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;”>We love nothing more than when a client takes the time to write a Thank You note after their tour. This week our English Diva Gail Mcleod has been leading back-to-back clients on tour in England taking them to Sussex, The Cotswolds, down on the English Coast in Kent and through London.
After one of those tours, a client wrote:
“My mother and I had an absolutely fabulous time with Gail. I could easily see why you named her the most knowledgeable woman in Antiques in England. Gail took us to some truly fantastic shops and we were able to purchase even more than we thought we would. This has been above and beyond our expectations and we’re so happy we did this! I hope to be back again soon.
All the best,
Delighted to have another happy Antiques Diva client!
The Antiques Diva®
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;”>Last month on the blog I sat down with our Swedish Divo Guide, Daniel Larsson of D.Larsson Interiör & Antikhandel, and asked him to share his knowledge about Swedish antiques in what I called “The Antiques Diva Master Class”. Today I want to continue that conversation and pass on some of Daniel’s insights into what’s hot right now when it comes to antique Swedish pieces in home decor. Let’s chat with Daniel!
What do you think defines Swedish Décor and Swedish Antiques?
While there are several styles under the “Swedish Antiques” label, the provincial Gustavian Style with the pale tones and simple lines is definitely one of the most recognizable and desirable. These pieces possess a particular elegance. This style fits in any interior whether your look is modern, rustic or classic.
What are the essential antiques to set a Swedish tone in home décor?
As far as specific pieces go, I would say the Swedish long case clock is a must have and fits most homes from modern to more classic. This clock is typical to Sweden. There are two styles with different shapes to them: a masculine clock which has straight lines and a feminine clock which has softer lines. So the style you choose will effect the feel of your home.
Mora clocks are the most well known. The female clocks have a belly and a different shape. The male clocks are less popular than the female.
Any other Swedish pieces that are highly desirable?
Swedish country furniture including drop leaf tables and Swedish dining chairs are highly sought after. While they are pricier than the French chairs, there are not a lot of dealers with original chairs. But the real thing that is desirable in Swedish Antiques is ORIGINALITY.
When it comes to antiques that’s what everyone really wants – ORIGINAL PIECES FROM THE PERIOD – and our specialty is helping our Antiques Diva clients find exactly that on their Sweden Antique Buying tours.
And while we help a lot of foreigners buy Swedish Antiques, the thing I think that is important for people to realize is that we Swedes also want these pieces. The Swedish people want quality and to be honest quality isn’t cheap. But buying quality in Sweden is a better value than elsewhere. Regardless of where you buy them, good Gustavian chairs will go for a lot of money. They’re desireable.
But often when you buying Swedish outside of Sweden you will pay the same price for the later reproductions in the Gustavian style from the late 19th C as you would in Sweden for an original period chair from 100 years earlier in the late 18th C. This makes it much less expensive to buy in Sweden because you’re getting period authentic pieces.
It’s difficult because clients don’t always understand that Gustavian Style doe not mean Gustavian Period. There is a difference in age and quality.
When buying Swedish Antiques you really have to be careful to know the difference – are you buying Gustavian STYLE – which is not from the Gustavian period – or Gustavian Period?
Talk to me about maker’s marks.
In Sweden, true Gustavian pieces sometimes have a maker’s mark to establish their authenticity to the period. Some dealers say it is important to know who made the chair, for instance, because it gives provenance. In fact when the chairs were originally being made this was just a matter of practicality. We Swedes – even in the 18th C – are a practical lot! If you bought a chair and it broke then you knew who to go to fix the chair. The maker’s mark was sort of like a guarantee. “Buy it from me, and if it breaks, bring it back and I’ll repair it.”
What are the trends in antiques at the moment in Sweden? Do the locals love Gustavian antiques the way the rest of the world does?
In Sweden, good modern quality pieces are popular. Everyone knows mid-century modern is HOT right now but I can also see that Art Deco style is gaining quite a bit of popularity. But the Gustavian style has always been and always will continue to be popular among the Swedes. There isn’t one interior magazine in Sweden, regardless of style, that does not include one Gustavian piece in an issue. Our style is different from rest of Europe. Even IKEA is mimicking the Swedish style. In the 1980’s and 1990’s IKEA did a Swedish 18th C line that today has gained collectors value and is selling for more money than back when it was launched! Have you seen the recent IKEA catalog? They just did their version of a Swedish standing tall case clock.
You can’t talk about Sweden without thinking of it’s most famous export – IKEA!
I honestly believe that IKEA is doing more positive things for Swedish furniture than negative. While it is of course budget furniture they are doing it with some style. In Sweden – and I think across Europe this holds true – you’ll actually find IKEA often in high-end homes.
I’ve said it before and will say it again – Decorating with Antiques is about the mix of High & Low. So Swedish decorators pair a Gustavian armchairs with an Ikea Coffee table and the mixture just works. Swedish pieces, whether old or new, are relevant to the way we live today!
Thanks for joining us in this Antiques Diva® Masters Class!
The Antiques Diva®
tobello-knotting-hill.jpg”>tobello-knotting-hill.jpg” alt=”portobello notting hill, Shopping flea markets in London, The Antiques Diva, Toma Clark Haines, English Antiques” width=”600″ height=”450″ />
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;”>I just love the cherry glossy red exterior of Alice’s Antique Emporium – a landmark on our tours/england” target=”_blank”>London Portobello Road Flea Market Tours. While the street market is positively heaving with people on the weekends, I prefer to meander in Notting Hill on weekdays when the shops are open but the crowds have dispersed sticky-beaking my nose into the individual retailers, finding vintage bits and bobs and everything in between.
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;”>For the past month my team and I have been in the process of rewriting our website – page by page. We’re not finished yet… but it’s a start. In rewriting the website it’s made me think about what we stand for as a company – our goals and our objectives and I realized what I really want more than anything is to make antiques accessible. We’re less about your formal grandmother’s antiques with P’s & Q’s that make antiques scary and more about putting antiques into real people, relatable terms.
You can learn about antiques the same way you would wine. You do a wine tasting to educate your pallet. I like to taste outrageously expensive wines so I can recognize quality when I taste it. In terms of antiques you could do little wine tasting, er… I mean – antiques tasting – to learn how to differentiate between high quality pieces and lower end items.
Expose yourself to quality – go to a museum, a famous house, or my personal favorite choice – a chic boutique hotel. Expose your eye to top quality pieces. Visit auction houses – there is no education better than a Christie’s or Sotheby’s catalog. Window shop. Buy design books and pilfer through the pages.
Earlier this week I encouraged you to ask antique vendors questions as part of your learning process… I’m taking this a step further and saying the world is your school. Be inquisitive. Ask everyone questions – from interior designers to museum curators to boutique owners to your friends on why they bought certain items. And remember to sometimes just observe. Take time to study the details without understanding why. Take time to draw correlations in your own mind.
In doing so you will educate yourself – you will learn what to look for, how to look, how to educate your eye, tricks in looking at antiques, what warning signs to look for in finding a fake – and why SOMETIMES buying a vintage reproduction is the right decision. That might sound like blasphemy but there are copies of items made throughout the centuries. In Louis XVI time he was copying the treasures found in Pompeii – down the road further neoclassical movements copied both Louis and his predecessors. You may not be able to afford a period piece but you can have the look with a piece that’s a 100 years newer but still 100 years old.
My entire philosophy is people should buy what they love. I happen to love the patina of 18th C pieces so I try to buy the oldest, best quality pieces I can afford. But sometimes I break the rules for love. In essence – if you love the antique or vintage piece you are wanting to buy and if you are willing to pay the price it’s marked then it’s the right buy for you. Antiques are subjective. Trends and styles influence prices – but love – in my mind – love is forever.
When people buy antiques they often worry they are going to be ripped off or that they don’t know enough about antiques to buy them. If you buy what you love you will never go wrong.
One of our jobs at The Antiques Diva® & Co is to try to empower clients to buy antiques with confidence! On tour we’re there to answer your questions and introduce you to vendors we admire… but we’re also there to encourage you to follow you heart. If you love it – ultimately that’s the only thing that matters. Love will lead the way.
Perhaps I’ve got love on the mind… the timing of this blog post couldn’t be more appropriate… my husband and I just celebrated our 18th year anniversary. Happy Anniversary to my One and Only.
The Antiques Diva®
(seen here with my Mister)
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;”>Here lately I’ve been doing a lot of public speaking about antiquing in Europe and one of the questions I am frequently asked is what are the basic rules you would teach a novice antiques buyer? My biggest bit of advice? When buying antiques a reputable antiques dealer can be your best friend and biggest ally.
Never be afraid to ask a question – the best thing you can do is engage an antiques dealer in a relationship. Ask them questions – How old is it? What is it made of? Where was it made? What was it used for? Where does it come from? Where did they buy it?
Antique Dealers are a unique breed – most of whom chose their profession because it’s their passion. They love to talk about their passion with a willing audience. If you’re a willing audience they would love to share with you their knowledge. Ask a question and let them educate you. Let them be your teachers.
Don’t be afraid that by asking questions you’ll be taken advantage of – or reveal your ignorance. By asking questions you form a relationship with the vendor. I must confess in the rare times when I feel a vendor is trying to swindle me – I will ask them about items I know about and see if they are telling the truth.
What I’ve found when the vendor sees you love the item as much as they do – they want their inventory to go to a good home. Prove yourself worthy of the purchase and you’re likely to get a better price!
In America clients often say they feel they have to point out what’s wrong with a piece to get a discount. In Europe that strategy doesn’t work. Remember Europeans don’t tend to be capitalist and so if you point out everything wrong with a piece the vendor might just say “obviously you weren’t meant to own the piece!”
When buying antiques the best advice I can give is to make a human connection. As my grandma always said, “You can catch more flies with honey…”
The Antiques Diva®
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;”>When sourcing antiques I believe that knowledge is power. I like to think of The Antiques Diva® & Co as a multi-faceted resource to our clients. Of course we custom plan tours based on our clients’ style, budget, and time frame…. Of course we also utilize our local Guides’ relationships with vendors all over Europe to get our clients the best pieces…. Of course we translate and negotiate on our clients’ behalf…. BUT our Guides are also knowledgable when it comes to antiques themselves, helping clients understand WHAT pieces are desirable and WHY they’re desirable. They educate the client (and myself!) about the history of certain styles and why certain pieces are important.
Over the next several months our Antique Tour Guides will be sharing their wealth of knowledge with you here on the blog. Consider this a type of “Antiques Diva® Master Class,” if you will. We’ll be giving you information on various styles, period pieces, and the history behind some of today’s hottest trends in antiques.
Today to kick off the series we’re hearing from The Antiques Diva & Co’s Swedish “Divo” Guide, Daniel Larsson of D.LARSSON INTERIÖR & ANTIKHANDEL giving a Guide to Gustavian Antiques.
What are the Swedish known for when it comes to antiques?
When talking about Swedish antiques the most representative period is from the 18th Century is Gustavian styles. Named after King Gustav III of Sweden it has strong influences of neoclassical French design as well as Italian classicism.
How would we recognize the Gustavian style?
To recognize Gustavian you’ll want to look for clean lines. Before becoming king, Gustav III enjoyed an extended stay with Louis XVI at the Palace of Versailles. You’ll recall the world was all atwitter over the discovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum at that time. Louis XVI was fascinated with the Greco Roman Style incorporating that classical vibe into his décor. Gustav III returning home and incorporated what he learned by Louis’ side.
And just as today we’re influenced by our travels, upon returning home to Sweden from France Gustav brought this style with him!
King Gustav III was a well-rounded guy – very interested in arts and clothes, architecture, style and design. Sort of a modern day Renaissance man! He was very influenced by the French Neoclassical designs and he brought this style to Sweden but he reinterpreted it – simplifying it.
The Gustavian style became a restrained interpretation of the French style. The resources available in Sweden were different than in France – how did this impact the woods and materials used in creating Gustavian pieces?
In the beginning Gustav was having these pieces made for the royal palaces – but the style trickled down to the city and then the countryside. In the larger cities there were master carpenters who used expensive dark woods like mahogany. Today those piece are forbidden for export from Sweden but in the countryside they used less expensive wood such as pine, birch, alder and beech. They painted it in different colors. Over the years these pieces would receive fresh coats of paint – not just in white like people typically expect with Gustavian pieces but also yellow and red. Even black.
When we buy a Gustavian piece it has been painted MANY times – it literally has centuries of layers of paint? Right?
Exactly – Today 90% of all Swedish antique furniture has been repainted many many times. If you strip back the layers of paint the result is a rich patina of older paint. In the 1980’s and 1990’s American dealers bought a large quantity of Gustavian antiques, stripped everything down to the bare wood and re-painted it all white. Today dealers are more aware of preserving the integrity of the piece. They will strip the piece when possible to the original – or primary – paint or secondary or third level. Often these pieces need “touched up” and a little decorative paint is then added as necessary.
What is your best piece of advice for someone who wants to purchase Gustavian antiques abroad?
When purchasing Scandinavian antiques, you must be careful not to get scammed. There are people who rebuild furniture from old parts – and then they label it as original Gustavian. It is Gustavian style – but not period or pure pieces. As you always teach our clients – you must know the difference between a period piece and a style piece. One of the things that amazes me is how many vendors say they are selling Gustavian – implying it’s a period piece – but isn’t. About 70% of what you see online is mislabeled. It may be Gustavian Style, but not ORIGINAL. While this “rebuilt” furniture may be beautiful, it’s important to make the distinction that it isn’t original because pieces with better provenance bring higher prices. Make sure you know what you’re paying for. That’s why it’s smart to educate yourself before purchasing.
Educating our clients is something you’re particularly good at Daniel. From now on we may have to change your title from “Divo” to “Teacher”. Thanks for sharing your Guide to Gustavian.
We hope you’ve enjoyed your Antiques Diva® Master Class. Stay tuned for this continued series from our expert team at The Antiques Diva® & Co.
The Antiques Diva®
(seen below with Divo Guide Daniel Larsson)
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;”>Do you remember the movie Grease? As I write this blog the song where they repeat “Grease is the word” is going through my mind….. Though in this instance I’m singing “Mid-Century is the word, is the word, is the word”…. Okay, forget singing, it’s never been my forte. But mid-century is the word that keeps popping up everywhere lately. From top shelter magazines to design shows on television, it seems that everyone is infusing mid-century modern pieces into their interiors. At The Antiques Diva & Co, we’ve been taking clients on buying tours all across Europe to source mid-century modern items including lighting, art, and furniture. But we love when our favorite dealers come together in one place, and that’s exactly what’s happening on Sunday, May 11th. Modern enthusiasts from all over will flock to Mid-century Show East at Goldfinger’s Haggerston School in London to shop 50 of the best mid-century vendors in Europe.
Known for their stylish events, Modern Shows are thoughtfully curated, offering up highly sought after design classics by Eames, Jacobsen, Bertoia, Nelson, and Wegner. This show will feature original twentieth-century pieces of British, American, and Scandinavian provenance. The variety promises to be vast with dealers offering ceramics, glass, wallpaper, vintage fabrics, industrial, clocks, collectable posters, furniture, lighting, and much more. If you’re looking for top quality mid-century modern design, this is the place to be!
Pack your bags because it’s time to shop! Or let us shop for you – we’re always happy to help source antiques abroad through our buying services. How it works is simple. You tell us what you want… we scout out what you’re looking for, taking photos and sending them to you with pre-negotiated trade prices scored through our brilliant array of contacts. Let me know if you want more details on how we can help you source European mid-century modern pieces.
And remember – Grease is the word! I mean Mid-Century Modern is the Word!
The Antique Diva®
P.S. Missing this spring event? Don’t worry – there’s time to come abroad on future shows.
October 12th 2014
The Midcentury Show at Haggerston, East London
November 23rd 2014
Midcentury Modern in Dulwich, South London
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;”>Last week I wrote about the sensational speaking engagement I spoke at in town” target=”_blank”>Chicago at the Merchandise Mart on The Art of Antiquing with some great local talent including interior design principals Tom Konopiots and Michael Stornello of Vincere, LTD., interior designer Brion R. Judge of B.R Judge Design and Betsy Nathan, owner of Pagoda Red. After the event I had the opportunity to go for cocktails at Ralph’s with interior decorator Andrew Skipper and loved his feedback on the event so much that I asked if he’d write to share his experience attending our talk.
Caption: Cocktails with Andrew Skipper and his friend, Robyn
Andrew Skipper writes:
“I’ve always been what you might call a “hunter and gatherer.” As a small child I would collect beautiful rocks and feathers that I’d find in the woods and place them in a wooden box on my dresser. In junior high school I convinced my parents to take me to tag sales where I would use my lawn mowing money to buy Duncan Phyfe chairs and milk glass.
Lucky for me, I’ve been able to carry on this hobby of treasure hunting in my career as an interior decorator. I still use natural elements in my design work and I frequent tag sales while shopping for myself and clients. One of my favorite things to do is to peruse through antique stores and flea markets, searching for one of a kind items.
In the past few years I’ve been able to help clients establish fine art collections including museum-quality antique pieces from all over the world. The internet is a convenient tool for doing this, but I’ve always longed to travel to Europe and experience the flea markets of France or the antique shops of Belgium.
This desire led me to Chicago to hear a panel discussion on collecting and sourcing antiques in Europe and Asia. Because I’ve never been on an international shopping spree, I was interested to hear what is involved in finding antiques and getting them back to the USA.
I’ve been following Toma Clark Haines – The Antiques Diva – on social media for some time and was quite interested in what she had to say on the subject. If I went to Europe right now, I wouldn’t know how to barter (or even if Ishould try) or how to get the pieces shipped out of the country.
After hearing the panel talk, I am encouraged that even a young designer like me could utilize resources like The Antiques Diva tours to make connections with dealers and source antiques for clients. There is just something about having someone by your side who knows the lay of the land that takes the intimidation out of a new experience and transforms it into a fun, exciting process.
In a world of mass production and “made to throw away” furniture, it is lovely to know that there are people out there who want to help educate designers and clients alike on the value of living with finely crafted antiques. Long live the heirloom!”
Caption: Andrew Skipper – Interior Decorator
I was beyond smitten with Andrew’s feedback and with Andrew in general. In addition to doing interior decorating for residential and commercial clients, he is the lifestyle expert for NBC affiliate WNDU TV, giving decorating and entertaining tips. You have to check out some of his past segments. He also writes a travel blog for the Elkhart County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. If you’re not already following him on Facebook – then you must add him to your Must Follow List!
The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
Save the Date! Come join me in NYC on Nov 5th at the beautiful Decoration & Design Building!
I’ll be on a panel along with interior design maven Justin Shaulis (of HGTV fame) and famed designers Philip Gorrivan and Jon Call of Mr. Call Designs. Plus, we have the good fortune of having esteemed blogger and interior designer Tamara Matthews-Stephenson of Nest By Tamara as our guest panelist and moderator!
The topic du jour will be the Art of Collecting and the Accessibility of Sourcing Antiques in Europe.
Come! Listen! Learn! ENJOY!!
See you soon in The Big Apple,
The Antiques Diva®