Friday, November 26, 2010

Don't be fooled - Is it an armoire or a bookcase?

Increasingly there has been a trend over the last 20 years toward built-in wardrobes, cupboards, kitchens etc because of their size and convenience.

However people are now realising that while it may be convenient it is actually extremely expensive for questionable quality, and when they come to sell their property they cannot take the built-in with them and it becomes valueless. In their place, many people are tending back toward antique armoires, bookcases and cabinets which are often no more expensive than a built-in but are often vastly superior in quality and appearance. Best of all - you can take it with you from one property to another instead of giving it away to somebody you don't even know!

So what are the differences between armoires and bookcases and why is it important to know?

Two major differences, one is the depth and two is the value. The latter being the major reason you need to know. Bookcases are invariably considerably shallower than armoires, but also much more expensive than their equivalent armoires. Some dealers find that their is a financial advantage in buying an armoire, narrowing it down and selling it as a bookcase - potentially increasing its value.

This does happen in England and Europe, and so it's vital when buying a bookcase to seek written assurance from the dealer that it did in fact start out life as a bookcase rather than an armoire.

This is not to say that buying a converted armoire is a bad thing. For some who can't afford a bookcase this is possibly a good solution. Just make sure that the dealer tells you it started out life as an armoire and has priced it accordingly.

The beautiful 'bookcase' above on the left is actually an armoire that Wallrocks have converted. However the piece is sold as an armoire/bookcase. It has not been narrowed, and therefore stucturally it has not been altered and therefore it's authenticity jeopardised. The silver from the glass has simply been stripped to become transperant like a bookcase. Were the buyer to want an armoire, all they have to do is replace the silver for the mirror.

Friday, November 19, 2010


So I talk a lot about being wary of fakes, and I blabber on a lot about how careful you need to be and how they're becoming more and more prevalent. We were walking through Europe a few weeks back and stumbled upon this little shop in the 'antique' precinct. I walked in and the gentleman below was in the process of creating some 'distressed antiques'.
In this scenario it was fine because it was quite clear that what he was selling on his walls, he was also making right in front of you. However it's where these pieces end up and who buys them that is perhaps a little more concerning. I don't mean retail buyers I mean dealers, as these are the types of things that tend to end up sitting on the 'antiques for sale' tables at some of the French fairs.

Lack of quality aside, for the untrained eye this piece below could easily be mistaken by many for being very old. When I peered at it more closely it had actually been made to look as if borer (worm) had been eating at it for a long time - it was covered in tiny little holes identical to the marks that borer activity will leave.
Not a great quality image but if you have good eyesight you'll see hundreds of tiny little holes. Scary - it had only been made the day before.

Friday, November 12, 2010

My Moorish Armoire

I made a discovery the other day!
On my last trip overseas to buy, I found the most incredible armoire (wardrobe), I have ever seen. I love textured things in all their many shapes and forms, but I particularly love beautiful, old, rough, natural textures.

This armoire that I found hideen in the back of an old barn, behind an enormous stuffed deer's head was a one off and I still fantasize about the enormous 18th century kitchen I'm going to build with this as a feature ... that is if as usual it doesn't sell before I build my house. Dream on Jess.
This is my big fat beautiful wardrobe love.
For the 'Spanish design virgin' that I was I thought little more of it than how unusual (and how I would kill to have it). When I visited the Alhambra recently however, I was struck (as any sane person would be) with the gorgeous detail of the Moorish carvings throughout, and a little voice kept creeping into my head telling me that I had seen this sort of thing before. The motifs looked so familiar.
Of course my first day back in the showroom after my holiday, as I sat staring longingly at my beautiful wardrobe that I can't fit in my house, it dawned on me. Surely that's Moorish influence that I'm so enamoured with that I can see carved all over the front doors and side panels.

Happy weekend!!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

More beautiful old things

This was an 18th century house converted to a hotel called Lawrences we stayed in, in Sintra Portugal. The inside was so pretty I had to take some photos!

For me Spain probably has the most beautiful castles and palaces because they don't have the stiff and stuffy feel of the English and French palaces. They're all about beautiful gardens and fountains and tiles, and importantly they have stunning antique pieces, particularly amazing antique lights above.
We stumbled on this dilapidated old palace on the edge of Ronda. It was so exciting because unlike all the other perfectly maintained ones that you see around Europe, this one was falling to pieces but everywhere you looked there was a little reminder of what it once might have been. The paint was peeling, vines grew up the walls and inner staircase. Birds were nesting in the ceiling.