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Kirk & Cookie’s Buying Tour

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 50px; line-height: 40px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>W hile many of our clients are trade professionals—antiques dealers who come abroad wishing to stock their stores with European antiques— we also get tourist clients, mere shopping mortals, who are looking to purchase special pieces for themselves. One such couple was Kirk and Cookie who contacted us, as they were renovating and redecorating their home in the USA and wished to buy several specific pieces to use. Of course we were happy to help and scheduled them for a multi-country tour which included stops in Paris, Belgium, and Bordeaux.

We first met face-to-face in Antwerp—they’d just arrived from Paris where they’d shopped the Paris Flea Market with our Diva Guide Debbie. Since they were staying at our favorite hotel in Antwerp, JVR108, we sat down there and went over their list of desired items. What impressed me about them was their organization! They had a folder containing photos of each room in their home along with dimensions. This meant that while we shopped with measuring tape in hand, we would know whether certain pieces of furniture would fit in their rooms at home. They were also looking to source antique European fireplaces and other architectural salvage to incorporate in the renovation.

I knew exactly who to take them to! We have a few wonderful sources for antique fireplaces and upon arriving at one of these locations, the charming vendor had prepared a gorgeous luncheon which he’s laid in the garden behind his store. We sat in the warm sun, sipping wine and enjoying delicious sandwiches while Kirk & Cookie told the vendor what they were looking for—using visual tools like the photos and layouts they’d brought.

After lunch, we walked through the vendor’s warehouse which is full of fireplaces and architectural salvage. The dealer explained that in his workshop he could altar any of the fireplaces, thus making it possible for them to select one which had the color, type of stone, and motifs they desired. After gathering information on several candidates, the couple selected a spectacular fireplace that the vendor agreed to measure and send 3D plans via email before altering the existing piece.

Antiques Diva Buying Tour, Sourcing antiques in Europe

Afterward we headed upstairs to the loft, where Kirk found the perfect pair of leather club chairs for his home study. We went to several other places and they were able to purchase several decorative items as well as a priority on the list—a desk for Kirk! Upon departing us in Antwerp, Kirk & Cookie met up with Paris Guide Debbie in Cognac, France, where she and her husband invited them to join their table at a prestigious charity event where they happened to be sitting at the table next to Fergie—that’s right, the Duchess! At the end of their buying trip, they shopped in Bordeaux with our Diva Guide Tara where they found even more lovely pieces for their home.

Antiques Diva Buying Tour, Sourcing antiques in Europe

 

Antiques Diva Buying Tour, Sourcing antiques in Europe

Once the shipment was received back in the USA, Kirk sent photos of the pieces after installation. I love seeing the end result of a buying tour! Everything in the photos he sent was sourced with The Antiques Diva & Co with the exception of the chair behind the desk. Kirk writes, “We Can’t thank you enough. Cookie and I had the time of our lives and would go back tomorrow to work with you and do it again! Thank you for all of your help and for the experience and knowledge of your team. We had a great time and met some amazing people in each of you.  The cognac experience was fantastic and one of those “once in a lifetime” events that only happen when you have completely flexible plans and are willing to take a chance.”

Antiques Diva Buying Tour, Sourcing antiques in Europe

Well Kirk & Cookie, we enjoyed having you on tour and hope that each time you sit down at your desk or ease into the club chairs that you think of us with fondness! Your home is absolutely beautiful and we’re glad that we could play a part in making your dream a reality. After all, helping people source their dream pieces is what we do – At The Antiques Diva & Co we make dreams come true!  And we love to see people living modern lives alongside antiques!

If you would like information on taking an Antiques Diva Buying Tour or utilizing our Buying Services, email us at to:info@antiquesdiva.com”>info@antiquesdiva.com. We’d love to help make European antiques accessible to you!

The Antiques Diva® 

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P.S. I’m closing with quite possibly the worst photo ever taken of me. It was the  end of a very long day shopping. I must confess I look exhausted… but I’m smiling from ear to ear as I simply adored these clients!

Customizing Antique Fireplaces

Dear Diva Readers,

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

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

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

Present State

Original State of Mantel

Adapted

Adjusted State of Mantel

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

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

The Antiques Diva®

Venetian Glass Chandeliers

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 50px; line-height: 40px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>Venetian glass has long been a highly sought after commodity, adding artistic touches to interiors not only to Italian residences but also all over the world. Perhaps one of the best known and most appreciated products made of Venetian glass is the chandelier. These intricately detailed pieces seem to float when hanging and they create an atmosphere of fantasy, whimsy and grandeur all at once.

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

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

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

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

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The Antiques Diva in Venice with Venetian Diva Guide Orseola

Ciao Bella!

The Antiques Diva®

Ham and Antiques Special Tour

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 50px; line-height: 40px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>The smell of ham is in the air… The National Fair of the Flea Market and Ham is back again this September 26 to October 5 2014 in the Parisian suburbs!!! Do you need glasses? Did you read that right? A Ham & Antiques FAIR!?!!?

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

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

Bonne Shopping!

The Antiques Diva®

 

The Green Man

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 50px; line-height: 40px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>As my Diva Guides and I shop all over Europe, we see a few consistent themes in antiques that span various countries and time periods – one recurring face that’s seen all over the antique world is the mythological “Green Man” which appears as sculpture, in drawings or as a representation on certain furniture pieces.

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

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

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

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

Happy Hunting!

The Antiques Diva®

Antique Oyster Sticks

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 50px; line-height: 40px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>Part of the fun of taking clients on tour is that so many of them have such creative minds!My Diva Guides and I love to see what attracts each client’s eye and hear what they plan to do with their purchases. Recently on tour, a client purchased antique French oyster sticks. You may not be familiar with these, so I wanted to share a bit of history on them and also show you some ways they can be repurposed!

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

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

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Or have them made into lamps for a beach house.

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How about creating a unique mirror?

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

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

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

Until next time,

The Antiques Diva®

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

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 50px; line-height: 40px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>As part of our “Back to School with The Antiques Diva” series this month, I wanted to give you a little background on a piece of furniture that all students use— the desk! This once strictly utilitarian object has transformed over the centuries to become not only functional, but also a beautiful addition to any home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy learning,

The Antiques Diva®

Mandarin Oriental Hotel

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 50px; line-height: 40px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>While staying at the Mandarin Oriental I was reminded of the simplicity of gracious and elegant living. Each day during our stay in Bangkok a new variety of fresh fruit was left daily in our hotel room – today these are Mandarin Oranges. How easy to replicate this at home with guests staying Chez Diva! These small touches – however simple – make the experience of staying either in a fine hotel or with a friend in their guest room more indulgent. What do you do to make your guest room at your home more inviting?

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Warm regards,

The Antiques Diva®

Not Your Grandmother’s Antiques

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 50px; line-height: 40px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>While on tour recently in Milan, clients spotted this lovely vignette at one of our favorite sources. One thing is for sure: There’s nothing stuffy or old-fashioned about these antique and vintage pieces! I love when we find examples of antiques that read young, hip, and oh so fabulous!

Roberta

Happy hunting,

The Antiques Diva®

Confessions of a Shoe Diva

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 50px; line-height: 40px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>O ver at the Daily Basics I’m coming out of the closet sharing hints and tips on diva-worthy closet décor as part of my ongoing Real Life Decorating series where I tell where I personally antique shop for items in my home, telling what I paid and where I bought the items, giving readers real access to sources (and prices) internationally! My most recent post comes out of… or perhaps goes into the closet sharing inexpensive budget friendly ways to kit your closet as well as explains why I treat the closet like any other room in the house. Plus, I share what I like to call Antiques Diva Tenents… bits of wisdom such as “You Will Never Make a Bad Buy If Buy What You Love” and “The older you get the better you look in the mottled glass of aged mercury!”

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Visit The Daily Basics to read the article in full!

The Antiques Diva®

Book a Tour

The Antiques Diva & Co offers custom planned Antiques Buying Tours for tourists and trade professionals. Whether you’re looking to buy one specific piece or wanting to fill an entire container, our personal shopping antique buying guides share their vast knowledge of secret sources to take you to all the right places.

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