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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Timeless Tapestries

Tapestries are a textile art form made of fibers woven on a loom  depicting decorative scenes and motifs. They are usually made of natural fibers including wool, silk and linen and are heavy in weight due to the fact that the warp thread is completely covered by the  weft. Are you with me?

About 15 years ago Tuscan style decorating was very popular and I saw a return to decorating with tapestries. They convey a sense of richness, warmth and history. I love tapestries as wall art which is how they were originally intended, to decorate and insulate drafty castles!

On our visit to France a couple of years ago I was overwhelmed with the sheer volume of tapestries hanging in the museums, galleries and cathedrals. Those artisans had some serious needlework skills! In medieval times tapestries told stories, allegories and history teaching tools. One of the best known series of tapestries is The Lady and the Unicorn. Each large scene represents a different sense - touch, taste, sight, hearing, and smell.

I found a reproduction many years ago at, yes, a thrift store! I paid $12.
 It hangs high in my living room vaulted ceiling.

This hunting tapestry I did pay a bit more for, $100, found antiquing. I've used it as the  color scheme inspiration in my living room.

You can find tapestries in any color scheme and many different motifs - fruit or floral, pastoral, religious, landscapes, medieval, Victorian and even contemporary.

A close examination shows the individual stitches. 
Many times tapestries are signed by the maker or artist.
So now that "Farmhouse" and Midcentury Modern are the decorating trends is there still a place for tapestries in home decor?  Of course!
 Used sparingly a vintage tapestry can bring some color and texture to all that neutral I see going on.
Needlepoint is a form of tapestry and pillows are great way to incorporate this  art form into your decor.

And don't forget the tabletop. Tapestry runners look elegant on a sideboard or console table.

An old tapestry makes a great base for a tablescape. 

The French Tangerine: ~ antique tapestry:

Country Living and Urban Outfitters show tapestries that create a headboard.
In the master bedroom, Smith hung an 1854 textile in place of a headboard. The wall art is actually pressed sea kelp, purchased at a flea market during a vacation in Paris. #countryliving #bedrooms:
urban outfitters tapestry/head board                                                                                                                                                                                 More:

And don't forget about using tapestry fabric for upholstery and window treatments.

Don't be afraid to use this ancient art form in your own home. It is truly timeless!

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Where I Shop for Treasure

As a long time collector and an antiques dealer I am frequently asked "Where do you get all of your great stuff?" Of course, there is no single answer to that but I can share with you my 5 favorite places to find great furniture, home decor and collectors items.

1- Antique Stores
Image result for antiques sign

I grew up in Pennsylvania with parents who loved antiquing, so I learned at a very young age the thrill of poking around  for treasures in out of the way country shops. I remember my folks had a favorite dealer named Joe who had more of a warehouse type shop and a great eye as well as great prices. They still have many fine things they got from Joe and while I'm sure he's long gone his influence remains in my parents home.

Every city in every state has antique stores! When I travel I check them out. If you are buying for yourself antique stores usually provide a very good value for  your money. As a dealer I have learned it doesn't make much sense to buy from another dealer and try to resell an item - however, there are always exceptions 😉 

2- Estate Sales
Hepplewhite sideboard, mahogany,  purchased for $100 at an estate sale.

As a young wife and mother our little family moved to New Jersey. We quickly made friends with several other young couples who were also starting out in home ownership and furnishing a home. Our quaint little town of Maplewood was filled with colonial homes ripe for renovation. My friends and I made a habit of visiting the weekly estate sales in the area and snapped up classic pieces of furniture like Hepplewhite sideboards, Windsor chairs and Oriental rugs.

An estate sale is run by a company that will liquidate a home's contents on behalf of a family usually after someone has passed away, hence the term "estate". Typically all sales are as is, final and everything must go. This is a fabulous way to find everything from home furnishings, vintage clothing, tools, jewelry, collectibles - you name it! Be prepared to haul off whatever you purchase.

Estate sales are listed in your local paper, on craigslist and  you can usually subscribe to an email list that will notify you of upcoming sales in your area. 

3- Auctions
Chippendale dining table and 8 chairs, mahogany with satinwood inlay purchased at auction $1200

Another favorite activity of mine was going to local auctions. My friends and I would take our toddlers in tow and bid on furniture, art and tabletop items. An auction house usually sets up a preview day where buyers can inspect the items that will be offered. On the day of the auction you must register and be given a number. You cannot just show up and start waving your hand! If you are buying for yourself remember that you may be bidding against antique dealers who will then have to double or triple the price in their shop.That can give you a big advantage!

I have purchased many fine things at auctions both for personal use as well as my store. It's a fun way to buy, but set your limits and stick to them!  There is also a buyers premium that the auction house sets so don't forget to factor that in.

Of course, the internet has changed the auction landscape in the past couple of decades. I have also bought and sold many things on eBay. There are several reputable online auction houses. My most recent find is
They run online auctions themselves of fine art, furniture and high end jewelry, collectibles and decor. Plus they have links to other auction houses around the country if you want to attend an auction in person. I've had great fun browsing their website!

4- Flea Markets

Long Beach Flea Market
Now we are getting to the real bargains. I love flea markets! I have been lucky enough to attend flea markets in Paris, Strasbourg, London, Pasadena, Long Beach, and the famous Brimfield's  flea market in New England. Honestly, I can't think of anything more fun than browsing an outdoor flea market on a weekend. 
I am usually shopping for my store and take home a trailer full(or container). Anything and everything is available at flea markets and don't be shy about bargaining! The vendors would much rather sell their wares than take it home. If I meet a stubborn vendor I usually move on, someone else will be willing to deal. I have my typical list of things that I am looking for - china and silver, rustic home decor, vintage linens and anything French!

5- Thrift Stores
Ironstone creamers all found at thrift stores

Thrift Stores are kind of the nuts and bolts of my inventory. Many people consider thrift stores to be nothing but junk, but you know the old saying, "One man's trash is another man's treasure".  I routinely find English ironstone, silver plate flatware and serving pieces, vintage linens, tole trays, pewter and ornate frames. Rarely do I find great furniture, however I did buy a Federal mahogany china cabinet once! (read HERE ) My favorites are Goodwill, Assistance League, and other church sponsored charity shops.

It's been so fun to turn my hobby into into my profession. I've learned a lot over the years! 
Happy shopping!

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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Decorating with Candlesticks

Do you love decorating with candlesticks as much as I do? I use candles in literally every room in the house. They can be formal or rustic, short or tall. I have candlesticks made of silver, pewter, crystal, brass and wood. I tend to group similar candlesticks together and I love to cluster them on a tray for a dramatic centerpiece. But they also are great for giving height to a vignette or anchoring other objets d'art. I especially use candlesticks during the holidays to add a bit of sparkle to a tablescape. On Christmas Eve we ate by candlelight. The grandkids were enchanted and it helped to set a quiet mood and made for a memorable evening.

Candlesticks are not expensive and can match any decor style!

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