Dear Diva Readers,
n a world full of mass produced pieces, antiques offer uniqueness and character to interiors. Flip through any design magazine and you’ll see that almost every stylish room incorporates some sort of antique or vintage items. It’s no surprise then, that many large retailers offer reproductions of antiques, making certain styles available to the masses, including reinterpretations of furniture, accessories, rugs, and even lighting. Still, we are seeing an increase in demand for one-of-a-kind objects that people can use to imbue their homes with personality. One of our top requests is for architectural salvage, whether people are coming on tour or utilizing our buying services. However they aren’t always using the salvaged pieces in traditional ways. From private clients to shop owners to interior designers, many creative people are sourcing architectural fragments and turning them into very special lamps—and we LOVE that idea!
Of course you can find mass produced reproductions of these architectural fragment lamps from companies like Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, and West Elm, but there is something about having your own made from original antique architectural pieces that takes the lighting game to a whole other level. With it’s rich history of architecture, Europe is the perfect place to source unique fragments. Our Diva Guides often take clients to flea markets where they find one-off pieces such as finials, scrollwork from an old section of boiserie, or even corbels from grand houses which have been renovated. These pieces are just waiting for a creative genius to come along and give them new life. Mounted to a lucite base, a chippy gilt wood fragment topped by linen shade becomes a sculptural lamp with one foot in the past and the other in the present.
While flea markets and shops can be ideal for finding a few treasures, clients who are looking to buy in bulk need to go to the countryside. Several of our sources in Provence specialize in architectural salvage and reclaimed materials. These warehouses are the perfect places to find loads of hand carved architectural fragments that would not only look great as table lamps, but also as floor lamps! Imaging a set of columns from an old hotel transformed into a matching pair of lamps! Why not have beautifully carved corbels and brackets made into sconces? When you look at lamps as more than functions, they become sculpture and statuary as well. The possibilities are endless.
Once you get your architectural fragments home, it’s good to entrust a local lamp shop to help wire and transform your pieces into lamps. Remember there are countless options when it comes to bases including lucite, iron, brass, wood, or even marble. Select a lamp shade that works with your lamp-base and voila! You’ve got a very special one-of-a-kind lamp that has character and a story. In a cookie cutter world, having a custom piece really helps to make a space stand out from the rest. Since every home needs lighting, why not think outside the box and go with something that is sure to make your home stylish and chic?
If you would like information on our Antiques Diva Buying Tours which operate in 8 different countries—France, Italy, England, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Holland & Denmark- email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to custom plan a private antiques buying tour for you. If you can’t come to Europe but still want us to source antiques on your behalf, our Buying Services are the ideal solution. You simply give us your personal shopping list, and we act as your man on the ground, sending you images and prices until you choose the perfect pieces. Send us an email to discuss your options! Your dream of sourcing antiques in Europe just might be easier than you think!
Until next time,
The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
an acclaimed children and environmental author and journalist! Today Caren joins us with a guest article on Taking Home a Piece of Provence.e’re lucky to have in our midst at the AD&Co a sensational writer as part of our team – Caren Trafford is not only an Antiques Diva Guide in Provence but she’s also
Provence Diva Caren Trafford writes:
Ah Provence! The very name conjures up images of dusty olive trees and rows of lavender against a background of hill top villages, basking in days filled with bright sunlight. Perhaps it is because Provence is so picture postcard perfect and enjoys more than 300 days of sunshine a year that so many tourists choose it as their summer-time destination.
And at the end of a wonderful holiday, saturated with the bright color and intense flavors, what is more natural than to want to take home a memento of your stay? Something to enjoy over those long, dark, winter months, when the darkness descends just after lunch-time, and you have to battle the transport system home through the sleet and rain. And what is the highlight of your evening? Possibly nothing other than, “Britain’s Got Talent’” or “Dancing With the Stars”.
So, is it any wonder that tourists want to take home with them a memento of their summer holiday and keep alive that idyllic interlude in Provence?
But which souvenir is the best with such a choice? The easy picks are the mandatory perfumed sachets of lavender or a ribboned packet of rose-scented Marseille soap. And for the gourmands, there’s a host of herbs and spices, olive oils and specialty cakes and biscuits. For those a little more adventurous, the shopping list could include a perfume or two from Grasse, or a bottle of white, red or rose from a visited vineyard: perhaps even some cherished truffles, depending on when and where you visit.
Some tourists arrive with more space in their luggage. They are thinking on a larger scale and their aim is to take home- literally- a piece of Provence. I am speaking of the antique market enthusiasts. Not difficult to spot, but you have to be up early. If you are, head to the local brocante Saturday morning market in your locality and look around for the early birds, the ones with boundless enthusiasm. They are looking for something special and it’s not the weekly discount at the local supermarket.
Antiquing in the south of France is a holiday in itself. And those that are good at it have it well planned out. The rewards are worth the planning but the problem is there is such a vast choice that it is difficult to know exactly where to start – that’s where we come in. We narrow the focus and plan antiquing itineraries that save time not to mention money getting you straight to the areas that sell more of what you’re looking for. In Provence, it’s impossible to travel far without tripping over a gold mine or two of great bric-a-brac. And because French Provencal design is so attractive, many city dwellers will spend their summer vacation hunting for that piece of spectacular vintage that they can enjoy at home.
The antique sellers welcome these enthusiasts with open arms. At our local Saturday market, veteran brocante-seller Monsieur Herve is no exception. A man in his sixties and a veteran of all things antique, he will encourage you to take home a genuine piece of Provence.
Ask him anything. He will be able to tell you the history of every treasure that he has for sale. And as any sales person will tell you, half the sale is in the story. ‘You like this milk-pail? It’s at least 100 years old. I discovered it in the ruins of a farm-house, way up in the hills above Aubagne in the land of French filmmaker and writer, Marcel Pagnol.’ The brocante-seekers nod wisely, lapping up this wonderful tale. (Pagnol is generally regarded as one of France’s greatest 20th century writers and film-makers who created spirited cinema such as The Baker’s Wife, Jean de Florette and Manon de Source.) The antique dealer continues… ‘In fact, Pagnol may even have drunk milk from this very pail.’
The wonderful thing about Provence is that you may very well be looking at a milk-pail that Pagnol drank from. There are so many interesting artifacts to be found here, and each one has a story which the brocante sellers have researched. And if it wasn’t Monsieur Pagnol who drank from this very milk pail, it is likely to have been one of his neighbors.
Visitors to Provence seek out antique treasures that will become their pride and joy back home. Just to own a part of this land’s wonderful history is worth the holiday to Provence. And why not visit the attractive brocante and bric-a-brac stalls in the weekly village fairs and fall in love with an antique, rusting milk pail with a worn-down wooden handle that you can plant pansies in, or an antique bee-hive that will become the centerpiece and decorate your newly painted hall-way.
Then there is the travelers who really want to take home a piece of Provence. And they’re not just content with a small table or a zinc tray, they are thinking bigger. Much bigger. The result? More of Provence is finding its way overseas, and not always in a suitcase. Again, that’s where we come in – liaising our clients with an international shipper and filling out the purchase orders and such.
Today, some of the biggest draw cards for seekers of antiques in Provence are the old, pre-loved pieces of masonry, stone, wood, marble, iron and zinc. The choice is almost limitless for this area has been a playground since the Romans arrived and built their arenas and amphitheaters. This means there is a huge choice for antique hunters looking for something monumental. The finest is 17th and 18th century French antiques, hand-carved French limestone fountains, garden accoutrements, and antique French olive jars designed from the classical patterns of antiquity, like waiting and for sale.
To be able to find a home for long-forgotten monumental pieces that have been left to crumble away at the back of some distant, unploughed field is highly satisfying. And as any match-maker will tell you, create a connection that brings long-lasting happiness, and your job is a joy and well done. What better role could there be than to be an Antiques Match-Maker – for in fact that’s what we are at The Antiques Diva® & Co.
Recently I was given a brief by a client from the USA. ‘Find me a stone or marble fire-place,’ she said. ‘It must be Louis XIII – it will be the crowning glory of my new home and is must be original.’
Marcus Tullius Cicero, orator and statesman, (106 BC – 43 BC), philosopher of Ancient Rome, considered by many to be amongst the greatest of the Latin orators and prose writers wrote…
‘There is no place more delightful than one’s own fireplace.’
So what a challenge! And yet, Provence is the very place to find the very piece she was looking for. For this region is filled with architectural and monumental antiques from the 15th through to the 19th centuries, all waiting to be reclaimed. Aged limestone flooring, architectural elements such as stone surrounds, enormous doors and gates are here, all waiting to be re-discovered and loved by new owners.
Monumental pieces, ignored and overlooked for decades are now in vogue. And they are being snapped up by visitors who come to visit Provence eagerly with more than just an empty suit-case. These visitors are the ones that will bring new life to forgotten treasures salvaged from another era.
And who can blame the ones that crave to take home to their own back yard, a piece of Provence? Those of us whom are lucky enough to call Provence home can enjoy it all. We are surrounded by endless fields of sunflowers, the scent of lavender wafting through a breeze, beautiful clear skies, charming medieval villages, regional food, the azure of the Mediterranean and wonderful people, and it’s all ours, without having to spend a bus fare… let alone travel half way around the world.
These days, Provence offers so much more than just a Kodak moment. As antique collectors will tell you, if you’re not lucky enough to live the dream, as we do, the next best thing is to be able to take a piece of the dream home. It’s recycling at it’s finest, after all Antiques Are Green. There are people who will happily choose some iconic piece of history for their own.
As a match-maker of antiques, I couldn’t be happier than when some aged architectural element finds a new home, perhaps on the other side of the world. Once there, I imagine these antique treasures stand proud once more and remind the rest of the world what living in Provence is all about.
Caren – Your Antiques Diva Guide in Provence.
The Antiques Diva®