Some Good Reasons for Buying Antiques

Your Own World of Interiors

A couple of years ago, my landlord for my shop in Clarksburg, suggested that I might want to look at a magazine known as World of Interiors.

I did, and was hooked immediately on the style and content of this glossy inspirational periodical. I strongly recommend it now myself. You can borrow some of mine if you wish.

A year went by and the issues started to appear on chests and tables around the shop, and it was then that I was visited by a family who had come to see me regarding their art collection. They noticed the magazines. As the family was in the process of downsizing they asked me if I would like some of their back copies of World of Interiors. A resounding “yes please” followed.

What I didn’t expect was several stacks beginning from the early 1980’s and ending in the late 1990’s. I was very grateful.

The magazine as some will know is split between contemporary advertisements and articles, and photographic journeys through magnificent buildings, grand and quaint, old and new.  The homes and institutions can be located anywhere in the world. The magazine has always done a very good job at focusing on homeowners that successfully mix furnishings from different periods. Mixing different styles from different eras is good creative fun, and makes for a very enjoyable and warm home; a home with which you will connect.

The back issues of this magazine are a joy to view. The interiors they explore are timeless. What worked in the 80’s and 90’s very much works today. There are features on modern homes and modern rooms to be sure, but what stands out are the rooms dominated by antiques. The richness and comfort that comes from these antique furnishings is very different from what we see in modern home magazines and staged real estate open houses; the theme of the latter being minimalism.

Minimalism has brought us cheaply constructed impersonal furniture and land fill sites bursting with cheaply constructed impersonal furniture. To be a minimalist at home means to be a maximalist at the dump. We don’t live with the pieces we buy for our modern homes for long and we certainly don’t pass them on to our children (in general).

Going back to the magazine, “World of Interiors”; the only pages that don’t stand the test of time, are some of those devoted to the 80’s and 90’s waves of bathrooms and bedrooms, or to those ads displaying trendy home accessories or fabrics. The antique furniture and architecture pictured, looked brilliant then and does so now in retrospect.

While some rare antiques can be viewed as a long term investment, the case should be made that antiques are a much more cost friendly purchase both now and in the long term. A chest of drawers from the antique shop will be comparable in price or less than a chest from one of the chains; the chain example constructed from veneered chipboard. The antique example will be a sound piece for generations to come; the chain piece will take a trip to the dump in a few years.

It has to be said that the furniture retailing chains of the world simply do a better job of marketing than those of us in antique shops.  Our advertising efforts are scattered at best. Modern magazine revenue gets little income from us and we are therefore not likely to receive a great deal of favourable press. In truth though, if you displayed an antique piece side by side with its’ modern counterpart, the antique piece would win approval more times than not.

The success of period movies and television dramas like Downton Abbey and Selfridge’ indicates the public’s fascination with warm inviting period rooms. The costumes and the surroundings, of the lavish rooms upstairs, and the harvest tables, Windsor chairs, and copper pans of the rooms downstairs are in stark contrast to the open concept minimalist rooms of today. These television programs would not be so successful if it were not for a connection between the viewers and these warm period rooms and the furnishings they contain.

In many of these old houses, especially at Highclere where Downton is filmed, you will see an accumulation of treasured items acquired by the family over a long period of time. The rooms will display art and furniture from the Stuart dynasty to the “Roaring Twenties”. The downstairs rooms will display warmth in a simpler fashion, but will also show an accumulation of items from different eras. Some of the furnishings will have started life upstairs before finding new purpose downstairs.

We don’t live this way anymore (especially in the upstairs fashion) and we don’t live with our things for very long. We throw them out and get new ones, seldom passing them on, because we didn’t really have any connection to them in the first place.

Buying antique furniture has never been more affordable than it is now, and the purchase of an antique can set you off on a new creative course that expresses your very own style. So here’s to selecting furnishings we want for the duration; to creating family heirlooms and to freeing land from fill.

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