I’ve always had a love for old things, the passage of time, wear and tear, scars – all of this has been of interest since my earliest memory. We lived in a very old house in Cuba, a 17th-century building with old pasta floors and beamed ceilings. Most of it kindly neglected after the revolution but impeccably tidy. We moved to the US to a modern apartment not at all to my liking and so as a teenager I began buying old bits; Japanese Imari, an old French chair; my bedroom was a little museum in my mother’s Danish Modern home. I studied dance, but before becoming a professional working in Monaco I became friends with an antiques dealer who owned The Ballet Shop on the Upper West Side; I’d spend hours rummaging thru stacks of old Romantic prints and silver gelatin photos of famous dancers. Turns out that Norman Crider was a baton twirling ice skater, quite a character who was awarded the Order of National Merit and Philanthropy in France and founded the Antiques Center of America; as he had 3 shops he’d sometimes need a little help. Eventually I’d assist him setting up his booth at the Armory Show where he would display paste jewels once owned by Hollywood Royalty… I remember him saying after a little composition went up “oh dear, you have an eye” and so I cultivated that eye as I danced my way thru Europe and South America.
The best part of being an ornament is that you’re invited into people’s homes, houses decorated by Colefax and Fowler, Mongiardino, all the greats and so you see and you learn how to mix fearlessly. I remember Castaign’s shop in the 80’s, the last period of high style decorating. That’s why antiques are so important, they remind us of what visual quality should be. Luckily there are still many people who appreciate that quality. Speaking of older, when I hung up my ballet shoes I attended Parson’s and was fortunate to have worked with Bunny Williams and Thomas Jayne who use antiques in all of their projects, so it was another layer of training and when I went off on my in own in 1992 I knew what I was looking at. I opened a small shop along with artist Ric Best called from House to Home in Asbury Park and then Flourish in Philadelphia as well as a small booth at the now defunct Center 44; today I sell my finds to a few high profile designers and those who know where to find me. Luckily the Antiques Diva is a great resource for those in the know.
That’s why antiques are so important, they remind us of what visual quality should be.
My take on vintage and antiques is that if something has been around for a few decades or a few centuries, the chances are that with a little care they’ll outlive us all. And even the worst antique is probably better made than the best mass-produced repro. You also won’t see yourself coming and going in your friend’s houses. Stylistically I tend to gravitate to the neoclassical though that can span a very long period of time. Here are 5 items I’d be happy to use just about anywhere.
1. A pair of Regency marble-top consoles. I love Regency, it’s not as stiff as Empire and the scale can be a little more forgiving so these pieces are suited to city living. These particular tables could be used in an entry flanking a doorway or they could live on either side of a sofa with some mod little low tables in front of them or even as additional servers in a dining room. Add a modern painting or a simple mirror above and you’re pretty much set.
2. The now much-maligned cabinet once used to house our clunky TVs were once actually used as storage. Working with clients in NYC and environs not everyone is blessed with miles of closets. I tend to go for the very plain or the very interesting. Here’s a Biedermeier cabinet that’s not too deep, so while it makes a big statement with it’s architectural presence, all columns and rusticated detailing, you could center this on a wall opposite a seating area or perhaps in your bedroom or a study to hold papers and oversized books. At one time a cabinet like this would have cost a small fortune. Best time to buy this type of furniture is now.
3. A pair of faux painted classical planters. I have a thing for non-furniture items. I think the biggest rookie mistake is to buy upholstery and tables all from one source. The quickest way to look ‘done’ and be done in is to fill a room with store bought blandness. These planters could transform any space, they could flank a doorway or a window and as they’re large they could easily be placed on stone plinths in your double height living room with some palm trees. Why not be just a decadent, you know you want to. And it will give your room much-needed height. They could also go to the side of a fireplace to hold logs. So many uses!
4. I have a thing for the Grand Tour. My first time in Florence I visited a shop that was filled with 19th-century bronze casts and models of great sculpture and I was hooked. I buy them whenever I see them and they’re not that easy to find. Group them if you have a center table, use them singly on a modern cube or coffee table, you can’t go wrong. This Atlas was used by Kelly Wearstler in a recent project.
5. While I always mix modern and contemporary art with my antiques there’s no reason one couldn’t use an ancient textile here and there. Tapestries are not something the average person ever thinks about, but imagine this late 18th-century example in a very clean lined room, or in an entrance hall. The borders alone are enough to fill you with countless hours of joy. I also tend to like religious theme, not for everyone, but here is Moses finding water in the desert, talk about a refreshing subject.
And so those are the five items I’m thinking about right about now. Hope you’ve enjoyed them.
Featured image: Room by Louis Navarrete Decoration for Holiday House 2014
Louis Navarrete Decoration
834 Riverside Drive 5B
New York City, NY 10032
Born in Cuba, Louis was always interested in houses and their contents. After emigrating to the US, he studied ballet with renowned teacher David Howard and danced professionally across Europe with Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, in the US with The Joffrey Ballet and in South America with Ballets del Zulia. A career ending injury afforded him the opportunity to attend Parson’s where he studied Environmental Design and Interior Decoration under the tutelage of ex Parish-Hadley alumni. He worked as design assistant to Thomas Jayne and Bunny Williams before embarking on his own in 1992. Louis is an expert on design with a keen eye for antiques and has developed a wide range of connections which allows him to source anything you might be in search of, at various price points.
I Give You My Antiques Diva Office!
My life has been a whirlwind these last few months at The Antiques Diva & Co. While traveling on an around the world ticket from Europe to Asia to the USA and finally back home to Berlin I’ve literally circled the globe building new relationships and strengthening connections as we launched brand new Antiques Diva Asia Tours, started development at the factory of the first product in our Antiques Care and Restoration product line, and premiered at High Point Market as the Brand Ambassador for Pandora de Balthazar among other things! I was on the road 3 months and traveled to 3 continents and in 9 countries.
From speaking engagements to private dinner parties to taking clients on antiques buying tours to dealing with day-to-day details running our own in-house shipping company – my life is made up of many aspects. I’m a business woman but my business either operates on the road in whatever hotel I’m staying in, whichever country I happen to be in, or it operates out of my home office.
I am a firm believer that one’s home – or home office – should reflect themselves, and after contemplating the experiences I have throughout the world, I looked at my home office in Berlin, and was not surprised to see the international mix of pieces from different time periods and styles. I thought it would be fun to share a bit of this eclectic mix here on the blog, so without further ado, I give you my Antiques Diva Office!
My French Louis XV desk with doré bronze mounts is a piece I purchased from the Paris Flea Market. I love the Diva-esque female figures that grace each corner. This is a POWER Desk – What makes this piece even more special is that it is signed and has the original makers mark. The 18th century Rococo desk chair is also a French piece, fit for a Commander in Chic! To hide files and clutter, I use an 18th-century Bavarian cupboard with a beautiful painted Romanesque scene on the front.
When it comes time to catch up on industry reading, I relax on the Rococo Style Napoleon III chaise lounge which I purchased in Bath, England. I had this piece recovered in a gorgeous fabric which I sourced through Linda Merrill. For artwork, I have a pair of 1960’s gold ceiling tiles which were salvaged from the ballroom of the Russian Embassy in Berlin, Germany. Accessories in my Diva Office change frequently, depending on where I’ve been and what little treasures I’ve picked up! As soon as my shipment from my recent buying tour in Asia comes in you’ll see some Asian Chic adding to the ambiance.
My Diva Office is a reminder that what makes a room—and a life— interesting is the mix. Old and new, refined and rustic, extravagant and simple, mastering the art of the mix adds depth and character—two qualities I hope I have both as a person as well as in my own home.
Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
Chairish to create a style board for a room inspired by one of their vintage rugs. For those of you who don’t know, Chairish is a curator-approved online marketplace for vintage and used furniture. This year they’ve challenged me to design a “woman cave” inspired by a set of vintage bar stools from their site! As I believe that antiques and vintage pieces are completely relevant in today’s lifestyle, I’ve chosen to create a style board using only antique and vintage items available at Chairish.com— but rest assured the vibe is anything but old fashioned and stuffy! Without further ado, I give you my “Diva Den!”ast year I was asked by my friends at
Mid-Century Hairpin Barstools
I chose these barstools as my inspiration because I love the shape of them and brass is very “in.” I would recover these beauties in a gray velvet…yummy!
19th Century Style Giltwood Gondola Chaise Lounge
A beautiful 1890s French chaise lounge in the Louis XVI style would be the perfect foil to the midcentury barstools. The chaise has been newly upholstered in a Stark velvet, “Velours verdi Bois de Rose”with French multicolored gimp trim all along the frame. The single down cushion is also newly upholstered with a single piping along the edges, top and bottom. This chaise has nicely gilded wood, six legs and caster wheels—the perfect spot for a Diva to perch!
Charcoal and Cream Chairs
I would use this pair of matching round back Louis style armchairs upholstered in a charcoal and white wide stripe in the same seating group as the chaise lounge. The wood has been refinished in a semi-gloss heirloom white bringing some lightness to my Diva Den!
Baker Dining Table by Barbara Barry
As strange as it may seem, I would include this Baker dining table by Barbara Barry in Java colored finish in my Diva Den. I love to cook and even more, I love to host dinner parties! Setting a gorgeous table for my girlfriends would be a highlight to using my Diva Den!
Swedish Flame Birch Dining Chairs-Set of 6
This set of six fun and elegant dark golden flame birch dining chairs would be perfect surrounding my dining table. Newly restored and newly rebuilt with new padding, covered in a durable woven black and ivory Cheetah stripe fabric, makes them Diva-approved!
Arthur Court Gold Aluminum Cast Lily Dining Table
This is an original gilt Arthur Court aluminum cast Lily table. The top of the base resembles a lily flower to support a glass top, while the bottom of the base swirls around to resemble an art nouveau inspired stem. It is an unusual piece and is oh-so-very glam! I wouldn’t use it as a dining table, but rather a side table between two chairs. This table comes with a 36″ round glass top, 3/8” thick, making it the perfect size to hold a stack of books and a couple martinis!
Mid Century Black & White Striped Chair
On one side of my lily table, I’d use this Mid-century tufted black and ivory striped accent chair. It’s been totally refurbished with new foam padding and back and cream linen fabric with double welt all around. Carved wood trim has been stripped and waxed to let the gorgeous grain show through. The perfect chair to sit and have a long conversation with another Diva!
Aesthetic Movement Chair
This chair speaks for itself and would go on the other side of my lily table. I love this because it’s unique and fitting for a sassy lady!
Gilt Faux Rope & Tassel Bar Cart
Who doesn’t need a 1960’s Italian gilded iron rope and tassel bar cart? With two glass shelves, it’ll hold plenty of spirits which can be wheeled over from the main bar!
Jonathan Adler Lucite Acrylic Brass Etagere
Bring on the tough glamour. The Jacques Collection creates a bold balance of masculine lines and feminine finishes. The étagère mixes the jewel-like sparkle of custom-tooled brushed brass with Lucite construction. The result is modern decor with an heirloom-level of quality. It’s perfect for displaying books and other favorite curiosities.
Brutalist Tom Greene Chandelier
This modern chandelier would help bring the entire room together! What a statement piece!
Diana Ross Framed Photo
Every Diva Den needs a photo of a true diva! Why not hang this black and white portrait of Diana Ross? In fact, I might just do an entire wall of diva photos…can you imagine? Talk about inspiration!
Zebra Hide Rug
Underfoot you can never go wrong with a zebra rug. The average size of a zebra hide rug is 10 feet from tip of nose to tip of tail 6 feet at the widest point making it large enough to rest under a seating group.
And there you have it! My Diva Den inspired by midcentury bar stools and decorated using exclusively items from Chairish.com! What would you put in YOUR Diva Den? Leave me a comment!
The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
hen 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you would like information on our antique buying tours or buying services, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to help you source the pieces you’re looking for!
Until next time,
The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
The Antiques Diva®, owner of Europe’s largest antiques touring and buying services company, my job is to help clients – antique dealers, interior designers and mere shopping mortals – source antiques abroad. Last week we attended Maison Objet – the most important international industry event for interior design, held in Paris – to spot the design trends for 2014, helping keep us – and you – au courant in the world of interiors.s
BOLD POPS of COLOR reigned at Maison Objet with a clear move away from the use of neutrals. We were seeing Greens, Fushias, Oranges, Yellows, Chartruses, but also Navy and Earthy Browns or Ocean-inspired Blues. Pantones color of the year, Radiant Orchid, was also well-represented.
Accents were embellished with Gold and, again this year as with last year, all-Black rooms with Gold embellishments stole the show, being the most dramatic and eye catching décor on display. But everything that glitters is not gold. If Gold was King, Copper was Queen and being used in abundance on all surfaces. Bling was big overall! Oversized or beautifully sculpted hardware on case goods shone bright like a diamond, reminding me that drawer pulls and hinges really are jewelry for the home. Speaking of bright shiny objects – mirrors and glass (especially black glass) that reflected the rooms in which they were placed were de rigeur. Crystal graced both the chandeliers and the table tops. Lighting fixtures were oversized and extravagant. If bigger is better, HUGE was HOT!
We saw a lot of use of mixed medias whether in lighting fixtures or home furnishings. Fabric wasn’t just showing up in the linens, walls and on traditionally upholstered goods but also in unexpected places, embellishing chest of drawers exterior and interiors or wrapped around the arms of chandeliers. The mixed medias verged near the theatrical with sequins and hand-embroidered embellishments showing up in unexpected places.
Overall and across the board, the look was eclectic and lent itself towards opulence. We are still seeing lots of mid-century modern inspired interiors but more and more it was being mixed with Napoleon III. There also was a flash back to the future with traditional craftsmanship and decorative items showing up in vendors all across the fair. Hand-painted porcelain has gained a new appreciation and blue and white is back – though in my mind it never went out.
Maison Objet January 2014 had a dialogue with the 18th Century – with traditional Louis’ pieces in warm woods and sexy lines reinvented, utilizing modern fabrics. The Grand Tour was also reflected in the way interiors were styled – curiosity cabinets were everywhere as were taxidermy and objects from nature. And I hate to say it but the Laura Ashley look with florals circa 1980 was making its way back into home décor but this time the florals were more embellished, more modern, with larger, cleaner patterns.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the show to me was the emphasis on Surrealism – an entire section of the show was a voyage through space style, circa 1960. Irregular shapes or geometric shapes repeated themselves throughout the show. And while resin furniture has made definite inroads in this millennium, there is definitely an emphasis on natural fibers – rattan, leathers, silks.
See you at the next show!
The Antiques Diva
(Seen below with part of the Antiques Diva team from Paris and Italy)
House Beautiful July/August 2010
Photograph by Roger Davies
Dear Diva Readers,
In the July/August 2010 House Beautiful I was absolutely smitten with the Baroque Cartouche Repurposed Head Board used by interior designers Marshall Watson & Jeffrey Kilmer in their client’s Salt Lake City guest house. Smitten with the idea of repurposing items for headboards, I had two items found recently on Antiques Diva Tours in Amsterdam and Antwerp spring to mind.
In Amsterdam’s Spiegelkwartier, this wooden embellishment from a ship in Holland would be positively dreamy. My husband and I have this metaphor for our marriage saying he is the captain of our ship – getting us where we want to go – but I’m the cruise director – ensuring that we stop and take plenty of excursions so it seems the ideal headboard for our master bedroom! When I first saw this piece I thought it was the back of a carriage like the piece we found in Antwerp on a Diva Tour.
I’ve had my eye on this piece in the International Antiques Centre in Antwerp for months… This shop ran by an American living abroad is positively palatial, containing over 4000 square feet of international antiques in a 16th C converted warehouse.
For years I’ve been smitten by the idea of repurposing headboards, and have often thought a garden gate would be ideal. In this Chicago Home and Garden magazines spread, the interior designer Kramer Design used a 75 year old balcony railing to accomplish the desired mood.
In my own bedroom, I’ve recovered a folding screen and antiqued the paper using a paint-technique and use it as my make-shift headboard. With all this bedroom talk, I’m feeling a little sleepy. So for now, it’s off to bed!
I am absolutely delighted to introduce you to the Diva of the Day – Ms. Linda Merrill, one of the most popular design bloggers on the net and I’m absolutely honored she agreed to write a guest blog for The Antiques Diva™ site! In addition to being a 1st class blogger, Linda is an expert in the fields of interior design, media communications & marketing. A lifelong passion for creating beautiful – and livable – spaces combined with a savvy business mind has brought her design work and writing to an international audience.
Linda offers her interior design services in person in Massachusetts and “virtually” world wide, which is a great service for budget projects both far and near! Her blog, Surroundings, offers her unique views on architecture, photographic tours, product reviews, design inspirations, special events and even movie set decor!
Charlotte Moss, designer, entrepreneur, philanthropist
Eddie Ross and Jaithan Kochar, designers, entrepreneurs
Grant K. Gibson, Interior Designer
On that note, TaTa from Me and Bonjour from Linda!
The Antiques Diva™
GUEST BLOG: LINDA MERRILL
I went to the Duxbury Antique Show recently and found several items of interest that I thought your readers would enjoy. Just a little history, Duxbury (my hometown) is a small coastal Massachusetts town that was founded in 1636 as an offshoot of Plymouth Colony. Two of our most famous residents were John and Priscilla Alden – so history is all around us here! This was the 29th Annual Duxbury Antique Show and is mounted by The Duxbury Boosters Club, who raises funds to benefit the high school athletic department. The show is held in the high school gym and I must say it’s much more enjoyable to peruse antiques in that space than play dodge ball! I still have nightmares! But, I digress. The show boasted 50 booths and was quite a bustling scene!
Here are a few items that really caught my eye:
1) Copper Clothes Washer, 1912. $310
This “Easy” washer has recently been re-wired and the folks at Bent Nail Farm Antiques, Marshfield Hills, MA say it works. This would make a pretty fun conversation piece and perhaps make a great ice bucket for a big party!
2) Misc. silver plate serving pieces. $5-$12
This was a lovely little collection of silver plate serving pieces. I wished I’d had more than $13 in my wallet or my check book. While they are only silver plate, the pieces were well-priced. At Roland Morgan, Portsmouth, RI.
3) Decorative Squirrel water spout, $45
I thought this would make a lovely wall-mounted faucet for a vessel sink in a powder room. Obviously, you’d have to build it out a bit since it’s not wide, but it would sure be cute! At Jack Tullish Antiques & Fine Art.
4) Art Nouveau bust of a Medieval Noblewoman. 16-1/2′ high in painted plaster. $350
At Stephen L. Snow Auctioneers & Appraisers. Isn’t she pretty? I thought she’d look so pretty on a library shelf, or in a garden room. There’s just something so serene in her countenance.
5) Botanical prints at The Scrapbook, Essex, MA. $57 each
These are hand-colored wood engravings, originally printed around 1599. What a beautiful addition to a garden room!
6) Purple tinted antique bottles at Camille Buda & Matt King, Marshfield, MA Priced between $12-20 each.
Apparently, these small bottles would have been originally clear glass, circa 1880-1920. Manganese was used at the time to bleach glass to make it clear, but over time, sunrays or UV rays turned the manganese purple. A little research tells me that bottles this deep a purple would have been subjected to artificial UV rays in order to enhance the color. They sure are pretty though!
7) Victorian Candle lamps at Camille Buda Antiques, Marshfield, MA. Price not noted.
The glass globes of these candle lamps are so beautiful! The color just popped and is so fresh today. I was honestly not sure about the base – it looked too “stainless steel” to me and I wondered if they were replacements, but I didn’t have a chance to ask the owners.
8) Set of twelve Limoges oyster plates. $1,350/set.
Duxbury is known for its bay oysters, so these plates seemed right at home. I don’t personally like oysters, but I might change my mind if they were served on these dishes. I also love the idea of rough and gnarly oysters plated on porcelain and gold. At Ciel Glynn Antiques, Cambridge, MA.
9) Pewter and mirrored tile candle sconces. Pair for $425
I just loved these sconces and wish they were in my budget right now! They would produce such a beautiful glow with the candle light dancing in the mirrors. At Bayberry Antiques, Rockland, MA.
I hope you all enjoyed my selection of favorite items from this year’s Duxbury Antique Show!
THE DIVA OF THE DAY:
Linda Merrill, IFDA!
Linda Merrill Decorative Surroundings
PO Box 1206 Duxbury, MA 02332
Founder & Host of The Skirted Roundtable
Style & Design Best of the Web
The Decorating Diva happens to be the premier online magazine for coverage on the latest trends in home design, green design, color, home decor and healthy home living. Plus, they give great reviews of a variety of home decorating products!
The Decorating Diva was founded by Carmen Natschke, the award-winning designer and co-founder of Room In A Kit LLC. In 2002 the parent company decided to spin off a sister company of Room In A Kit LLC by launching The Decorating Divas workshops where students learned everything from how to faux paint to how to accessorize like a professional decorator. At each workshop, dozens of students asked about online decorating and buying resources and The Decorating Diva online magazine was born from those requests!
Each week The Decorating Diva draws attention “to the very best and most fabulous design, decorating, entertaining and style sites on the Internet”. Their criteria is simple: They look for value to the reader, engaging content, originality and creativity. They select the most outstanding sites that they find (or that are submitted to them for review). Do you know someone who fits this description? Then recommend them! Recommend your favorite design and style blog by sending nominations to email@example.com and give another blogger a chance to be delighted!
Want to read what The Decorating Diva had to say about The Antiques Diva™?
Decorating Diva writes:
“The Antiques Diva is written by the fabulous Toma Haines, an American expat living in Berlin, Germany with an extraordinary eye for luxe European antiques, vintage jewelry, and art. Toma has taken her love of antiques shopping and made it a career – lucky for antiques lovers (and travel lovers, too) the world over! Toma offers European antiques and decor shopping tours in Paris, Amsterdam, The Hague, Brussels, Antwerp and Berlin. To keep up with Toma’s latest antique finds, follow The Antiques Diva on Twitter.”
Thanks Decorating Diva – Though we both know you’re a diva every day, we’re giving you “The Diva of the Day” award here at The Antiques Diva™ site as a small way to say Merci Beaucoup!
The Antiques Diva™
As Anglophones, when we hear “Commode” we think of a toilet, but in France a “Commode” is a chest of drawers and is considered the finest piece of furniture made for a house! While Anglophones tend to use “chest of drawers” for storing clothes, the French would use a “Coffre”. We might be familiar with the term “buffet” used as a side table in the dining room, but did you know a true buffet is higher than a commode with 2 doors on the bottom and 2 drawers at the top? Meanwhile, a “Buffet a Deux Corps” is literally a cabinet with 2 bodies. The bottom is usually traditional, but then a 2nd upper body is placed on top. However, if the top part has a plate rack, instead of doors, then it becomes a “Vaisselier”.
Richard Norton Antiques at 1st Dibs
A shelf (or even a floor in an apartment) is called an “Etage” but if a piece which sole purpose is shelving, then it is called an “Tagre”. However, if you’re storing books on that “tagre” and it has enclosed sides, then it is called a “Bibliotheque” which happens to be the same word for library in France. Wouldn’t it be confusing to ask how many bookshelves a certain library has?
All this thinking in a foreign language probably leaves you tired. You might as well take a “Siege”!! No, don’t attack a foreign city, instead take a seat – in fact, any seat, this is a general term for “Canapes, Fauteuils or Chaise”. You might know chair is “chaise” in French, but are you familiar with “Fauteuils”? This is nothing more than an armchair from any period. But if that armchair is upholstered, has an exposed wood frame and enclosed sides, then it is considered a “Bergere”. While you might be hungry don’t assume you’ll get an hors-d’oeuvre when you hear canapé mentioned – for a French man is probably asking you to sit on an antique wood-framed couch or love seat!
If you want to kick back and relax, you won’t find a Lazy Boy in France, but you will find a “Chaise Longue”, a chair long enough to support your legs! But if the “Chaise Longue” has a back rest at both ends it is known as a “Recamier”. Meanwhile a grand chair with matching ottoman would be called a “Duchess Brise”. If a chair has a footstool but it doesn’t match, that’s “un pouf”! Of course, if you’re looking for a chair that looks like a stool to sit at the side of a chair but not sit your feet on, then that’s a “Tabouret”!
Vendor: Alhambra Antiques
Last but not least, you might need a “Lumire” to read by! While chandelier sure sounds like a French word to me, the French do not use this term – they call them “Lustre”. Finally, we come to something simple – a lamp is just “une Lampe”, but that’s where simple stops! If I were to say “Appliques” what would you think it means? Me? I think of an embroidery or iron-on patch, but in French this is the word for a sconce! That’s it!!! I’ve had enough French furniture vocabulary for one day! I’m going to bed, which in French is “Lit” pronounced “lee”!
“Bonne Nuit!” Good Night!
The Antiques Diva™
No, instead it was the Interior Collection that was one part Tuscan and one part French provincial with the remaining third being an extra dose of European country style. I could see any of the pieces fitting comfortably on the pages of Kathryn Ireland’s Classic Country book, bedecked with her brightly colored fabrics and vintage finds. A visit to their website lured me further into their folds – thus today’s DivaScovery is Unopiu.
Unopiu was started in 1978 when 2 partners with a craze for gardens started a utopian project to create furnishing solutions for open spaces as though they were part of the house, with the same care and the same elegance – 30 years later this small handicraft store has 30 showrooms in Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Holland, Austria and publish 3 million copies of their catalog (containing over 2000 items) in 6 languages!
Best of all, Unopiu offers online shopping – so you, dear Diva Readers, are only a click away from today’s Diva-scovery!
Image from an article titled “La Dolce Vita with Unopiu” on Hidden in France blog
Image from Info Jardin
Images above and below from Polyvore
Until Next Time, Happy Shopping!
The Antiques Diva™
Do you have a Diva-scovery you’d like to share? Perhaps a favorite antique shop, an excellent brand or divalicious home decorating store. Whether you’re in Paris, Texas or Paris, France or anywhere else around the globe, I’d love to hear your Diva-scoveries!! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org