Cocktail hour is de riguer, ca Toma. Whatever the time of day, my antique Spanish secretary is stocked and ready to indulge. In January I shared with you one of my favorite cocktails, a French 75 – what I call Coco Chanel with a Dagger. While I’ll always be a champagne girl, since moving to Venice, I’ve adopted a new favorite aperitivo: a Spritz! sweet, bitter, citrusy, sparkling and slightly salty, a Spritz is delightful any time of day!
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
Two weeks ago I packed up my Berlin apartment and shipped everything to Venice, where I move into my new apartment officially in January. I’m spending the holidays in Asia finalizing my new jewelry collection (TCH Collection – Lush Decadence) I’m feeling a bit of end of year nostalgia…
One of my closest friends in Berlin is a German movie director and when we first met he told me, “You remind me of Gertrude Stein. Only living in 21st century Berlin instead of 1930’s Midnight in Paris.Your apartment has a revolving door to all the stylish people from around the world.” Months later a Venetian friend compared me to Peggy Guggenheim and I felt I could have died a happy lady at that moment… today I’m a bit reminiscent looking back at my midnight in Berlin…
In preparation for an interview I was recently asked a few questions about what I do when I’m not working. Not working – what’s that? I’m on holiday in Asia – working on my jewelry launch. I’m moving to Venice – a good location to manage The Antiques Diva & Co. I’ve created a lifestyle that’s a perfect blend of work and pleasure. I love what I do, so depending which day you ask:
- I’m always working.
- I’m never working.
As I look back at my responses, I realize they are a good end of year review of my last year living in Berlin…
Your company leads Antique Buying Tours in Europe, Asia and America. In what city is your office located?
Have laptop will travel. Nothing was scarier than when I left my laptop in the pocket of the seat in front of me on a recent flight from Washington DC to London. For 4 long days I didn’t have my laptop – and wasn’t sure when or if I’d get it back!
I’ve just departed The Antiques Diva showroom and headquarters in Berlin at Die Alte Maelzerei – a 3-level loft in a fabulous converted brewery – and will be setting up my offices in Venice, Italy.
We’re curious how you feel the world views you? In one word tell us.
#WhereInTheWorldIsTheAntiquesDiva – the # makes it one word!
How do you believe your staff views you?
I’m going to give you two words: Rainmaker and Egalitarian. I own the company and I’m the face of the company and my job is to make things happen… But my staff are all my team members. I couldn’t do my job without them. I truly am nothing without them.
They don’t work for me, but rather we work together. We are a mutually beneficial team.
How do your client’s view you?
I hope my clients see me as an Inspirational. I often say that my brand The Antiques Diva is Aspirational. At heart I’m a girl from Oklahoma – and the one thing I always say to new clients who want to start sourcing globally: If I can do this, you can do this.
How does your family view you?
A significant other calls me a “whirlwind” and I think that fits! I am always going a million places and doing a million things at once! But also those closest to me more than anyone understands how overwhelmed I can be at times. I often joke, “It ain’t easy being a Diva!” It’s hard work. And they know that at times I think, “I can’t do this.” They also know that after a good night’s sleep I’ll wake up feeling ready to conquer the world.
Share with us your thoughts on the work/life balancing act we hear so much about?
When you have your own company it sometimes feels like you never have a day off work. On the other hand – as I took these questions I was in London on vacation with my niece for 3 weeks – and my laptop!
How does your time away from the office break down along the “social” vs. “private” lines?
Those lines are blurred. One of the biggest advantages to owning my own company is freedom – on one hand, anyone who knows me says I work all the time. On the other – I rarely feel like I’m working when I’m not behind the desk. Some of my best friends are in this industry.
What does a well-balanced life look like to you?
I know that I am balanced when I am taking time for self-care. Eating right. Exercising. Having a hobby. Sleeping well. Spending quality time with family and friends.
Last year I was asked to be the brand ambassador for Pandora de Balthazár – a luxury linen company specializing in the European Sleep System. The biggest challenge I face is jet lag – I travel around the globe and am in 2 or 3 countries each month if not 2 continents. I’ve learned that I can’t do my job if I don’t get proper sleep. As my company has grown it’s been one of my biggest priorities to get more and better sleep. Better sleep looks like a well-balanced life.
I love cooking so my spare hours are spent cooking for close friends. I love throwing a dinner party. My dream project is to someday write a cookbook. I studied cooking in Paris taking lessons at both Le Ritz Escoffier and Le Cordon Bleu. One of my fun recent dinner parties was in honor of Bobby Berk. (Now that it’s finally released that Bobby’s been filming Queer Eye for Netflix, I’m delighted to share a few congratulatory pictures!)
Do you crave the quiet of a near empty house to feel nurtured? Does a balance between the two better suit you?
My house has an open door – champagne is always on ice. I have a pantry ready for an impromptu dinner party with all the accoutrements. I love the sound of laughter and glasses clinking. My guests always stay late into the night and I’ve been known to curl up on my couch and go to sleep listening to my friends’ chatter on. The best sound in the world is a full house.
What hobby or personal pursuit of yours is most surprising?
Everyone I know does Pilates or Yoga and I’ve tried both and find them boring… I take boxing lessons and love the intensity!
One guest from the past, one from the present and one from the future are invited to join you for the weekend. Who would be your fantasy guests be and why?
First and foremost I would invite Elon Musk to join me. I love innovative thinkers. He’s co-founder of PayPal, CEO of Telsa – the electric automaker – and the thing I’m most excited about – CEO of Space X which designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. And then naturally Leonardo da Vinci would need to come. Elon would need someone on even par with him to spar. Hmm… we need some of the beautiful people. Princess Diana? Do you think she would bring Elton John as her date? He’d get a little drunk and play my piano (Note to self: buy a piano asap). And while it would be fun to do this at my house I kind of fantasize we all go away together and rent a house. Maybe we’d go to Oscar de la Renta’s home in the Dominican Republic or if he said no, maybe Timothy Corrigan would say yes. As a last minute invitation, I’d invite Newell Turner of Hearst to join as I’ve been dying to get him on an Antiques Diva Trip and I’ve had a bit of a design crush on him since he was editor of House Beautiful the first time around. Speaking of design crushes, we’ll have Robert Passal join us. He’s my favorite NYC designer and the perfect arm candy for a weekend away. I’d have Bobby Berk back as my dinner party guest quote because he is one of the most inspirational people I know – funniest – and most down to earth. Naturally, I’d be in charge of cooking but we’d have a caravan of Divas on hand to do all the desserts (I only do stovetop not baking) and to do the cleanup.
What destination, adventure or experience have you not yet had that you’d like to make a reality?
I have a weird goal. Note I use the word goal not dream, as a goal implies I actually intend to do this someday. I’ve flown around the world. I want to drive around it. I want to hop in a Mercedes Van with plenty of storage space for my purchases and drive from my home up through Russia, across the Bering Strait (surely someone would take pity on me and ferry me over) down to see my family in Oklahoma then keep on driving to South America.
Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams for 2018!
Toma Clark Haines – The Antiques Diva
Every girl who loves jewelry needs her Elizabeth Taylor moment. This photo shoot was mine.
Screen icon Elizabeth Taylor was known for her love of fine jewelry, and her knowledge about precious stones. She collected big, exotic stones and the histories that accompanied them. In preparation for the January launch of one of my new ventures, TCH Collection – Lush Decadence Couture Jewelry at Galerie Vauclair in Paris, photographer Susan Ollmann captured me in Galerie Vauclair. The Paris collection features my own jewelry designs as well as pedigreed vintage pieces from Ara. But we’re not just in Paris… we’re in London, Dubai, Bangkok, Amsterdam, High Point and beyond!
When planning the photo shoot I conceptualized a tantalizing environment that illustrates the essence of my life…. naturally I called upon my friends at Fromental to help make that vision a reality. #WatchThisSpace to see pics of how they along with my colleague Chiara Zanella took the design inspiration that was in my mind and transformed Galerie Vauclair into my reality.
At times my life can seem one step beyond reality – this photo shoot is my invitation for you to join me in this world I inhabit – Lush Decadence.
Our Paris pop-up shop at Galerie Vauclair debuts the TCH Collection during Paris Design Week and Paris Couture Fashion Week. Lounging on a red chaise longue surrounded by an exotic and tropical setting I felt like more than a Diva, I felt like Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra!
My jewelry collection is inspired by my travels and love of antiques. I incorporate aspects of nature in my pieces. All of this combined to make Galerie Vauclair the ideal setting to officially launch the TCH Collection in a Paris pop-up shop. Laurence and Denis Vauclair-Rouquette, the founder of Galerie Vauclair, have developed a reputation for being at the epicenter of artistic life in Paris; their exhibitions offer a blend of originality, fantasy and glamour – the very qualities I want the Lush Decadence to bring to the women and men who collect it.
The TCH Collection offers one-of-a-kind, bespoke semi-precious and precious couture jewelry. All pieces in the collection are handmade and personally designed by me and my business partner, May Au of Madame Siam. Our studio accepts personalizations to pieces in the collection and custom designs, which we translate into wearable art.
I admit it: I’m a jewelry addict, and my first collection features rings:
“Rings are my favorite accessory. They are the thing I wear for myself. When I wear a ring I see it all day long, typing on my computer, driving my car or enjoying a cocktail.
Just 10 years ago De Beers launched an advertising campaign, ‘Women of the World Raise your Right Hand’. The promotion signified power and independence, and encouraged women to buy jewelry for themselves.
Naming each ring is an important part of my design process – two of my personal favorites in the collection are I Believe I Can Fly and The Diva Knuckle Buster. I want to continue that message of personal empowerment — at a price that is affordable luxury.”
The TCH Collection Paris pop-up show will debut during Paris Design Week in January 2018, with a series of launch events at Galerie Vauclair:
TCH Collection – Lush Decadence
Couture Jewelry by Toma Clark Haines
PARIS • LONDON • AMSTERDAM • VENICE • DUBAI • BANGKOK • NEW YORK
Lush Decadence: A Conversation with Vogue Contributing Editor Lynn Yaeger
6 – 8pm January 17, 2018
Afternoon Tea with Toma Clark Haines & Laurence Vauclair
2 – 4pm, January 18, 2018
Vernissage: Une Américain à Paris
6 – 8 pm January 19, 2018
TCH Collection Pop-Up Shop:
January 17 – March 18, 2018
24 rue de Beaune
75007 Paris France
Galleries carrying the TCH Collection include:
- London at Scarab Antiques
- Amsterdam at Mariska Meijers
- Dubai at Siimoodi Jewellery
- Bangkok at Paul’s Antiques
- High Point, NC – HPADC by Donnie Grissom Collection
Negotiations are underway for distributors in New York City, Miami/Key West, Dallas and San Francisco. To become a distributor contact me: toma@TCHcollection.com.
To view select pieces and to learn more about the TCH Collection – Lush Decadence Couture Jewelry by Toma Clark Haines read the press release, or follow us:
Toma – #JewelryAddict
I have a special holiday gift for you! My dear friend (interior designer, style-setter and owner of Nest by Tamara and root cellar design and a US Diva Guide) Tamara Matthews-Stephenson is sharing her Top 7 Holiday Host Tips for a Fabulous Soiree. Tamara is often invited to speak at design industry events to share her expertise on the subjects of interior design, entertaining and the international design markets. Her Nest by Tamara blog was voted #1 design blog in Modenus’ TOP 100 DESIGN BLOGS.
A few weeks back I shared holiday decorating tips over on Trim Queen’s illustrious blog. It seems “top of mind” this time of year because when we do take the leap to invite guests into our home and host a dinner party, we want it to be special and memorable. Unlike typical decorating concerns when incorporating antiques, furnishings, textiles, art in our homes, (we certainly want them to stand the test of time and through various seasons), when it comes to decorating a party table, we are free to channel our inner diva, and take it over the top (in a good way).
The Holidays are a perfect time of year to bring drama and whimsy to our homes and put everyone in a festive mood. Heck, even if we wind up ordering take-out and serving it on pretty platters, guests will be wow’d if we create a beautifully arranged table and decor. Today I am happy to share my Top Seven Holiday Host Tips to help you create a successful and beautiful soiree. I host often, both in my home and for charitable organizations, and over time I have learned some interesting time-saver and stylish tips. My friends have come to call me the “Tabletop Queen” because of my unique knack for entertaining. Now that I have added fabric and wallpaper designer to my resume as co-owner of root cellar designs, I have another vantage point in interior design. Textiles are a key way to bring beauty into your home and table.
You may know by following her on social media, that Toma (the Diva herself) is making the big move this month and relocating from Berlin to Venice, Italy. I can only imagine the Italian-style dinner parties she will plan in her new home. Hopefully we will all sip champagne together someplace exotic alongside Toma on her travels soon — perhaps at her infamous breakfast at the Paris Flea Market this coming January? Until then, I am happy to share my entertaining tips here today on the Antiques Diva blog.
and Happy Nesting
Tamara’s Top 7 Holiday Host Tips for a Fabulous Soiree
1. Break Out Grandmother’s Fine Crystal and Silver
Yes, I know they are in the back of the linen closet packed away for that special occasion. Well, that special occasion is here! Today, it is perfectly acceptable to mix and match your everyday wares with your finest china and silver. The way we entertain today in a more casual setting, the antique tabletop items we own or inherited when juxtaposed with our modern, everyday items bring a fresh and appeal to your home and table.
This Thanksgiving I mixed in my mother’s Depression Glass with my reproduction Spode Holiday Plates.
2. Go Over The Top With Color
Whether it’s all one colorway in various hues, or a medley of vibrant colors, go bold. I like to take it away from the traditional red and green combination, and introduce pops of color like Tiffany blue, greens, ochre, silver and metals. When we at root cellar design custom design table linens, we keep in mind that there are a plethora of white linens on the market, but very few colorful designs. So, naturally, we go bold and bright and festive. Although our fabric is sold by the yard to the design trade in designer showrooms, this season we started offering our table linens from our fabric collections on a custom basis!
We custom-colored our blue willow pattern in our “holiday orange” color and mixed it with antique blue willow plates in traditional blue and white.Then we added unexpected pattern and design with these pinwheels used as name card holders.
3. Combine Patterns and Textures, Old and New
I use the “something old, something new rule” from weddings to set a holiday dinner party bringing my antique accessories (obelisks, stars and gems) onto my table for a point of interest.
Just like traditional decorating, setting a table is about adding layers and textures– from natural rattan to silver to mercury glass.
4. Add Unexpected Details to Your Table
We custom designed our tortoiseshell pattern in a subtle grey and grown and here one of our clients set their
holiday table with them, then added pine cones, driftwood and other natural materials.
5. Use Placecards– It Feels Special
Here we put them next to the plates in tiny bird’s nests.
For our table at last year’s Lenox Hill Gala we wrapped chocolates for guests.
6. Leave a Little Gift for Your guests on the Table, or Send Them Home with a Goodie Bag
Either a small wrapped gift at the table or a small holiday gift to take home (maybe some homemade Christmas cookies), and it is such a special touch.
7. Offer a Specialty Cocktail
It feels special, and, it frees up your time. Make a big batch of champagne cocktail (just add the champagne at the last minute) or in this case a Lemonade Vodka Sparkling cocktail, and set up your bar cart with all the accoutrements. Now, you’ve created a self-serve holiday bar where guests can refresh their drinks as needed. Note–give your cocktail a name, guests will love it!
Today I’m flying home from a multi-day speaking engagement at the fabulous antiques show, the 2017 Art & Antiques Show London Calling, sponsored by The Women’s Board of Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, FL. I was honored to be invited to speak – but in all honesty had never heard of this show, just closing its 41st year. Frankly, I was gobsmacked by the quality of the antiques and vendors represented at this show! Whether you’re an antiques dealer seeking new places to display – or an avid antiquer traveling to the best fairs – I highly recommend you put next year’s event on your 2018 calendar! I started my talk by speaking about my design icon, Louis XVI, who totally revamped design for centuries to come – his Grand Tour inspired my own Grand Tour – and my own upcoming Antiques Diva Furniture Collection for Aidan Gray (#WatchThisSpace). I believe that for design professionals the most important tool you can have in your portfolio is your passport.
I’m flying home to Berlin to pack up my belongings with feelings of nostalgia; while I’m excited to begin my new life in Venice, I’ll miss the many friends and colleagues I’ve met and grown to care for during my years in Berlin. We’ve shared a lot… one memory in particular was a good old-fashioned barn raising – #DivaStyle!
(Featured photo credit Susanne Ollman)
Mirrors on the Ceiling – Oh My!
One of the things I will miss most about my Berlin is my apartment. For the last several years, I’ve lived in a 3 level loft that in a word – was über cool! After a Thanksgiving night fire burned my 1st Berlin apartment in Mitte, I relocated to another section of town and a totally different style of apartment: Berlin’s Old Malthouse (Die Alte Mälzerei), an urban renewal project that took the Schultheiß-Brauerei (Schultheiss Brewery) and revamped this industrial historic monument into sensational living spaces – I had over 2000 square feet on 3 levels with a fabulous terrace! The dining room happened to be the inside of the oven where the malt was brewed – a round room, with an igloo-shaped exterior and no windows, but openings on both sides that gave the room a cave-like feel. Dinner by candlelight whatever the time of day!
Because of my business as The Antiques Diva, many of my friends are also in the design or lifestyle industries – stylists, photographers, caterers, antique dealers, artists, designers and the like. When I entertain at home, presentation counts: not just to me, but to my guests. The people I entertain seriously like #FoodPorn. Whether we’re at a resto or a private home, with every course out come the iPhones as everyone tries to get the perfect shot to post on Instagram. (I recall one afternoon at Tamara Matthews Stephenson’s with designers standing on chairs in her Hampton’s kitchen trying to get the perfect shot before she served the meal!)
One evening as we chatted late into the night in my dining room with my good friends Christian Lemke and Justina Walczak of Revamp Home Staging and Design in Berlin, we had a scathingly brilliant idea:
A mirror fixed to the brick ceiling of my dining room would provide fabulous light reflections and some serious #FoodPorn photos!
The challenge was on! Now to find a mirror to fit the narrow round spot on the ceiling and attach it to the ceiling – without spending a lot of money! With the interior design skills of Christian and Justyna, that was a breeze as they had a mirror cut to size.
Naturally, I called on my Oklahoma roots and put together an old-fashion barn-raising, er… mirror raising!
Christian – the engineer-minded in the group – built a frame to attach to the ceiling and hold the mirror.
Once we got the mirror up there and correctly positioned…
We had to devise a way to KEEP it up there 24 hours – long enough for the adhesive to set.
As the adhesive dried, I fed the team dinner – served outside on the terrace because we were afraid to eat under the newly installed mirror! Fortunately, it was a beautiful evening for dining al fresco, as my terrace doesn’t have a ceiling!
Dinner served family style, because my friends have become my family.
I love the name of Christian and Justyna’s business – ReVamp Design. Isn’t that really what we do with our lives during pivotal moments – such as I’m undergoing at the moment with my upcoming move to Italy? I’ll be bringing my antiques to Venice – but also… there will be a guest bedroom for dear friends such as Christian and Justyna to come visit! Cherished antiques and friends are vital to a happy home, and a happy life.
Are you searching for design inspiration?
Join us for an Antiques Diva tour to Europe, Asia or America
Toma – The Antiques Diva
I’m presently flying from Bangkok en route to Oklahoma (don’t you love in-flight WiFi?) to spend Thanksgiving with my family for a too-short but so much needed holiday weekend. After visiting my workshop in Thailand to finalize my TCH Collection: Couture Jewelry before our official January 17, 2018, Paris launch; I’m heading back to the US for a speaking engagement in Jacksonville, FL: London Calling: 2017 Art and Antiques Show. Then I’m off to Berlin to pack up my apartment and the movers arrive to transport everything I own to my new life in Venice…. Imagine moving all your possessions via boat down the Grand Canal!
YES! I’m moving to Venice! It’s official. I’m becoming Venetian. I’ll start off 2018 with a new home in Italy! And I’m fortunate to already have a slew of friends in Venice – in fact, last November I celebrated with locals as well as friends and colleagues who traveled to Venice specifically to come to my fête!
Thanksgiving in Venice
Just like back home, the day before Thanksgiving starts with a last-minute run to the market. Of course when you’re in Venice that means shopping in one of the many open-air markets to get your vegetables! (hmm… they even had a nice selection of Thanksgiving seafood!) We forgot to order our turkey – and were saved by the local supermarket who actually had just one turkey in stock!
So many decisions…
The crab looks fresh, antipasti perhaps? When dining at friends’ houses I’m often asked to bring my stuffed mushrooms… Could I do crab stuffed mushrooms for a Venetian twist on my classic?
Now to find my gondola in the parking lot…
T’was the Night Before Thanksgiving…
My dear friends Derrick Ricketts, VP of Dallas Market Center, and John Cohn flew in from Texas to celebrate Derrick’s Birthday Weekend (you know they were not about to miss this Thanksgiving meal!). In the middle of the night before Thanksgiving I heard such a clutter, I arose to see what was the matter! With me in my cap (and Derrick in his kerchief), we dashed the down the stairs to discover that John had jetlag and decided to prep the turkey.
The next morning we spent the day rearranging the Venetian sunroom to accommodate our dinner party. Our guest list was only 8 – but knowing this is Italy and Italian friends always bring friends, we sat 4 extra chairs for guests. Meanwhile just as we’re seeing if we can squeeze in one more seat… I got a phone call from Georgina – the head chef for Currey & Co – she’s seen on Facebook that I’m celebrating in Venice! “My son is in Florence for university – and we’re so sad he’s missing his first Thanksgiving while living abroad.” Needless to say, I made room for an extra seat so Max could take the train in from Florence and join last minute! Isn’t that the spirit of Thanksgiving – opening your home to friends and those in need of a warm meal? We found room for Max to stay the night sleeping on the couch after our unorthodox Thanksgiving dinner!
The house where we stayed in is an Airbnb property, and previously was the residence of the mother of Diva Guide Orseola.
And speaking of Diva Guides – Diva Guide Gail our UK Agent flew in from her home in Bath, England, for her first Thanksgiving meal!
Everyone pitched in to help! This was all about community effort! And in fact, isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about? Community!
Venetian Diva Guides Chiara and Orseolo guaranteed that the vino sampling started early… and lasted until late! In Venice, they have a saying. “Water rots the wood.” Naturally, that means you have to drink Prosecco!
The tacchino needs more basting, then back in the oven!
The contorni are underway,
Ready for the main course with a turkey platter! But this isn’t just any turkey platter – this is a turkey platter that Antiques Roadshow Host Steven Moore brought me as a present from Burleigh pottery where he is the Creative Director. I’m not allowed to tell about the platters royal lineage… but let’s just say our turkey was served on a platter with pedigree. While Steven lives in England he’s practically Venetian royalty himself. He’s here in town whenever he gets the chance having declared himself an honorary Venetian.
Our Thanksgiving in Venice buffet.
Thanksgiving dinner by candlelight.
And of course, this Oklahoma-bred Diva insisted on starting with her Mama’s deviled eggs! After all, it’s not Thanksgiving without deviled eggs!
In case you’re wondering what we did with that crab? We had crab pasta for lunch early in the day! When in Italy, do as the Italians do!
A traditional turkey dinner, with all the trimmings.
Saluti! From our FriendsGiving in Venice; thank you to my circle of friends …
In all, we ended up with 12 at the table – a combination of Americans, Venetians, Brits even our Belgian AD&CO Logistics team!
Our Venetian Thanksgiving ends with taxis to the airport.
Wishing you the happiest Thanksgiving with family, or FriendsGiving with the family you’ve created, from my house to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!
Toma – The Antiques Diva
Shhhh… I have a secret I want to share: I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m besotted with Venice. On the blog, on social media, in person – at any opportunity I want to talk about Venice, dream about Venice – and visit Venice. Living in Berlin, it’s just a short flight away, and I’ve been known to pop in for a tour with a client, a meeting with a new secret source, or to attend a fabulous design salon… and always a prosecco with our two divine Venice guides, Chiara and Orseola. Last year I started taking Italian lessons – because it’s a beautiful language, and I want to be able to greet my friends in their own language. My love affair with Venice is only growing stronger – so I’m taking the plunge! I’m going to experience la dolce vita for more than a few days – I’m packing up my Berlin apartment and moving to Venice very soon. For a few years – I’m going to continue my Italian affair, indulge my passion and live in this beautiful city that makes my heart so happy. There are so many reasons I’m passionate about Venice, the following story is one of them. Ci vediamo…
If famous socialite and art addict Peggy Guggenheim were alive today, she would stumble out the back door of her 18th C palazzo – the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni – facing the Grand Canal and meander over bridges and through calli, campi and campielli’s in her neighborhood – the Dorsoduro sestiere of Venice. As she was window-shopping her way past clothing boutiques, jewelry stores antique shops and art galleries, something would catch her attention in the window of a little shop – a shop that wasn’t there before – at Dorsoduro 868.
She would pause peering in the storefront window of the pop-up shop for Porte Italia Interiors. Her manicured hand would come to cover her mouth as she studied the exquisite craftsmanship and details of the hand-painted traditional Venetian furniture. And I am certain she would sigh… “Porte Italia.” And she would come inside the pop-up shop, opening per se, the Door To Italy.
Porte Italia Interiors, whose headquarters are based north of Venice in Ronchi dei Legionari, has roots reaching back in the past. Their goal was to create furniture inspired by those famous Venetian antiques – the painted furniture of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries that in years past had enlivened Venetian interiors. Traditionally the locally made painted furniture in Venice – like the city itself – was more exuberant, whimsical and over the top than its European counterparts. Bright colors, exuberant silhouettes and whimsical motifs were the name of the game.
Today Porte Italia continues this tradition – employing locally trained artists from Venice Accademia of Arts – to create quality hand-painted furniture that can become the antique of the future. Founded by Enrico Lenarduzzi, this family-run business continues its tradition with son Emilio joining the leadership team at the small company which employees 35 local artists, decorators, frame makers, artisans, blacksmiths and carpenters. Each member of the team is dedicated to bringing the past alive in new interiors.
Each piece in their collection is custom made – and the company specializes in working directly with interior designers. Designers mail the company samples of the fabric to be used in an interior – and Porte Italia creates custom furniture to coordinate with the tissues used.
And like their Venetian forefathers who always had their eyes focused out to sea, Enrico and Emilio are also looking globally for expanding their business. An average week has this father-son duo jetting from Italy to the Middle East to the United Kingdom and then popping across the pond to America. Their client list includes everyone from sheiks and sultans to princes and princesses – rumor has it that Camilla has purchased one of their tables – to rock stars and legends. One of the largest collections of Porte Italia furniture in the United States is actually in the home of a Back Street Boy!
Currently seeking relevant distribution channels in the United States, Porte Italia is bringing Italy to the world. Their collection included painted doors, panels, mirrors, sofas, chandeliers and even frescos. Perhaps their bed collection has been the most popular piece in their collection – making the cover of Architectural Digest magazine as well as decorating 5-star hotels such as Ashford Castle in Ireland and the Castello di Casole in Tuscany, both members of the Leading Hotels of the World.
Discover Porte Italia
- SAN MARCO, 3359 SAN SAMUELE, VENEZIA – ITALY
- +39 0481 476096
Feature image by José Manuel Alorda
Toma – The Antiques Diva
Photo Credit Jared Siskin
As summer winds to a close and before the fall breezes get too cool I’m planning my final outdoor fête on my rooftop terrace at home in my converted brewery loft apartment in Berlin. Hosting parties chez moi is perhaps my favorite thing to do in my free time. I spend oodles of time reading cookbooks (Barefoot Contessa is still my favorite) and pinning recipes on Pinterest. As always when seeking Design Inspiration I look to both my travels and my designer friends to get chic tips for living stylishly and entertaining.
The most stylish outdoor party I attended recently in the Hamptons involved both of these two things: Travel and some of my favorite Interior Designers!
Originally from North Carolina, Lisa Mende was born to entertain. When I asked her to share with me her her tips on Entertaining with Diva Style she wrote:
“Entertaining Diva style is an experience not to take lightly! The key to Diva entertaining is to consider all the elements, plan well and be at complete ease when your guests arrive. So how do we do that, you ask? First of all, let’s talk the drinks and bar cart! Every Diva has the drinks flowing when her guest arrive. Nothing will put your guest more at ease than a nice glass of bubbly or a fun cocktail! There must be good champagne and lots of it! You must also have a signature drink as an option for those who don’t like champagne. Customize the signature cocktail to color coordinate with the linens so the drink looks good on the table. Also, make sure your bar cart is well stocked with pretty glasses, a martini shaker, fun mixers, swizzle sticks and a large ice bucket.”
Interior Designer Lisa Mende continues:
“I’m not sure who decided we had to dine on plastic and use paper outdoors, but I say throw caution to the wind and bring on the beautiful china and linens outdoors! Divas don’t do plastic or paper when entertaining! We only serve the best! We like to make our guests feel lavish and loved! We like to make meals that can be prepared ahead, so the day of the party we can enjoy adding the final details like the flowers and candles for our table. Vary the height of candlesticks to create drama and have plenty of them. We all look so much better in candlelight, right ladies? Last but certainly not least, the consummate hostess always remembers to provide a shawl or pashmina on the back of each chair so her guest can wrap up if they get cold. When you plan well dinner parties are a gift to your guest and also to yourself. Enjoy your night and so will your guests!”
Libby Langdon has a similar philosophy on entertaining to Lisa Mende: If the host is happy, everyone is happy! Libby loves large dinners for 60 people on her front porch. She recommends you add lots of silver and candles – and flowers – always flowers. When you can pick hydrangea from your own backyard even better!
Libby explains, “One of my favorite elements of living out in Sag Harbor is being able to entertain family and friends. Great food, delicious cocktails and lots of laughs, these are the important things in life!” Lizzy shared a few pics from a recent fête she hosted in her own Sag Harbor home. Libby advises Diva Readers when entertaining to create a signature dish – she is famous for her grilled pizza and fresh mango margaritas!
Sunday, July 23, 2017 to Monday, September 4, 2017
11AM to 5PM
TIckets Now On Sale
Toma Clark Haines – The Antiques Diva
Sponsors and Chairs for the 2017 Showhouse
National Magazine Sponsor: Traditional Home
Real Estate Sponsor: Saunders & Associates
Regional Magazine Sponsor: Hamptons Purist
Design Sponsor: Kohler Co
Honorary Showhouse Chairman: Mario Buatta
Honorary Design Co-chairmen: Jamie Drake & Alexa Hampton