Chairish for giving me the opportunity to dream up a space inspired by one of their gorgeous rugs!  Go check out the other lovely rugs they offer on their site!

Until next time,

The Antiques Diva®

Can Comfort and Glamour Go Together?

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Dear Diva Readers,

You could definitely say that The Antiques Diva® brand is associated with a glamorous lifestyle—after all, we love fine antiques, foreign travel, chic hotels, gourmet meals and, of course, Champagne by the bucket load! But often, when it comes to homes, people think that glamour and comfort cannot go together. That’s simply just not the case! I want to share some tips on how these two can live harmoniously and make your life uber chic but still comfy cosy!

Decorating with Antiques, Chaise Lounge, Glamour, Linda Merrill, The Antiques Diva, Berlin Apartment, Andrew Skipper, Comfortable Glamour, Chic Style

Photo credit Laila McCubbin Jones

 

First of all… go for the comfy couch.  Trust me, when it comes to nap time you won’t regret it.  But then add in antique French side tables and gorgeous little Louis chairs that are perfect for entertaining if not necessarily watching tv.  My home (prefire) is a great example of how comfort and glamour go hand-in-hand.  Art work, sculptures, gilt and crystal are perfect ways to up the glam factor in your home without sacrificing comfort. Ornate frames that set off grand oil paintings instantly transform a room. If your style is more chic, go with sleek black frames, thick white mats, and black & white vintage photography. That’s a sure fire recipe for chicness! Also think about adding a bronze sculpture on a pedestal to your space. I have a collections of  Art Deco bronzes that adds a luxe feel to my living room. And if your ceiling is high enough please promise me you’ll go for a chandelier like in my old apartment in Berlin above (or better yet two – like in my new home below in Berlin)!

Decorating with Antiques, Chaise Lounge, Glamour, Linda Merrill, The Antiques Diva, Berlin Apartment, Andrew Skipper, Comfortable Glamour, Chic Style

andrew skipper, Decorating with Antiques, Chaise Lounge, Glamour, Linda Merrill, The Antiques Diva, Berlin Apartment, Andrew Skipper, Comfortable Glamour, Chic Style

Now… there is one formula for Glamour + Comfort that is a guaranteed win!  Go for a Chaise Lounge!  It adds instant, glamourous comfort to any room.  I have a gorgeous chaise in my loft home office and it looks so dramatic with its patinated gilding and fresh silk gray and white striped upholstery (my dear friend Linda Merrill helped me source this fabric when I couldn’t find it on my own) . And the good news is that it is SO comfortable!  You’ll note my colleague Andrew Skipper who helps out at Antiques Diva Headquarters might find it… a little TOO comfortable!!! 

Antiques Diva Headquarters, Decorating with Antiques, Chaise Lounge, Glamour, Linda Merrill, The Antiques Diva, Berlin Apartment, Andrew Skipper, Comfortable Glamour, Chic Style

For adding glamour into your home find antique pieces that have good proportions and have them reupholstered. That’s a great way to be sure that they’re comfortable and still stylish.   Don’t think antiques have to be fiddly and small!  Louis XIII chairs dating from the late 16th and 17th C have the most wonderful proportion to them.  And remember most quailty antiques aren’t actually that fiddly – there is a reason they’ve survived a couple of hundred years.

Decorating with Antiques, Chaise Lounge, Glamour, Linda Merrill, The Antiques Diva, Berlin Apartment, Andrew Skipper, Comfortable Glamour, Chic Style

When in doubt… light candles!  What’s more glamorous than candlelight reflected in elegant mirrors? Hang a couple of antique mirrors—better yet get some antique mirrors where the mercury has melted—then sprinkle lots of candles throughout your home. This will make it feel sexy and cozy at the same time—especially after the sun goes down! At The Antiques Diva & Co we love sexy décor!

Decorating with Antiques, Chaise Lounge, Glamour, Linda Merrill, The Antiques Diva, Berlin Apartment, Andrew Skipper, Comfortable Glamour, Chic Style

Photo credit Laila McCubbin Jones

 

Remember, glam antiques can certainly be part of a comfortable home. Just keep in mind proportions when it comes to seating and think about finishes for artwork & frames. And I almost forgot—antique rugs are a fantastic way to make a home feel regal yet warm (picture above of my study in my old Berlin apartment). They were made to last and the traditional patterns often lend themselves to a more upscale look. I think I’ll go sip a cocktail on my chaise lounge right now—all this talk has me feeling like I need a diva moment.

Ta Ta for now, darlings.  Be Chic.  Be Glam. And Be Fabulous.

The Antiques Diva® 

Repurpose Flea Market Finds

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Dear Diva Readers,

Everyone knows that I love to go flea marketing… I love the thrill of the hunt as well as finding the unexpected.  I also LOVE nothing more than coming up with ways to repurpose my flea market finds! My good friend Catherine Russell has traveled (and shopped) the world with me on a variety of girls trips… She’s a really bad influence because she, like me, is a repurposing genius.  I’ve asked Catherine to share some of her repurposing tips on the blog today.

Catherine writes:

Nothing beats a weekend morning spent browsing the flea markets and discovering some forgotten treasures that are too good a deal to pass by.  I’m always searching for easy, useful and decorative DIY ideas to repurpose my finds, and I found two great ways to repurpose trays and platters. If you can follow my photos and instructions, these DIY projects are great for your home.

repurposed vintage tray - DIY memo board, Repurposing Flea Market Finds, Repurposing Vintage Trays, Decorating with Trays, Catherine Russell

MEMO BOARD & CHALK BOARD

This craft project is both useful and decorative for the kitchen or office. You can find vintage trays in many shapes and sizes, so you can easily find a tray to fit an empty spot in your home to organize business cards, receipts, recipes, and delivery menus or to write messages, notes, or grocery lists.

Supplies:

1 A clean metal tray with a smooth surface

2 Chalk board paint (easily found at a craft or hardware store)

3 A paintbrush (I like the disposable sponge brushes)

Instructions:

1 Wash and dry the tray

2 Paint with 2 coats of chalk board paint, allowing to dry completely between coats. I like to paint the flat interior and leave the rim original, but you can also paint the entire surface.

Decorate the tray with fun magnets to hold your notes, and keep a stick of chalk nearby to jot down a quick note. That’s it!  I attached my tray to the kitchen wall with double-sided 3M adhesive strips so there are no holes to drill or marks left on the wall.

Et voila! Your tray is ready to use or to give as a gift.

(Hmmm… you’ll NOTE my friend Catherine has not GIFTED me one of these…. I’m putting in my request now!)

repurposed vintage serving pieces and trays- DIY art, Repurposing Flea Market Finds, Repurposing Vintage Trays, Decorating with Trays, Catherine Russell

TRAY ART

An eclectic collection of trays and serving pieces of varying sizes, shapes and colors are all that’s necessary to create an original art piece. After the fun of collecting trays is long past, your original art piece will decorate your home for years.

Tip: This is a great way to repurpose cherished family trays and serving pieces as well!

Supplies:

1 An assortment of trays that nest inside each other

2 A small mirror

3 Metal glue (I use Gorilla Glue but many craft glues are designed for metal)

 

Instructions:

1 Wash and dry the trays

2 Arrange the trays to next inside of each other to show off the trays varying sizes and colors

3 Glue each tray on top of each other and allow to dry completely

4 Glue a mirror or other decorative item (crystals, lace, a photograph) in the center of the top tray

Hang and display. A small tray collage can be hung on the walls using 3M adhesive strips, heavier trays will require a plate hanger or drilling a hole and attaching hooks and wire to hang securely on your walls.

Trays can also be organized and glued as wreaths, a collage, or other interesting shapes.

Next time you hit the flea market look for vintage trays and serving pieces. They can easily be found for very little money— $1-5, are small and light weight so they’re perfect to collect on vacations, and there are many ways to repurpose vintage trays to use in your home or as gifts.

vintage flea market trays and serving pieces, Repurposing Flea Market Finds, Repurposing Vintage Trays, Decorating with Trays, Catherine Russell

Here are a few more ideas to repurpose and showcase your vintage tray collection:

1 Group and display a collection of trays on the wall as art

2 Decoupage a photo, art or wallpaper and use to hold jewelry on your vanity or dresser

3 On your coffee table to corral a collection of books, picture frames, and small objects

4 Use your chalkboard tray to write the family dinner menu

5 Spray paint for holiday themed message boards

Happy Flea Marketing!

Catherine Russell, Toma Clark haines, The Antiques Diva, Stacey Thompson

The Antiques Diva® & Co – With a little help with a guest blog from a good friend!
Catherine Russell is a genius content marketer, freelance blogger and social media strategist who loves travel, antiquing,  and chai lattes. Contact Catherine at hireCatherine for digital marketing solutions and strategies, and follow her blog She’s Shopping Now.

 

Creating the Perfect Tablescape with Antiques

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Dear Diva Readers,

It’s no secret that I love to decorate my home with antiques. Since my home caught fire a couple years ago and I lost most of my material possessions in the flames, I’ve been scouting across Europe creating new collections, seeking accessories and staple pieces to complete my new flat. But now that I have my main pieces in place, that doesn’t mean that the decorating is over.  I, like many design enthusiasts, tend to get bored with stagnant interiors that don’t change or evolve every so often. (heck, every day!)  And while buying all new furniture would be a huge budget buster – not to mention a hassle – creating fresh tablescapes on a regular basis is a fun way to shake things up a bit.  (Confession… soon as I wrote “shake” I began singing Taylor Swift’s song Shake it Off!)

Decorating with Antiques, Designing Tablescapes, Artful Vignettes, The Antiques Diva, Berlin Apartment, Toma Clark Haines

When I say tablescape I’m not just talking about the dining table. You can design table arrangements on console, coffee, and side tables. Even other flat surfaces like shelves, mantels, and window ledges can be used to artfully display objects. Here are some easy tips to get you started on creating beautiful vignettes using antiques in your home.

Decorating with Antiques, Designing Tablescapes, Artful Vignettes, The Antiques Diva, Berlin Apartment, Toma Clark Haines

Keep it cohesive, but never boring. As with any decorating project, it’s important to know your personal style and the overall “look” you’re going for. For instance if you have a mid-century style home and theme, you probably won’t be adding heavily carved victorian pieces to your room. The same rule applies with tablescapes. Keep the style consistent with the rest of your decor and try to complement other elements in your home.

Decorating with Antiques, Designing Tablescapes, Artful Vignettes,

In order to keep it from feeling boring, mix up the heights of objects. Use books to stack things on top of and think about layering pieces of art in front of each other. I love the look of using small tabletop easels to display artwork or even photographs.

Shelfie, Decorating with Antiques, Designing Tablescapes, Artful Vignettes, The Antiques Diva, Berlin Apartment, Toma Clark Haines

Add natural elements to your vignettes as well. Mixing materials such as shell, horn, flowers, and geodes with antiques really sets off the patina of the older items. Also using interesting pieces is important. That’s what’s great about antiques— they are NOT being sold mass-produced at every decor store which means when you decorate with antiques you’re giving your home a uniquely you spin!

Whether you hunt for accessories at antique shops, flea markets, or tag sales, think about what other items you can pair them with to create visually interesting tablescapes throughout your house. And remember, the same as when it comes to dating… Opposites Attract!

Happy Decorating,

The Antiques Diva® 

The ICEHOTEL

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Dear Diva Readers,

Baby, it’s cold outside! But these winter temperatures are nothing compared to -33 degrees in the Arctic Circle, which is where I spent my Christmas holiday.  Rather than running to sun for a beach holiday like I did last year in Thailand, this year I decided to embrace winter!  Let it snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow! And snow it did.  In fact, all the way from my home in Berlin to Sweden where I stayed at the world famous ICEHOTEL.  Days were filled with Bailey’s spiked-hot chocolate, dog sledding, reindeer sledding and, in general, just trying to stay warm.  You’ll note my Arctic wardrobe differed greatly from my diva-attire… I was decked out in sub-thermal snowsuit morning, noon and night!  Nights were spent sleeping on ice beds… covered with reindeer fur!!!

Toma Clark Haines The Antiques Diva Ice Hotel, ICEHOTEL, Arctic Circle hotels, The Antiques Diva, Ice Hotel in Sweden, Reindeer, Swedish Christmas, Dog Sledding, Designing with Ice,

Toma Clark haines The Antiques Diva Arctic Circle, ICEHOTEL, Arctic Circle hotels, The Antiques Diva, Ice Hotel in Sweden, Reindeer, Swedish Christmas, Dog Sledding, Designing with Ice,

The Antiques Diva Sweden Ice Hotel, ICEHOTEL, Arctic Circle hotels, The Antiques Diva, Ice Hotel in Sweden, Reindeer, Swedish Christmas, Dog Sledding, Designing with Ice,

The ICEHOTEL is the largest hotel built completely of snow and ice in the world. Shockingly there are actually a handful of “ice hotels” around the world.  Located about 200 km north of the Arctic circle it calls the small northern Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi home.  At about 18,000 square feet, this gigantic igloo is constructed completely out of ice from the Torne River. And when I say everything is made of ice, I mean EVERYTHING! Even our bed was made of ice!!!   Each year between March and April 5,000 tons of ice are harvested and kept in cool storage throughout the warmer months until November when about 100 people, including many artists who are expert ice sculptors, use it to build the structure of the hotel. That’s right—the hotel is rebuilt every single year – it melts by July, running back into the river from whence it came, and then the next November they start construction again. And for my designer/architect readers….  EACH YEAR they have to get approved again for BUILDING CODES!!!  Can you imagine the administration!?!  The hotel is then open from December to April until it begins to literally melt away and return to the Torne River.

Toma Haines Antiques Diva Ice Hotel, ICEHOTEL, Arctic Circle hotels, The Antiques Diva, Ice Hotel in Sweden, Reindeer, Swedish Christmas, Dog Sledding, Designing with Ice,

Toma Clark Haines The Ice Hotel Sweden, ICEHOTEL, Arctic Circle hotels, The Antiques Diva, Ice Hotel in Sweden, Reindeer, Swedish Christmas, Dog Sledding, Designing with Ice,

Antiques Diva Ice Hotel Sweden, ICEHOTEL, Arctic Circle hotels, The Antiques Diva, Ice Hotel in Sweden, Reindeer, Swedish Christmas, Dog Sledding, Designing with Ice,

The Antiques Diva Ice Hotel Sweden, ICEHOTEL, Arctic Circle hotels, The Antiques Diva, Ice Hotel in Sweden, Reindeer, Swedish Christmas, Dog Sledding, Designing with Ice,

The “cool” thing (no pun intended) about the fact it’s rebuilt every year means each year the hotel chooses designers (who do not have to know about ice – just have to create a theme) to design new theme rooms.  The hotel is always looking for applicants so if you’re a designer seeking to expand your brand and visibility this is an incredible opportunity to shine!!   The luxury art suites are where you want to stay! My room? “Abject Beauty”.  Although the hotel varies by year, there are typically around 65 rooms which are divided into deluxe suites, art suites, ice rooms, snow rooms, and group rooms.

The Ice Hotel Sweden Antiques Diva, ICEHOTEL, Arctic Circle hotels, The Antiques Diva, Ice Hotel in Sweden, Reindeer, Swedish Christmas, Dog Sledding, Designing with Ice,

Toma Clark Haines Antiques Diva Sweden Ice Hotel, ICEHOTEL, Arctic Circle hotels, The Antiques Diva, Ice Hotel in Sweden, Reindeer, Swedish Christmas, Dog Sledding, Designing with Ice,  ICEHOTEL, Arctic Circle hotels, The Antiques Diva, Ice Hotel in Sweden, Reindeer, Swedish Christmas, Dog Sledding, Designing with Ice,

While the hotel itself is quite the attraction, it isn’t the only thing worth seeing or experiencing in this region of the world. While there we were able to observe the Northern Lights which is an amazing experience in itself – and daylight was only about 4 hours a day. Reindeers dotted the sides of the road so driving was an obstacle at times! And reindeer rugs were available for sale EVERYWHERE!

All in all, it was a trip of a lifetime.  I can’t say it’s an experience I’d like to repeat… however, I would definitely say it’s something you have to do at least once in your life.  Add this one to your bucket list.

Happy Travels,
The Antiques Diva ®

Styling the Coffee Table with Antiques

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Dear Diva Readers,

While the primary purpose of The Antiques Diva & Co is to custom-plan and lead antiques buying tours throughout Europe, our brand encompasses so much more. It is a lifestyle brand, incorporating aspects such as travel, entrepreneurship, decorating, food, and antiques. I love the fact that many of our clients are top antique dealers and interior designers from around the world and that my Diva Guides and I get to take them on buying tours and source antiques for their projects through our Buying Services. In my own down time, one of my favorite things to do is decorate my own home, picking up pieces on my travels and creating meaningful vignettes in my flat in Berlin.

Toma Clark Haines Berlin Apartment, Coffee Tables, Coffee Table Decorations, Antiques Diva Berlin Apartment, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating Tips, Antiques Diva Lifestyle

A friend here in Berlin recently asked “What are you doing on your day off?” and I said, “Redecorating” – her response, “Oh no! But your apartment is perfect why would you mess with it!?!”  Her thinking was that once the house was decorated, the fun was over!  Not so! Never in my world!!  Even without a floor-to-ceiling overhaul there are several little areas that you can play with in your home and change up with the seasons or whenever you get the whim for something new. One of these spots is the coffee table. I love the fact that accessories can change constantly on the coffee table. It can be a space that truly reflects your mood, interests, and collections.

Antiques Diva Apartment Berlin - Toma Clark Haines, Coffee Tables, Coffee Table Decorations, Antiques Diva Berlin Apartment, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating Tips, Antiques Diva Lifestyle

There’s no rule-book when it comes to what can and cannot go on the coffee table. However, with a few tips to keep in mind, there are some tried and true pieces that will always make your tabletop a winner.

COffee Table Decor Lonny, Coffee Tables, Coffee Table Decorations, Decorating Tips,

Coffee Table Décor – Lonny Magazine style

 

1-Trays
Using trays to anchor the coffee table helps keep things “neat.” Display a collection of items on a beautiful antique silver tray, then when it’s time to serve hors d’oeuvres, you can remove the collection easily and set the snacks on the coffee table.

2- Books
There are several things that can make a house personal and books definitely fall in this category. Whether you set out a few antiques volumes—I like old leather bound books— or stack your favorite coffee table books, guests in your home will be able to tell a bit about your interests from the subject matter and titles.

3- Flowers
Having fresh flowers in the house always makes me happy. Simply picking up some tulips on the way home from running errands is an easy way to add that something special to everday.. And why not place them in the middle of the room—on the coffee table?! By keeping a gorgeous antique vase on the coffee table, you will be reminded to always bring fresh flowers home. When my antique crystal ice bucket isn’t in use with champagne… it’s a hold all for whatever flowers I find at my local train station.  Get creative with your floral vases!

marcus design inc photo, coffee tables, decorating coffee tables

Photo From Marcus Design Inc

Whatever you decide to place on your coffee table, remember to keep it interesting by adding layers— you need items of different heights— by placing objets d’art on top of a stack of books. Also think about mixing up different mediums— glass, metal, silver, wood, natural materials— to keep it interesting. I’d love to see some of your coffee table photos! Share them with me on The Antiques Diva & Co Facebook page!

Happy decorating,

The Antiques Diva® 

Getting Cozy With Antiques

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Dear Diva Readers,

While it may be easy to complain about cold weather during this winter season, I find that there are many ways to actually celebrate the chilly temperatures outside. Ok…celebrate may be a strong word, but there are certainly ways to make home a cozy place during these frigid months and I think that antiques are definitely one element that can transform any space into a comfortable spot to snuggle.

Think about what you do with your wardrobe when it’s cold outside—you add layers! Do the same thing in your home by layering antique rugs on top of natural rugs like sisal. Adding that extra element helps bring warmth – and cozy color – to any room. Who wouldn’t want to wake up and have their feet touch a thick wool rug as soon as they hit the floor? How luxurious! But also think about well-worn rugs. Sometimes threadbare rugs can add a dimension of timelessness to a space that transports you.

Decorating with Antiques, Cozy Interiors, antique rugs, vintage linens, vintage Champagne buckets, Decorating for Winter

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Holland Apartment, Decorating for Winter

And speaking of layers, now is the time to accessorize. Pile on antique & vintage table cloths on the dining table as well as the side tables to help soften things up and create a sense of envelopment. Mix up textures to achieve a luxurious feel. Think about textiles you want to touch— velvet, leather, silk, wool, chenille— by mixing all these textures, you’ll be creating a rich environment that feels cozy and comfortable. I’m swooning over this fur covered antler-chair available with on of our vendors in Antwerp and think it’s the perfect winter item for you home!  Incorporate antique textiles into your throw pillows – look for a seamstress (if you’re not one yourself) who can whip up your finds into liveable art for your home. Imagine having a one of a kind pillow on your sofa that’s made from a centuries old Venetian textile!  Or like the fabric used for the red pillow above I had in my home in Holland which originally was used in a church.  Not only will a piece like this set your space apart and make it feel cozy, it will also act as a conversation piece.

The Antiques Diva Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Vintage Champagne Buckets

Of course, adding greenery to your house will instantly make it feel more homey. But simply bringing a plant home won’t have as much of an effect if you don’t have the right container. There are so many antique containers that can act as planters. Why not use a vintage champagne bucket to plant your orchids in or like I did with tulips above in my own home? What about taking a trophy cup and planting a violet inside it? Think outside the box!

Decorating with Antiques, Cozy Interiors, antique rugs, vintage linens, vintage Champagne buckets, Decorating for Winter

Candlelight is another important element when it comes to making your house feel cozy in the winter. Be sure to purchase interesting antique candle holders like candelabra, hurricanes, and perhaps colored glass vessels.

However you choose to decorate your home this winter, nothing compares to the feeling of walking through the door and instantly feeling enveloped by the space you’ve created. Here’s to warm nights snuggled up at home with those you love!

toma clark haines, the antiques diva,

Cheers,

The Antiques Diva®

Antiques in the New Year

Antiques in the New Year

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Dear Diva Readers,

This was supposed to be my inaugural blog post for 2015… but life has a way of sometimes interfering with blogging.  But to kick off 2015 I want to share a bit about why I love antiques – and why I think antiques are relevant in today’s lifestyle.  It’s important to be informed by the past but not let ourselves be ruled by it. I believe there can be a happy medium between living in the present and living with antiques because that is precisely what I do every day!

Antiques Diva Tours, Decorating with Antiques, Live a life less ordinary, Toma Clark Haines apartment in Berlin, Family Heirlooms,

Many people ask how I got involved in the antiques world and what initially drew me to it. My first answer is moving to Paris nearly 15 years ago opened my eyes to the world of antiques through exploring the Paris Flea Markets.  But it goes back further than that.  I’m American.  But my mother was a third generation American. Her grandparents moved over from England and my whole life I grew up hearing stories of far-away places and long-ago times.  The past was always a part of my present.  As a child on special occasions my family ate with silver my grandparents carried over on the boat when they moved to America.

Antiques Diva Tours, Decorating with Antiques, Live a life less ordinary, Toma Clark Haines apartment in Berlin, Anantara Elephant Camp Golden Triangle

If I think about it in my life history, antiques and travel were always intertwined in my mind.  I’ve always been a traveller – I’ve traveled in more than 45 countries – and to me antiques are another way of traveling.  They transport you.  Pieces with a past tell a story – of other times, other places and other lives. They take you on adventure to someplace less ordinary.  My love for antiques began with a desire to live a life less ordinary.

Antiques Diva Tours, Decorating with Antiques, Live a life less ordinary, Toma Clark Haines apartment in Berlin, Family Heirlooms,

Antiques Diva Tours, Decorating with Antiques, Live a life less ordinary, Toma Clark Haines apartment in Berlin, Family Heirlooms,

In this post-modern era we live in there is an aesthetic value of literally “living with history” by incorporating antiques into our own homes whether that be through family heirlooms – such as my great grandparents silver which today I dine daily on in my home in Berlin – or through pieces purchased on your travels.

Antiques Diva Tours, Decorating with Antiques, Live a life less ordinary, Toma Clark Haines apartment in Berlin, Family Heirlooms,

My goal for 2015 is to stop using my good china ONLY for special occasions and to bring it out and use it EVERY DAY.  After all, isn’t every day a special occasion?  My goal for 2015 as a company is to help you use your antiques every day. Stop treating antiques like they should go in a museum and begin living with them! When dealing with period pieces remember they were built much better than things are today.  It’s ok to mix Ikea in with your antiques – mix whatever you want with your antiques!! This year on the blog you’ll find a lot of focus on incorporating modern convenience alongside antique craftsmanship.   So many antiques are ageless—they have just as much appeal today as they did centuries ago.

So my goal this year is to help shed more light on the livability of antiques. After all, these pieces were built to be used, to be loved and to be around for a long time. One tour at a time, we are giving a fresh life to each piece our clients purchase. If you’d like more information on taking an Antiques Diva Tour in one of our 8 tour countries— France, Italy, Sweden, England, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands or Denmark— email us at [email protected] and we’d be happy to discuss custom planning a buying tour for you!

Happy New Year,

The Antiques Diva®

Antique Barometers

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Dear Diva Readers,

Many pieces we come across on our Antiques Diva Buying Tours were originally created to be strictly functional pieces. However, as time went on, artisans added decorative elements to these utilitarian items, and I, for one, am so glad they did! Today, many of these pieces can act as gorgeous accessories in the home, even if we no longer use them as they were originally intended. Once such item that I happen to have in my own home is an antique barometer - it rests on top of a vintage Lucite desk.  The contrast between the modern style desk and the antique gilded barometer is quite pleasing and interesting!

Antique Barometers, Objet d’art, Gilded Barometers, Antiques Diva, French Barometer, Toma Clark Haines Berlin Apartment

Barometers were created to measure atmospheric pressure. The way they work is by a glass tube filled with mercury acting as a vacuum. The mercury rises and falls depending on moisture in the air. When there is moisture in the air, the level of the mercury goes down and conversely when there’s heat, the barometer rises. That’s why you may see the word “Rain” marked on the low end of the glass tube and the word “Fair” marked on the high end.

Antique Barometers, Objet d’art, Gilded Barometers, Antiques Diva, French Barometer

Because the glass tube is extremely fragile and prone to breaking, they are typically mounted to pieces of wood. These pieces of wood are often heavily carved and ornamented and often times you can find beautiful gilded barometers. Sometimes these items, which can be mounted on the wall, are mistaken for clocks because they often incorporate a dial, which makes them easier to read. But whether you need a barometer or not, their form makes them a collectable and very decorative objet d’art in interior decorating.

French style barometers in particular are extremely pretty with their ornamented cases. Whether you purchase one or collect many to form a nice display, they add a sense of history and elegance to any home. In fact, take a look at shelter publications from around the world—I bet you’ll start to notice that ornate French barometers are featured more than you thought!

When hung on the wall, they act as 3D art. And they have enough presence to be the feature piece above a mantel.

I’d love to hear from you— what do you think about French barometers? Would you use them in your home? Do you have one? Share with me in the comments below or on my Facebook page!

The Antiques Diva® 

Wrapping Up 2014 with The Antiques Diva

Wrapping Up 2014 with The Antiques Diva

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Dear Diva Readers,

As we wrap up 2014 and I reflect on this year I’m reminded of words by Charles Dickens,“it was the best of times and…” well, the best of times! I cannot help but think “Wow!” It’s been a fabulous year of growth for us here at The Antiques Diva & Co.  We’ve grown to being the largest antiques sourcing company in Europe, offering customized buying tours in 8 countries (and counting) and working with a team of 18 locally-based guides.   If I could sum up the year in three words they would be Clients, Collaborations and Celebrations!

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Year in Review, Antiques Diva Paris Flea Market Party, Maison Objet, Deco Off, Editor at Large, Timothy Corrigan, Paul Bert, Serpette, Michael Boodro, Elle Décor,

We kicked off 2014 in January with our first ever Antiques Diva Paris Flea Market Fete coinciding with Maison et Object and Deco Off.   With over 150 mega VIP guests in attendance the event received great media coverage and we were able to film a special tour of the Paris Flea Market with Editor at Large.  Such was last years success we’re doing it again this January 25 2015 for our second annual fete at the Paris Flea Market in conjunction with special guests Michael Boodro, Editor in Chief of Elle Décor, one of my favorite “Frenchy” interior designers, Timothy Corrigan and the owner of the Paul Bert/Serpette, Jean-Cyrille Boutmy (RSVP now for details [email protected]! You’re invited!!)

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Year in Review, Tobi Fairley, Denise McGaha, Jon Call, Mark Cutler, Stacey Bewkes, Quintessence, Stylish Shopping with Susanna Salk, Mercanteinfiera, Parma Antiques Fair,

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Year in Review, Jon Call, Mercanteinfiera, Parma Antiques Fair,

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Year in Review, Stacey Bewkes, Quintessence, Stylish Shopping with Susanna Salk, Mercanteinfiera, Parma Antiques Fair,

In February (and again in September) we were able to once again take VIP groups of American Interior Designers to Mercanteinfiera in Parma, Italy. Attending this large antiques fair is always a treat, but most especially when the clients are as fun as Tobi Fairley, Denise McGaha, Jon Call and Mark Cutler!   Later in the fall we were delighted to film Stylish Shopping with Susanna Salk along with Stacey Bewkes of Quintessence for an upcoming episode on antiquing in Italy, Diva Style at Mercanteinfiera!   Watch this space! Both trips were filled with antiques sourcing, photo shoots and copious quantities of food & wine.  This month I was also delighted to add a new member to our team at Diva Headquarters – Andrew Skipper!

Then in March I hopped on a plane and headed to the USA to speak alongside Michael Bruno founder of 1stdibs at the Design Bloggers Conference. It was such an honor to meet so many talented design enthusiasts and to be able to share my story of turning a blog into a business.  Again, many lasting relationships were forged at this fantastic conference!

Just days later I was back on a plane headed for the UK. Our lovely Diva Agent Gail and I met up with Antiques Expert Judith Miller who gave our group of clients a private tour of The Bath Decorative Fair, which happened to be celebrating its 25th anniversary with a Champagne fete.  Yes, Champagne does tend to follow me around.  At the end of the month, I headed back to NYC to speak at the IFDA New York Design Center. What a jam-packed month!

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Year in Review, San Francisco Cottage & Gardens, Joy Venturini,

Criss-crossing the USA, I then flew to Atlanta to speak at ADAC and then spoke in both Los Angeles and San Francisco (special thanks to Kneedler Fauchere for hosting a fete in my honor).  I was also delighted to attend the launch party of San Francisco Cottage & Gardens where I befriended fashion icon Joy Venturini who moments before this photo was taken officially told me I was the “best dressed” for the event!  What a treat it was to see so many clients and make new friends!

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Year in Review, High Point Market, Antique & Design Center, Mad Cap Cottage

Then it was time for High Point Market which is THE MEETING PLACE for all my clients and colleagues.  Here I hosted – what else? – a Champagne tour of the Antique & Design Center after leading a Style Guide lecture on the Louis (lest you think antiques are boring… this talk involved plenty of sex and scandal to spice up the antiques and history!!!!).

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Year in Review, Blog Tour Milan

But I couldn’t stay long at High Point – I had to jet back to Milan, Italy for Salone to meet my Italian Diva Guide, Susan, to lead a VIP tour for Blog Tour Milan! Our lovely clients enjoyed this gorgeous city with us culminating in our party at the famous Campari Bar. After all that jet-setting, it was time to meet my husband in Tuscany for some much needed down days of relaxation at the Villa Bordoni.   I’ve been fortunate my husband has been able to travel with me on some business trips as I criss-cross the globe and we met in exotic destinations.

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Year in Review, Spring Market, D&D Building, Antiques in the 21st Century,

May brought along plenty of client tours, including taking The Antiques Roadshow Magazine on tour throughout Belgium. But then in May it was back to the States for Spring Market at the D&D in New York where I spoke on a panel about Antiques in the 21st Century. Then in June a life-long dream of mine came true! We kicked off our first Antiques Diva Venice Tours with our new Diva Guides Orseola and Chiara! Exploring this enchanted city on the arms of two locals has given me access to a world I never thought I’d know as an insider.

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Year in Review, Las Vegas Market, Antique Trend Forecast, Design Tastemaker,

July took me to The Windy City of Chicago for a speaking engagement at the Randolph Street Antique Market where I did a promo spot on ABC in Chicago! Then it was off to Las Vegas Market where I spoke on Antique Trends and was delighted to be named one of their Design Tastemakers!!

Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, Anantara Elephant Camp, Golden Triangle,

August brought some much needed down time in Thailand as my husband and I traveled to Thailand together to spend time at the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok followed by shopping in Chiang Mai (Watch this space for upcoming Diva News! Will the Diva Do Asia?) followed by an amazing week at the Anantara Elephant Camp in the Golden Triangle learning to drive my own elephants.  Taking in this magical place was truly what we needed after all the hustle and bustle of this whirlwind year!

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Year in Review, Steve Nobel, Nobelinks,

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Year in Review, Decorative Fair, Battersea, Traditional Home, Antique Markets in London

In September I was back in London, leading a VIP tour alongside industry sage and icon Stephen Nobel. Taking in exciting inspiration and sourcing unique antiques was the name of the game—along with lots of bubbly, bien sur! By the end of the month I was back again in London, taking a lovely journalist from Traditional Home on a special tour which coincided with The Decorative Fair at Battersea.

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Year in Review, Gotha Biennale, Fall Market, Darcy Fulton, Jackson McCard, John Rosselli, Bunny Williams, Treillage, Art and Antiques Fair Parma Italy

Then in October after spending time in Italy for Mercanteinfiera I flew back to the Big Apple to speak at the D&D Building for Fall Market. But I couldn’t stay long because up next was High Point Market where I spoke yet again about my Antiques Diva Style Guide. High Point is always like a reunion! Such a pleasure to see so many familiar faces.  Before I knew it, I was back to Italy for another VIP event – attending the opening night gala at the Gotha Biennale with special VIP guests Darcy Fulton of John Rosselli and Jackson McCard of Bunny Williams’ Treillage!

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Year in Review, Olga Granda-Scott, The Highboy, Doris Athineos, Traditional Home Antiques, Jonathan Burden, Antiques in the 21st Century

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Year in Review, Holiday House New York, Justin Shaulis, Gallery Hopping in Miami, Louis Navarrete,

In November we capped off the year with our last Antiques Diva event as I returned to NYC, speaking alongside the grande dame of antiques Judith Miller, Traditional Home magazine antiques editor Doris Athineos and Olga Granda-Scott of The Highboy at Jonathan Burden, Antiques and Works of Art. I was also able to go to the opening night gala of Holiday House New York with my dear friend and client Justin Shaulis whose room “Gallery Hopping in Miami” was simply a show stopper!  I was also particularly partial to client Louis Navarrete’s Bohemian Rapsody!

All these events… and I’ve not mentioned the MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THIS YEAR.  As a company my 18 guides and I served more clients than ever before! Our busiest week of the year  we had more than 25 clients spread across 6 of our tour countries!!!!  Thank you for your support, your love and…baby, we quite simply could not do it without you.

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Year in Review, ICEHOTEL, Arctic Circle Dog Sledding, Reindeer Sledding in the Arctic, Northern Lights, New Years Resolutions

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Year in Review, ICEHOTEL, Arctic Circle Dog Sledding, Reindeer Sledding in the Arctic, Northern Lights, New Years Resolutions

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Year in Review, ICEHOTEL, Arctic Circle Dog Sledding, Reindeer Sledding in the Arctic, Northern Lights, New Years Resolutions

And that brings us to December where I’ve fallen into a pile of exhaustion as we entered our slow season,  as I spent my holiday in the Arctic Circle.  You must add the ICEHOTEL to your bucket list. It’s amazing.  I’ve spent the last week dog sledding in the tundra, reindeer sledding (and making one too many sightings as those buggers crisscross the roads in the Nordic) and stargazing while watching the Northern Lights. All in all I’d say it’s been a full, fun and fabulous year.

As we prepare for 2015, I can’t help but think that the BEST is still ahead!  This past year has had many highs (and a few lows as well) and the lesson here has been on priorities. In January 2014 I told my husband my goal for the year was to jump off cliffs…. free falling to see where these risks I was taking would take me.  The year has yielded more returns than I ever expected.

Thank you to all of my clients, friends, family and followers for everything and I look forward to seeing all of you in 2015!!! Let’s make it a great year!

Happy New Year,

The Antiques Diva®

 

Ringing in the New Year Diva Style

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Dear Diva Readers,

I hope you’re enjoying the holidays – I simply love this time of year – it’s the most wonderful time of the year!  Now that Christmas is over there are still last minute things you must do to prepare for New Year’s Eve. Whether you’re still entertaining your extended family or plan to host friends, New Years tends to be a bit more glam than Christmas, which is usually family-oriented. And even if you’re planning to be a guest at someone else’s party this year, I’ve got a few tips on how to make this New Year’s Eve the best ever!

New Year’s Eve Party Preparation, Decorating with Style, Holiday Themes, Barefoot Contessa

I love New Year’s Eve because I love all things that come along with it. Everyone gets to dress up and put on a glamorous outfit along with glitzy jewelry and a pair of killer shoes. Typically there’s a fun and exciting atmosphere that people bring with them to New Year’s parties and there are certainly tried and true ways to set the stage for this atmosphere.

New Year’s Eve Party Preparation, Decorating with Style, Holiday Themes, Barefoot Contessa

First things first- everyone knows that Champagne is a must for ringing in the New Year. However, with this holiday being pretty much back-to-back with Christmas, money may be a bit tight. Don’t fret! Sparkling wines, Cava and Prosecco are wonderful substitutes for Champagne and cost less. Of course, being The Antiques Diva, I like to have antique & vintage Champagne buckets at the ready to serve the bubbly. If you’re going to be a guest at someone else’s home this year, why not take a vintage champagne bucket along with a bottle of Prosecco as a hostess gift? It’s a lovely gesture that’s also affordable. And your friend will be able to keep the champagne bucket long after the party is over!

art_deco_champagne_bucket

If you’re hosting a party, keep it easy on yourself! No one likes a stressed out hostess. I love The Barefoot Contessa’s cookbooks for finding a good recipes – however I’m a firm believer that having a host of pre-made snacks is the recipe for hosting a stress-free party.  You can never go wrong with cheese and baguette and some pate.  Olives are a MUST but pretzels, wasabi nuts and pistachios are also perennial favorites.  Ready-made mini quiches only require you to heat and serve. When hosting a party think about where you want to invest your energies and use a combination of home-made, partially-home-made and ready-made.

Also keep in mind that guests will be mingling, often holding a drink in one hand so be sure that most hors d’oeuvres are mini and can be held and eaten with one hand. Serve them in individual size serving dishes!

The truth is, presentation is key at any party. Instead of focusing on difficult and complicated recipes, focus on HOW you serve ready-made nibbles. When it comes to serving these little delights, use antique silver trays, wood cutting boards and other beautiful serving pieces to make the evening feel special.

New Year’s Eve Party Preparation, Decorating with Style, Holiday Themes, Barefoot Contessa

Of course there are three elements that can really make a party feel special and set the tone for the entire night. These are flowers, candles and music! If your budget allows, have a florist create arrangements and deliver them right to your door. But if you want to do it yourself (as I often do), grab a few interesting containers—think crystal bowls, antique trophy cups, silver urns— and fill them with the same flower. Clustering of 3 Euro roses look fabulous when presented in the right way.  It’s easy, effortless and oh so elegant.

New Year’s Eve Party Preparation, Decorating with Style, Holiday Themes, Barefoot Contessa

Sprinkle candles throughout your space and dim the lights a bit for some added drama.

And of course, create a custom playlist ahead of time so that the background sound never stops and keeps the party flowing.

However you choose to celebrate the New Year, do so with style!

Cheers to a prosperous and happy New Year and I look forward to bringing you all more antiques and inspiration in the coming year!

The Antiques Diva® 

Antique Trophies

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Dear Diva Readers,

People love antiques for several reasons. Perhaps they want to make an investment in something that will retain its quality while appreciating in value. Maybe they have a personal connection to a piece because it reminds them of their childhood. Still other times people fall in love with a specific item and begin collecting. In my own home I have a small collection of antique trophies of all different shapes and sizes. I love these pieces because they are decorative and also serve several purposes!

Antique Trophies, Repurposing, Sourcing Antiques in Europe, The Antiques Diva, Unusual Flower Vases

Antique Trophies, Repurposing, Sourcing Antiques in Europe, The Antiques Diva, Unusual Flower Vases

Of course trophies were first created to memorialize some type of victory. Long, long ago, this meant victories in battle. But by the early 18th century, sterling silver trophies were awarded to equestrians who won horse races. Over the decades the trophy evolved and came in several styles—think cups, two-handled urns, lidded vessels— and were awarded for numerous sports and other achievements.

Antique Trophies, Repurposing, Sourcing Antiques in Europe, The Antiques Diva, Unusual Flower Vases

One thing remains, however, and that is the fact that the trophy stands for success! Perhaps that’s why it is so appealing. What I love about antique trophies is that they often have gorgeous patina and can sometimes have beautiful inscriptions. While these inscriptions may be interesting, you can still find antique trophies without inscriptions, allowing you to have them engraved to memorialize your own event.

Antique Trophies, Repurposing, Sourcing Antiques in Europe, The Antiques Diva, Unusual Flower Vases

And while these timeless pieces make lovely displays on a table or mantel, they can also be functional. I often pull one or more trophies to the dining table and fill them with flowers for a dinner party. If trophies are large enough, you can fill them with candy and set them on the coffee table.

Derby-Trophy-Inspiration, Antique Trophies, Repurposing, Sourcing Antiques in Europe, The Antiques Diva, Unusual Flower Vases

Regardless of what you collect, the fun part is in the hunt. From flea markets to antique shops, searching for pieces that speak to you can become a lifelong hobby. If you’d like to source antiques in Europe, we’d love to help you! Just email me at [email protected] and I’ll be happy to answer any questions!

Happy hunting,

The Antiques Diva® 

Antique Knife Rests

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Dear Diva Readers,

When I entertain at home, one of my favorite things to do is set the table using beautiful antique pieces I’ve collected. Whenever I’m out at flea markets or antique stores, I am constantly looking for unique tabletop items to use in the dining room. From salt cellars and butter pats to silver trays and cutlery, there are so many lovely things that can be added to the table. Today I want to talk a bit about knife rests, sharing their history and the variety of shapes in which they come.

Christofle Coquille Knife Rests Mariette's Back to Basics, Antique Knife Rests, Table Décor, Dining Etiquette

It is thought that knife rests were first created in the late 17th or early 18th century. Originally, there would have been one or two large knife rests used by the master (or butler) of the house. He would carve the meat and then rest the carving knife and fork on the knife rest. By having this raised bar to rest the used knife blade on, you could save the tablecloth from being stained by cooking fluids. This was particularly useful if you didn’t have multiple pieces of cutlery so you didn’t have to exchange – or wash – the cutlery between courses!

 

Antique Knife Rests, Table Décor, Dining Etiquette

 

As time went on, individual knife rests at each place setting became common, especially in wealthier homes. It is important to note that at the beginning of the meal, knives should not be on the rests, and during the meal, in between bites, the knife should be placed on the edge of the plate, as proper etiquette dictates. The knife rest is only used in between courses, when the plate is removed.

Antique Knife Rests, Table Décor, Dining Etiquette

Most knife rests were made in the Victorian era. Of course the Victorians are known for making everything more elaborate, so it is this time period that saw the most decorative knife rests. You can find them made from crystal, glass, silver, gold, mother of pearl, porcelain, and numerous other materials. They were often purchased in sets of two to twelve and sometimes you can still find them in their original boxes. (I’m a sucker for an original box).   However be sure to check the hallmarks on each knife rest. If they are originally from the same set, the hallmarks should match. Of course, this only matters if you’re a serious collector. For me, it’s more about the look baby!

Antique Knife Rests, Table Décor, Dining Etiquette, Antiques Diva  Berlin Apartment

While it may seem fussy or unnecessary to use knife rests, I like to think of it as romantic. Just as the Victorians were known to turn strictly functional items into works of art, I believe we should make every meal a work of art with special, beautiful tabletop pieces. If you’re just starting your collection of antique knife rests, I suggest looking at flea markets. You can typically find sets for very reasonable prices – I’ve bought sets for as low as 5-10 Euros. Of course the more elaborate or unique you go the higher the price.

Antique Knife Rests, Table Décor, Dining Etiquette , Toma Clark Haines Berlin Apartment

Enjoy the hunt and then have fun setting the table for your next fun fete!

Bon App!

The Antiques Diva®

Christmas Trees From Around the World

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Dear Diva Readers,

Here at The Antiques Diva & Co we are constantly expanding to more and more countries across Europe. In fact, in 2015 we’ll be adding even more tour countries and cities to our roster so stay tuned! In the mean time, myself and my local Diva Guides are always traveling for work and pleasure (and most of the time work is pleasure!). So in honor of the holidays and our ever expanding travel schedule, I wanted to share some famous Christmas trees from around the world to inspire you to see new places, cultures and traditions—even if it’s simply from your computer screen!

Christmas Trees, Murano Christmas Tree, Christmas in Venice, Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree, London Christmas, Frankfurt Christmas Market, St Peter’s Square Christmas Tree, Galleries Lafayette Paris Christmas Tree, Monte Ingino, Capitol Christmas Tree in Washington, Antiques Diva Tours

Let’s start with one of our newest tour locations, Venice. Murano Island is famous for its superb glass-work. At Christmastime, you can see the tallest glass tree in the world on this small island. It’s fascinating that this ancient place plays host to a modern looking tree, all the while using ancient glass making techniques.

Christmas Trees, Murano Christmas Tree, Christmas in Venice, Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree, London Christmas, Frankfurt Christmas Market, St Peter’s Square Christmas Tree, Galleries Lafayette Paris Christmas Tree, Monte Ingino, Capitol Christmas Tree in Washington, Antiques Diva Tours

In London’s Trafalgar Square, there is a Christmas tree that has been an annual gift to Great Britain since 1947.  In gratitude for its help during World War II, Norway’s people gifted the tree as a token of appreciation. Isn’t that a lovely reminder of goodwill?

Christmas Trees, Murano Christmas Tree, Christmas in Venice, Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree, London Christmas, Frankfurt Christmas Market, St Peter’s Square Christmas Tree, Galleries Lafayette Paris Christmas Tree, Monte Ingino, Capitol Christmas Tree in Washington, Antiques Diva Tours

After perusing the Christmas market—otherwise known as the Wehnachtsmarkt– in Frankfurt, many people admire the towering traditional Christmas tree that holds court in front of city hall. The scene transports you to Christmas past.

Christmas Trees, Murano Christmas Tree, Christmas in Venice, Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree, London Christmas, Frankfurt Christmas Market, St Peter’s Square Christmas Tree, Galleries Lafayette Paris Christmas Tree, Monte Ingino, Capitol Christmas Tree in Washington, Antiques Diva Tours

In Rome, passersby can’t miss the larger-than-life Christmas tree which stands in St. Peter’s Square in front of the Vatican. There is also traditionally a nativity scene just in front of the large obelisk which causes one to stop and take in the Christmas spirit.

Christmas Trees, Murano Christmas Tree, Christmas in Venice, Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree, London Christmas, Frankfurt Christmas Market, St Peter’s Square Christmas Tree, Galleries Lafayette Paris Christmas Tree, Monte Ingino, Capitol Christmas Tree in Washington, Antiques Diva Tours

Of course a very large and very stylish tree can be found at Galleries Lafayette in Paris. This time of year, tourists and locals alike flock to the 10 story domed building to shop and admire the beautiful Parisian Christmas tree.

gubbiochristmastree, Christmas Trees, Murano Christmas Tree, Christmas in Venice, Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree, London Christmas, Frankfurt Christmas Market, St Peter’s Square Christmas Tree, Galleries Lafayette Paris Christmas Tree, Monte Ingino, Capitol Christmas Tree in Washington, Antiques Diva Tours

In Italy’s Umbria region, the largest representation of a Christmas tree rises on the slopes of Monte Ingino, just outside of Gubbio. It is composed of about 500 lights which are connected by 40,000 feet of wire. What a way to bring Christmas to this ancient city!

Christmas Trees, Murano Christmas Tree, Christmas in Venice, Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree, London Christmas, Frankfurt Christmas Market, St Peter’s Square Christmas Tree, Galleries Lafayette Paris Christmas Tree, Monte Ingino, Capitol Christmas Tree in Washington, Antiques Diva Tours

And just for fun, since I am an American, I have to add the Capitol Christmas tree in Washington D.C. to this list. With 3,000 ornaments that are handcrafted by American school children, this tree is truly remarkable and a symbol of working together.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these Christmas trees from around the world. Whether you simply enjoy them from your computer screen or in person as you travel, learning about far off places is inspirational! And remember, if you are traveling in 2015 and want to source antiques in Europe, we’d love to custom plan a tour for you. Email us at [email protected] for more information.

Happy Holidays,

The Antiques Diva® 

History of The Nutcracker

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Dear Diva Readers,

I love Nutcrackers – before our house fire 2 years ago I had a holiday collection I loved displaying during the holiday season – small ornaments for the Christmas tree and  decorative objects to place on the mantel.  I’ve always wanted to buy a life-size Nutcracker to stand guard at the front door.  And while for me Nutcrackers are as synonymous as Saint Nick with the Christmas season, they weren’t always associated with Joyeux Noel! 

Nutcrackers, Christmas Traditions, European Christmas, German Nutcrackers

The term “nutcracker” originally didn’t have to do with toy soldiers at all actually. Nuts have been a dessert option in European countries for centuries and functional nutcrackers were required to open the hard shell of the nuts. As with many strictly utilitarian items, artists began to create more stylized versions. Eventually, decorative nutcrackers – many in the form of soldiers, knights and kings – were placed on dining tables after dinner to serve not only the functional purpose of cracking nuts, but also to amuse guests and act as conversation starters. It was even said that these little men served as “guardians of the house,” warding off evil spirits. Probably due to their staunch appearance! I mean really… have you EVER seen a Nutcracker crack a smile??

Nutcrackers, Christmas Traditions, European Christmas, German Nutcrackers

It was German manufacturers who started making the wooden Nutcracker we think of today, resembling a toy soldier. People who lived in rural areas or the forests would spend time carving Nutcracker figures along with dolls and religious icons. This became a main source of income for people in more isolated regions. Travelers would purchase them and eventually Americans became enamored with the Nutcracker. During WWII, U.S. GI’s brought German Nutcrackers back to the States and many families began collecting them. Even back then the American buying power drove demand!

Nutcrackers, Christmas Traditions, European Christmas, German Nutcrackers

Modern versions of this Nutcracker are typically decorative, proving that over time an item once only used functionally can transform into a completely decorative piece in the mind of the public. Isn’t it funny how that works?

Nutcrackers, Christmas Traditions, European Christmas, German Nutcrackers

In 1892 Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite ballet came on the scene and the Nutcracker figure became synonymous with the Christmas holiday throughout the world. To this day you probably see at least one performance of The Nutcracker or at least hear the music each holiday season. And you no doubt see many decorative Nutcrackers standing guard over stores, businesses and homes.

Nutcrackers, Christmas Traditions, European Christmas, German Nutcrackers

Nutcrackers, Christmas Traditions, European Christmas, German Nutcrackers

While it is more rare to find original functional Nutcrackers, it’s not at all impossible. In fact, you may be able to pick them up at antique stores or flea markets here in Germany where I live or even further afield across Europe and America. If you’re hunting for one, be sure to check online sources as well. And of course, if you’re over in Europe on an Antiques Diva & Co tour, be sure to keep your eyes out for one of these nostalgic figures!  The best time to buy is during your summer holidays – the price is always better when you’re shopping out of season for Christmas décor!

Happy Holidays,

The Antiques Diva®

Save the Date – Paris Maison Objet!

Save the Date – Paris Maison Objet!

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Dear Diva Readers,

We are over the moon excited to give you a “sneak peek” and a “save the date” for our 2nd annual Paris Flea Market Fete! 

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Paris Flea Market Party, Timothy Corrigan, Michael Boodro, Elle Décor, Maison Objet, Deco Off

If you are going to be in Paris in January for Maison Objet and Deco Off, we would LOVE for you to join us for our 2nd annual party at the Paris Flea Market!  I cordially invite you to join me, The Antiques Diva, along with my team of locally based Paris Diva Guides and esteemed special guests interior designer Timothy Corrigan and Editor in Chief of ELLE DECOR, Michael Boodro.

When:  Sunday, January 25
Where:  The Annex to La Petite Maison, 14 rue Paul Bert
What:  A lively discussion on shopping for French antiques with a Champagne breakfast (of course!)

Please RSVP to [email protected] – more details to follow as the date draws near!

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Paris Flea Market Party, Timothy Corrigan, Michael Boodro, Elle Décor, Maison Objet, Deco Off

All the best,

The Antiques Diva ®

Cocktails Antiques Diva Style

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Dear Diva Readers,

Does anyone else find it hard to believe that the holiday season is upon us? Where has the year gone?! Christmas is next week and there is always an excitement that comes with the holiday season. It seems that each weekend plays host to a holiday party where we all get to see friends and loved ones. If you’re planning to host a fete of your own, I’ve got some ideas for you! Throwing a cocktail party is a fun way to usher in this special time of year and I want to share a few ideas on how to set up a gorgeous bar cart. And as always, I’ll leave the cocktail mixing to my husband—the man knows how to make a good drink!  All photos below are examples of his brilliant creations.

Vintage Bar Cart, Antiques Diva Cocktails, Cocktail shakers, vintage cocktail picks, bar tools, classic cocktails, home bar setup

Vintage Bar Cart, Antiques Diva Cocktails, Cocktail shakers, vintage cocktail picks, bar tools, classic cocktails, home bar setup

Set the stage with a gorgeous vintage bar cart. Brass is hot right now and you can certainly find vintage brass bar trolleys at antique shops and flea markets. I found mine in Paris as at a “depot vente” – essentially that’s a used or second-hand store.  Would you believe I paid 35 Euro for this treasure more than 10 years ago and I love this bar cart today as much as I did that day I carried it home on the Paris metro!

Vintage Bar Cart, Antiques Diva Cocktails, Cocktail shakers, vintage cocktail picks, bar tools, classic cocktails, home bar setup

Next you’ll need bar tools like a martini shaker, bottle stoppers, an ice bucket and decanters.  And while you can purchase them new, why not start a collection of antique pieces? They are great for collecting! (and make great Christmas gifts for men).

Vintage Bar Cart, Antiques Diva Cocktails, Cocktail shakers, vintage cocktail picks, bar tools, classic cocktails, home bar setup

Antique cocktail picks can be quite charming and affordable. This past spring I actually found a beautiful vintage martini strainer at the Tongeren flea market and picked it up as a gift for my husband.  Our ice bucket comes from Sweden and our decanters are mostly from Belgium or France… years of presents all displayed together.  By selecting antique & vintage bar tools, you’re making your home bar stand out and reflect your unique taste!

Vintage Bar Cart, Antiques Diva Cocktails, Cocktail shakers, vintage cocktail picks, bar tools, classic cocktails, home bar setup

Of course you’re going to need something to serve the drinks in as well! Cocktail glasses, a set of old fashioned glasses, a set of highballs, and a set of stemmed wine glasses are a great start. And if you’re anything like me, you’re constantly on the hunt for beautiful stemware so you’ll most likely be storing all these glasses in another cabinet. Oh, and don’t forget the champagne flutes!

The Canny Collector, Mark Hill, Gin Martini, Plymouth Gin, Dolin Vermouth, Vintage Bar Cart, Antiques Diva Cocktails, Cocktail shakers, vintage cocktail picks, bar tools, classic cocktails, home bar setup

Chili Lemongrass Martini, Vintage Bar Cart, Antiques Diva Cocktails, Cocktail shakers, vintage cocktail picks, bar tools, classic cocktails, home bar setup , Antiques Diva

Botucal, Diplomat Rum, Daquiri, The Antiques Diva, Vintage Bar Cart, Antiques Diva Cocktails, Cocktail shakers, vintage cocktail picks, bar tools, classic cocktails, home bar setup

Next on the list is linens. Be sure to have a set of pretty cocktails napkins along with a few thicker kitchen towels (to have on hand incase of spills). Last but not least, stock up on your favorite cocktail ingredients including mixers and garnishes. And Voila! It’s party time!

Vodka Sidecar, The Antiques Diva, Vintage Bar Cart, Antiques Diva Cocktails, Cocktail shakers, vintage cocktail picks, bar tools, classic cocktails, home bar setup

Mint Julep, The Antiques Diva, Vintage Bar Cart, Antiques Diva Cocktails, Cocktail shakers, vintage cocktail picks, bar tools, classic cocktails, home bar setup

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I’d love to see what your home bar looks like and if you incorporate any antiques into it. Post photos to The Antiques Diva & Co Facebook page! Until next time, cheers from all of us at The Antiques Diva & Co!

Happy Holidays,

The Antiques Diva®

Saint Lucia Day in Sweden

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Dear Diva Readers,

While everyone knows that December 25 is Christmas, many are unfamiliar with the December 13 holiday Saint Lucia Day. Since Sweden is one of our popular Antiques Diva tour countries, I want to share a bit of their holiday tradition with you!

Saint Lucia Day, Sweden Christmas Traditions, International Holidays, December 13, Saint Lucia Buns, Winter Solstice, Swedish Traditions

Saint Lucia Day honors Lucia, who was a Christian that died for her faith. It is said that an angel appeared to her in her native Sicily and she became a devout Christian. When she refused to renounce her faith, she was martyred by the Romans. The feast of Saint Lucia coincides with what was once considered Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. In Scandinavian countries, this season is traditionally a time of feasting, drinking, gift-giving and gathering with friends. Due to the short daylight hours, the contrast between light and dark—both literally and metaphorically—is the main focus of this time of year.

Saint Lucia Day, Sweden Christmas Traditions, International Holidays, December 13, Saint Lucia Buns, Winter Solstice, Swedish Traditions

On Saint Lucia Day, it is customary for the eldest daughter of the house to wear a white robe with a red sash along with a “crown” covered with twigs and nine lighted candles fastened in it. She then wakes the family up while singing “Santa Lucia,” a traditional song, and serving the family coffee and saffron buns, also known as Saint Lucia Buns (see recipe below). For many, this is the beginning of the Christmas Season.

St Lucia, Saint Lucia Day, Sweden Christmas Traditions, International Holidays, December 13, Saint Lucia Buns, Winter Solstice, Swedish Traditions

Throughout the day there are candlelight processions, nodding to the return of the sun after Winter Solstice. Later that evening, women in church sing the traditional song which describes how Saint Lucia overcame darkness and found light.

Since tomorrow (December 13) is Saint Lucia Day, why not try your hand at making traditional Saint Lucia Buns using the recipe below? Exploring international holidays is a great way to expand your knowledge of the world and add new traditions to your family’s holiday season!

St Lucia Buns Sprinkle Bakes, Saint Lucia Day, Sweden Christmas Traditions, International Holidays, December 13, Saint Lucia Buns, Winter Solstice, Swedish Traditions

Saint Lucia Buns:
1 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp. saffron threads, finely crumbled (or 1 tsp. powdered saffron)
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 pkg. dry active yeast (4 1/2 tsp.)
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs, well-beaten, plus one egg white
raisins or currants to decorate

Crumble saffron threads into melted butter. Let sit 30 minutes to an hour (this intensifies the saffron flavor).

Heat milk to a light boil, turning off heat when it reaches the scalding point (with small bubbles across the top). Stir in melted butter, sugar, and salt. Pour mixture into mixing bowl and allow to cool until “finger-warm” (still quite warm, but just cool enough to touch). Stir in yeast and let sit for 10 minutes.

Mix 3 1/2 cups flour into liquid. Stir in two well-beaten eggs. Add enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough (just until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. You don’t want to add too much flour).

Transfer dough to a large greased bowland turn to coat all sides. Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch down risen dough. Lightly knead two or three times on a floured surface. Pinch off small handfuls of dough (about the size of a racquetball) and roll into “snakes.” Shape snakes into “S”-shaped buns or other desired shapes (please see my photo gallery of Lucia buns for traditional examples). Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover with the towel again, and allow to rise until doubled (about an hour).

Decorate buns with raisins, brush with egg white, and bake in preheated 375º oven about 15 minutes, just until brown. Yield: 20 St. Lucia Buns (“Lussekatter”)

Happy Holidays,

The Antiques Diva®

Antique Christmas Ornaments

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Dear Diva Readers,

One of the most fun parts of the Christmas season is the decorating. Adding seasonal touches to your home and creating a festive atmosphere make the holidays feel that much more special. And of course, being The Antiques Diva, I love using antique and vintage Christmas ornaments! Today I want to share a bit of history on antique ornaments as well as a few ideas on how to use them in your decor this season.

Christmas Ornaments, Vintage Christmas Ornaments, Christmas Decorations, History of Christmas Tree Decorating

Christmas Ornaments, Vintage Christmas Ornaments, Christmas Decorations, History of Christmas Tree Decorating

Decorating Christmas trees originally began in Germany. People would use natural materials like nuts and fruits to don the trees. After Christmas, families could easily dispose of the decorations by leaving them outside for animals to eat. Before modern Christmas lights were invented, candles would be placed on the tree—can you imagine the fire hazard!? In modern times it is still common to see remnants of this traditional style of decorating. Nuts, pine cones and berries are all common motifs used in current Christmas decor. Why not add sprigs of berries and acorns to your tree? What about filling a beautiful urn with colorful fruit? You could even use feathers and other natural materials in your garlands & wreaths.

Johansen_Viggo_-_Radosne_Boże_Narodzenie, Christmas Ornaments, Vintage Christmas Ornaments, Christmas Decorations, History of Christmas Tree Decorating

Christmas Ornaments, Vintage Christmas Ornaments, Christmas Decorations, History of Christmas Tree Decorating

In the early 19th century, Americans began decorating trees, hanging garlands of popcorn and gingerbread cookies on them. Later that century, as Victorian traditions were born, Christmas ornaments and decorations in general became much more elaborate and detailed. Highly decorative ornaments with bits of lace, velvet, rhinestones and other materials were used to cover trees. This style is still popular in period homes. Whether you can find antiques decorations or new ones in the Victorian style, adding lush touches to your home is a sure way to usher in a classic Christmas feel.

eames-christmas, Christmas Ornaments, Vintage Christmas Ornaments, Christmas Decorations, History of Christmas Tree Decorating

Of course the mid 20th century brought on the popular aluminum Christmas trees, which were available in many colors. Does anyone remember those electric tree stands that rotated the tree as it changed colors with the help of a color wheel? What fun! These trees can still be found in antique stores and at flea markets.

Christmas Ornaments, Vintage Christmas Ornaments, Christmas Decorations, History of Christmas Tree Decorating

Christmas Ornaments, Vintage Christmas Ornaments, Christmas Decorations, History of Christmas Tree Decorating

If you’re a fan of 20th century Christmas decor but still want to have a traditional feeling, consider using bright and shiny glass ornaments. These originated in Germany in the mid-1800’s and were blown glass. The ornaments came in many shapes such as hearts, stars, angels and fruit. However, after WWI, American factories began mass producing them and they’ve been popular ever since. Whether hung on a tree or layered in your favorite bowl on the coffee table or buffet, these glass ornaments add sparkle to any space.

Christmas Ornaments, Vintage Christmas Ornaments, Christmas Decorations, History of Christmas Tree Decorating, Toma Clark Haines, Berlin Apartment, The Antiques Diva

No matter how you decide to deck your own halls, antique Christmas ornaments can certainly enhance the decor of any style home! And remember to keep your eye out for them throughout the year at flea markets and stores. Starting a collection amongst your family could be the beginning of a new Christmas tradition that is rooted in history!

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, Berlin Apartment

Happy Holidays,

The Antiques Diva®