Where does design inspiration come from?

Amalfi coast lemons
Amalfi Coast lemons

While taking my summer vacation in the Amalfi Coast this summer one of my favorite things I did – besides merely lounge poolside in my BoxerinBlue swimwear under the wafting smell of the lemon trees – was visit the Ruins of Pompeii, which I talked about in a recent blog post when I announced my furniture collection – The Antiques Diva Collection by Aidan Gray.

Pompeii continues to fascinate – Mount Vesuvius had erupted in a phenomenal fashion straight off a Hollywood movie script – perfectly preserving the ancient town of Pompeii and the surrounding countryside in ash. The result – while devastating at the time, burying the people alive – did preserve the works of arts for centuries allowing us to see frescoes from the time of Jesus. (Segway from religion to sex… ) While the frescoes in the brothels were… uhm… especially interesting… what continues to fascinate me is the lush decadent lifestyles they lived in ancient Roman times. When I think of 2000 years ago, I imagine people walking around barefoot and yet in Pompeii the rich were living in villas I’d be happy to call home today.

Pompeii was to Rome like the Hamptons are to New York. And these villas surely must have been where the profession of interior designer came about. The wealthy employed sculptors and painters and other artisans to create an atmosphere that reinforced their position in society. In addition to proper sewage, they had gyms and swimming pools, libraries and courtyards with gorgeous mosaics… but for me… it’s all about the frescoes. The villas were painted ceiling to floor with motifs that were anything from actual images of other villas to architectural elements such as porticos or even cards, rivers and coastlines as well trees, fruits, flowers, birds…  But my favorite room, a kitchen in one of the villas, reminded me of my own home. The walls of the kitchen were painted with swimming fish found in the sea nearby.

Pompeii: Be Inspired | Toma Clark Haines | The Antiques Diva & Co
Pompeii kitchen frescoe of swimming fish 

At my home in Venice, I live in a small apartment a stone’s throw from the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, on a side canal just off the Grand Canal. Soon after I got an apartment here I found myself dreaming of water – which apparently is a trait of Venetians. Water is as much a part of daily life in Venice as is air and breathing. Meanwhile fish swim in the canals outside my kitchen window, they are served in every restaurant and I even have pet goldfish (Frank Sinatra Jr and Frank Jr Jr – fans of the TV series Friends will catch the joke in the name of the later). Wanting to connect the interior of my apartment to my surroundings, I decided to commission the artisans from Porte Italia to come and paint fish swimming down my entry hall. I chose to do the entire entrance in a dramatic high gloss black paint – painting the ceiling as well as walls which makes the space feel infinitely larger.

Toma Clark Haines hallway in Venice
My entry in Venice hand-painted by Porte Italia 

A fan of Fornasetti, I had the artisans nod towards Piero’s style. The fish swim towards a reflection pool in the middle – aka, an 18th C Gilded Mirror with the original mottled and melting mercury glass. The mirrors frame design is straight out of a fresco design in Pompeii, a basket overflowing with pomegranates and roses. This mirror created most likely between Louis 15 and Louis 16 reign reflects the notion we discussed in a recent blog – where does design inspiration come from? Everything we see and feel and do, influence who we are and our design aesthetic. Louis 16th furniture makers were heavily influenced by Pompeii, just as I was heavily influenced by Louis 15 and 16th when designing my furniture collection – The Antiques Diva Collection for Aidan Gray, which debuts this week at High Point Market.

Be Inspired 

Fall 2018 High Point Market I’m speaking on 2 panels that broach the subject of Design Inspiration. I’ll be Facebook Living both events – so don’t worry if you’re not able to be there in person, know you can always catch it online on my personal page Toma Clark Haines.

Inspiration Behind the Designs – Saturday October 13 2-3pm
Surya Showplace 4100

Join interior and product designers Mary Douglas Drysdale, Michel Smith Boyd, Toma Clark Haines (“The Antiques Diva”), Xander Noori, and Keon Khajavi-Noori as they discuss where they seek inspiration, how they overcome the dreaded creative block, and give tips and tools for recharging your creative batteries. 

Inspiration Behind the Designs

Designing Women of the World – Sunday October 14 1.30 to 2.30pm
Suites at Market Square Seminar Room SAMS T 1014

How do you prioritize travel as a busy designer and business owner? How do you prepare for design inspiration at a particular destination? How does getting outside of your local marketplace help your business? Join our traveled designers as they discuss these questions and many more, while giving tips and inspiration on how to incorporate travel into your design process. Panelists include Adriana HoyosTina NicoleToma Clark HainesSandra Espinet, and Aviva Stanoff with Deb Barrett as moderator. Reception and book signings to follow.

Designing Women of the World

Until then, Be Inspired.

Toma Clark Haines – The Antiques Diva®

Watch: Toma Clark Haines on United Airlines Inflight C-Suite Insights

I’m flying to New York to speak at Greenwich District Design Day of Design June 5: Mixing it Up:
The Art of Combining Antiques in Contemporary Spaces – and during my flight, I’ll be watching myself on United’s Inflight C-Suite Insights! My interview with journalist Nicole Sawyer premiered on United June 1 and will broadcast throughout June. 

I’d love to see you in Greenwich! Tori Mellott, style editor of Traditional Home, along with designer Robert Passal and me – The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines – delve into the topic of #MakingAntiquesModern through mixing pieces from the past with contemporary spaces. It’s all about the mix!

RSVP: gdddayofdesign.eventbrite.com 


The Antiques Diva Reveals Secrets to Buy Timeless Treasures on Exotic Travel Tours  

If you’re not flying on United in June, watch my interview here, or read the transcript below.

Play - Toma Clark Haines on United Airlines Inflight C-Suite Insights | Toma Clark Haines | The Antiques Diva & Co

Journalist Nicole Sawyer interviews Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva for C-Suite Insights:

Nicole: She’s one of the most powerful women in the antiques industry. Toma Clark Haines, the founder of The Antiques Diva, the world’s largest antiques touring company, makes collecting cool modern and sexy.

Toma: This is a classic Hermes bag. Nothing says style more than Hermes

Nicole: She takes travelers looking for unique statement pieces to exotic places like Bangkok and Bali.

Toma: What’s trending when it comes to jewelry believe it or not is brooches. In the past, you know grandma wore them up here on her lapel. Now we are shaking it up – for example, the dress I’m wearing. I may wear one right here on the waistband of my wrap dress. And you know what, brooches are not just for women. Men are wearing them.

Nicole: I met up with her at the Eden Roc hotel to find out how this girl from a small town in Oklahoma built an international empire and.

Toma: I’m going to take you antiquing and it is going to be antiquing like you have never seen.

Nicole: Hi, we’re here at the U.S. Antique Show in Miami and we’re going to show you how to mix timeless treasures with modern trends.


Nicole: Why do you think the average person hears the word antique and it’s so intimidating?

Toma: I think you’ve been taught with antiques that you go into your grandmother’s house and you’re not allowed to touch things. And people have become afraid. They think of antiques as stuffy, as old-fashioned, as breakable. The reality is if an 18th-century chair has survived 200 years, don’t you think that they can survive you too? When you have antiques, they have patina. If it has a little scratch on it the fact is it’s not going to affect the value. It’s adding to the character of the piece.

Nicole: Walk me through what it’s like taking a tour with The Antiques Diva.

Toma: We meet up with the client and then we assess what is it that you’re looking for and then we’re going to custom plan the route, saving you the most amount of time and also saving you money

Nicole: I wanted to get a vintage purse. What’s in style right now?

Toma: You want handbags that are bold statement pieces and vintage handbags from the 1950s often have that great shape, the oversized skill and fabulous patina on their leathers. On our tours, we translate, we negotiate and then we help you ship the items home sweet home. Shipping large things can be a challenge.

Nicole: So what’s your advice for shipping antiques?

Toma: Shipping often is one of the most expensive parts when you’re buying antiques internationally. However, if you’re an American buying in France you can expect that the price in France is three to five times lower than you would ever find it here in the States. if you’re buying at the right price point, suddenly the cost of shipping isn’t as expensive because you’re still saving money.

Nicole: What is the most requested exotic place that you take people?

Toma: The most popular place is probably France. When you think antiques, you think French antiques. Belgium has incredible prices. At the moment what’s hip, what every interior designer in America is asking me for, is Swedish antiques. And actually, all the antique warehouses in Sweden are located down in southern Sweden. Knowing where to go is probably the most important thing we do.

Nicole: Is there are good times of year that you should be searching for antiques and when you should not go?

Toma: You need to look at when the public holidays are and the week surrounding it and avoid those periods. Otherwise, you’re going to show up and be disappointed. There’s nothing worse than getting to a destination and discovering everything’s closed.

Nicole: A lot of people think of Europe as the place to go to find fine antiques but you say that’s not the case.

Toma: I love antiquing in Europe but if you want to know what’s hot, what’s next – Southeast Asia has the two best destinations I think for what’s next in antiques are Chiang Mai in Thailand and believe it or not Bali! There is an entire strip in Seminyak, probably four miles long. You really find the Paris Flea Market of Asia.

Nicole: What do you think it’s the most challenging part about taking your clients on antique tours?

Toma: Clients don’t always know what they want. The first thing we do is say, show me photos. Pictures say a thousand words. If the client can show me what they’re looking for we can help them find it. But words alone often are not enough.

Nicole: So many people buy antiques as an investment. How do you know if it’s a good investment for the future?

Toma: Okay, the first thing I tell someone is buy it because you love it. If you love it, you’re never going to make a bad investment. Second thing is your research. If you’re buying antiques, it’s determining what price level you’re comfortable with and what’s your purpose.

Nicole: Many people have things in their home, maybe they inherit it from their grandparents or they found something really cool at a garage sale. if you’re one of those people – you’re not sure what it is or what it’s worth how can you find out more information about it.

Toma: When you’re trying to determine the value of an antique, the reality is you want to ask someone who knows more than you know. One option: you go to an auction house and you have them do an evaluation. But not everyone has time for that and often you have to pay for that. So there’s this great new app, it’s called Chattic. And all you have to do is take a picture, upload it to the app and a community of like-minded people will give you their advice on the piece that you’re looking for information on.

Nicole: Who are some of your clients?

Toma: Antique dealers, interior designers, architects, developers, hoteliers – I will tell you some of our best clients are those mere shopping mortals.

Nicole: Some of your core buyers are female baby boomers, an interior designer. But what about the younger generation – are you seeing that they have an interest in antiques?

Toma: Absolutely. Antiques are ideal for Millennials because they want their homes to represent who they are, where they’ve been and where they’re going. Some of the younger generation – they hear the word ‘antique’ and they’re like oh, that’s outdated.

Nicole: But isn’t it true that right now one of the hottest design trends is to actually take treasures that are old and mix them with modern design?

Toma: Exactly. What I like is when you take a Renaissance piece and then mix it in a room. So throw in a nice chair, throw in a grandmaster painting simultaneously – that’s what works with AMT I would agree and that’s what you’re seeing in a lot of the designer magazines these days. And maybe an 18th-century commode with a more contemporary painting. With antiques – it’s all about the mix.

Nicole: You also work with the Antique Young Guns – those are all dealers under the age of 40.

Toma: They’re preserving the future of antiques and they’re looking at antiques in different ways. They’re going to put an antique chest of drawers in a bathroom. They’re going to mix it up and take an industrial cabinet and add it into their kitchen. And so if you want to know what’s going to be hot in antiques you need to look at the young buyers. If you think about art communities – artists will live in a neighborhood, making the neighborhood cool and then the yuppies move in and the prices raise. If you look at this exact same mentality when it comes to antiques, you have the young antique buyers who are buying what’s inexpensive. They’re using it new and innovative ways. They’re making it hip, they’re making it cool and now older people want to be buying what it is they bought in the first place.

This is my favorite find of the fair by the way – if I were to pick my top item at the Original Miami Beach Show, voila! it’s your pink flamingo!


Nicole: You’re running a business. Everyone knows you could have the greatest idea but getting your business brand out there – it’s a challenge. What is the key to creating a recognizable brand?

Toma: When you have a company it’s easy to feel like you want to give up,  and even on those down days saying I’m going to get up and continue working. And the thing that happens is over time you realize I have built something awesome, and it wasn’t one single step along the way did it, it was a series of steps towards my destination.

Nicole: You’re now launching your own furniture line as well.

Toma: The Antiques Diva Collection for Aidan Gray Home. So Louis 16th furniture is my favorite style of furniture. It’s neoclassical design. King Louis – he went to Pompeii, he saw what was happening in the ruins of Pompeii. He was so inspired by the them that he had his team of craftsmen build neoclassical antiques in France for Versailles. For the last 10 years I’ve been scouring the world buying antiques, seeking design inspiration and now for the first time I get to take that inspiration and turn it into creation.

Nicole: You also just launched your own jewelry line?

Toma: Yes, I have just launched my jewelry collection and our tagline is Lush Decadence. The goal is to create jewelry that is just a little bit beyond reality.

Nicole: So where does your inspiration come from?

Toma: Vintage fashion, also my travels. I’ve done a lot of pieces that are antique botanical pieces and they actually come from Art Nouveau architecture.

Nicole: Well thank you so much. Toma. I really appreciate it.

Toma: Thank you!

Book A Tour with The Antiques Diva & CoBOOK AN ANTIQUES DIVA Buying Tour

Thank you so much Nicole!

Toma – The Antiques Diva


London Art Antiques & Interiors Fair: 2018 Trends in Antiques from The Antiques Diva

After returning home from Thailand for the holidays – and one last trip to visit my workshop in Bangkok before the launch of the TCH Collection – my first business trip in 2018 will be to London for the London Art Antiques & Interiors Fair at ExCel. Whether you are a dealer, collector, interior designer or design lover this Fair is a great way to start the new year with  #DesignInspiration – and add find some truly special pieces. Hope to see you in London! 

Toma Clark Haines The Antiques Diva Day 1 of the London Art Antiques & Interiors Fair 12 January 2018 

Toma Clark Haines is The Antiques DivaLondon Art Antiques & Interiors Fair is a new style art and antiques Fair bringing together 100 specialist dealers showcasing over 30,000 unusual and desirable items from classic to contemporary. The fair is an ideal shopping destination for those searching for that perfect piece to add to their collection or simply looking for a statement piece; as well as those on the hunt for items to decorate their home. 

“I’ve made it my mission to make antiques modern, relevant, fun and sexy! The London Fair is leading the way in demonstrating that antiques are for everyone – 

Toma will introduce the Fair to visitors with a walking tour of booths, dealers and special events and speakers : 


Friday, January 12 2018 learn more 

    • 12:30-2:30pm
      The Antiques Diva Up Close and Personal Champagne Walking Tour
      Featuring highlights of the London Art Antiques & Interiors Fair
      Sign Up for the Walking Tour Here
    • 3:30pm
      Ribbon Cutting and Champagne Toast at Scarab Antiques Booth 
      Scarab Antiques Booth Hosts the Ribbon-Cutting of The TCH Collection – Lush Decadence Couture Jewelry by Toma Clark Haines

2018 Trend Forecast: Trends in Antiques 

I was interviewed by the London Arts & Antiques Fair on what trends in antiques I predict for 2018:

What do you think will prove popular in 2018 when it comes to antiques?
Chinoiserie Chic! I’m picturing pagoda’s popping up everywhere as designers look towards the East for their Global Design Inspiration. More and more Asian antiques are taking places of prominence in peoples as homes as the design world looks East for inspiration. As interiors become more minimal – clean-lined Asian antiques are a perfect way to add patina without creating visual cacophony. I’m seeing – for this same reason –  a rise in Art Deco furniture as well as Empire-style chests of drawers. People want the gravitas of antiques even in modern decor. When thinking how to make antiques modern – it’s all about the mix.  

When thinking how to make antiques modern – it’s all about the mix.  

The future of antiques is brighter than ever before. Whereas antiques use to be all about period rooms for a select few people – today antiques are for everyone. People will use antiques in unexpected ways and in unexpected places –  from chandeliers in the bathroom to 18th-century mirrors in the kitchen. Repurposing and reusing stays en vogue as the green movement becomes de rigeur. Antiques are Green – and as millennials catch the wave of this realization – I predict by the 2020’s antiques will become the next “Ikea” — aka, the go-to choice for first homeowners decorating their space.  

antiques will become the next “Ikea” — aka, the go-to choice for first homeowners

For now – it’s all about function – antique buyers want pieces with purpose. On our buying tours farmhouse and monastery tables continue to be top sellers as will French bergères and guéridons.

Last but not least I believe 2018 is going to be about glamour and drama – it’s the #DivaLifestyle after all. Art will be oversized statement pieces and baby, gilt is coming back. All I want for Christmas is a little NeoClassical glimmer. Happy Noel. 

What tips would you give to a novice antique shopper?
In the words of Nike – Just Do It. First-time antique buyers often hesitate when shopping for antiques because they are afraid. Am I getting the right price? Is it the real deal? MeanwhileHigh Street shoppers tend to do impulse purchases. My advice  – if you love it, if the price is a price you’re willing to pay, just do it. Research has proven our best decisions are made in a blink so when you’re struck dumb by coupe de foudre – love at first sight of that perfect antique – trust your blink and buy what you love.  

Secondly – don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know. Ask questions. Dealers love to talk about their inventory – and admitting areas where your knowledge is weak allows you the opportunity to bond with the dealer… which might just result in additional discounts. The better relationship you have with your antiques dealer, the better the price becomes.

Third, always, always ask for a discount. An easy softball pitch way to ask the question is, “Is t

What’s best to invest in at this current time do you think?
The best thing to invest in at the moment 16th and 17th-Century Flemish cabinets, cupboards and armoires are priced at an all-timelow. But Baby, brown is coming back! Buy up a piece of history with pedigree pieces and laugh all the way to the bank, as you cash in on your returns in the next decade when the prices on these 300, 400, and 500-year-old pieces return to their proper place in the price pendulum. 

brown is coming back

Meet the Experts 

In addition to myself, the London Art Antiques & Interiors Fair features several antiques and interiors experts who also share their trend forecasts:

Mark Hill, BBC’s Antiques Roadshow

Third, always, always ask for a discount. An easy softball pitch way to ask the question is, “Is t

What’s best to invest in at this current time do you think?
The best thing to invest in at the moment 16th and 17th-Century Flemish cabinets, cupboards and armoires are priced at an all-timelow. But Baby, brown is coming back! Buy up a piece of history with pedigree pieces and laugh all the way to the bank, as you cash in on your returns in the next decade when the prices on these 300, 400, and 500-year-old pieces return to their proper place in the price pendulum. 

brown is coming back

Meet the Experts 

In addition to myself, the London Art Antiques & Interiors Fair features several antiques and interiors experts who also share their trend forecasts:

Mark Hill, BBC’s Antiques Roadshow

What specialist advice and top tips do you have for anyone looking to source antiques in 2018?

The only rule for 2018 is that all rules are off.  We buy antiques today because they appeal immediately to our eyes and hearts, and then they enrich our minds.  Before, interiors were strictly defined – from the Georgian dining room to the ubiquitous ‘shabby chic’ French…

Joanna Hardy, Independent Jewellery Consultant

What are your anticipated jewellery trends for 2018?

Whatever Meghan wears! Because her engagement ring is made of diamonds there will most likely be a resurgence of diamonds as people do seem to be swayed by what they see those in the public eye wearing.  Also the rise in popularity of pearls.  The royal family…

Judith Miller, BBC’s Antiques Roadshow

What are your anticipated interior trends for 2018?

It’s fair to say that we are still in the lure of 20th-century design, whether it’s mid-century Scandinavian ceramics and glass or Art Deco style.  I’ve noticed that people are undoubtedly becoming more and more confident about combining the old with the new


Southern Style Now: See You in Savannah!

As I write this I’m in NYC for a series of PR and marketing meetings on my top secret new furniture line The Antiques Diva Collection for Aidan Gray Home, and heading out tomorrow for Fall HPMKT (get the details here: I’ll be leading a Happy Hour Tour at the Antiques & Design Center on Friday at 4pm, have office hours at the Aidan Gray showroom from 2-4pm on Saturday, on Sunday at 10am morning I’ll be at Theodore Alexander, introducing their illustrious all-new Castle Bromwich Echoes collection! Plus on Sunday I’ll be doing an HPMKT Instagram Takeover – #DivaStyle! If you haven’t been, High Point Market is nothing but fun and hard work and great people and fabulous design! (And in case you’re worried I’m working too hard, after Market I’m heading south to Key West for a bit of R&R with a few of my besties from our Paris days! Sadly, laptop, iPhone, and sketchbook will never be far away…)  

Toma Clark Haines at Southern Style Now


The newest MUST-DO in the design world is Southern Style Now! Last year I attended the inaugural SSN in New Orleans, where not only did I hear fabulous speakers, see the latest in Southern design style and trends, make a few mega-contacts, and eat and drink fabulous N’awlins style cuisine, I also led a walking tour of New Orlean’s premier antiques and design neighborhood with the fabulous Shaun Smith!

Southern Style Now Festival and Showhouse 

This year, Southern Style Now being held in one of my favorite cities, Savannah, from November 9-11, 2017. Southern Style Now is ideal for interior design professionals, and it’s open to the public: so it’s not too late to get your tickets and get your Southern on! This year’s festival is packed with dynamic speakers, discussions, trolley tours, book signings, and of course, parties!

This year’s keynote speakers are covering design topics on everything from their design inspiration to decorating outdoors to entertaining Southern style to what designers really think about their clients!

Southern Style Now - 2017 Keynote Speakers


I’ll be leading a VIP antiques tour:


Join The Antiques Diva, Toma Haines Clark, on a trolley tour of Savannah’s best antique shops. Sip champagne, see the sights, and score some treasures to ship back home! 

  • Friday November 10 11:30am – 2pm


All-Access pass to all Southern Style Now events, including keynote speakers, panel discussions, book signings, artisan workshops, parties, networking lunches, Design District Sip & Stroll, Hostess City Celebration Cocktail Party, and Southern Style Now antiques and architectural trolley tours.

  • Tickets
    $350 now through September 30
    $375 October 1 through October 31
    $450 November 1 through November 9 



Thursday, November 9, 2017 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM 

Guests are invited to tour the second annual Southern Style Now Showhouse, presented by Traditional Home, enjoy cocktails and meet the designers and sponsors. A portion of the evening’s proceeds will benefit the Historic Savannah Foundation

Southern Style Now

Follow #SouthernStyleNow for details on the 2017 Festival, and 2018 and beyond! 

See y’all in Savannah! 

Toma – The Antiques Diva  

WrapUp Spring High Point Market 2017

Spring High Point Market 

Toma Clark Haines WrapUp Spring HPMKTAnd it’s a wrap. Another High Point Market came and went in a flurry of silver fox fur, fantasy designer inspiration tours, champagne soirees and late night foot baths soaking my aching toes. Yes. I might be the only person at Market who does it in stilettos, but how else will I earn the right to call myself the CEO in Stilettos?

The Antiques & Design Center at High Point Market stole Market as the MAIN attraction – literally anyone who was anyone in the design community was seen sourcing there. I took a huge group on my annual Early Bird Champagne Tour and was delighted that Ruthie Staalsen of DecRenew did an Instagram Takeover for IDS National and Instagram LIVED my tour allowing viewers not at Market to experience this #NoPassportRequired Antiques Diva® tour in America. So many of our fabulous clients are now selling at shops in America… that it occurs to me, maybe I should be doing more than just PR antiquing tours stateside #WatchThisSpace

Behind every diva… there is a secret. All those fabulous jewels you see me wear? Yep… IF they are not part of my new TCH Toma Clark Haines at HPMKT - No Passport RequiredCollection that’s in development – #WatchThisSpace – then they are often on loan…  I want to give special thanks to a fabulous dealer at Market. Donnie Grissom at the HPMKT ADC loans me gorgeous real jewels each day of Market so that I can not only call myself a Diva – but also give those gals on Dallas a run for their money. He knows my philosophy is that MORE is MORE. We start the morning with a blank canvas. Usually, a wrap dress and a fabulous pair of heels and then Donnie begins adding the accessories. Turquoise brings out my eyes, he informs me. That brooch strung on a necklace hits the perfect spot on the décolleté.  Never wear a big bold ring on the same hand as your bracelet. And when it’s not my TCH COLLECTION or Donnie Grissom’s jewels bedazzling me… it’s often Nancy Price loaning me Aura. Having friends to help style me at Market makes all the difference in being camera ready!!!

Toma Clark Haines Global Sourcing Panel at HPMKTAll modesty aside… We knocked it out of the park on our Global Sourcing Panel at Aidan Gray Home at High Point Market. But don’t take my word for it…  watch for yourself. I handed my colleague my phone so they could Facebook Live it and as luck would have it, about the time my data-roaming reached freak out mode, Nick May of the Chaise Lounge podcast came along and began his Facebook Live of the event. CEO of Aidan Gray Randal Weeks, Wendy Estes of Layla Grayce, Susan Jamison of Bridget Beari Designs, and Michael Mitchell and Tyler Hill of Mitchell Hill discussed their experiences in sourcing antiques overseas, manufacturing furniture in Asia, and doing design projects without borders. We highlighted what the problems were – red flags to watch out – dove headfirst into the topic of international antiques and furniture shipping – as well as discussed the simple fact that Global Sourcing could change your business… and change your life!

One of my favorite showrooms at Market is always Currey & Co –  this market theyToma Clark Haines with Bunny Williams at HPMKT launched Bunny Williams lighting line.  Meeting Bunny was a dream come true… She’s a Design Icon and one of the women I most respect in this industry. As I shook her hand I had a PINCH ME MOMENT as I said, “I’m Toma Clark Haines,” and she said, “I know who you are. You’re The Antiques Diva. You’re Amazing. You’re the lady who is making antiques mainstream.”

More and more, Market is full of these Pinch Me Moments. When I was introduced as Brand Ambassador for Pandora de Balthazár last fall they launched a fragrance in my name “Toma”.  To this day it is still one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me. It was incredibly exciting when a former client on a tour recognized me hanging out in the booth and came to chat with me. When she saw that there was a fragrance in my name she said: “I must Toma Home Fragrance by Pandora de Balthazár at Spring High Point Marketbuy it!” While Pandora has sold cases and cases wholesale for retail stores across America this was my first time I was there when a purchase of my signature fragrance was made! It tickled me pink.

Speaking of la vie en rose… this Market was chocked full of exciting opportunities. Imagine my surprise when James Swan of Million Dollar Decorating Podcast impromptu interviewed me while I was touring market as did DesignerInc. Mark Cutler whipped out the camera and gave me their 10 questions on design. You’ll be surprised to learn what I wanted to be when I grew up… (okay… spoiler alert… a veterinarian) and, “What my least favorite thing is about working with designers?” For that, you’ll have to stay tuned. I will be providing links for both as soon as available. Style Spotters Gary Inman and Courtney Allison featured us at Pandora de Balthazár on both their whistle-stop tours of Market Square.

In the midst of this… meetings with new and long term clients are the real reason I go to High Point Market. What many people don’t understand is that we don’t just do antique buying tours, we do design inspiration tours. Many of our clients are furniture manufacturers seeking to source samples for developing their next line. I fear I might be running out of ink in my Tiffany Blue ink pen signing confidentiality and NDA agreements after this market.
Net net… This High Point Market was a whirlwind. Thanks for the memories.
Until next Market,
Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva®

Watch My LAPADA Presentation on Facebook LIVE

Darlings, London is Calling… and you’re invited to join me – VIRTUALLY that is!

Watch Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, LAPADA Presentation on Facebook LIVEI am live streaming my LAPADA presentation Feb 23, 2017, when I broadcast on Facebook LIVE while I speak at the Houses of Parliament for the 9th Annual LAPADA Conference at the House of Lords!

My talk as CEO of The Antiques Diva & Co is on establishing client trust and creating international business relationships, addressing factors such as the influence a customer’s decision making has in buying from one dealer over another as well as what creates a sense of trust in establishing long-term international relationships with clients. I’ll discuss the main drivers in creating trusted relationships between buyers and sellers, offering tips on how to develop these relationships and how to best communicate with American clients.

This year’s LAPADA, the Association of Art & Antiques Dealers, Conference will focus on how art and antiques dealers can trade online more securely, better protecting themselves and their clients. Experts will impart professional advice on a range of topics from dealing with cyber-attacks and protecting clients’ data to how to comply with Distance Selling Regulations and understanding copyright laws.

How To Watch My LAPADA Presentation on Facebook LIVE

  • When: Feb 23, 2017
  • Time:  3pm-3.45pm GMT – For those of you on the other side of the pond: that’s 10am EST and 9am CST and 7am PST
  • Where: Go to my personal Facebook page: Toma Clark Haines to watch my presentation live.

If you’re not available to join us live, the video will stay on my Facebook page after the live broadcast.

Read more about my LAPADA presentation on Establishing Client Trust here.

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva®

4th Annual Paris Flea Market Champagne Brunch

Paris Design Week is almost upon us! And so is the 4th Annual Paris Flea Market Champagne Brunch
hosted by The Antiques Diva & Co and Paul Bert Serpette at the Paris Flea Market!

Please mark your calendar
and join us on Sunday, January 22nd!

Toma Clark Haines will be moderating an all-star panel about Global Design with Brittany Chevalier, Design and Market Editor of Luxe Interiors + Design, Alexis Audette, Design Director of Beacon Hill Design and Thomas Hamel of Thomas Hamel and Associates. Please join fellow designers and influencers for yet another fabulous Diva brunch following Maison & Objet & the Paris Déco Off 2017!

Please RSVP by emailing parischampagnebreakfast@gmail.com

You're Invited to The Antiques Diva 4th Annual Paris Flea Market Champagne Brunch

The Antiques Diva Does Round Top Texas

The Arbor International Antiques & Interior Design Show in Round Top

They say “Everything is Bigger in Texas”. Well… Hold onto your cowboy hat handsome because Big just Got Bigger! The Arbor International Antiques & Interior Design Show in Round Top, Texas has become one of the biggest nationally known antique shows in the USA. Three times a year Antique Dealers from more than 13 countries set up shop on the fields outside of a small dusty town in Texas called Round Top, Texas… Population 90. Forget all your images of Texas towns… Gone are the tumbleweeds replaced by gorgeous antique linens, pickup trucks are used for hauling 18th C French armoires instead of hay bales, and cowboy hats give way to some of the chicest-most-connected-in-the-know buyers in the USA coming to either stock their store or simply buy for their own personal pleasure!!! Of course, a Diva Never Reveals her client list, but I can tell you that a number of my clients are selling at Round Top Texas!!!

Of course just like shopping the Paris Flea Market can be overwhelming – which means you need an Antiques Diva Guide – the same is true with Round Top! And lucky for you, The Antiques Diva is Doing Round Top Texas, leading not one but three fabulous No Passport Required Antiques Diva PR Champagne Tours! And best of all baby, it’s free!

The Arbor International Antiques & Interior Design Show

Antiques Diva Champagne Tour – No Passport Required

Join me for a glass (or two) of champagne – and meet my favorite vendors at Round Top!


  • Friday, September 23, 2016 – 11 am
  • Saturday, September 24, 2016 – 1 pm & 4 pm
  • Sunday, September 25, 2016 – 11 am

Arbor Antiques Show Tents – Meet at the Stardust Martini Bar for check-in and champagne 15-30 minutes prior to the tour start time.

How to Reserve your Champagne Tour:
Email theantiquesdiva@arborantiques.com to reserve your spot in one of the three tours. Space is limited in each tour, and you won’t want to miss my insider tips on shopping Round Top Texas!!!

The Arbor International Antiques & Interior Design Show
On our tour we’ll not only point out antiques from around the world giving you Global Sourcing Tips – but we will give you inside information on the vendors, telling you:

  • who’s got the best loot
  • which vendors you must be following on Instagram
  • we’ll talk about how to use what you find
  • we’ll even give you a Diva-Education – telling you about the major antique periods and styles available for sale at the Arbor International Antiques & Interior Design Show!

You’ll learn how to identify key characteristics utilizing modern day metaphors (and I might even tell a dirty joke or two simply for the sake of helping you remember your Louis).

Design Trends
We are also going to focus on the antique trends in Europe and Asia… I’ll be arriving in Texas after two months on the road, shopping my way through Asia while setting up our Antiques Diva Asia Tours and the information I gather on the road is all part of our Design Trend Scouting. Learn how those trends will influence what’s happening in the designosphere in the USA. My goal is to take antiques out of the past and bring them into the future of design

Join me in Round Top Texas at Arbor Antiques Show for a Diva Styled Champagne Tour!

Bonne Shopping!

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva®

Top Antique Shops in New Orleans

Southern Style Now

I was recently in the Big Easy speaking at Southern Style Now Conference organized by Robert Leleux, former editor of Domino Magazine. Part of my time there included leading a Antiques Tour of Magazine Street, taking the group to my favorite antique dealers in New Orleans! Because I’m all about sharing secret antique sources with you — I had to write and share my Top Antique Shops in New Orleans list! In no particular order –

1) Shaun Smith Home
Shaun Smith is one of those guys that everyone loves. He’s as gorgeous as he is nice. I got to know Shaun when he was a client of The Antiques Diva & Co, shopping with us in Italy. While he certainly is a charming southern gentleman, he’s also got great style which is reflected in his store and interior design business. His inventory is eclectic, which makes his store fun to peruse. We spotted everything from an enormous model of a horse (life size) to antique Italian paintings.

2) Mac Maison
Michael Carvine has been in business for 20 years, and his refined store proves that good taste never goes out of style. Highlights here included fabulous antique lighting. From chandeliers to sconces, everything seemed to shimmer! There were also some gorgeous 18th-century Italian pieces that caught my eye immediately. I love dealers who can bring classic European pieces to the US… after all, that’s what my business is all about!

Karla Katz

3) Karla Katz
I think I love Karla Katz’s store as much as I love her story! Years ago, she started off by just renting a stall in a larger store. As she bought more and more inventory, her space got larger and larger. After a while, she decided to take a leap of faith and start her own booming business… today her shop is absolutely stunning and draws some of the design world’s top buyers. In fact, while we were there, Bunny Williams and Suzanne Kasler happened to be shopping!

4) Anne Koerner
Anne Koerner, in my opinion, is one of the best Swedish antiques dealers in the USA. She has an incredible knowledge and can talk to you intelligently about any of her pieces. Going into her shop is like having a “history of furniture” lesson. Another thing I love about her store is that she mixes works from local artists, often juxtaposing modern art with antiques, and that is what we love at The Antiques Diva & Co!

Uptowner Antiques

5) Uptowner Antiques
Owners James and Roslyn take an adventurous approach to antique dealing. They not only buy & sell, they also restore pieces. James’ father was a furniture restorer and this has carried on into the business today. The couple travels to Europe to purchase pieces that need restoration. They then bring them back to their workshop in the US and restore everything impeccably. From traditional French pieces to Mid Century Modern (which happens to be James’ personal passion), they’ve got some really lovely pieces. Hint… if you go into the shop ask James about Mid-Century Modern… he was collecting MidC before MidC was cool. Hashtag #Trendsetter!

Malachite- New Orleans

6) Malachite
Speaking of trendsetters, Melissa Rufty and Adrienne Casbarian have found a niche in the design world. They specialize in the last 10% of things you need when decorating your home. I like to call it the jewelry for the home- lamps, small tables, art, accessories, etc. While we were there, Robert LeDeux fell in love with a lacquered parchment coffee table in the store and said it was his favorite piece on Magazine Street! My god, my problem… how to choose just one favorite piece in their store. I want it all.

Patricia Thompson New Orleans

7) Patricia Thompson
Patricia Thompson has been in business for over 15 years. She travels to France twice a year and shops all the famous trade fairs, bringing back fabulous 18th and 19th-century French inventory. A secret to her success is that she only buys things she personally would live with… and mamma mia, if this is how she lives at home, then next time I’m in town I’m inviting myself to stay chez elle. Perfection.

Balzac New Orleans

8) Balzac
Speaking of perfection, Sarah, the owner of Balzac, has been in business for 20 years, but she never thought she would be an antique dealer! This is actually her 3rd career. Previously she was a lawyer then a stock broker. She now uses her business acumen when running her store which has fabulous lighting pieces along with a wide variety of mostly European inventory. I could have spent the entire day in shop. She knows her pieces, understands her inventory and her clients needs. First Class.

9) Kevin Stone
Further down Magazine Street than the others is none other than Kevin Stone. It may be a bit of a jaunt, but you will be rewarded as it is the largest store and Kevin’s personality is as fabulous as his inventory. Hmm… I fear there might be a photo of me sitting on his lap at his desk drinking champagne. He’s also an opera singer and if you’re lucky you can catch him singing in the shop…. if I were you and I were making a purchase I’d consider a personal song from him a requirement in lieu of a discount.

Southern Style Now

10) Empire
Empire has a very elegant atmosphere. From 19th century painted Italian furniture to Mid Century Modern lucite tables, this store has got style! They also have fabulous serving pieces and entertaining accessories.

11) Wirthmore Antiques
Okay really – what we do at The Antiques Diva & Co is EXCEED your expectations. So why stop at only 10 antique dealers in New Orleans. Gay Wirth has been in business for over 25 years, personally selecting each piece of inventory. Wirthmore specializes in 18th and 19th century French, Italian, and Swedish antiques. Gay encourages customers to only buy what they love, as she believes that when you purchase an antique, it should stay with you forever.

12) Gerrie Bremermann
I’ve saved the best for LAST. Gerrie is the Grand Dame of Magazine Street. She is a personal inspiration to me for both her effortless STYLE and her Entrepreneur Skills. And get this… Gerrie who is in her 90’s now actually started her career in interior design at age 42, which happens to be how old I am right now… which tells me… heaven only what will happen in the next 42 years of my life. I recently got hired to be a jewelry model for an upcoming ad campaign (#WatchThisSpace) and I can guarantee I never expected to have this on my CV, er, make that Resume in for the American readers. I find it inspiring to see other women doing what they love and succeeding at it in a Big Way making it look Easy. During Southern Style Now Gerrie received a lifetime achievement award for interior design…. And there’s no doubt why. Her store is certainly a must-see when you’re in New Orleans!

The next time you find yourself in New Orleans, I highly recommend taking some time to peruse Magazine Street, and when you pop into these stores, tell them Toma Clark Haines – aka, The Antiques Diva sent you!

Southern Style Now

Confession… just a few short weeks after I lead the antiques tour of New Orleans I kid you not Mister Leleux himself proposed marriage claiming that my antiques tour was the hit of his conference! Of course he wasn’t the only one who said that! Interior Designer Connie Seitz wrote me the sweetest note:

“It was so much fun to meet and interact with you on the Antiques Walking Tour Saturday morning. I must confess it was my favorite part of the activities associated with the Platinum VIP Ticket. Everything was perfect… the selection of sites to visit, the size of the group and even the weather! Everything went so smoothly and your hard work preparing for it was evident. I hope that next time we can take the entire day and include lunch.”

Laissez le bon temps rouler!!!

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva

Why Antiques are​ ​Essential to ​Design ​Today

Why Antiques are Essential to Design Today, and How the Industry is Meeting Digital-Age Demand

Think antiques are intimidating? Think again. Access to antiques—and trusted dealers around the world—has never been easier, thanks to a world where connections are made instantly through social media, a testament to the power of visual marketing. In truth, there’s never been a better time to be in (or shop) the antiques industry, with quality items and indispensable knowledge available at the swipe of a smartphone. Antiques (and authenticity) are more desirable than ever.

I was delighted to take part in a panel Why Antiques are Essential to Design Today, and How the Industry is Meeting Digital-Age Demand in Atlanta along with Beth Webb, Atlanta-based interior designer and Ben Cochrane, Caroline Faison Antique which was Moderated by Elizabeth Ralls, Editor in Chief of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles magazine. We discussed how the antique market has changed, why antiques are essential to design projects across a wide range of ages and aesthetics, and how to thoughtfully integrate the quality and history of such time-honed treasures into well-edited, elegant, yet unpretentious interiors. This panel was held at AmericasMart – which opened a fabulous new Antiques floor in Building 1 Floor 2 with 90 dealers .

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Antiques Are Essential to Design Today
The design industry seems to be experiencing a pendulum swing, in which many clients are at last moving away from the sameness of big-box retailers, and understanding the value of, even the story behind, independent artisans, and the small businesses who employ them. Antiques are now for everyone! Snobbery is being stripped away from the antiques scene - it’s no longer about pretentiously sticking to one period or echelon, but rather about mixing and matching and finding value in merely that which delights your eye. Antiques as a category is also being redefined. Vintage is as a relevant in today's market as Period Pieces. And when you think antiques it’s not just about furniture - enter vintage scarves, belts, shoes, handbags, in addition to barware, art de la table, art for the walls, sculpture and statuary, and traditional furniture such as a chest of drawers, settees, tables and chairs.

I believe from a trend perspective antiques are on the upswing - young buyers value one thing more than anything else. They want to be unique - to be perceived as an individual - and one-of-a-kind finds whether for your interior or simply for wearing as vintage fashion are hot right now.

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Provenance v Aesthetics
One of the questions moderator Elizabeth Rails had interior designer Beth Webb and I delve into was the question how important is provenance vs. aesthetics to our clients. Much hype has been made about the generational/cultural shift happening in the antiques and collectibles market in which Millennials have little interest in family heirlooms being passed along by their baby boomer parents – but I had say – I disagree!

I think Millennials are interested in antiques – just not interested in the way their parents and grandparents generations were!

What I find with my clients is that they simply want us to Be Real. Be Authentic. Be Honest. Be Fair. Be Generous with information. Young buyers are savvy buyers. They google to compare prices, they know how to look up authenticity, they know when they are being ripped off and they know when they’re being taken advantage of. They’re also NOT afraid to buy. And key point here… in answer to Elizabeth’s question was that I don’t always find that American buyers care about the authenticity of a piece. If the price is right, and the look is what they’re going for age doesn’t matter. Whereas 20 years ago buyers were obsessed with question “is this a period piece or an in the style of” piece” today young buyers are happy with finding something funky and fun that gives the look they’re after and could care less about museum quality pieces. An “in the style” piece from the 1950’s attracts young buyers the same as that period piece it was styled after from 1850!

Antiques Have Never Been More Accessible
1stdibs.com revolutionized the way that antiques were bought and sold, eliminating the pain points of e-commerce for small businesses around the world. Today there are half a dozen other online marketplaces that have allowed collectors to shop inventory and connect with dealers from around the world, Some would argue that antiques have never been more accessible.

All said, we decided the future of antiques is bright… so bright we gotta wear shades!

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva®

PS Enjoy a few pics from special PR Tours I lead of AmericasMart during Atlanta Market!