Modern History Monday- DesignHounds trip with The Antiques Diva in England!

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Gorgeous Chest-on-Chest at The Antiques Collective in Sussex, UK

The worn spaces near the handles speak to years of use, and add greatly to its charm…


I love using antique or vintage items in my designs – finding that unique piece that adds history and beauty to a room or home is a big thrill.  It is wonderful to see how a piece with “history” can connect us to another place and time, and add distinctive interest to a home, I use these pieces whenever I can. 

My Grandmother started her own business in antiques in the late 1940’s, so I have been surrounded by people in the business of antiques my whole life – I grew up hearing the stories of a special “find” or a particularly interesting example of “_”.  I was hooked on the romance of those stories ever since!

I was fortunate to meet Toma Clarke Haines in person earlier this year – Toma is the human dynamo that created The Antiques Diva and turned it into the largest antique touring and buying collaborative in Europe in just a few short years!  While I love everything about England, you might wish to take advantage of her expert team in the rest of Europe, or possibly the Far East, where she has recently worked her “Diva” magic!


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 Train Platform in Lewes with its delightful Victorian decorated columns


My trip to London with the DesignHounds recently was filled with some fabulous experiences, but one of the highlights was a trip to Lewes in Sussex hosted by an official English representative of The Antiques Diva – Gail Mcleod from Antique News and Fairs….We were hosted at Lewes by Martin D. Johnson and Fountaine  Not only were we treated to a delightful luncheon with champagne, but we were able to tour their fabulous Antiques Barn.  This source for designers and antique professionals was truly amazing!  Beautiful items, beautifully displayed and presented.


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 Tall cupboard with great faux graining and original blue interior filled with old French confit pots


The Antiques Barn showcased a range of styles and items – while I am always on the lookout for an item that adds its patina and possible quirkiness to a room design, I always try to abide by the idea that the client should buy the best that they can afford respective to quality and provenance.  The provenance is the information that identifies its authenticity – this is especially important if you are collecting.  The market is different if you are just buying for the “look”, finish or interest – what you might call the “design” factor.  Then a client is only limited by personal taste and they are more likely treating the purchase similarly to buying an art item.

The adage “buy what you love” rings true whether collecting fine antiques, or sourcing quirky one-of-a-kind art!



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Wooden sculpture of a maiden or nymph carrying a water jug –


 I am seeing more opportunities for a sculpture like the one above – it adds a classical component, but the rustic patinated finish relaxes the effect, making it more approachable and casual.  I am also seeing other rustic or aged looking objects that were often used in “farmhouse” or rustic industrial rooms, these items are now being used in more formal rooms as well, to add an air of casual, old-world sophistication, or “instant” history.  The juxtaposition of rustic and refined, plus the workmanship and skills of a bygone era often express good proportions and a high quality item.  Any interesting shape can act as sculpture – such as these large olive jars, or the metal decorative grate.


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A trio of olive jars with interesting decorative banding


Everywhere you turned were treasures of all kinds, and we were all like kids in a candy store, exclaiming over what we were seeing – oohhing and ahhing as we poked around!  I photographed one corner that had at least 5 current “trends”, there truly was something for just about every taste and budget.



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 I’m sure you did not expect to see cowhide and steer horns in an Antiques Barn in England!



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 Iron planter with great patina and workmanship- I was intrigued that each sculpted head was individually rendered with his own pattern of beard curls!


In addition to this wonderful day in the English countryside, we were able to tour another antique mecca in London – Alfie’s Antique Market.  This market is in an old department store building from the turn of the 20th century and consists of 100’s of individual shops and stalls of everything from mid-modern Italian lighting, to antique and vintage clothing and jewelry, and everything in between.  A great place to start to find a curio or even an unusual souvenir of your trip to London.


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 Vintage Chanel poster from the ’70’s


Gail McLeod met us there and a few of us were able to visit a nearby “Pop-up Shop” by the “Antiques Young Guns”  a collaboration of several new young dealers with a wide range of goods.  A couple of the “Young Guns” were carrying on the family tradition of Antiques dealers and were the third generation in the trade.  These young men are bringing family history into the 20th Century, with all the tools of social media, as well as a keen eye for what younger clients are looking for.


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 Gail Mcleod with 2 of her “Antique Young Guns” at the Pop-up shop


Antiques Young Guns

 An old ice-box, vintage signs and jewelry, gorgeous Arts and Crafts angels, and original Hoffman bentwood chairs


This is where The Antiques Diva excels – tapping into old and new to bring you hidden gems and secret “finds” on your buying and sourcing tours.  Not only does she take you off the beaten path, but her connections to the trade and shipping sources maximize your trip – saving time and money. Many of the items that caught my eye were excellently priced, AND they were truly distinctive.  Whether you are considering an adventure of your own, or shopping for clients – a tour with the “Diva” could be an exceptionally memorable part of your trip!

Special Thanks to all who made this such a fabulous part of our trip to London!




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