Monthly Archives: January 2013

Antique Furniture & Wood Separation: Is My Furniture Antique?

We are often asked how to tell if a piece of antique furniture is truly old, as some of our customers at EuroLux Antiques are new to collecting antique furniture. There is an art and science to appraising the age of a piece of antique furniture that only comes from direct, hands-on experience.

How to Judge Age in Antique Furniture?

However, there are some clues that you can look for to help you determine the age of a piece of furniture. One of those clues to judging the age of antique furniture is wood separation.

Antique Furniture & Wood Separation

Look at Panels & Doors

In the video above, I show you three places to look for wood separation in antique furniture as a way to determine if the piece is truly old. The first place to look is in a flat panel, such as a side panel, or on a door. Look closely and you may find a hairline crack running with the grain. This type of wood separation is caused by the expansion and contraction of the wood due to humidity fluctuations throughout the years.

Look in Drawers

Another place you would expect to find wood separation is at the front of a drawer in antique furniture. You’ll notice a small gap between the frame and the bottom panel of the drawer, which has been caused by wood shrinkage from fluctuations in humidity over time.

Look at the Joints

Finally, you should observe the joints of the piece, where it was originally put together by the craftsman. You would expect to see a small gap at the joints in antique furniture, for instance, on a door where the trim comes together.

While finding examples of wood separation is by no means the only criteria for determining if a piece of furniture is truly an antique, it is one of the clues to look for during your analysis. When there are enough clues, in combination, you’ll be able to determine if a piece is truly antique furniture.

Look for Wood Separation

Wood separation is one of the character marks of antique furniture and something to be appreciated. We all get wrinkles as we age, and wood separation is one of the ways to tell if a piece of furniture is truly an antique.

If you’d like a better definition of what causes wood separation, check out this earlier blog.

Stay tuned to our blog for more videos about other clues for determining age in antique furniture.

 Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina.  Connect with or sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!

Take a Romantic, Antique-Themed Getaway for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us. Do you have anything special planned for your sweetheart?

Why not take a romantic getaway that includes an antique theme? Bed and breakfast inns around the country offer a way to experience the “antiques lifestyle” while enjoying a great vacation!

Right here in Aiken, South Carolina, not far from our gallery in Newberry, Annie’s Inn Bed and Breakfast provides a stately retreat within a home built in the early 1800s. Each guest room is decorated with antiques and Oriental rugs.

Tucked away in the middle of New York state, the Hathaway Inn Bed and Breakfast, housed in an 1880s Queen Anne Victorian, boasts four fireplaces and a tin ceiling in the dining room. This lovingly restored home features antique decor throughout. Here’s a sampling, from Hathaway Inn’s website:

Photo of a parlor at Hathaway Inn Bed and Breakfast in New YorkLooking to experience something more exotic, yet luxurious? Head west to San Antonio, Texas, to experience the Inn at Craig Place. Built in 1891, the inn was converted to a B&B in 1999. According to the inn’s website, many guests come to enjoy the library, pictured below:

Photo of the library at the Inn at CraigEven further west, check out the gorgeous, four-square Victorian that is home to Cherry Hill Bed & Breakfast in Petaluma, California. Stuffed with Victorian antiques, Cherry Hill B&B is situated smack dab in the center of Northern California wine country, so you can indulge your passions for both antiques and wine! Here’s a photo of the house from Cherry Hill’s website:

Photo of foursquare Victorian home Cherry Hill Bed BreakfastWhen you visit a bed and breakfast, you not only experience the privilege of sharing space with fine antiques, you come away with design inspiration for your own home.

If you’d like to get away for Valentine’s Day, try using BnBFinder.com to locate a bed and breakfast inn near you. Many of them offer special deals for a romantic vacation with your sweetheart!

Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg. Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way. She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Connect with or sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!

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What is Wood Separation in Antique Furniture?

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to film more blog posts! I’d like to share some of my knowledge about antique furniture with you, so I hope that you will find this helpful!

Wood separation is one of the things to look for as a clue to whether or not a piece of furniture is truly an antique. You’ll find wood separation, also called shrinkage, where joints of furniture come together. It looks like a gap or a space, and can also be manifested as a crack or split in the wood.

However, it might be easier for you to know what to look for if you understand what causes wood separation, or shrinkage, in the first place. It has to do with the relative humidity of the wood and how that is impacted by the temperature and humidity of the environment where the wood is kept.

We’ll look at more examples of wood separation in the next blog post! Please let me know if there are any topics you’d like to learn more about and I’ll see if I can help.

 

 Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina.  Connect with or sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!

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Client Spotlight: Fine French Antiques in Peoria, IL

I always love it when our customers take the time to photograph their purchases to show us how they’re using them. And I especially love it when they include pictures of their sweet furbabies!

About a year ago, Isabelle J., who is herself from France but now resides in Peoria, Illinois, bought a set of six antique Louis XVI dining chairs to match her existing antique French dining table. Doesn’t this set look beautiful?

011513_antique_diing_set_window_euroluxantiques

 

You can tell Isabelle has taken great care to build her French antique interior decor by selectively adding pieces over the years. Note the beautiful antique server, at top-left in the photo, and the brass candelabra. Stunning! You can also see Isabelle’s adorable pooch, the aptly named “Angel” (who speaks fluent French, by the way!).

Here’s another view of the solid walnut chairs paired with Isabelle’s gorgeous trestle table.

In the background, you’ll see an antique buffet. I love the way Isabelle showcases her collection of light-colored china on the shelves. The contrast between the warm wood tone and the creamy china really draws the eye to the plates. And that Art Deco sculpture is sensational. Although Isabelle didn’t purchase that sculpture from us, we do carry similar ones.

As we corresponded, Isabelle wanted to make the point that these chairs are very comfortable. She said, “We have found the chairs beautiful and comfortable, and this is very important for American people, who think the French stay too long at the table.” I can only smile at that! Stay too long, lingering over dinner with friends? Impossible!

Just look at the gorgeous patina on that table top! I can practically feel the table’s history. And the chair set works so well with the antique trestle table. Note how great the Art Deco clock looks on the wall. Although from a slightly different period (probably the 1930s, while the chairs and table date to 1920 or earlier), the antique regulator clock looks right at home in this setting. It just goes to show how easy it is to blend eras as long as you take care to match color or some other element within the overall design. It’s worth noting the tapestry hanging on the wall at left is a reproduction similar to those we carry. That particular tapestry is based on an 18th century inlaid panel on a cabinet that belonged to George IV and hung in his Carlton Palace. The original panel now resides in Buckingham Palace.

Lastly, here is chère Angel:

On that adorable note, we’ll bid you adieu!

I thank Isabelle for sending us such wonderful photos and allowing us to showcase her beautiful home on this blog. Please send me your decorating photos so I can share them, as well! I love seeing the many ways people live with antique furnishings.

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 Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina.  Connect with or sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!

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Bookshelf: Audubon, Gardens & Elegant Decor

Everyone knows I love fine French antique furniture. But, like everyone else, my interests are diverse. I love gardening (as you can see from my Vintage Life blog series). I love the challenge of restoring a classic American bungalow. I love taking nature walks with Greg to enjoy the beauty of trees, flowers and birds.

And when I’m not living my passions, I love doing the next best thing: Reading about them.

A trio of recently released books from publisher Skira Rizzoli will feed my senses with stunning photos and engaging commentary. These books will not only make great reading, but I think they’ll look terrific on the coffee table.

The Elegant Garden by Johann Kraftner

Now that the winter doldrums have set in, are you feeling a flush of cabin fever? This book will rescue you! Lavishly illustrated, this 432-page book covers every type of garden imaginable. Whether you’re keen to fashion formal English style gardens to complement your Victorian home or you lean more towards a prairie look, this lovely tome will provide you with a visual feast and plenty of ideas to implement when the spring thaw finally enables you to get back outdoors.

The Age of Elegance by Alex Papachristidis

If you follow American interior design at all, you’ll recognize the name of designer Alex Papachristidis. Known for his love of 18th century furniture and his eclectic design style, Papachristidis rooms never fail to delight. No matter where your decorating tastes lie, this book is sure to please, with photographs of 16 residences designed by Papachristidis. Ranging from New York mansions to a beach house on Cape Cod, the interiors presented will inspire you to incorporate elegance into your own decor.

Audubon’s Aviary: The Original Watercolors for the Birds of America

Because we’ve recently added a line of high-quality reproduction aviary and botanical prints to our online collection, I was delighted to discover this sensational book that spotlights Audubon’s original watercolor paintings that were later turned into the engravings we’re all so familiar with in “Birds of America.” Truly a work of art, this coffee table book will provide you and your guests with a rare look at Audubon’s paintings and historical insight through the text by Roberta Olson.

What kinds of books do you enjoy? I could use some suggestions to fill my winter reading list!

 

 Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina.  Connect with or sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!

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5 Winter Care Tips for Antique Furniture

With winter putting the shivers on everyone, I thought I’d take a moment to give you some tips on how to care for and protect your antique furniture from the vagaries of humidity fluctuation. First, a bit of background.

As most of us don’t live in museums, with humidity-controlled environments, it’s important for you to be mindful of how rising and falling humidity levels can affect your antique and reproduction furniture. Did you know relative indoor humidity levels can fall as low as 30% when the furnace cranks up and can rise to 80% indoors during the summer? The wood in your furniture will naturally expand and contract with these fluctuations. That’s not a bad thing, in and of itself. In fact, you should see natural wood shrinkage at the joints of antique furniture. If you don’t, you’re probably looking at a reproduction!

Still, all that expansion and contraction of the wood in antique and reproduction furniture can have negative consequences, such as split panels and crackled finishes. Here are five tips to help your furniture survive normal indoor humidity fluctuations.

1. Buy high-quality, expertly made furniture. Some people believe any antique piece is “high quality,” but that is not necessarily the case. When you buy fine antique furniture on the internet or in a gallery, always closely inspect the construction of the piece and ask the seller to show you what makes it a quality item. The same goes for reproduction furniture. Expert woodworkers understand wood shrinks in the direction of the grain, so pieces should be cut and fitted in order to allow the wood to expand and contract at the joints. If the panels cannot move naturally at the joints, they may crack in half.

In this video, I talk a little bit about how to evaluate an antique French Hunting buffet for its quality of construction.

2. Keep your fine furniture out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources. Never place a piece of antique or high-quality reproduction furniture next to or on top of a heat register. This will cause the wood to dry out even more than it usually would. Exposing furniture to sunlight can cause the finish to deteriorate rapidly, which can allow still more moisture exchange between the environment and the wood.

3. Stabilize the finish with paste wax. As furniture ages, its finish naturally becomes brittle and microscopically pitted. You can help your furniture age gracefully by cleaning it with a gentle soap (like Murphy’s Oil Soap; allow the piece to dry thoroughly after this step), abrading it with 4x 0000 steel wool if the finish has become dull and hazy, and applying a good paste wax (we like TLC wax) using 0000 steel wool. Allow it to dry, then buff it. You’ll get a good arm workout! Or you can use a buffer attachment for your power drill. You only need to wax your furniture every one to three years, depending on its condition and the humidity levels in your home or region.

4. Use a humidifier. If you live in a very dry climate, you can try to lessen relative humidity fluctuations indoors with a humidifier. However, don’t place any piece of fine antique or reproduction furniture too close to a humidifier. This can cause the wood to absorb too much moisture.

5. Avoid common spray products for “dusting and polishing.” You know the ones we’re talking about! These popular products will only serve to cause buildup on your furniture’s finish, and they actually attract dust! Not what you want, right? Instead, just dust your fine antique furniture with a very slightly damp cloth or feather duster.

I hope you find these tips helpful for preserving your antique and high-quality reproduction furniture so you can pass it down through generations to come!

 

 Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina.  Connect with or sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!

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Vintage Life: Hello Flowers!

Everything is coming up roses!  As you’ve been following our progress on our 1920s bungalow renovation project, I thought you’d enjoy seeing the results of our landscaping efforts while everything was still in bloom at the end of the summer.

The grass came in pretty well, even though we still have quite a few weeds.  The baby grass was too fragile to put down weed killer this summer, so we’ll knock out all that crabgrass in the spring.  The caladiums were a riot of red, white and pink, but most of the other bulbs didn’t come in.  We added more ferns, hostas, blue hydrangeas, multi-color azealas, gardenias, and pink camellias.

In the bed to the left of the front porch, we have a Japanese magnolia with purple flowers, gardenias surrounding the magnolia, and (white, lavender, yellow/pink and red) rose bushes with boxwoods in front and clyera behind.

The bed to the right of the porch was extended to include a bed around a trellis.  The trellis isn’t quite all the way up yet, as we have to wait until we finish the screened porch to finish it.  However, you can see that we’ve framed out the screened porch.  The trellis is meant to give privacy and shade to the porch.  We planted jasmine and climbing roses around the trellis with boxwoods in front.

Look how great the sidewalk looks!

For my birthday, Greg bought me awesomely cool 1950s vintage porch furniture in the basketweave pattern (matches the sidewalk!).  We have 2 stationary chairs, 2 rockers, and a glider.  Of course, they all need to be sandblasted and powdercoated – but that is a project for the future (after we’ve moved in!)

Ta-da!  Are you impressed with our landscaping?  We are!  (We’re not for hire though, so don’t ask!  LOL)

This photo was taken the day we closed on our little “money pit”, over a year ago now.  We still have a long way to go, we’re still best friends, and we’re still smiling.

 Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina.  Connect with or sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!

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New Year, New Products to Love!

I hope you enjoyed (or are still enjoying!) the holiday season. I, and all of us at EuroLux, wish you a healthy and happy 2013.

I want to share some exciting news with you to kick off the new year. EuroLux will always be known for its fine French antique furniture, but we realize not everyone’s home can accommodate an 8-foot tall antique buffet. And not everyone’s budget can accommodate the antique furniture of his or her dreams.

That’s why I’m pleased to let you know we’ve expanded our product lines to offer you the very best reproduction antique furniture on the market today. High-quality reproductions serve many purposes:

  • They’re generally sized to fit the proportions of modern rooms (and by “modern,” we mean homes built within the past century).
  • They can help bridge the style gap between genuine antiques and newer home furnishings to create a seamless interior design scheme.
  • They often give you the ability to customize the finish color and level of distressing.
  • They’re budget friendly.
  • They enable you to obtain items that don’t exist as antiques (or are extremely rare), such as king-size beds, made by adapting authentic period designs.
  • They become tomorrow’s heirloom antiques. After all, even an antique Brittany armoire made in 1880 once was a new piece of furniture.

Greg and I hand-picked the reproduction product lines to carry because we wanted to make sure they truly were the highest quality available. The vast majority of our reproduction chairs, chests, beds, and other items involve a significant amount of hand work by a skilled craftsman. This ensures you receive a very high-quality product. Let me tell you more about these new additions to our inventory.

First, we’re excited to announce we now carry Dale Tiffany light fixtures. These exquisite chandeliers and lamps often replicate the original designs of Louis Comfort Tiffany and use traditional methods to create the hand-blown art glass in each shade. Dale Tiffany Studios also creates its own designs and employs the highest level manufacturing standards for each piece. From luxury replicas to budget-friendly fixtures, our Dale Tiffany line offers you the chance to incorporate historic designs or contemporary updates into your decor.

This exquisite Dale Tiffany polished chrome chandelier, for example, incorporates real crystal pendants (as opposed to less-expensive glass). And at just 18 inches tall, it’s proportioned for today’s smaller foyers and bedrooms – or a large master bath. Picture yourself soaking in the tub under this sparkling beauty!

We also now offer exceptional, hand-crafted reproduction furniture. Here’s a small sampling of the items now available in our reproduction category.

Photo of a reproduction English Tudor style bed in king size

This English Tudor style king-size bed is crafted of solid alder wood with cherry accents and features an aged, distressed umber finish so it will blend well with your existing antiques.

 

Reproduction French Country bar stool

This gorgeous bar stool offers you an updated French Country style to complement your decor. This barstool features a hand-shaped back and hand beading, which guarantees that no two are alike. It’s an exceptional piece of fine furniture.

After seeing these examples, I hope you’ll agree “reproduction” is not a four-letter word! I judge these items worthy to stand alongside any piece of antique French furniture in the home.

What’s your take? Do you eschew reproductions in favor of the “real thing,” or do you see reproduction furniture as an opportunity to round out your design scheme?

 

 

 Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina.  Connect with or sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!

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