Recently on Facebook, people have been posting their 10 Year Challenge – a photo taken 10 years ago versus today.
A decade ago The Antiques Diva & Co was almost 1 year old. In fact, there was no “& Co” as I was a one-woman firm. I had just finished pitching my book – The Antiques Diva Shopping Guide to Europe – and ultimately the book was rejected. I was so disappointed. And I thought maybe my career as a Diva was going to be short-lived. It was a global recession. No one was going to Europe. No one was buying antiques. And no one was reading books.
I had just started offering buying tours and we had only a handful of clients. Our biggest struggle was buyers at the time simply didn’t know mine was a service they could hire. They didn’t know to Google ‘Antique Buying Tours’ because they didn’t know such tours existed. The way clients would find me was by accident if they Googled ‘antiques in Europe’ and stumbled upon my blog. Every email I got from a new client began with some thing along the lines of “Oh My God – I didn’t know this service existed! I’m so glad I found you!” It was exciting but… there weren’t enough clients finding me randomly online to actually have a real business.
The Antiques Diva & Co was 1 year old and I felt like I was failing.
And then a friend sat me down and he said, “Toma, there is no shame in quitting. You need to accept that this idea is not going to work. Stop wasting your time.” And then he said the stinger words… “It’s not a good idea.” He wasn’t meaning to be an asshole – though
I knew one thing…
He was wrong.
I knew that I simply could see what he couldn’t see.
I could see where The Antiques Diva Brand was going.
He was in the proverbial forest in a place that was dark and scary with bears surrounded by trees which were covered in creepy crawly things. Meanwhile, I was soaring up above, seeing the majestic landscape lush with foliage and the fields and horizon up ahead. The colors were amazing… and My God there was a beautiful sunset up ahead. But… admittedly there was a headwind and I was being pushed back a bit by the wind. I definitely needed to flap my wings a little harder to fight against that gust which was pushing me back – but I was moving forward. I could see what he couldn’t see.
I always can see what others can’t see. That is my super power.
When I was 5 years old I discovered the TV Show Dallas. I wasn’t allowed to watch it but I would sneak a peek from my cracked open bedroom door after dark. I became obsessed with glamour and jewelry – it’s no surprise nearly 40 years later I started my own haute couture jewelry line the TCH Collection. As a child, I would cut paper diamonds and glue them piece by piece to my clothes and wherever I walked, a cloud of paper followed me around like Kate Spades quote “A trail of glitter follows wherever she goes.” My parents would get so frustrated – my dad would lecture, “Toma, stop being such a PigPen,” picturing the cloud of dust that follows the Snoopy character. And when he said this, I would get soo soo mad! “These are paper diamonds!!! 💎Can’t you see what I see!?”
I’ve always been able to see what others could not see. And when I see something so clearly – I fight for it like the world depends upon it. If you believe it – anything is possible. In that moment when Mustache Man said, “This is not a good idea.” I thought, “Game on buddy.”
I had a vision while I was flying up over those trees that I was going to build an empire. I was a
I may not have had many clients, but I knew that I know things other people didn’t know, and I know people who know more than me, and I know that together that we could help those people by giving them access to our contacts and my Diva Lifestyle. When I started the company I thought it was for people like me who merely liked antiques; what I didn’t realize was that I was building a B2B business serving primarily the antiques trade.
After analyzing my client base, I realized that I have 2 very specific demographics:
1. Antique dealers who needed to increase their profit margin and inventory quality and selection – these were people who were already successful, but they were ready to take their business to the next level by buying overseas. And our job was to give them a hand-up on the path they were already heading. I liked these clients and we could fast-track them to success.
2. But the clients I liked most were the 2nd demographic. They were mostly women, and they were starting a new career. They had already been successful in their first career. It was usually something super practical – like a banker or accountant or a lawyer. Or maybe they had given up their career years earlier to stay home with the kids, to raise a family, and they were ready to have something of their own, something that fed their soul, something that represented them. These were the people I could help.
Why I Do What I Do
A couple weeks ago I got a private message on Instagram, it started:
“I’m sure you get 100s of messages and I don’t want to sound like a stalker or a fangirl but I love what you do. You’re amazing. I know you’re very busy, but… I am wondering if I could talk to you? While I’m not currently in the antiques industry, I have a strong interest in it. I’m at a point in my life where I want to do something more. I’ve always had an interest in interior design and I had a shop for a while. I feel I have a natural talent for many things, but none of them generate income. And I’d like to change that. I would like to support myself and not depend on my husband for that. Any advice about getting started in the antiques industry would be appreciated.”
It’s not really just about antiques. I have a fabulous life – super glamorous actually with amazing travel and more champagne than should be legal. Let’s just say being a Diva does have its perks. But… I don’t do it for the 🍾 champagne. I do it because I saw a need for this service to
Over the last 10 years, the business has changed. The team has grown from 1 to around 20 at the moment. We are now in 16 countries and 3 continents. We don’t just offer antique buying tours. We offer a Training and Mentoring Program for Antiques Dealers – a training program to teach new or nearly new
What Would You Ask Me?
Here’s something I want you to think about… is there a question you would ask me if you could? One of my #1 responsibilities in the company is to talk to incoming clients and to help them determine where they should shop, for what and when. I chat all the time with clients about their marketing plans and repeat clients know that they can always call me to bounce ideas off of me; and when I’m out and see things that remind me of a client I send all sorts of tempting texts and ideas.
If you’ve been dreaming about a new career as an antiques dealer – or perhaps simply need to fast-track a career you’ve already started selling antiques – then I would love to schedule a phone call with you to help you make your dreams come true.
Top Interior Design Influencers Who Are Making It Happen
In mid-November, I received an email with urgent in the title. It was from Kimberly Wray of Furniture Lighting and Design Magazine. I gave a giant yelp and my kitten Fortuny – who had been sleeping peacefully on my desk – jumped with a start.
“We are doing an article on the top interior design industry influencers who are making it happen in 2018 and I want to interview you.”
When the article came out Dec 28, 2018, I sighed and felt a little victory. This is me. I am a just a girl from Oklahoma. I didn’t grow up with any money. I think my parents simply struggled to pay the electric bill. Buying luxury furniture wasn’t a consideration and most of our furniture was hand me downs, vintage or secondhand. But my mom had fabulous taste. She knew the importance of angling the chair just the right way, and good lighting, lamps were always on and scattered around the house. She painted her own paintings and arranged bouquets of flowers and she grew the flowers herself or plucked wildflowers out of a field. Food was always readily available and no matter how many strays my dad brought home for dinner (which was a nightly occurrence) she stretched the food and there was always enough to seat one more. We didn’t have a fancy life but we lived well. Life was beautiful.
Antiques Diva Is A Lifestyle
And for me, that’s what it’s always been about… living gracefully. I got into antiques because I feel they add elegance to a home. I like the patina, the sense of history and the story. When you buy antiques you don’t just buy antiques – you buy a story. Antiques help you travel to other places and other times, if only in your mind.
Moving to Venice
Several years ago my husband of 20 years and I separated. To be honest, it was devastating for me. I couldn’t emotionally process it so I threw myself into working too much as a solution. It was good for my company growth but it wasn’t good for me on a personal level. And so I decided to change. I decided to reevaluate what my priorities are.
I needed more balance, less work, and definitely more personal time, which meant I needed to work more efficiently and effectively. I also realized I wasn’t happy living in Berlin. So I thought about all the places in the world I could live and my happy place was Venice.
A few photos from my move down the Grand Canal…
One year ago I loaded up a 40-foot container and my truck drove over the Alps. It took 3 boats, but I arrived at my new home in Venice on a flotilla going down the Grand Canal. My mover Alfredo Rubelli even tied my desk chair to the front of the boat so I could sit on the chair and wave to tourists as we passed them by. It was surreal. But I had arrived.
Paris Flea Market Champagne Brunch
Speaking of thinking like a Diva – Aspire Design and Home Magazine just published the best article on me that has ever been written. In The Antiques Diva Guide to Paris Flea Markets. they shared the definition of a Diva:
a woman who exudes great style and personality with confidence and expresses herself without letting others influence who they are.
On January 20, The Antiques Diva & Co held our 6th annual Paris Flea Market Champagne Brunch co-hosted by Aspire Magazine and Marché Dauphine. Each year we welcome guests from the international design community during Paris Design Week to a festive brunch at Les Puces before a day of antiques and vintage sourcing and #DesignInspiration. The article was published to promote the party I co-hosted with Marché Dauphine and Aspire Magazine.
Check out our Paris Flea Market Champagne Brunch party pics taken by photographer Joachim Pelletier …
2018 was devoted to Balance. And it was hard work, but I achieved that goal.
My Goal for 2019
2019 is dedicated to re-engaging in a personal level in my company. I believe the company needs more of me – more of my leadership and more of my voice and vision.
And I’m doing that by going back to the basics. My company started because I wrote a blog titled The Antiques Diva. People liked my blog and demanded that I take them on antique shopping tours. Somewhere along the line as I was growing the company, my voice got lost in the day to day madness. So I thought about it and I wondered, Why not go back to where this all started with my voice? This year on the blog I will be blogging less, but the blogs I will write will have more depth and more meaning. And drumroll… where did this company begin? It began because I wanted to write a book – so I’m starting over. I am writing a book. It’s not
Thanks for following along as I share my journey. My word for 2019 is Ready. I’m ready. Ready. And it’s going to be a great year.
Toma Clark Haines
The Antiques Diva
I’ll ring in the New Year with my favorite Prosecco. I first became aware of the Prosecco house Bisol when I visited the winery earlier this year in Valdobbiadene for my birthday in the nearby Veneto region just an hour north of Venice. When I discovered it was the house Prosecco at the Gritti palace my good taste was reconfirmed. At my house, the glasses are vintage champagne coupes – a Christmas present from my mom several years ago. They aren’t the standard flute but rather champagne bowls and rumor has it (I don’t know if the story is true) that the shape of the round coupe is inspired by Marie Antoinette’s bosom! Along with my friend and co-host Steven Moore of the Antiques Roadshow who is visiting for the New Years celebrations I’ll be serving ‘cicchetti‘, small Venetian tapas-like hors-d’oeuvres, and of course, my Paris favorite: caviar on toast with a dollop of crème fraîche; served #DivaStyle from my antique 17th-century Spanish secretary which I’ve styled as a bar cart!
With New Year’s Eve right around the corner, the timing is perfect for Mimi Montgomery of Lolo French Antiques et More’s 3rd article in our series on holiday tablescapes and entertaining design inspiration! Here are Mimi’s tips on stocking the bar for holiday entertaining and how to style your bar cart with antiques – do NOT miss Mimi’s barmoire!
Felice anno nuovo!
Stocking the Bar for Holiday Entertaining
Photos by Eric Gray Photography
Nothing calls for celebrations and cocktails like the holidays. There’s no better way to make spirits bright than with a well-stocked bar and a well-mixed drink! Both are a must for anyone who enjoys entertaining at home. Read on to see how you can mix and a-mingle in the jinglin’ glass… and shake and stir your way through the holidaze with ease.
Stocking the bar can be both affordable and easy. There are several essential elements that need to be included for it to be considered a success. Since many of us may have limited space and/or limited funds, choosing wisely is very important. No matter your budget, the first rule of our guide, The Art of Stocking the Bar, is to buy quality ingredients. From bourbon to bubbly, the wines and spirits you choose to stock will set the tone for your bar and the type of cocktails you can concoct. You don’t have to go top shelf, and remember price doesn’t always mean quality. You do want to cover all your beverage bases, however, so we suggest you start with the following:
Wine & Spirits
- Champagne or Wine
Once you’ve taken stock of what you need to mix up some classic cocktails, like a French 75 or an Old Fashioned, add what you like to the above essentials. If it’s tequila, popular for shots and margaritas, you should definitely have a reposado and an añejo. If you’re a fan of whiskey, be sure to include a good Scotch whiskey, made from malted barley in Scotland, a bourbon, an essential American whiskey for the southern gentleman (that’s also great for sipping), and a classic rye from Canada. You may also want to add in some liqueurs like Cointreau, Campari, and both sweet and dry Vermouth, a key ingredient in iconic cocktails such as the Martini and the Manhattan.
Whether shaken or stirred, with a twist or with a chaser, all cocktails need mixers and garnishes. Which ones you decide to stock will depend on the drinks you want to make. When displayed in small glass bottles, mixers add a splash of color to your bar and make pouring a breeze. Garnishes, on the other hand, can take a boring French Blonde from oh to oh la la. They also give you something to nibble on while sipping your drink. These are our choices for basic mixers and garnishes:
- Club soda
- Tonic water
- Sodas – Coke, Sprite, 7-Up
- Ginger Ale
- Juices – orange, lemon, lime, cranberry, tomato, apple, pineapple
- Angostura Bitters (technically not a mixer — only a dash or two to add a bit of flavor to a drink)
- Simple Syrup (made by dissolving equal parts water and sugar over heat — will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator)
- Peels and Wedges – lemon, lime, orange, cucumber, grapefruit
- Fruits Soaked in Booze
- Spices – cinnamon, celery salt, clove, coriander, ginger, nutmeg, salt, pepper
- Veggies – pickled corn, asparagus, okra, beets, and cocktail onions; celery stalks
- Herbs – mint, rosemary, and basil
You have your booze, your bitters, and your bacon. When it comes to bar tools, only a few items are truly necessary to make a tasty toddy. Our favorite bar tools (and accouterments) include:
- Shaker, Mixing Glass, and Strainer
- Jigger – for all your measuring needs… try a 1 oz and 3/4 oz combo
- Bar Spoon – for all your stirring, mixing and layering needs
- Citrus Peeler and Handheld Citrus Press
- Ice Bucket and Tongs
You’ll also want to add your favorite cocktail recipe books, old or new. My favorite is The Coupe by our friend Brian Hart Hoffman. Brian has a fabulous coupe collection and offers tips for collecting coupes and styling a home bar, as well as drink recipes from some of our fave bars. We also keep monogrammed bar napkins and pretty hand towels readily available for spills and quick clean ups!
Next up… glassware. I love glasses like I do chairs — their different shapes and sizes, curves and angles. How you present your cocktails is almost as important as how you mix them. Having the proper glass for each cocktail isn’t a necessity, but it makes pouring and serving more fun. These glasses (and some red Solo cups) will see you through any soiree you might be planning:
- Coupe – our choice for serving cocktails that are shaken or stirred
- Champagne Flute – tall, slender, and fun… break out the bubbly
- Wine – white or red, and stemless — a real crowd pleaser, especially when serving batch cocktails
- Shot – that tequila isn’t going to shoot itself… and they’re fun to collect
- Highball – for any variety of liquor and mixer that your heart desires
- Rocks Glass – a short tumbler for making spirits bright… with ice or neat
Style and Location
Last, but definitely not least, is the style and location of your bar. We all want a home bar that’s welcoming and appealing to our guests, but make sure it’s fun and easy for you. Whether you mix Margaritas from a brass bar cart, or transform an antique placard into a barmoire — like we did — you can always personalize and elevate your cocktail hour.
Try these ideas for a stylish home bar that will shake things up a bit:
- Turn a console into a drinks station when space is limited. A pretty tray will keep a cocktail shaker, pitcher, and liquor bottles in one place, leaving plenty of room for setting up glassware. The tray also proves handy in keeping everything looking organized as well as making things easier to move around when needed.
- An antique chest or buffet makes an ideal bar. Place crystal glasses and decanters filled with your favorite aged liquors on an antique brass or silver tray to make spirits really shine. Add a lamp, artwork and flowers to bring color and height. You can store napkins, tools, extra glasses, and your favorite recipe books in the drawers or cabinets below.
An antique bar cabinet looks just as beautiful open as it does closed, especially when you set the bar high! That’s exactly what we did when we recently removed a built-in desk from our kitchen during a renovation and replaced it with a gorgeous Louis Philippe period placard that we had at our store. Originally a dark cherry wood, Laurent bleached it and added a lime wax before installing it. We turned the center section into a bar to store our collection of antique French ice buckets and antique and vintage glassware, and called on Santa’s elves at Barri Thompson Interiors once again to sip and style the day away just in time for the holidays! It was nothing less than magical, proving once again that mixing in antiques will always #raisethebar!
Antique and Vintage Glassware
Cheers to that!
Today in part 2 of our tablescapes series, Mimi is making s’mores on a mohair rug – #DivaStyle. The Christmas s’mores bar Mimi Montgomery of Lolo French Antiques et More shares below is simply divine – both the recipes themselves and the stunning photographs. Perfect for holiday entertaining – or any time you want a simple, elegant dessert that is dramatic, fun and easy!
Dreaming of a White Christmas S’mores Bar
Photos by Eric Gray Photography
Last week, we were all merry and bright for our Wonderful Christmas Time Ladies Brunch. This week, we’re going dark(er) and decadent for a winter picnic like no other. For our second tablescape, Dreaming of a White Christmas S’mores Bar, we’re taking the art of picnicking to a whole new level. Instead of roasting chestnuts on an open fire, we’re toasting marshmallows on an open fire and making s’mores… on a mohair rug.
I don’t know about your weather, but ours has been more than a bit frightful lately. The kind of weather that makes you want to stay inside and snuggle up by the fire. If you have a small home or studio apartment, I’m going to show you (with a little help from my friends at Barri Thompson Interiors) how to get creative and host a fun holiday soiree picnic-style around your coffee table. You’ll definitely have your guests Dreaming of a White Christmas…
A Closer Look
A walk on the wild(er) side. The luxurious look and feel of the natural undyed, mid-century Turkish Angora woven blanket from Paige Albright Orientals that Barri chose to cover the homeowner’s custom-made chunky white coffee table was just what we needed to spice up our picnic, along with a spiced rum cocktail, of course. I know most of you probably don’t have a tiger-striped mohair rug laying around — but if you do… If you don’t, you definitely want to add it to your list! IT’S. THAT. DAMN. FABULOUS!
Let Them Eat Cake
S’mores are the quintessential dessert — they require no baking! You’re free to choose as few or as many ingredients as you like, leaving plenty of time to concentrate on the tablescape and signature cocktail. For this place setting, Barri mixed and matched selections from the homeowner’s collection of modern tableware. She selected a white charger that really stood out against that fabulous mohair rug and anchored the black La Chamba pottery. The salad plate was adorned with fresh cut greenery, while the place card from Target was tied to the “bowl with one handle,” which was filled with marshmallows, tiny chocolate bits, and pieces of butterscotch. The coating of powdered sugar we added to the marshmallows (to keep them from getting sticky) added a slight shine to them, and we placed a sparkly napkin ring in the center of them for an extra pop of shimmer and shine! Because more is more, and we love shiny finishes, we chose Gold flatware by West Elm. Spiced Rum Old Fashioned cocktails were served in smoky gray rocks glasses from West Elm.
Since the S’mores Maker, filled with graham crackers, white chocolate peppermint bark, and marshmallows, had to be in the center of the table, Barri used gold mercury glass votives to magically light up the space. She randomly placed them on the table creating an oh-so romantic atmosphere. Votives give off a soft, beautiful glow, and because they shine the light upward, they make everyone look good. Voila! Who can complain about that? Just for kicks, she grabbed an antique wooden saddle stool that she saw sitting in a bookcase and placed a moss nest with a glitter ornament on it. She then added some vintage sleigh bells… for a very “beautiful sight!” Often, it’s the simplest things that make the biggest impact.
Barri also threw various pillows from PAO around the room. Incredibly stylish and versatile, they made for perfect party seating and snuggling. The neutral colors of the pillows, as well as the butterfly chair with the taupe Mongolian sheepskin cover, also from PAO, added just the right amount of texture… and had us dreaming of this White Christmas for days!
The best thing about s’mores is there’s no wrong way to make them. Here are a few of our favorite combinations that will have your guests asking for s’more.
Mimi’s S’mores Recipes
Classic S’mores Recipes
- Honey Maid Graham Cracker Squares
- Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars
- Kraft’s Jet-Puffed S’moreMallows
- Honey Maid Graham Cracker Squares
- Oreo Cookies
- Creamy Peanut Butter
- Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars
- Kraft’s Jet-Puffed S’moreMallows
- Ritz Crackers
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
- Kraft’s Jet-Puffed S’moreMallows
Sweet and Salty S’mores
- Ritz Crackers
- Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars
- Kraft’s Jet-Puffed S’moremallows
- Cookies and Creme S’mores
- Honey Maid Graham Cracker Squares
- Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Crème Candy Bar
- Kraft’s Jet-Puffed S’moreMallows
What’s your favorite? Let us know!
Our next tablescape is a Holly Jolly Dinner Party. Instead of toasting marshmallows on a mohair rug we’ll be toasting “A day when cheer and gladness blend, When heart meets heart, And friend meets friend.”
Your home is a reflection of who you are – your travels, your passions, your lifestyle. As The Antiques Diva, I always incorporate antiques and vintage pieces into my home, mixed with modern and far more practical items for everyday living! When I entertain, I enjoy using antiques I’ve collected in new ways that showcase their beauty, but at the same time demonstrate that antiques are anything but old-fashioned and stuffy. Living with antiques is an art and a passion – and I love to share my home and #DivaLifestyle with my guests, especially during the holidays.
Today we’re starting a series of blog posts by Mimi Montgomery of Lolo French Antiques et More full of #designinspiration and tips on using antiques and vintage pieces for holiday tablescapes, bar carts and entertaining! Mimi is thinking pink! Are these tabletops not the most stunning Christmas shades of pink you’ve ever seen! I’d love to be invited to this ladies brunch!
Wonderful Christmas Time Ladies Brunch
‘Tis the season… to deck the halls, the walls, and the tables! Whether you’re celebrating all that’s merry and bright with an intimate group of friends or hosting a large family gathering on Christmas Eve, you always want to make sure your holiday tabletop shines. This year, I called on a few of my favorite friends for some sparkling inspiration. WOW! Did they ever deliver! You might have seen some sneak peeks if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook. For the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing with you the three table settings (plus a bar) that we created, along with detailed photos. So… put on your sleigh bells, pour yourself some bubbly, and fa la la la long…
TABLESCAPE #1 WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS TIME LADIES BRUNCH
When it comes to setting a festive table, especially one in shades of pink, like my Wonderful Christmas Time Ladies Brunch, no one does it better than Barri Thompson Interiors. I met Barri shortly after moving to Birmingham, and we became fast friends. When Laurent and I purchased our home, there was no question who would be our designer. Barri’s love of color and her enthusiasm for design is contagious. I recently asked Barri and her assistant Melinda Musgrove (one of the floral designers on the C. Wayman Floral & Events Team for Cardi B’s baby shower before joining BTI) to design not one, but THREE, holiday tablescapes for a photoshoot. They didn’t hesitate to say yes! Photos by Eric Gray Photography.
Barri embraces the romantic appeal entertaining at home has. It’s a well thought out affair for her, where “fancy” doesn’t mean complicated. She brings her signature modern style to each tablescape, yet she has the uncanny ability to mix in vintage and antique pieces — making things that probably shouldn’t work together look enchanting. Non-traditional details help to define her Christmas tablescapes, which are made festive with fresh flowers, boughs and greenery from the yard, signature drinks, and a break from the usual red and green colors associated with Christmas.
A pink and green color scheme. The green plates used as chargers make the mix and match place settings, in various shades of pink and green, pop when placed directly on my bleached walnut table. The vintage Tulu rug and the bright colors and bold pattern on the antique Louis XVI style chairs also stand out against the wood.
The table is set à la française — French style, with the tines pointing down. Barri chose to use heirloom silver passed down to me from a great aunt, Pyrex chargers, a gift from my mother, beautifully detailed antique Limoges dishes, and Raynaud Festivite salad plates. As you can see, my love of antiques and vintage is not limited to furniture!
Barri has such a discerning eye. She took the dainty little Limoges butter pats and placed two yummy macarons in each. What a delightful surprise! She also mixed the stemware, using Parklane by Mikasa and Manhattan Gold by Union Street. Blush pleated metallic napkins and chandelier napkin rings by Deborah Rhodes, were used to add extra shine.
Melinda placed a 19th century Limoges fruit bowl that is part of my china collection in the center of the table to hold a large glitter bottle brush Christmas tree surrounded by pale pink peonies, silver brunia and gumball pink hypericum berries. She ran a glitter garland down the center of the table and filled in with the live berries and more silver brunia, adding champagne colored bottle brush trees inside glass on each side of the centerpiece for height. Blush colored rope taper candles from Greentree Home in antique silver candle holders add additional height and provide elegant light.
Will any of you be hosting a holiday fête this season? If so, these 5 tips will help make you the hostess with the mostest:
1. Decide On A Color Scheme Or Theme — Think outside of the box with new color combos to create a fresh tablescape. Consider color combinations other than the traditional red and green. Dishes and glassware, as well as florals, are great ways to bring color to your table.
2. Get Creative — Take a cue from Barri and use things in unexpected ways like she did with the butter pats. We’ve been trained to set forks on the right and knives on the left, but holiday tablescapes give us the freedom to step away from tradition. Play with the napkins. Move them around until you find the perfect spot. And never feel like you have to cover a wooden table! The texture of the wood just creates another layer.
3. Make It Personal — Work with what you have. Don’t think you have to go out and buy everything new. You can’t go wrong with a mix of modern and antique tableware, or high end and low end. If you have a fabulous collection of sterling napkin rings or colored coupes, use them! Mix Limoges with Pyrex like we did! We played around with my china and crystal and swapped plates and glasses and candlesticks in and out many times before we settled on what we used.
4. Keep It Fresh — Go big on fresh flowers, garlands, and greenery. Natural elements are key to making a holiday tablescape memorable. Tuck sprigs of greenery into the tablescape or use them to adorn plates or candle holders.
5. Add Some Sparkle — Metallic finishes just draw people in. Whether its metallic threads in linens or glitter ornaments, everyone loves a little sparkle!
*All other table accessories except sterling candlesticks are from Table Matters.
Don’t miss our next tablescape, Dreaming of a White Christmas. We’re roasting marshmallows and making s’mores… on a mohair rug.
What is your definition of home? I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a house a home… for me it’s a space filled with people and laughter in the air. Fabulous smells coming from the kitchen, open bottles of wine and champagne always on tap. It’s antiques and family heirlooms, next to flea market finds and objet d’art, and the odd pieces of Ikea. It’s window boxes and shutters and flowers in every room and candles alongside cozy places to read. A real home is a mix of high and low… beautifully choreographed moments for a life well lived. I’m a natural collector. But how does one start a collection? Today my favorite dandy (j’adore being called The Dandy and The Diva!), Gary Inman is sharing with us his expert advice on the art of collecting. Don’t miss Gary’s favorite books on the art of collecting!
Featured image: William Morris textiles and wallpaper set the tone for this Virginia mudroom. The table is an antique Chippendale inspired fretwork design. English tole, majolica, and French garden finials provide character to the space. The bespoke herringbone floor is by Waterworks.
All images provided by Gary Inman
The Art of Collecting
Everyone is a collector, some just don’t know it yet. After twenty-five years of designing and decorating luxury homes, I have had many clients insist that they’re not collectors, only to become impassioned collectors once they discover their genre. Helping them find their passion has been one of the most rewarding parts of my practice. If you think back to your childhood, you’ll surely recall something you collected with unbridled enthusiasm. It can be as simple as sea shells or baseball cards, but regardless of value, nothing surpasses the thrill of the chase! The objects amassed can be costly or free, academic or whimsical, and the collection can be as small as three objects or as massive as a museum.
As an art historian, I have always admired the erudite collections amassed by legendary collectors such as Henry Francis Dupont, Isabella Stewart Gardner, Sir Richard Wallace, Albert Barnes, Richard Jenrette or Henry Clay Frick. Their mammoth collections are now available to the world at museums and historic buildings devoted to the conservation of their achievements. Some collectors become as famous at their curations which are significantly autobiographical. Gertrude Stein, Carolyne Roehm, Coco Chanel and my personal favorite, Sir John Soane are examples of this phenomenon. I encourage you to visit all the museums associated with these collectors.
So how do you become a collector? I suggest you begin by doing your homework. Read the books I’ve listed below, visit antique shops and shows, research various categories such as ceramics, silver, textiles, art, antiques, illustrations, the list is endless. Also, survey auction houses and online dealers and wait for the magic to happen. You will discover a passion that will bring you joy for a lifetime! Once you buy that first piece you’ll be hooked.
There are many books on collecting, but here are three that I found to be great references:
- Barbara Milo Ohrbach, A Passion for Antiques. Clarkson Potter/Publishers, New York, 2004.
- Charlotte Gere and Marina Vaizey, Great Women Collectors. Philip Wilson Publishers in association with Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, New York, 1999.
- Caroline Clifton-Mogg, A Passion for Collecting. Bulfinch Press, Boston, 2002.
Gary M. Inman
Vice President, Hospitality at Baskerville
3 Smart Methods For Using Books as Decor
I’m of the same mind as Cicero on this one… I think that having books in your home is essential. I have a habit of picking up books while traveling. My favorite souvenirs are antique, hardbound novels by an author who had written in the particular city I am visiting. I bought Jack Kerouac in Oregon, Hemingway in Paris, and Robert Louis Stevenson in Scotland. Rekindling beautiful memories while going about your daily rituals, is a classic DIVA move!
Unlike other holiday purchases, like a ridiculous T-shirt or another coffee mug, a well-cultivated library can be used in multiple ways around your home.
#1 Books as a Knife Holder
Some of the most practical pieces in our home can be an eyesore, so I love this charming solution to an annoying issue.
I keep my knives separated by size and shape, making the division provided by the book covers ideal. Depending on your needs, the covers can be glued together for additional stability, however, it isn’t necessary.
- Books – You could use vintage cookbooks, but I like to have my cookbooks easily accessible. Instead, I used 3 books I have thoroughly read that were not completely precious to me. The books should have a hardcover and I recommend something quite long- the thicker the book, the more stable the base.
- Rope – I used a piece of old rope (this, in particular, was a Ralph Lauren rope-belt with leather tipped ends that I picked up at a thrift store for one dollar).
Note: Make sure you dry your knives properly before putting them away, as the water easily damages the books.
#2 Books as Floating Shelves
- I bought these floating book mounts on Amazon:
- The mounts are easily attached to the wall and create a whimsical ledge on which the most beautiful pieces of your library become additional space for lamps, eyeglasses by your bedside, or even a fabulous hat.
- Choose within a theme: books you intend to read, your favorite books, books which evoke strong memories, or even books that provide a pop of a complementary color to the space.
#3 Books as Pedestals for Antiques
I am a Stylist, not a Librarian, so I have no problem organizing my library by color. If your brain works differently than mine, you may stack books by author or subject.
- Simply stack a group of books from large to small.
- Place the books absolutely anywhere! I like to use them as a solution for hiding cords or unsightly details at home. I stack them to cover an unruly lamp cord, or in empty spaces that are easily accessible to a potential reader. Truly, ANYWHERE!
- Place some of your favorite objects on top, to highlight your treasures and collections and help elevate them into art.
I love incorporating vintage clothing into my wardrobe – it’s wearable art! While I often drape a boldly colored scarf around my neck or bag to add a punch of color, I also decorate with silk scarves! In my own home, I tied brightly colored Hermes scarves around pillows on my white leather couch. I’ve been shopping for a special vintage scarf to frame and hang in my boudoir – one I can easily take down and wear when the mood strikes! #DivaTip: Hermes scarf display kit attaches your precious scarf using magnets, so the material is never damaged!
Mark Hill told me the silk Christian Dior silk scarf:
was a personal gift c1955 from Christian Dior himself to concert pianist Marion Stein when she was the Countess of Harewood – it seems he gave such scarves to his favoured clients at the time, with each one personalised with the name of the recipient. Stein’s husband, the Earl of Harewood, was 6th in line to the British throne at the time, so he had to ask permission to marry her! They drifted apart when the Earl fell in love with another woman and, after her divorce, she married Jeremy Thorpe, the leader of the Liberal party. Yes – this is the same Jeremy Thorpe who is currently being played by Hugh Grant in the BBC’s ‘A Very English Scandal.’
The only other examples of this scarf (given to and named for other clients of Dior’s) that I can find are in the Henry Ford Museum and the Musee de la Mode in Paris.
A unique mid-1950s Christian Dior cream silk scarf, screenprinted in black, brown, orange, blue, and yellow with a design inspired by Prehistoric cave paintings, and the wording “ce carré de soie a été réalisé pour Christian Dior d’après les peintures des Grottes de la Dordogne et spécialement imprimé pour Madame le Comtesse de Harewood.” (This square of silk was made for Christian Dior after the paintings of the caves of the Dordogne eand specially printed for Madame the Countess of Harewood), also screenprinted ‘Charin – Paris’, 83cm by 86cm.
As it is unlikely that the descendents of the other recipients will sell such a piece, this is a rare opportunity to own a very personal gift from Christian Dior, who was at the height of his career, to a lady with a fascinating life.
Lot 322: A UNIQUE MID-1950S CHRISTIAN DIOR CREAM SILK SCARF, SCREENPRINTED IN BLACK
Nearly every trace of Austria’s occupation of Venice in the 19th century is gone, except the Spritz! Made with white wine and sparkling water, Hapsburg soldiers brought ‘sprizzen’ to Venice. While keeping the name, Venice added the attitude and the color with a dash of bitter orange flavored liqueur.
When in Venice, expect to pay around €2.50 – unless you too are addicted the Gritti Hotel, where I happily pay €15 for the ambiance and views. Your Spritz can also be made with Aperol or Campari – slightly sweeter or more bitter. While Aperol is my favorite, Select is perhaps less well known around the world so I want to share with you my recipe for a summer Venetian Spritz – Select style! If you prefer Campari or Aperol, just substitute bitters!
Speaking of substitutions, of course ca Toma I substitute the white wine with prosecco!
Venetian Spritz Recipe
• 4 ounces prosecco
• Sparkling water
• 1 ½ to 2 ounces Select
• Orange slice
• 1 green olive
In a white wine glass over three or four ice cubes, pour the prosecco, a splash of sparkling water and the Select -, in that order so the Select sinks to the bottom. Garnish with a slice of orange and an olive.
Book an antique buying tour to Italy – and be sure to include Venice on your itinerary, I’d love to introduce you to Toma’s Venice!
Toma – The Antiques Diva
I just attended High Point Spring Market, a must-do on the interior design circuit, held twice yearly in High Point, NC. In addition to leading 4 events, I was an Instagram trend-spotter for High Point Market @HPMKT and a style spotter for The Chaise Lounge@thechaiselounge taking over their Instagram pages to share what I thought was Hot this Spring!
Before you read which vendors and products were the best of #HPMKT – Mark your calendars for this Fall 2018 when my furniture collection launches at High Point Market at Aidan Gray Home!
Delighted to Be an #HPMKT Trendspotter
Here are my #designinspirations from Spring High Point Market on Instagram to help you discover what’s hot, inspiring and trending:
From #TomaClarkHaines – aka – @TheAntiquesDiva: I’m channeling #CocoChanel today at the @antiquedesignct at #HPMKT with vendor #MichaelDeLoach and @CandaceDeloach. This delicious 9 foot by 19 feet long chocolate brown intricately carved coromandel screen reminds me of the one in Madamoiselle’s apartment in Paris on the Rue Cambon. The technique of craftsmanship involves layering and carving various layers of different colored clay – moss, teal and tomato – to create a #chinosierie screen. #ParisApartment #Chanel #ParisInteriors #AntiqueDealersofInstagram #AntiquesDiva #Antiques
From #TomaClarkHaines – aka – @TheAntiquesDiva: When it comes to #Antiques Pedigree talks (or in this case Barks!) #WoofWoof #DogsofInstagramWhile I love the Miid century harlequin Great Dane and early 20th C #chinosierie chest of drawers in this vignette being sold by the @firestationguy at the @antiquedesignct of #HPMKT. It’s the 19th C Mirror which has the most stories to tell…. It belonged to Marlon Brando. Oh the #StoriesItCouldTell. #Antiques #AntiquesDiva#AntiqueDealersofInstagram
From #TomaClarkHaines aka @TheAntiquesDiva: A trip to #HPMKT is not complete without visiting @nancypriceinteriordesign located in @Codarus at IHFC H220. #MixedMedia#Artist #AbbyPrice reconfigures geodes and selenite to create #oneofakind #art And while the #pretaporter pieces are divine#nancyprice also takes custom orders for personalized installations. Now that’s #divastyle #antiquesdiva
From #TomaClarkHaines aka @TheAntiquesDiva: Am I allowed to shop for my apartment in #Venice #Italywhile doing my #Hpmkt #instagramtakeover? If so – I must confess that for my apartment near the #GrandCanal I’m considering a two-tone silver rug from @_robinbaron aka #thebaroness for my bedroom. Located at #MarketSquare #SweetDreams #LaDolceVita #AntiquesDiva#VenetianInteriors #toneontone
From #TomaClarkHaines aka @TheAntiquesDiva: Mirror Mirror on the Wall… Who’s the fairest of them all? Stacey Kunstal of @DunesandDuchess is the #belleoftheball sporting @TCHCollection serpentine earrings and posing in her booth 7010 in #marketsquare where the #laquered colors on her custom made furniture and lighting are as bright as her personality! #divastyle #simplebutchic #chicinteriors #lifeofastylist
From #TomaClarkHaines aka @TheAntiquesDiva: If you’ve been following along as I do an #InstagramTakeover of #Hpmkt you’ve already seen one of the top #interiordesigntrends for 2018…. #Chinoiserie. Want to know another #mustbuy #designtrend? Faux Bois! Check out the #enchantedforest at @curreyco
Excited to Be an #TCLPStyleSpotter
The Chaise Lounge is sharing some of my favorite #designinspirations, finds and brands from Spring High Point Market on Instagram to help you discover what’s hot, inspiring and trending:
My first stop when heading to #hpmkt is always @AidanGrayHome at 201 North Main for #designinspiration and gorgeous upholstery, lighting and case goods. Utterly obsessed with their Goliath Star Chandelier! I’m considering it for my living room in my apartment in #Venice #Italy to add that #modernluxury touch and some #divastyle#tclpstylespot
One of my favorite product launches this #HPMKT is the mantel collection from @denisemcgaha with @materialsmarketing at @highlandhousefurniture showroom on 200 Steele #designingwithadeadline #antiquesdiva #dallasdesigner#highlandhouse #dmdesigns Super Chic!
Have you made your way over to @Theodore_Alexander_Official to Check out the @XanderNoori Collection? It’s being called the best new collection showing at #HPMKT spring 2018!!! Love the pod shaped forms, integrated leather banding and Zaha Hadid-esque shape shifting forms. Congrats Xander! #divastyle #modernluxe
From #TomaClarkHaines @TheAntiquesDiva for #TCLPStyleSpotter at #HPMKT
These #blueandwhitesoap bubble glaze ceramic #decorativeaccents from @howard.elliott would give a #globalchic vibe to any #interior. Special thanks to #BrandAmbassador @justinshaulis for giving me a tour of the #HowardElliott showroom #divastyle #globalsourcing #tclpstylespot
High Point Spring Market
Fall Market: October 13 – 17, 2018
Don’t miss The Antiques Diva Early Bird Tour of The Antique & Design Center High Point Fall Market!
Toma – The Antiques Diva
Last year I took a solo trip to Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara in the Liwa Desert for much needed R&R and design inspiration. Little did I know then that today I’d be designing my new life in a new country, in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Venice, Italy. The configurations of my new Venezia apartment are dramatically different than my Berlin loft, just as the configurations of my life are so very different. My design philosophy has always been, “It’s all about the mix.” As this Oklahoma girl has strives to continue to become more global, I want my home to reflect my global influences. I’m blending my antique European treasures with thoroughly modern artwork with a good helping of Asian pieces… and some magical Liwa Desert memories. Here are a few of my desert #DesignInspirations …
My good friend Gary Inman (we’re known as The Diva and The Dandy!) is one of the most renowned hospitality designers in the industry – He is an award-winning designer, author, and professional speaker whose work has been published in Veranda, House Beautiful, Elle Decor, The Washington Post, Southern Accents, Traditional Home, Hotel Design, Home & Design and many others. I asked for his expert advice on creating a sense of place!
Gary Inman’s 5 Tips for Creating a Sense of Place
This is the way great designers think about crafting the local and authentic experience.
1. Great Design Begins with a Great Story!
Every unique place on the globe has a unique story that only they can tell. Hotels and Resorts are our homes in those locations and they can, and must, enrich the sense of place. As designers we weave a narrative of tangible and intangible references to the history of place. A great story tantalizes all the senses. Research is the foundation……designers must do their homework!
2. Fragrance is the most powerful force in evoking memories and forging new memories.
The spice markets of Istanbul, the flower markets of Amsterdam, the scent of fresh pines at Pinehurst, or the intoxicating aroma of the sea and agave in San Juan Capistrano. Remember the smells from your grandmother’s kitchen… fragrance transports us back to places that have touched us.
3. Art can convey the story of place in the most obvious and powerful ways.
We use local artists and craftspeople to create artwork, lighting, unique case goods, textiles, gardens. “Local and authentic”, a phrase coined for Hilton’s Curio brand, is the mantra of all sophisticated travelers today.
One of the most provocative ways to celebrate place is to set up views from rooftops, elevated rooms, spas, and restaurants. Engaging visitors with a spectacular view will connect them emotionally to place. Dining with a view of the Acropolis in Athens, or atop a skyscraper in New York or with views of the bay in San Francisco. Many of the places we visit have singularly unique views in the hands of a skilled architect and designer.
Luxury travel is impossible without impeccable, non-obtrusive service. Many of the best stories for the local culture come to us from the staff at hotels and resorts. Many have spent their lives immersed in the culture and history of the location. I never fail to ask for advice from the hotel team, they can be a great treasure trove of stories.
Brilliant, n’est-ce pas? For more design inspiration, follow Gary online. I’ve asked Gary to become a regular contributor to The Antiques Diva blog – I’m looking forward to his next post!
Gary M. Inman
Vice President, Hospitality at Baskerville
Toma – The Antiques Diva