Antiques have a way of adding a richness and interest to any décor. It’s rare that you go into any home and not see some antique or vintage piece, whether it’s a collection of glassware in a cabinet, an antique mirror on the wall, or a table in the foyer holding accent pieces. Obtaining these items can be an experience in itself. Who doesn’t love to stroll through an antique show, hunt for treasures in one of those little shops tucked away on some small town Main Street, or dream of finding an unusual item in an estate sale? This kind of personalization of your décor makes it truly unique.
Chic antiquing is for the serious shopper who is well-informed when it comes to antiques and who has a home décor conducive to quality pieces. And that includes homeowners of all ages, according to Luci Johnson, owner of Luci T. Johnson Antiques & Interiors located at Five Points in Raleigh. She has many young buyers in their 30s. “I try to show them the quality in the construction and to guide them in their selection,” says Johnson. “When they are overwhelmed by the price of a roomful of antiques, I tell them to start with one good piece and build their collection a little at a time. The important thing about antiques is that they are timeless and add character to your home.”
Johnson’s store is full of beautiful 18th and 19th century English and American antiques, some with very interesting stories behind them. “I have a pine corner cupboard that had a note telling the farm near Rocky Mount where the pine trees for its wood had been cut,” Johnson says. “That history, plus the fact that it was made in North Carolina, makes the piece all that much more valuable to Triangle customers.”
For those with a smaller budget, adding decorative vintage pieces will perk up the interest in any room. “Start with what you’ve got,” advises Susie Foster, owner of SuzAnna’s Antiques. “Put your imagination to work and find a totally new use for your item. A chandelier takes on a new look when tea cups become light holders. Take off an old dilapidated lamp shade from a vintage lamp and drape a lace piece over the shade framework instead and--voila!--you have a completely different feature.”
“You don’t have to buy vintage items to use them,” continued Foster. “For special occasions consider leasing the vintage pieces. Brides come in here all the time and select dishes to lease for their wedding dinners. Photographers lease pieces of furniture for photo shoots. A mother used an antique bed as background for photos of her children.”
Antiques are inherently full of nostalgia. When you look at a vintage game or table, you can’t help thinking back to your own experiences. Laura Cashwell, owner of For Old Times Sake Antiques in Wake Forest, sees that all the time. “Our customers will wander through the store, pointing out items they remember seeing in their parents’ home, and they always have a story to tell about them. A visit to our shop gives them a warm, fuzzy feeling because this vintage collection we feature is a walk down memory lane. Selecting pieces to display in their homes becomes a daily reminder of happier times for them.”
There is nothing more appealing that retro furniture and décor items. The 60s bring up memories of the Beatles, Woodstock, go-go boots, tie-dye shirts, and VW buses painted with psychedelic flowers by their hippy owners. “It was the atomic age,” said John Giustiniani, co-owner of GC5 Antiques & Gifts in Wake Forest. “Clean lines, minimalist furnishings, retro accessories popular then have become hip once again with the 25-45 age group.” His wife and co-owner, Amanda, agreed. “The Triangle has the third largest concentration of modernist houses in America, more than anywhere else except Los Angeles and Chicago. Many of their owners are buying not just accessories or accent pieces but whole house furnishings to decorate these homes.”
Sometimes antique furniture can become very contemporary without losing its original design. “Lacquering is very popular now,” stated Nancy Brantley, buyer and decorator for Stein’s Furniture and Antiques. “People buy antique furniture and then have us apply a lacquer finish to it to give it a modern look while maintaining the style of the original piece. The lacquers come in any color which can be custom-matched to a fabric and can have any finish from flat to glossy. Since it is heavier than paint, it covers flaws that may be evident in the furniture. Unfortunately, the process does negate the value of the piece as an antique, but many high end decorators are using lacquered pieces which blend well with stained pieces or modern décor.”