Dear Diva Readers,
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.
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.
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.”
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 email@example.com. We’d love to help make European antiques accessible to you!
The Antiques Diva®
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!
Dear Diva Readers,
ne of my favorite flea markets in Europe takes place Sunday mornings in the Belgian town of Tongeren, tucked away in the bucolic countryside near the German and Dutch borders. And while the town is synonymous with flea market fun, it’s actually known for so much more.
Local antiques dealer Anne Marie, of Antiques l’Histoire, who owns one of my favorite antique shops in town, often explains to Antiques Diva clients, “See that Roman wall across the street from my shop? Tongeren was an important and rich city in the Roman empire, named Atuatuca Tungrorum. Today it’s the oldest city of Belgium with a rich history with lots of remains of Roman and Medieval times.”
For Antiques Diva clients vintage and antique shopping on the streets in front of the medieval city walls is a step back in time. Here you’re guaranteed to score sensational deals on anything from vintage Delft ginger jars for under 50 Euro to Belgian enamelware, linens and various kitchenalia.
Anne Marie grew up in the Tongeren area, in the rural Haspengouw region, and explains, “I’m quite proud on the international image Tongeren has today concerning antiques and our market. People come from around the world to shop in our town and my shop. I love that my shop contributes to the town’s reputation as a must-shop stop on the continent for antiques and vintage lovers.”
Antiques l’Histoire is located in a quaint 19th house. “If I can say this, I think I have an atmospheric and nice antiques shop.” She confides, “It’s my fascination for history that resounds in the shop’s name. And I hope and also believe that the visitors experience a glimpse of a rich history when they visit Antiques l’Histoire.” Anne Marie’s warm welcome and offer of a cup of tea or coffee adds to the warm environment, as does her ease with several languages and interest in helping the client find just what they’re looking for.
Anne Marie explains, “Antiques have always been my passion. Along the way I developed a certain specialization in French mirrors and chandeliers from the 18th and 19th century. Besides that I try to follow and adapt to certain trends in the antiques world.”
She was the first antique shop in Tongeren to begin dealing in Swedish pieces. “Keeping up with the trends is why I started not that long ago with old Swedish furniture. Clients appreciate this whole idea of Swedish antiques. Furthermore I offer my clients a rich range of European furniture and atmospheric antique objects and accessories. Thereby I often offer fine glassware and also antique tableware.”
Overall the shop is imbued with an Old World Glamour… from the crystal you often see glinting as you peek in the window of the shop, or the melting mercury that sparkles from the mirrors to the tablescapes Anne Marie creates.
“I believe the shop has some kind of long lost atmosphere. When I enter the shop I still admire the rich impression it gives when the sparkling lights of the chandeliers reflect in the gold and silver mirrors around the shop space.”
When asked where she sources her inventory, she explains, “Almost every month I travel to France, searching for fine objects which I can offer to my clients. French mirrors and chandeliers are my real passion. I’m always focused on the fact that my mirrors and chandeliers are treated with the appropriate care, which they deserve. By the moment they enter the shop they have gone through quite a process, which results in a nice range of finely selected objects. And that’s because I only want the best for my clients.”
Simply the best is how I would describe Antiques l’Histoire. Gorgeous inventory, great prices, one of the best shops in Tongeren.
The Antiques Diva®
Where To Shop:
3700 Tongeren Belgium
Phone: +32 (0)497 85 41 94
Last week while visiting my Belgian Diva Tour Guide Lucretia’s home I snapped this photo in her living room as I was walking out the door. This vignette in the corner struck me as not only perfect for spring but also perfect for showing readers how you can mix and match different periods and styles. The brightly colored modern art and funky yellow vase are such a playful contrast to the classically designed marble urn lamps with elegant taupe shades and the splendid collection of Empire porcelain.
In your own home I encourage you to play with your pieces. Put together the unexpected for eye catching displays for diva-style! Bursts of unexpected color will draw the eye, adding interest to your displays. Sometimes a dash of a bright color will add a playful, youthful punch, adding bursts of energy to an elegant display. If Domino magazine were still around, this is the type of styling I’d expect from their trendy editors! By accessorizing with unique, multi-head tulips (picked straight from the tulip field near the “Treasures” by The Antiques Diva™ open-by-appointment-only showroom in Wassenaar) Lucretia drew out the fun yellow and orange color combination in her modern collage painting again keeping perfectly in theme with the artist palette she’d prepared.
I also love the symmetry Lucretia has enforced. The matching plates, lamps and bulb vases lead your mind to expect more matched pairs. Even thought the four pots are not the same, their similar size, shape and colors fools the eye into believing that pairs continue!
The Antiques Diva™
(In Antwerp right with Lucretia – my locally-based Belgian Diva Guide on an Antiques Diva™ Tour)
Dear Diva Readers,
You’re cordially invited to the launch of my new Online Brocante:
When I launched The Antiques Diva™ blog I had no idea where it would take me. Since its creation the entire concept has exploded and The Antiques Diva Tours was born! Last year The Antiques Diva™ Tours landed on the pages of Travel+Leisure and Marie Claire and this summer we’ll appear in the Delta Airlines in-flight publication as well as Victoria magazine! Needless to say, it’s been very exciting to see The Antiques Diva™ blog grow up and turn into a business. But hold onto your hats, we’re expanding yet again! This time we’re dipping our toe into the world of online retail, bringing the European Flea Markets home to you which means that even when you are in-between trips around “the continent” you can still keep shopping “les puce” with the click of your mouse, regardless of locale!
You might have noticed the use of the word “we”…. Just as I work with locally based divas to help with my Antiques Diva Tours in Holland, Belgium, France and Germany, I’m not doing this new venture alone – I’ve got a partner! Enter stage right Jane Snyder, a retired bank executive voted as one of the most powerful women in banking turned full-time shopping goddess. Jane is a diva in motion and she’s devoting herself to juggling high-powered auctions, private estate sales and all our favorite brocantes from Paris to Amsterdam, London, Brussels and beyond! Hey, it’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it!
At our Online Brocante you’ll find the type of inventory you’d find in a European market with the precious displayed precariously next to the pop. I’ve always been a fan of the old English Country house style of décor where decades are layered upon the centuries, achieving an irreverence in décor only possible in the old world. With “Treasures” by The Antiques Diva™ we’re bringing the old world to the new one. You’re as likely to find a Delft plate that’s been around longer than America has been a nation as you are to find a vintage Moët et Chandon champagne bucket perfect for plunking a bottle of bubbly at a picnic. From vintage Chanel bracelets and belts to antique copper tea kettles and sterling silver cutlery, our inventory consists of everything from antiques and art to vintage items with a few decor items and objects of curiosity thrown in for good measure!
To keep things simple all our pricing is inclusive of ALL shipping fees – in other words, the price listed at our online store is the total price you pay! And should you happen to be traveling in Holland, feel free to make an appointment to visit our private atelier. The entire collection of “Treasures” by The Antiques Diva™ is open ONLY BY APPOINTMENT in the charming Dutch village of Wassenaar just outside The Hague.
We invite you to join us at our new site “Treasures” by The Antiques Diva™. And while you’re there, why don’t you subscribe to receive updates via email? We’ll be adding inventory each week with special offers especially with you in mind. And should you be looking for something specific, do let us know. We’re happy to shop with you in mind!
Click here to shop my new online brocante: “Treasures” by The Antiques Diva™.
The Antiques Diva™
January 22-31, 2010
BRAFA: Brussels Antiques and Fine Arts Fair
Tour & Taxis Bldg
Avenue du Port 86C
Late Hours until 10.30pm on Jan 26 & 28
– Guided tours by a BRAFA associate are daily at 3pm. Inquire at ticket counter for details.
– The 130 participants represent different countries such as Belgium (60%), France, Germany, Great-Britain, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Portugal, Russia, Spain, USA and Switzerland
Brussels Airlines offers promotional rates for BRAFA visitors and exhibitors: valid from 15 January till 5 February 2010, 25 %* on b.business and b.flex economy and 15 %* on b.light economy rates.
Make your journey easier by travelling on Thalys when you go to Brussels from Paris, Cologne or Aachen. Benefit from the Thalys preferential rates to go to the fair: -50%* in Comfort 1 and -30%* in Comfort 2 on the Hi-Life price.
March 19-28, 2010
Eurantica 2010 – Fine Art & Antique Fair
Place de Belgique # 1
(enter via cote Atomium)
Hours: 2pm-7pm (Mon-Fri)
March 25: Late Night until 10pm
– Free Entry to Ladies on Ladies Day Jan 26 (2pm-7pm)!!!
– 150 leading antiques dealers and art galleries of Belgium, Luxembourg, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy who are to exhibit at the Brussels Expo Hall 5.
April 3 – 5, 2010
3 rue de Marche Couvert
Hours: 10am-7pm Daily
– Over 700 Vendors!
– Professional Day April 2 – Antique Dealers get 1st dibs!
October 2-3, 2010
Foire du Verre
Centre Sportif, Rout d’Ohain
(Just 5km from Waterloo!)
– A “Glass Fair” unique to Belgium
– Over 4 soccer fields filled with glass and crystal, antiques vintage & collectibles!
Mid-November 2010 (Date TBD)
Antica Namur: Salon d’art et d’antiquites
Ave Sergent-Vrithoff, 2
WATCH THIS SPACE FOR 2010 DATES and HOURS of Operation!
To view photos from 2009’s great event, click here!
The Antiques Diva™
(seen right hitting the fleas in Tongeren, Belgium)
2) I’m so obsessed with décor because if my surroundings are unattractive it makes me physically and mentally ill. We have 1 junk room in our house that gives me a headache when I enter it…. However this one junk room allows the rest of the space to be seamless. Did you ever see the Friends episode where Chandler discovers Monica’s junk closet? That’s my junk room!
Photo: view from my kitchen into living room
4) I got married at the age of 22, two weeks after graduating university! He was 24! We’ve been married 13 years (and together 17) which means I am 35 and for the first time in my life I’m starting to feel old. Next year, he and I will have been together half my life – the best half of my life! Some people struggle with age at 29 or 30, 32 or 35 – for me, it hit me last month at 35 ½. I’m hoping this sensation of age is a passing one. On the bright side, most of my friends are older than me… so no matter how old I get, I’ll always be the younger friend!
5) My goal is to someday have multiple homes – a pied-a-terre in Paris, a small foothold in Italy, something in Belgium – a central base for my Antiques Diva Tour Business (and more importantly for basing our tax status out of) and another in Oklahoma to be near my family whenever I’m home-sick. Hmmm, I’d also like a gorgeous beach house in Thailand for getting away from it all and to be an Asian base.
6) My top 5 favorite foods in the world are 1. Foie Gras with Toast and Fig Confiture, 2. French Fries, 3. Gigantic American Salads, 4. Lemon Gelato 5.French Cheese Courses (served with a salad). I am obsessed with asparagus season, eating it daily while it’s on sale in the markets. I also love cherry tomatoes and rarely does a day go by without me eating a salad for either lunch, dinner or a first course. Once a year I get a craving for a big fat juicy American cheeseburger – and this craving must be met or else. While in general I prefer European cuisine, the “American” food I miss most while living abroad is “Mexican”.
7) I’ve designed my life so that champagne will be a regular part of it. I always keep a bottle chilling “just in case” the impulse hits – as nothing makes an ordinary day more special than a bottle of bubbly.
8) I’ve read every night before bed my entire life. I’m currently reading Lifeguard by James Patterson, just finished When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro and the next two books waiting on my side table are Irving Stone’s 1961 best seller about the life of Michelangelo – The Agony and Ecstasy, and Philippa Gregory’s The Other Queen telling the tale of Mary Queen of Scots.
9) I don’t watch much television – and WG watches even less than me! We are both readers, retiring in the evenings to the library to read with a glass of port in hand – though I must confess, I might have majored in English literature in university, but WG is a more intelligent reader than I am. He’s currently working his way through anything written by an American expat in the 1920’s and 30’s and as of late, he’s been channeling Fitzgerald and Hemingway. Last week in Italy he even bought an ascot. We moved to Berlin a little over 3 months ago, and I still haven’t went to the store to buy the cable cord to hook up our TV to the cable outlet even though cable is provided free in our apartment.
10) I’m currently writing a novel in my spare time. I’ve written over 100 pages and am going strong. Just last week, I came up with an idea for a follow-up novel when I finish this one. I know it’s cliché, but I’m writing my novel fro
m the Starbucks on the Freiderichstrasse nearby my home in Berlin. I find when working on this book I need a change of scenery, so Starbucks has become my novel-writing office. I sit with a caramel macchiato in hand, me and my laptop for hours on end. I know this is Europe and I should not be frequenting Starbucks, but Starbuck’s wifi access and central location, cliché or not, win over Berlin authenticity and ambiance.
Now, I challenge you – can you tell me 10 things about YOU!?!!
Until next time,
The Antiques Diva™
Photo: taken last week at a stopover for dinner in Bellagio Italy
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For those of you who are not familiar with Expat Woman.com, I encourage you to visit the site. Their mission is to inspire expat women’s success abroad by providing a first-stop website to share stories, network globally, develop personally and find the best expat resources. The” Business How To” tips Vardit Kohn gives in this month’s interview are guaranteed to help any entrepreneur, whether living in their homeland or abroad!
When asked “What advice would you give to other women wanting to set up businesses in a foreign country?” Vardit, in typical V-fashion, responded, “Just Do It! Don’t let if’s, what if’s and but’s deter you. Fear is the only thing that keeps us in our tracks and stops us from moving ahead. Get over it, no matter what country you live in. There is not such a thing as failure. If the result is not what you wanted, learn from it and move on. Do not use your new environment as an excuse; you could have failed in your own country, too. Think of the foreign environment in which you live as an advantage rather than a disadvantage. Are there things you could do/learn there that you could not back home? Are there business opportunities that have opened up thanks to your new country? Can you combine skills/contacts from your homeland with ideas/opportunities in your new location?”
You might recall from my own interview with Expat Woman.com that when asked for my top 5 tips for starting a career in a suitcase, Tip # 4 encouraged readers to find a mentor. With advice such as that above, you can see why I chose Vardit Kohn to fill the role of mentor for me – a chat with V is like having your own personal cheerleader!
If I could only recommend one gift to give yourself this year, it would be to schedule an appointment with Vardit Kohn, Natural Nutritionist, to discuss your health and nutrition so she could be your own personal cheerleader too! Vardit’s confident manner, her approach to a healthy lifestyle and experience consulting everyone from individuals like you and me to employees of the European Space Agency make a visit with her a healthy treat!
Best Wishes for A Happy & Healthy Lifestyle!
The Antiques Diva™
The Irish Queen with Vardit at a Gooi Luncheon this summer – Sadly I’m not in the pic as I was behind the camera clicking away!
Hello Antiques Diva,
I am interested in attending one of the brocantes you listed in a recent blog — the Brocante Temploux 23-24 August, 2008. BY any chance do you know if there is shipping available?
Thank you for your help.
Antoinette from Atlanta
Sadly the fair coordinator, Luc Halleux, has explained that “With 1000 exposants and 150,000 visitors, we already have a lot of work. So we cannot organize any shipping and we do not have contact with any company to do it. Apologies and Best Regards!” Should you have any more questions, you can contact Luc directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Even though The Antiques Diva Exclusive Antique Shopping Tours of Holland, Belgium and France does not organize shipping, I didn’t want to leave you high & dry on this question so I put my Belgian Antiques Diva Tour Guide, Lucretia, to work searching for a solution! Her advice is that as Temploux is nearby Namur, your best bet might be using a shipping agent there to help orchestrate your overseas shipment. While The Antiques Diva™ Enterprises cannot make any official recommendations (as we haven’t tested these companies yet), we did find a few potentials for you to investigate.
One Entry is an interesting company which allows you to compare costs for a multitude of services – international shipping included. The website http://www.antiek.com/ recommends a few vendors who are helping antique dealers by organizing overseas shipping. Antiques Carriers looked particularly interesting as did Belga Traders.
Last but not least, should you need antique shopping advice while in Belgium (or before going), please feel free to ask! The Antiques Diva Offices are closed the month of August but whenever possible we try to help and might be able to squeeze in a last minute appointment if you’re in jam!
To shop with a local on your arm while in Belgium, Lucretia’s fees are 25 Euros per hour + transport costs (i.e. fuel/train) or for a full day shopping service 140 Euros. Lucretia is Belgian, speaks English, French and Flemish fluently (as well as pretty good Italian & German) and is an expert at bargaining in all these languages! Her Masters is in Decorative Arts and she’s an absolute delight to shop with! You’d love her!
Good Luck with your shopping adventure!
All the best,
The Antiques Diva™
These are the shopping experiences legends are made of…
In the quaint Belgian seaside town of Knokke just last week I found Burberry at 75% off and Salvatore Ferragamo at 80% off an already reduced price. In the 3 years since moving from Paris to Holland, I have been driving back each January and July to hit “Les Soldes”. Sadly, this summer a busy tour schedule didn’t permit for any sales-shopping soirees in gaie Paris and I was devastated to miss the fun and frivolity of Chic Shopping Paris! Just last week my dear friend The Belgian Beauty & her husband were off for a week at Knokke, Belgium and, knowing about my desperate need for a sensational sale-shopping fix, she invited me and another friend to visit her for a weekend at the sea.
Needless to say the Volvo was fueled up in no time and my friend and I hit the road – Belgian beach bound – to join our friends. For two days we did some of the most intense shopping I’ve done in years. BB’s goal was to stop & shop only in stores with 75% off or more and though in some cities there would barely be a sale or two worthy of abiding this rule, in Knokke the sales hit the skyline… er, the seashore! Though Knokke is sadly short on antiques shops, they’ve an incredible quantity of high-end and high-street shopping with sale prices that are out of this world.
Simply put, I was knocked out by Knokke! The Belgian sale period is July 1 -30, 2008 and if it’s within your power, head to Knokke to go sale shopping by the seashore before month’s end. My favorite shop is D’Aulnoy at # 714 Zeedijk nearby the swank “Zoute” area of town, but both Massimo Dutti locations drew a close second! I walked away with a sporty Burberry black pull over and a golden threaded Salvatore Ferragamo tie for mon marie. Last but not least was a gorgeous navy silk dress you’ll see me dancing in next month on my Mediterranean cruise! Now, listen up… anyone who knows me well knows that I could pack up and move into most of the Flamant stores, but this Belgian interior décor chain has outdone itself in Knokke. Multiply the love factor by 5 when visiting their stylish store inside a Knokke villa with each room kitted out with a different colored wall fit for a queen.
Should you miss out on the sales, never fear Knokke is chocked full of great shopping any time of year! And to lure you to Knokke this August, post sales (and perhaps to counteract my earlier comment about a severe lack of antique shops in town) the 33st Internationale Kunst en Antiek Beurs in Knokke (International Art & Antiques Fair) will be held August 9 – 17, 2008 at the Cultureel Centrum Scharpoord. More than 50 dealers will storm the beach in a sale fit for a diva.
Until Next Time, Happy Travels.
The Antiques Diva™
* Photo compilation on Knokke above courtesy Vero Fleuri – a great decorating blog written in French. Visit Vero’s “Home Sweet Blog” Cote Nord to see more gorgeous photos and great tips on “deco de la maison, jardinage, brocantes et balades”.
The Antiques Diva™