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Creating the Perfect Tablescape with Antiques

Dear Diva Readers,

It’s no secret that I love to decorate my home with antiques. Since my home caught fire a couple years ago and I lost most of my material possessions in the flames, I’ve been scouting across Europe creating new collections, seeking accessories and staple pieces to complete my new flat. But now that I have my main pieces in place, that doesn’t mean that the decorating is over.  I, like many design enthusiasts, tend to get bored with stagnant interiors that don’t change or evolve every so often. (heck, every day!)  And while buying all new furniture would be a huge budget buster – not to mention a hassle – creating fresh tablescapes on a regular basis is a fun way to shake things up a bit.  (Confession… soon as I wrote “shake” I began singing Taylor Swift’s song Shake it Off!)

Decorating with Antiques, Designing Tablescapes, Artful Vignettes, The Antiques Diva, Berlin Apartment, Toma Clark Haines

When I say tablescape I’m not just talking about the dining table. You can design table arrangements on console, coffee, and side tables. Even other flat surfaces like shelves, mantels, and window ledges can be used to artfully display objects. Here are some easy tips to get you started on creating beautiful vignettes using antiques in your home.

Decorating with Antiques, Designing Tablescapes, Artful Vignettes, The Antiques Diva, Berlin Apartment, Toma Clark Haines

Keep it cohesive, but never boring. As with any decorating project, it’s important to know your personal style and the overall “look” you’re going for. For instance if you have a mid-century style home and theme, you probably won’t be adding heavily carved victorian pieces to your room. The same rule applies with tablescapes. Keep the style consistent with the rest of your decor and try to complement other elements in your home.

Decorating with Antiques, Designing Tablescapes, Artful Vignettes,

In order to keep it from feeling boring, mix up the heights of objects. Use books to stack things on top of and think about layering pieces of art in front of each other. I love the look of using small tabletop easels to display artwork or even photographs.

Shelfie, Decorating with Antiques, Designing Tablescapes, Artful Vignettes, The Antiques Diva, Berlin Apartment, Toma Clark Haines

Add natural elements to your vignettes as well. Mixing materials such as shell, horn, flowers, and geodes with antiques really sets off the patina of the older items. Also using interesting pieces is important. That’s what’s great about antiques— they are NOT being sold mass-produced at every decor store which means when you decorate with antiques you’re giving your home a uniquely you spin!

Whether you hunt for accessories at antique shops, flea markets, or tag sales, think about what other items you can pair them with to create visually interesting tablescapes throughout your house. And remember, the same as when it comes to dating… Opposites Attract!

Happy Decorating,

The Antiques Diva® 

Decorating with Antique Books

Dear Diva Readers,

While I love to shop (and take clients on shopping tours), I also love to decorate! I think a great way to add personality and a sense of history to any space is by using antique books in your decor. Not only do they look beautiful, but they also are practical—you can actually READ them! When my husband started collecting first editions he made a promise to himself that he would always read the books regardless of how many zeroes were included in the price tag.

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

Now whether you’re placing antique books on shelves or using them as art in themselves, I’ve got a few easy ways that you can incorporate antique books into your home.

Of course if you have built-in shelves or even just a bookcase, books are the perfect way to fill these spaces. You can mix up the colors or color block them in groups of green bindings, red bindings, etc for more of a statement. I recently had the opportunity to visit Ashley Hicks – son of designer David Hicks – at his home in the English countryside and was able to sneak a picture of his famous father’s red office fitted with gorgeous antique red leather books.

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

Make sure you intersperse some books that are stacked horizontally so you can sit a small object d’art on top of them. This is a great way to show off a special piece.

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

If you come across antique books that aren’t in the best shape, consider bundling them together with twine and sitting them on a table. It’s a cost effective and fun way of displaying tired books almost as sculpture. You could also remove the bindings and just use the monochromatic pages lined up on a shelf as a modern take on the classic library. In Designer David Hicks’ personal bedroom at his house, The Grove, his books are all white toned and rumor has it that when the famous designer had insomnia he would wash the spines of his books keeping them shelves spic and span in lieu of counting sheep!

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

If your table lamps are sitting just a bit too low, perch them atop a stack of antique books.   In David Hicks’ office I loved his specially designed “library lamp”  in which the shade is cut in half in an updated modern version of the Italian shades to shine light on the books behind it.

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

The principle of using books as risers can apply to any object you’re wanting to elevate. Place a beautiful bowl on top of a stack of books or sit a sculpture on top of the stack. It will make the object seem more important, as if on a pedestal of its own!  In my own secretaire in my living room at home in Berlin I’ve stacked a giant inkwell on the shelf.  These books were a gift from an English friend – which reminds me – antique and vintage books make great presents! You can be really creative in picking books that have to do with your friends interests, travel plans, or even use their name in the title.

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

Regardless of how you use antique books, they are sure to add personality to your space. Books tell people about your interests and they create dimension in interiors. While my husband collects first editions from Parisian expat writers in the 1930’s – I collect interior design books – both vintage books such as David Hicks as well as current day books from friends such as Ronda Carmen’s book Designers at Home to Judith Miller’s latest tome.  On my reading list at the moment is Susanna Salk’s Decorate Fearlessly.  We’re traveling together in Italy this week doing some stylish shopping at Mercanteinfiera and I’m excited to get to spend time IRL with a favorite author shopping by her side!

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

Whether an antique or vintage book – a brand new book from a favorite designer – I want to know what are you reading?

The Antiques Diva®

 

The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, Decorating with Antiques Books, Shelfie, Ashley Hicks, David Hicks, The Grove, Ronda Carmen, Susanna Salk, Judith Miller, Mercanteinfiera

Photo Credit: Laila McCubbin Jones

Say Cheese! It’s Another Shelfie

Swedish Rococo secretaire, Shelfie, antique coral, taxidermied doves, apothecary jars, silver cache pots, vintage ink wells

In honor of yesterday’s dental appointment we’re discussing eclecticism in home decorating.  Tucked into one of the shelves in the Swedish Rococo secretaire in the corner of my living room I’ve displayed my dental mold on a shelf along with antique, leather-bound books and an inkwell.  I liked the way the white popped against the red shelves.  And while I thought this was a humorous accent I think my husband might just think it’s creepy!  Other shelves hold more antique coral, taxidermied doves, apothecary jars, silver cache pots and shells gathered on long ago vacations.   What are the eclectic touches you do in your home décor?

The Antiques Diva ®

Another Shelfie

Shelfie, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva Berlin Apartment, Book Shelves, Decorating a Loft Apartment

Last week I shared my first “Shelfie” and today I had to share again- but disclaimer please, this photo from our library shows no antiques. It’s a photo simply filled with memories. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle was my favorite book as a pre-teen and after our house fire last year my mother gave me the tattered copy from my youth. The glass mason jar is filled with seashells picked up on a girl’s trip years ago in Sanibel Island with dear friends Stacey, Catherine and Tamara and the giant foot is a souvenir from Rome when I took my 16 year old niece Tessa to Italy for her birthday.

And, lastly, the playing cards a memento of my time spent chatting a couple of months ago with Design Hero Gary Gibson at his trend setting shop in LA.  I see my home in memories – each piece a souvenir, sitting on a shelf and reminding me of moments that make me smile.

My Shelfie

Shelfie, Antiques Buying Tour Belgium, Tongeren, Flea Market Finds,

Apparently the latest trend in “selfies” is “shelfies” – photos of artistically arranged shelves being posted on social media sites. I’ve been taking “shelfies” for years but never knew they had a name. My library shelves are a combination of literary wizard and mad scientist as I mix and match pieces and periods, adding some eclecticism to my décor. In general my style is modern meets antiques – I shake it up a bit with my shelf décor.

On this shelf vintage books and the Bible mix with a reproduction bronze statue picked up at High Point Antiques & Design Center with some vintage chemistry sets picked up on one of our Belgium Antique Buying Tours at the Tongeren flea market. Tucked under one beaker? The skin from a cobra I held on vacation last year in Thailand.

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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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The Antiques Diva & Co is the Official Tour Guide of Paul Bert Serpette at The Paris Flea Market

The Paris Flea Market Paul Bert Serpette




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