What’s “trending” right now in antiques?

James Farmer

Ask the Expert: What’s trending right now in antiques?

Thanks for your question! I get this one a lot. In fact, this is probably my second most frequently asked question next to last month’s, “How old is an antique?” I have to kind of chuckle because the short answer is that what’s “trending” right now in antiques is to not buy antiques….. and that’s why it’s actually such a great time to buy them!

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Shop the Show with Jennie Hugo

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I am extremely flattered and excited to get to team up with well-known Jacksonville designer, Jennie Hugo for this year’s Art & Antique Show walking tours.  Jennie brings a unique and fun perspective to the Wolfson Show. She comes from a family that has been in the business of interior design for almost 100 years. The name “Hugo” has become synonymous in this town with beautiful and gracious interiors. Still keeping the family standard of excellence, Jennie has put a new twist on things. Building on a knowledge of style and furniture deeply ingrained in her from birth, she has a fresh and bold taste that needs to be introduced into the world of antiques. Join us Saturday, December 6 at noon and 4 pm for an hour of old and new, form and function, and a pop of inspiration just in time for the holidays.

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Jennie and I will walk you through the show, explaining how to mix old and new, modern with super traditional, casual with formal.

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Ask us about pieces you are thinking about buying. Bring pictures of things you need to pair together.  A spot on the tour will get you one action-packed hour of fun and education.

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Learn about where a piece came from and if it is a good buy for you right now. Discover new places for things in your home…places you never thought about before.

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Jennie and I are going to be like little elves throughout the weekend, planting a boxwood or tying a bowtie on our favorite pieces….pieces that we think are particularly special. So be on the look out for my bowtie or Jennie’s boxwood and grab them before someone else does….or get your parents to 🙂 !

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Jennie will help compliment this boring, old “expert” and together we hope to make your house a little bit more of a home this holiday season.

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Spots are going fast, so reserve your place today and take advantage of an hour one-on-one with Jennie Hugo as we unpack the show, one booth at a time.

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For reservations email youngcollectorsbooth@gmail.com today or call 205-807-6041 with any questions. And in the mean time, check out Jennie’s store and blog.

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And don’t let name fool you, though we start and end at the Young Collector’s booth, this tour is open to the young and not-so-young. What a great way to shop the Show with your kids and learn what they might want for Christmas. Hope to see y’all next week!

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Form & Function with The Nashes: A Family Room

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In this month’s “Form & Function” I thought we’d tackle more than just a piece of furniture. How about a whole room?  I felt the need to reach out to my generation about our strange version of the “family room” and a not-so-pretty trend I see creeping into millennial’s design that I fear is hostile to “brown furniture”. To take wood out of a room, is to take life of a room….and that’s a mistake I don’t want my generation to make.

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Does anybody remember that thing called “the den”? That room that was less formal than the living room, but still resembled a real room? That cozy place for family to gather and kids to play?

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Yea, that one….”The family room”…..The den”…..”The playroom”….”The TV room”. Some of us, like me, have one, while others of us may have all four. Others still, might have forgone all the normal functions of their house to give way to what is basically four TV rooms.  Well, in this Form & Function will you permit me to challenge you to think outside the box a bit and bring some warmth back into the “family room”? If these images look familiar….I urge you to consider some other options.

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It seems that among many of my peers, the modern family room/den isn’t complete without the sectional sofa, the particle board bookshelf, the wall mount flat screen so big that no art can be hung around it, and the occasional large cage for the kids. Am I right? Family rooms today seem to look more like something out of Soviet Russia than a place where anyone would actually want to hang out.

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This may look like it’s right out of Vogue, but it might as well be the 1980’s apartment of a Party official in Moscow.

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For what it’s worth, here’s what I did. My wife wanted clean and sparse. I wanted stacked and formal. Our compromise was a place where I could mix vintage and antique, fine and not-so-fine…..and she could find a peace in the comfort and simplicity. We wanted a place that could be made messy and chaotic during the day and be quickly put back together for cocktail hour with the grandparents by night.

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A far cry from the formal Living Room, where the French, the Gilt, and the Oils dwell, this is the true livin’ room. A place for the young and old,  whether for play-dates or cocktails….this is a real family room.

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The vintage Hugo’s leather chair and ottoman inherited from my grandparents is “Daddy’s Chair” and the lime/yellow vintage chair opposite, inherited from my wife’s grandparents, is “Mama’s Chair”. The Ikat ottoman from HomeGoods is really a trunk full of dress-up clothes. The salmon camelback sofa upholstered in linen was a find from the greatly missed “ESTATE” of Avondale; and is accented by a contemporary Turkish 4 x 6 from Carpet Concepts. Copying from the English, we put it all over a wool-jute rug that is soft for children’s play. A sea of “potato sack” burlap panels line the windows. We added pinch pleats to them for formality, but chose the burlap to add youth and warmth to the room. Burlap, lined with black-out fabric, is also an economical solution for the look of linen (especially if you need eight 96″ panels).

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Another vintage Hugo’s piece, this lady’s writing table is used for 1st grade art projects that are easily shoved into a drawer to make way for impromptu hors d’oeuvres  and a serve-yourself bar. A sturdy 1940s Windsor chair, made of English chestnut and a 1950s Hepplewhite style mahogany side chair make for extra seating at parties as well as durable bases for toddlers’ knees.

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One of my favorite pieces in the house, this Edwardian bookcase, circa 1900, is a great place to display wedding gifts and family heirlooms, while providing ample space underneath for those lovely primary colored, cardboard bricks and Fisher Price toys that can never seem to find a home. I love that from an adult’s eye view, you can see elegance, and from a kid’s…toys.

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I converted a painted tea canister used to ship tea from China into a lamp. The hunter green of the canister lamp plays nicely on the moss green burlap drapes and “Folly Green” walls by Farrow and Ball. A simple late 19th century New York bachelor’s chest serves as easy access for the kids’ toys and a Brunschwig and Fils pillow dresses up an otherwise unattractive vintage chair. And of course, everything has rather soft edges and corners for my little terminator.

I encourage my young friends and followers not to sell out to the sterile “Family Room” that can be easily purchased out of an online showroom. Kids, dogs, and life will wear on a room, why not embrace it and choose things that can handle the wear? Why do family rooms have to be sparse and ugly just because they need to be kid friendly and comfortable?

When you are shopping the Show this year, don’t just think of your formal living and dining rooms. Antiques have stood the test of time and can stand up to your 2-year-old.

So this holiday season, why not create a lovely and inviting place for the young and old….

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For the birthday parties and playdates….

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For the Christmas tree and the baby…

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Make it a real Family Room….a room that marries both form and function…..

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…….an elegant place where canines, sproutlets, and antiques can meet…

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….and a place where both your kids and grandparents will feel comfortable.

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Form and Function: The Bar Cart

It’s not just a piece of office furniture on Mad Men and it’s not just for happy hour.

The bar cart is an iconic piece with endless uses.

When on the hunt for the perfect bar cart,
consider all its possibilities.

Whether you’re looking to display cocktail ingredients or create an entryway system, the bar cart makes organization stylish.

It’s an accent piece that is sure
to become a favorite, not to mention
a great return on your investment.

Here are a few creative ideas that you can use to feature this classic piece in your home:

Bar Cart 1For a more traditional approach, consider a piece like this vintage French brass bar cart for holding all the necessary provisions for your next attitude-adjustment hour. Photo 1 Image Source: In Colorful Waters

Add a bar cart to your favorite reading nook Think of all the possibilities for styling and adding those final touches. Photo 2 Image Source: Providence Design

Incorporate this versatile piece in your living room design as an end table – It just wouldn’t seem right to leave a remote on this lovely bar cart. Photo 3 Image Source: HGTV

Bar Cart 2Impress your guests by using a bar cart as a nightstand; it’s a smart option for storing extra blankets and pillows in a guest bedroom. Photo 5 Image Source: Apartment Therapy

There’s no reason to scoff at a proclivity towards timelessness; even in their traditional use bar carts are always a conversation piece. Photo 6 Image Source: Emily Henderson

Man-tiques: 10 Gifts for Him

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With the holidays approaching, and being the token male on this blog, I thought it timely to suggest 10 gift ideas for men that can be found at this year’s Art and Antiques Show. As much as your husband probably loved the Louis XV chandelier that you and your decorator picked up last month in Atlanta….you know, the expensive one you gave him for his birthday….some of these pieces might be a little more up his alley this Christmas.

1. Dogs

You can’t go wrong with man’s best friend. If the man in your life has a special dog in his life, why not find items that remind him of his favorite canine, or can serve as a reminder of a childhood pet? My wife, mother, and mother-in-law have added greatly to my dog collection over the years and I always love receiving a new addition to that collection. Here’s a lovely patinated bronze piece from the late 19th century.

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Here’s a set of twelve Wedgwood plates from the 1940’s.

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Here’s a rare Italian bronze from the Napoleon III period.

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These are some of my favorites from my collection.

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1. An early 20th century, carved Golden Retriever, given to me on my seventh birthday to accompany a real Golden Retriever puppy. This piece will always remind me of my parent’s generosity and our family pet. 2. A Royal Dux porcelain retriever from Czechoslovakia, circa 1940. 3. A Baccarat Lab. 4. A needlepoint Chocolate Lab pillow. 5. A collection of Spode’s Woodland dog plates (I fell in love with these a few summers ago when I saw them in every designer showroom and antique store in Cashiers, NC). 6. A Bernese Mountain Dog print, circa 1925 (It’s one thing to collect labs and retrievers, but finding an antique Bernese Mountain Dog anything is pretty near impossible. So when I found a dealer that had a collection of National Geographic dog prints from the 20’s, I quickly grabbed this one). 7. Last, but not least, these contemporary, English salt and pepper shakers reminded me of Lord Grantham’s faithful pup in Downton.

2. Shaving Mirrors

Okay, so he probably won’t use this to shave in, but they can serve a number of other functions and add so much character to a room. I have mine on my dresser and the drawers make a great place to store all your “junk”.….receipts, change, etc. My shaving mirror was also on my wife’s dresser for a time and she draped necklaces over the top of the mirror and stored make-up in the drawers. Here is a lovely, diminutive, English mahogany shaving mirror from the 19th century.

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And a very fine Irish one, circa 1840.

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3. The Biscuit Barrel 

Elegant timepieces of a bygone era, these little gems emerged in Great Britain around 1860 and were popular through the 1930’s. Ranging from sterling silver to the more rustic oak and brass like those pictured below, biscuit barrels were used at tea time to store biscuits.

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Okay, so maybe don’t get him a pink one, but you get the idea.

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To be honest, I keep picture hanging hooks and screws in mine. We are constantly hanging things in this house and I got tired of going to my tool box all the time. Now most of what I need is easily accessible and hidden right in the living room.

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4. The Tea Caddy

These guys don’t need much of an introduction. Once used to store tea, these timeless classics make a great place for a guy to keep his personal items. You can throw your wallet, phone, and keys in here right before a dinner party or keep on your desk for important receipts and correspondence.

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5. The Decanter

If your man likes to come home and fix his nightly cocktail like I do, this piece will save him a lot of time and add some class to his bar. For those of a more modern bent, check out this sleek Deco style decanter, circa. 1913.

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For those a little more old-school, take a look at this Anglo-Irish Edwardian magnum, circa 1900.

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You can never have too many decanters…..a much more tasteful way to serve liquor and wine, especially around the holidays.

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6. Tortoise Shell Boxes

Men’s dressers get messy. This ingenious little box is a great place to throw loose change. They are also invaluable in storing those bothersome little pins you get from various civic and fraternal organizations…..the ones you will never wear, but feel bad throwing out. A quintessential object for the gentleman of the 19th century, as well as of the 21st.

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7. The Barley Twist Candlestick

I guess it’s the Englishman in me, but I love these so much that I bought a pair for myself, wrapped them up, and gave them to my wife for Christmas last year. The form is so masculine and heavy, yet intricate and airy. These versatile little guys can fade into the background of any room or make a bold statement.

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They even make for a captivating table setting.

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8. The Box on Stand

Many times 19th century lap desks, campaign chests, and humidors have been put on stands to make excellent side tables. These pieces are invaluable to those design conundrums where you need a place to set a drink or give balance to room, but have very little space. This is the perfect gift to accompany a guy’s favorite leather chair…..just big enough for a scotch and his favorite book or magazine.

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9. Antlers 

Believe it or not, ladies, you will love these, too. They finish off a room so well and are what I want for Christmas (a half dozen, please, Mrs. Nash).

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10. Dead Things

Properly referred to as Game Paintings, my wife calls this type of art “dead things”. These still life paintings of killed and prized game were particularly popular in the 1800s.

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I absolutely love this signed, 19th century watercolor that I found for under $100. My wife almost relegated it to the mancave, but I made a good sale and got to put it in the kitchen (well, close to the mudroom).

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Whether it’s for a husband, boyfriend, brother, son, son-in-law, or grandson, why not consider some “man-tiques” this year? These timeless pieces will add class and character to any home.

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Form & Function: The Pembroke Table

I am excited to feature what I consider to be one of the greatest pieces in the history of furniture….the Pembroke table.

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Form: The Pembroke table is a light, drop-leaf table designed for occasional use. The origins of such a table are unclear, but it most likely derived its name from the 9th Earl of Pembroke, Henry Herbert (1693–1751), a noted connoisseur and amateur architect. Some scholars believe the design was originally ordered by Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke (1561-1621). It is doubtful, in my opinion, that it came from the latter as these kinds of tables didn’t seem to emerge on the market until the late 18th century, but in any case, the original design definitely seemed to take its name from the aristocratic family of Pembroke.  These pieces were usually made of mahogany and consisted of two short drawers or one long drawer supported on square, tapered legs or turned legs, in the case of those in the Sheraton style.

Function:  These types of tables first seem to emerge around the last quarter of the 18th century in England and America. In its time, the Pembroke table was a great innovation. It was a versatile table that could be easily stored or tucked in the corner of a room. Its uses included dining, writing, serving tea, and they also frequently had casters because they were used at bedsides. Many times, in the stately homes of Britain, they were used to serve a member of the household who didn’t feel like dining with the rest of the family or had missed the meal. Today, they can serve an even greater number of functions in addition to those for which they were originally designed. To the lay person, they are largely referred to as “drop-leaf tables” or “sofa tables”.  They come in various sizes and therefore can serve a variety of purposes.

The Pembroke table form spans over a century, and was interpreted differently by the tastes and styles of the various designers of the age. Below is a fine, American tiger maple table, circa 1810 in the Sheraton style.

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They can make excellent end tables, flanking a sofa. The ability to open the leaves allows for more space to display pictures and decorative accessories. This lovely pair of English George III pembrokes are the perfect side tables in this Manhattan apartment.

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This country Sheraton Pembroke paired with a Chippendale chair make for the perfect spot to enjoy your morning coffee and read in this breakfast nook. Its airiness and size also makes it an ideal little desk for a laptop, with a leaf up.

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Here’s an English Hepplewhite mahogany and inlaid Pembroke table, 1795

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Some are quite decorative with exotic veneers and inlay, like this D-end George III table.

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Others are more simple and primitive, like this American cherry Pembroke, circa 1860 with a simple glass knob.

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I have mine behind the sofa in our living room. It makes the perfect place for the bar or hors d’oeuvres for small dinner parties.

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On winter nights, my wife sometimes floats it out with both leaves up, and sets an intimate dinner for two by the fireplace. We have even comfortably sat four here when we had overflow at larger dinner parties.

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Some are intricate and fine, while others are simple and plain, but whatever your fancy the Pembroke table is as elegant in form as it is versatile in function. The perfect addition to any collection, you can never have too many. You can count on beautiful Pembroke tables of all ages and styles to be found at the Show, so if you’re on the hunt for a lovely piece to fill out that corner or give you extra seating for a party this Christmas, look no further than the Wolfson Art & Antiques Show this December.

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Form & Function: Antique Sideboard turned Changing Table

A new series we are introducing to the Art & Antiques Show Blog is “Form and Function”, particularly geared for the young collector. In this series we will be discussing the form of various antique pieces-history, style, construction and materials-as well as the function of those pieces, both when they were made and now. One question I get asked a lot in my business is, “What should I do with this thing?”  Many times people inherit something that doesn’t fit cleanly into their current decor or style. In this series, we hope to give our readers ideas and inspiration for practical and decorative uses for antiques, and also challenge them to think “outside of the box” a bit. In this inaugural post of “Form & Function”, we will be looking at how a small antique sideboard, not so great in “form”, received a second life and redeemed itself for its “function”.

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I am a hunter-gatherer and I never turn down unwanted or discarded antiques. My poor wife is constantly having to make do with the crazy pieces I bring home from work and incorporate them into our house. A typical conversation usually goes something like this…. 

ME: “Hey, Honey, look at this really cool early 19th century oil painting I found of this woman in the Gainsborough School!”

MY WIFE: “Are we related to her? If not, she’s kind of creepy.”

ME: “No, but it’s in the Gainsborough School and it’s a really nice portrait. Can’t we stack it over the tapestry going up the stairs?”

MY WIFE: (Silence, followed by) “She would look really nice above the garage in your mancave. Why don’t you try her there?” (mancave is a nice word for the unfinished room over the garage where my wife relegates a lot of my cool finds).

I think she’s getting used to it now, but six years ago she thought I was a little crazy when I dropped everything in the middle of final exams to rent a U-Haul and drive up to the mountains of north Georgia to rescue a barn full of family furniture that had been offered to me by a distant cousin. This cousin’s father, being the first-born son, had received the lion’s share of the family furniture, but my cousin’s fiancee did not appreciate the “gift” and wanted it out of the house as soon as possible. You talk about Brer Rabbit in the briar patch…I was more than happy to take all that “awful furniture” off her hands. Though, there was one problem I had overlooked. It wasn’t exactly my style either

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Just what my young bride wanted, right? Well, for those of us who grew up in the South, inheriting this kind of furniture from someone at some point is inevitable. Although the style was far from my taste (I’m more of a Hepplewhite man), I could not break myself from its history. Above is my great, great grandparents’ parlor in their Druid Hills home in Atlanta, circa 1930. This furniture had been in the family since before the Civil War and was hidden in a cave during Sherman’s burning of Atlanta, along with the silver and the portraits. He burned the house and this was about all that survived from that unpleasantness.

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I struggled with whether these family pieces were worthy of adoption into my modern home. I guess I sort of put them through a litmus test. In this case, many of the pieces had survived the Civil War and been added to by later generations. A fairly intact collection, they had a value to me beyond dollars. Although I didn’t want my house to look like a replica of my great-grandmother’s parlor, I decided to make my ancestors proud and use as much of their collection as I could. Which brings us to the lucky winner of this week’s “Form & Function”……

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Form: What is it? A sideboard! This type of dining set was very popular in the 1930’s. It was made by a company called Berkey & Gay based out of Grand Rapids that made furniture from 1866-1948. They particularly produced large quantities of dining room furniture. Stylistically…how can I say this nicely?..it is a combination of Queen Anne and Victorian styles, veneered in a bedappled walnut, which was very popular in England and America in the thirties. From a connoisseur’s standpoint, there are few redeeming features about it. Though integrating this Victorian plantation furniture into my collection of  English and French antiques would be a bit of a challenge, I decided to think of it as a house warming present from my deceased ancestors and give it a whirl. (We can only hope our kids use this logic when they inherit our stuff one day….)

Function: In the spirit of being green and limited by a tiny apartment, we decided to use the smaller sideboard as a changing table for our daughter’s nursery. This was the result.

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The standard changing pad fit nicely on top and the backsplash of the sideboard even helped with added security. There was just enough room left for baby wipes and a small basket of diapers. For everything else we had excellent storage beneath.

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The storage was convenient and accessible, yet hidden by the decorative doors. Would my great- grandmother be proud?  She’d probably be horrified to think that what once held her china and silver now held diapers and wipes.  My wife says it was the best changing table she’s ever had and that she hasn’t had that kind of storage since.

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So, there you have the sideboard turned changing table. (My apologies to our readers for the less-than-stellar photographs and the baby in the background, but we are long gone from that apartment and I never dreamed I’d need a good photograph of this piece). The sideboard has since come full circle and made its way back to a dining room.

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The Pampers have been replaced by the Mottahedeh, and the changing pad by the candelabrum, but the happy memories of the function that little piece served still remain.

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 Wall color and fabric choice can always be used to help soften and modernize furniture in a room. Breaking up sets and mixing pieces from different periods and styles can help enhance their look as well. Antiques add much warmth to a home and the gratification of preserving them is worth so much more.  I encourage our readers to consider all the places where you might use that family heirloom before kicking it to the curb. Think of children’s rooms, playrooms, and dens, and other less obvious places where you might recycle these items.

Have we used all the furniture I picked up in the U-Haul that day? No, but we have used what we could and my wife and I have developed a great affection for the diminutive sideboard and its versatile functions.  I am now always on the hunt for these little gems and the Wolfson Show is a great place to find them.

Art & Antiques Show Blog Welcomes William Nash

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William Nash

I am excited to announce that my friend and decorative arts expert William Nash will become a regular Art & Antiques Show blog author. Through his posts, William will share his expertise and experience in antiques, home décor and restoration.
He will contribute to the recurring series Form and Function where readers can learn new and innovative ways to use their favorite pieces.
In the series Ask the Expert, William will answer questions from Art & Antiques Show blog readers.

Learn more about William by reading his bio below:

William Nash is one of the Southeast’s up-and-coming experts in antiques and decorative arts. He holds a B.A. in History from the University of Georgia, as well as a certificate in Appraisal Studies in Antiques and Fine Art from the University of Georgia in partnership with the American Society of Appraisers. He is a member of the Estate Planning Council of Northeast Florida and a candidate member of the American Society of Appraisers. William is carrying on the trade and tradition of his father, Bill III, who has been named “second to none” in Jacksonville for his work as an antiques restorer and conservator. Together, William and his father run E.W. Nash & Son, an antiques restoration and appraisal firm located in Jacksonville, Florida. One of the nation’s youngest in his field, William has a passion for history, tradition, and collecting, and is revitalizing the world of antiques for the next generation. He and his wife, Leanna, live in Jacksonville’s historic district of Avondale with their two children, Laurie and William V. When he is not in his workshop or out in the field appraising, William enjoys restoring and maintaining his 1924 home, which he affectionately calls “Nash Abbey”. You can learn more about William and his work at www.ewnash.com.

Have a question for the Ask the Expert series?
Email your inquiry to womensboardwch@bmcjax.com.