Some notes on our approach...
Living with Antiques
Antiques can do much to set the tone of a room, but few of us wish to live in a museum. For most of us, our home is our retreat, and we want to be able to relax with the objects we place in our personal space.
One of the things I find so wonderful about furniture is that it is created as functional design – it is beautiful, but first and foremost it is made to serve a purpose, and it is made to be used. The age of a piece of furniture doesn’t change that. Actually, the fact that a piece has survived so long is a testament to how well it was made to fulfill its function. With this in mind, I see no reason a piece of furniture, just because it is 'old', should not continue to be used for its original purpose.
Now, that doesn’t mean that you should be rough or careless with your antiques - they usually do require a bit more care, and you should consider where you will place them, and who will be using them. And of course there are some notable exceptions, like for very fragile or exceedingly rare items. But assuming you have the right mindset, I see no reason you shouldn’t fully integrate antiques in your home, where they can deliver both beauty and functionality, atmosphere and relaxed comfort.
Wear & Condition
Rarely do we find antiques in ‘perfect’ condition. Like us, they face battles and acquire scars and age over time. The majority of the pieces that I offer date from the 18th century, so have already survived for two or more centuries. Good times and bad, prosperity and poverty, war, peace, and revolution. Or, from the object's perspective, heat and cold, damp and dry, care and neglect, mishaps, catastrophes, and sometimes outright violence.
But through it all, these pieces have survived to be with us today. Sometimes the fact that an antique has survived so long can be chalked up to dumb luck. But more often than not it is a testament to the quality of the materials they were made with and the skills of the craftsmen who made them. It also shows that a piece has been valued through history, that other people saw it as worth preserving.
That an antique shows scars and signs of wear and aging is normal. It is part of a piece's story, a testament to its authenticity, and adds to its overall interest and appeal. It shows that a piece has been well used and loved over its life span. The fact is, you should be concerned if an antique does not show signs of wear and aging.
as a ‘document’ of the techniques, materials and methods of its period as much as possible). They should also be done gently, so they don’t inadvertently destroy the very characteristics (like patina) that give a piece its charm and differentiate it from something that is newly made.
Antiques have a lifespan far longer than yours or mine - we are only temporary caretakers on its journey. With that in mind, I want a piece that passes through my hands to leave in as good or better condition than when it arrived.
To achieve this, I work with a small number of specialists who repair and restore antiques using traditional techniques and materials – sometimes even completing the work using antique tools. Our shared goal is to repair, renew and refresh, gently and in keeping with the spirit of the piece, all while retaining as much of its historical integrity as possible.
Repair & Restoration
Damage can of course be the result of an act of violence inflicted in a flash. But it can also happen slowly and imperceptibly, over many years, as materials react to environmental factors. Repair and restoration are the actions we take to save a piece that is worth saving and help ensure it will go on to be enjoyed by future generations.
That a piece has been repaired or restored is not necessarily a bad thing. What is important is that any repairs or restorations were done correctly (using appropriate materials and techniques); honestly (not done with the intent to deceive); and respectfully (to preserve the piece
Upholstery & Fabric
As compared to the other materials used in the manufacture of antiques, fabric is relatively fragile and easily affected by the environment and use. It is rare to find 18th century pieces with their original finish fabric still intact. When you do, it is most likely leather or tapestry, not cotton or silk (the internal materials, like stuffing and webbing, has a much better chance of surviving intact). So it is normal that upholstered pieces like chairs and sofas have been re-covered with different finish fabric – often multiple times - since they were originally manufactured.
Selecting the right fabric for a piece of upholstered furniture is so
important. Fabric truly has the power to transform a piece. I really enjoy the process of selecting fabric, which requires an understanding of history, styles, materials, colors, and patterns, and (most importantly) a good sense of the spirit of a piece. To achieve this, I usually live with a piece for some time before selecting fabric. While this slows down the process, it delivers a better end result.