HAPPY NEW YEAR!  Our family at FrenchGardenHouse wishes you a year ahead filled with joy, fresh starts and new beginnings.  We’re so grateful to count you all as friends, and fellow antique lovers.

 

Today, I’m giving you an inside peek into how I buy for the shop, and I’m sharing the answers to some of the questions I get asked most often.

 

At FrenchGardenHouse, I tirelessly shop for the perfect antiques, pieces of the past with fine quality, craftsmanship and style.  I sell what I love, and that range is quite large, depending on what is available “at market”, what I’m currently enamored with, and what I think our clients will love.

 

 

1. Tell us a little about yourself, how did you first become interested in antiques?

 

As a little girl growing up in Europe, my Mom and I lived with my grandparents for the first 8 years of my life.  They lived in a grand home, with a live in maid and a “daily” to do the deep cleaning. : )   Their home was filled with beautiful French and Flemish antiques, so I grew up with storied pieces with loads of character.  My grandmama did not believe in sheltering her fine things from me as a child, so I used the best dishes, drank tea that she poured from her silver tea pot in porcelain cups every day at precisely 3:30, and used silver cutlery.  I loved the patina and stories her antiques had, and that love translated into buying antiques at a very early age.

 

 

Recently, I looked around our home and realized that in a slightly more modern way, I’ve re-created parts of my grandparent’s home, a home that I loved so much!

 

 

 

2. What is your inspiration when you’re looking for antiques for FrenchGardenHouse?

 

My inspiration is always about finding unusual things that I envision will make our clients’ homes personal, inviting and exceptionally beautiful. I personally hand pick every single item in our collection. I buy antiques based on my emotional response to them. Sometimes I sprint across the aisle at a market {super e a r l y in the mornings!} because I’ve spotted something I’ve never seen before, something that is calling out to me and saying – “hello! I’ve been around over a hundred years and I’m beautiful, exciting, and want to go home with you!”

 

 

 

My emotions sometimes get the best of me, because I’m excited about antiques with wear, patina and history. Before I buy it for FrenchGardenHouse, I answer a few questions: is it something I haven’t seen before? Do I love it? It is a little quirky and/or fun? Will it fit into the FGH shop aesthetic? Do I think my clients will love it as much as I do?  If the answer is yes, I purchase the piece and do a happy dance.
{Or…if the answer is yes to just one of those questions, but I’m hopelessly in love, I buy it anyway!!}

 

 

 

3. Where do you source antiques from?

 

This is the question that we get asked more than any other. Enquiring minds want to know.  I often kid that it’s a secret and if I told, I’d have to swear you to secrecy.  But the truth is, I buy our antiques and vintage pieces from a wide range of sources, both private and public, across several continents!

 

 

 

I buy many of our antiques from my private connections, fellow dealers who have a high level of knowledge and taste. I am blessed that I have an international network of dealer contacts who give me “first choice” of their finds. I get exclusive access when fine items become available {I am completely spoiled by them!}  We go to Europe to source our antique decorative accessories and kitchen and table top pieces from our secret resources from France, Belgium, Italy and England.

 

 

 

 

4. What is your favorite part of the buying process?

 

Antiques have a quality we rarely see today, they were made to last, and made with such precision and skill!  It’s fascinating to dig into the history of antiques, who made it, what was it for, who would have used it and loved it?  I’m hooked on learning something new each and every time I go on a buying trip.

It’s always a thrill when I see something I’ve never seen before. In my many years of buying and selling antiques, I’ve seen quite a bit.  I only buy what I love.  If I don’t like something, I just don’t buy it, even if there’s likely to be a great profit margin.

 

 

 

What I love most about buying antiques is that there’s always something to learn in our business, it never gets stale. Many antique pieces were handmade and often commissioned by someone for a specific use, so there are lots of “one of a kinds” out there. The history of antiques is fascinating. It’s a pretty big learning curve, I spend a huge amount of time doing research, but nothing thrills me more than when I find something unique.

 

5. Can you tell right away if something will be a best-seller?

 

I’m sometimes surprised by what sells or what stays around for a while, but not too often since I have a pretty good idea who my clients are and what they love. Antiques seem to follow a cycle just like every other type of decorative accessory, both in popularity and availability.  It’s why I always tell clients, if you love it, buy it. Because although there are plenty of antiques out there, you may never find another piece just like the one you love!

 

A case in point are tole trays. I search high and low for unusual, exceptional toleware trays.  There are many tole trays available, but there aren’t many that are unique.  It can be a color, a shape, or the way it was painted; a truly spectacular tole tray is not always easy to find.  My collectors know this, and tole remains a best seller for FrenchGardenHouse, because clients have come to value the trays we offer as unusual and rare.

 

 

 

 

 

6. What are the greatest challenges of your business?

 

Honestly, I don’t really have many challenges, I buy what I love, I have fabulous clients who love what I love, and life at FrenchGardenHouse is good.  The only thing I can say that is a challenge is not to spend too much time at “work” because I love it so much. Sometimes it’s difficult to switch my brain off…no matter where I go, I’m always going to want to see if there are any antiques in town.  I think about antiques morning, noon and night.

 

 

 

7. What is the greatest reward of your business?

 

There are two: one is bringing a forgotten item with a history back into the limelight it deserves. To bring beauty and joy into the lives and homes of our clients. I firmly believe that surrounding yourself and the people you love with a curated environment filled with beauty is essential to creating your own haven from the outside world.

 

Your home doesn’t have to be filled with expensive, exclusive objects, but having a few things of quality and fine workmanship that give you joy, will bring a smile each time you see them.

 

 

The other thing I love about my business is the ability to teach about antiques.  I believe that the more you know about them, the more you will love and cherish them!  It is always an honor to write about “my” antiques in magazines, because that is the ultimate opportunity to engage others with my love for antiques.  I’ve written many articles about antiques, how to collect them, what to look for, how to display them.  Every home needs at least a few antiques!

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Can you give us a tip to tell the difference between antiques and reproductions?

The best tip I can give is that in order to know what a real antique should look and feel like is to get familiar with real antiques.  Visit museums and antique shops. Time leaves its mark on objects, a patina.  There should be small marks and wear on true antiques.  They should have a certain “feel” and hand made look that reproductions will not have.  At times, we Americans want our antiques to be too “perfect” while Europeans often pay extra for signs of wear and tear!

 

Reproductions are usually too perfect, and they are mass produced with less than stellar materials. Typically, the design proportions will be completely wrong, too. Most reproductions will just feel wrong, if you have had enough experience handling real antiques.

SHOP ANTIQUES >

 

Shop for the best in French Antiques, furniture with the patina of age, vintage accessories to delight you and your family & friends, and French Country utilitarian pieces. Treasures that make your home fresh, beautiful, inspirational and uniquely yours. Visit our shop FrenchGardenHouse.com