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European Antiques

Biedermeier Furniture

Dear Diva Readers,

Biedermeier Furniture Sofa

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 60px; line-height: 50px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>When it comes to antique furniture, different styles often reflect what was happening during the era. Much like today in the post 9/11 era we’ve seen a shift towards comfort and coziness in the home, in earlier times shifts in politics, reigning monarchs, industrialization, and war had a lot to do with the way furniture was made and the materials that were used to make it. The Biedermeier style is a fabulous example of this – it emerged in central Europe after the Napoleonic Wars. Since Napoleon had conquered most of Europe, his defeat at Waterloo in 1815 brought many changes, including a shift in preference from popular French Empire style to a more clean-lined look that is still popular today. As Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.”

Biedermeier Furniture chest

Biedermeier Furniture Pair of Chairs black leather

During this time of peace, a growing urban middle class shifted its focus towards home making and interior design – there was a focus on today what we’d call nesting. However, the mood during the early Biedermeier period was still cautious, and is reflected in the simpler forms of furniture, essentially Empire style stripped of its ormolu mounts and gilding toning it down a bit. As Mies Van der Rohe said, “Less in More.” Pieces were also made more on human scale and were created to be functional as well as beautiful. While these pieces had less ornamentation, they were not devoid of detail -(God, I’m full of quotes today… wasn’t it Mies who said, “God is in the details?). By 1830 craftsmen began to include simple carvings of sphinx, swans, lion paws, acanthus, and lyres.

Biedermeier Furniture small table

Biedermeier Furniture light wood table

While Empire pieces were usually made from dark mahogany woods, Biedermeier furniture was typically made of lighter woods such as birch, ash, pear, and cherry giving the styles a decisively different feel. Viennese craftsmen began to use local timber, often finishing pieces with walnut veneer over a soft wood frame. They also started using original designs rather than taking inspiration from French, German, and Italian designs. Sometimes black poplar or bird’s eye maple were used and artisans would adorn furniture with gold paint rather than gilding them. While bronze appliqués were popular on Empire pieces, less expensive stamped brass wreaths or stars could also be added to Biedermeier pieces.

Biedermeier Furniture table with bronze appliqués

As politics changed from 1815-1848 furniture makers gradually shifted from a utilitarian mindset to a more romanticized style, where straight lines became curved and simple finishes became embellished with inlay and other decorative elements. The serpentine shape began appearing in chair arms and table legs. Pleated fabrics became popular and were used in upholstery as well as on walls, ceilings and in alcoves. As craftsmen travelled throughout Europe looking for work, they brought traditions from their native lands and incorporated local styles, which is why we see so many variations of Biedermeier furniture. A slight alteration to a chair leg, a curve of a table’s foot, an experimental finish— all of these elements make the Biedermeier style so interesting and diverse.

Biedermeier Furniture secretair

After WWII Biedermeier furniture became popular in Britain and America, and its influence can even be seen in the early 1920’s when Art Deco came into fashion. Today, many furniture makers still take inspiration for modern furniture lines from the Biedermeier style because it has clean lines and is popular with city-dwellers throughout the world. It’s no wonder this style has endured for over a century—we still long for perfectly proportioned pieces that offer functionality and are aesthetically pleasing too.

Biedermeier Furniture day bed

If you would like information on our antique buying tours or buying services, email us at info@antiquesdiva.com. We’d love to help you source the pieces you’re looking for!

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Until next time,

The Antiques Diva®

What Differentiates Swedish Antiques

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 60px; line-height: 50px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>While Swedish antiques are trending they’ve always been en vogue in my book. In Europe each country had their own distinct styles and when examining antiques you can identify their origin by their region or culture. We asked our Antiques Diva Guide in Sweden, antiques dealer Daniel Larsson, to help us understand what distinguishes Swedish antiques from other European antiques.

What Differentiates Swedish Antiques

Daniel Larsson explains: When talking about Swedish antiques the most representative period is the 18th Century with its Rococo and Gustavian styles. Named after King Gustav III of Sweden, Gustavian pieces have strong influences of neoclassical French design as well as Italian classicism. King Gustave III spent a lot of time in France. He was very interested in arts and clothes, architecture, style and design. He was very influenced by the French Neoclassical designs and he brought this style to Sweden, simplifying it with cleaner lines.

What Differentiates Swedish Antiques

Compared to French antiques however, Swedish antiques are very similar, but they are more rare because there were less that were made. French pieces often have a lot of intricate detail, and while Swedish pieces were similarly made, they were not as heavily ornamented. Swedish craftsmen focussed on quality and cleaner lines rather than an abundance of carving.

What Differentiates Swedish Antiques simple lines

English antiques are complete opposites to Swedish antiques. The style is completely different English antiques are traditionally made of dark more exotic woods because England had colonies in several regions.

However, as with any country’s antiques, many have been exported to various countries. It’s important to educate yourself about Swedish antiques before purchasing them in any country because provenance plays a huge part when it comes to price.

What Differentiates Swedish Antiques Swedish chair

The reason Swedish chairs, for instance, can be more pricey than the French chairs, is that not a lot of dealers possess original Swedish chairs. Even Swedish dealers pay a lot of money for original chairs. However, it can be a benefit to purchase Swedish antiques in Sweden because these Swedish dealers can typically tell the difference between original and 19th century reproductions which have been made in the Gustavian style. Foreign dealers often cannot tell the difference between original Gustavian pieces and 19th century reproductions, which results in higher prices being charged for reproductions.

Knowing the difference between an original chair and a chair re-made of old pieces can mean the difference between paying a few hundred Euro to several thousand Euro. Knowledge truly is power and that’s why we’re so fortunate to have Daniel as out expert in this field!

We offer 1 day and 2 day antique buying tours in Sweden to antique dealers that specialize in furniture and decorative items. We will to take our clients to various types of sources, from smaller antique dealers within beautiful settings to larger trade dealers with 3000 square meters of space. We also know places that are like secret pearls such as one dealer that has restored a beautiful mansion to it’s original glory and has filled it with the highest quality antiques. Places like this are must visits— the type of once-in-a-lifetime experiences that The Antiques Diva & Co loves to give our clients. To book a tour email us at info@antiquesdiva.com.

The Antiques Diva®

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!

Chimney S819

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.

Comparison

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®

Sourcing Bath Fixture Salvage

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;”>When taking clients on antique buying tours of Europe, my Diva Guides and I see all sorts of architectural salvage. It’s one of the hottest requests we have right now. In the countryside we come across yards and warehouses filled with antique bathtubs, sinks, and other bathroom fixtures that are usually priced very decently. But when buying architectural salvage that you plan to use (i.e. a bathtub), you want to make sure you’re getting something that is functional as well as beautiful.

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I am all about repurposing and incorporating antiques into remodel or new construction projects. I think antiques add a comfort and warmth to any space with their rich patina. However when it comes to bathroom fixtures, you want to ask lots of questions—to the dealer AND to your plumber and contractor. Make sure that your plumber is aware that you want to use antique pieces such as sinks, tubs and faucets. If they’re not comfortable working with old fixtures, you may want to find someone who is. Secondly, ask the dealer if the pieces you’re interested in have been refurbished for modern use. This is critical as vintage plumbing is often incompatible with today’s systems. You also want to look for any damage such as cracks. Of course a bit of wear is desired and a nice patina is a plus, but if you see actual cracks in stone, enamel or ceramic, you could run into major damage down the line.

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The good news is that most specialist dealers will be able to fix these problems or connect you with a trusted person who can. Of course, this also means that that really great deal you got on the tub may very well cost a whole lot more! But it’s better to know exactly what you’re getting into before making your purchases. It’s just important to weigh your options. Most vintage fittings are better quality than new ones however there are other factors like budget, timeline and functionality that you must keep in mind.

4) Marble Bassin Angle-M

Lastly, when shopping for antique bathroom fixtures, take a measuring tape and your room/plan measurements. You’ll also want to be sure that your floors ( and ceilings for 2nd story bathrooms) are strong enough to hold a fixture you buy. Cast iron tubs are heavy, especially when filled with water so make sure there is enough support to hold them.

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All in all, sourcing architectural salvage and incorporating it into your current home should be a fun process. With a trusted dealer, a skilled plumber, and a good vision, the possibilities are endless!

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If you’d like more information on taking an Antiques Diva & Co Architectural Salvage Buying Tour in one of our 8 tour countries – France, Belgium, England, Italy, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden, email info@antiquesdiva.com

The Antiques Diva®

Antiques Diva Virtual Buying Tours

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 80px; line-height: 70px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>Recently tours” target=”_blank”>Modenus – the best design resource on the net – posted an article regarding ourto-the-trade/buying-services” target=”_blank”> buying services  and it occurred to me I was positively negligent in not sharing those details with you here on my own blog!!!  You know us as an European Antique Shopping Tour company… and when you’re in Europe and you want to go antiquing, we’re you’re first stop for taking an tours” target=”_blank”>antiques shopping tour.  But what IF you can’t come abroad!??  We know you WANT to travel overseas, but sometimes LIFE gets in the way….  you have work and family commitments or sometimes the cost of the trip + the cost of the purchases is simply too much on the budget.  But that doesn’t mean you don’t still want to go do shopping in Europe.  That’s where we come in…  we can buy on your behalf, giving you access to our sources in Europe and letting you shop from across the pond!!  While we offer antique buying tours, we also offer shopping services for our clients – both Trade & Private individuals.

How It Works?
When we buy for a client, we ask a lot of questions about what you’re looking for..  We want to know you and your style inside out.   Clients email us photos from pinterest or scanned from magazines, books, etc saying “I want everything in this picture” – sometimes antiques dealers even send us emails saying “see my competitors website… I want what she’s got!” as well as links to their own site to help us get a feel for their shop.  Some clients are decorating their own home and are looking for a key piece so they email pics of their living room telling us what they’re looking for and the space they are working with.

Once we get those pictures and links to websites our job is to do that little thing we do.  When you tell us what you’re looking for we go to our best contacts and get you photographs of the inventory we recommend for you.   Some of the things we suggest will be in response to what you’ve told us you want… but other things we suggest are things we think you might like.  You’ll get a lot of pre-choreographed photos sent to you.  We understand you need to kiss a lot of frogs to find your perfect piece… so we’ll give you variety in colors, in scale, in quality,  in age and in price.

After we’ve sent  you photos you’ll come back to us and say “ugh hate photos #17, 22 and 36” giving us feedback on what you don’t like so we refine our search… but here’s where it gets good, you’ll say “OMG where have #12, # 16, # 33 and #42 been all my life. BUY THEM”.   A lot of the vendors we go to are wholesale dealers only – and they don’t negotiate.  On those vendors we’ll say – the price is X and X is what you’ll pay.  BUT – then we’ll tell you but photo # 16 and 42 are vendors who will negotiate and we’ll go to town on your behalf.

How Do You Get It Across the Pond?
At The Antiques Diva & Co we not only help you source, but we then also liaise you with international shippers.  When it comes to international shipping there are always problems (things break, shipments are delayed, etc. etc.).  The shippers we work with are not perfect, but either they work with us to fix and resolve the problems that invariably occur when international shipping is in place or we stop working with them, so we have a refined tried and tested network of international shippers we rely upon.

We’ll take your purchases from maybe 5 or 10 different sources – often in different countries – and help you coordinate  ONE shipping.  This one shipment saves you money off if you were buying direct from each of these vendors – and each vendor was shipping separately.

We’ll sticker your purchases, fill out your shipping purchase orders, even take Tylenol on your behalf as we handle headaches and liaise with an international shipper to get everything across the pond to you.

Why Shouldn’t You Just Shop Online for European Antiques?
You and I both know that the fact is you can scout webpages and search out European antiques all by yourself all over the web… the internet has made the world really small that way.  So why would you hire The Antiques Diva & Co to scout in Europe to source goods for your store when you could skip the middle man and shop yourself online?  The problem with buying online is that you don’t always know what you’re buying or if it looks as good in person as it does in the photos.  You don’t have relationships with the dealers nor someone to vet the inventory on your behalf before you pay a bundle to get it carted halfway around the world.  You don’t know who you should trust or shouldn’t.  When buying online you just click “add to cart”, no negotiating takes place, so you never really know if you’re getting the best price or if you could have gotten a better price.  And if you want to buy from multiple stores, shipping becomes a disaster because you’re paying more to ship a few things individually than to bulk everything from various sources when shipping them in one lot would have cost a whole lot less.  And MOST importantly… and here’s the kicker… the best sources in Europe aren’t online.

Most wholesale warehouses in Europe and the UK don’t sell on line, they provide an exclusive service to their trade clients by keeping their prices & inventory off the web for the discrete few who are lucky enough to gain entry into their world.    That’s where we come in.  The difference between Old World Culture and New World Culture is the secret handshake.  In Europe having an introduction gives you entry into an inner circle you can’t gain access to on your own.  Our job – whether you’re on a To The Trade Antiques Buying Tour or using our buying service – is to show you the secret handshake and introduce you to the people in Europe you need to know.

For More Information?
Contact me to:toma@antiquesdiva.com”>toma@antiquesdiva.com – I’d love to chat to discuss how we  could give you access to Buying Abroad!!

Warm Regards,
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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