Today’s Treasure & Sneak Peek of The Church

Gay horses. We want them to be unicorns but they just aren’t. Instead, we will call them gay horses. Nothing in particular makes them that, just that we want them to be. We picked these up today at Treasures & Collectibles in the Annapolis Valley. This shop is a MUST stop/see if you are in the area – it is our favourite. We picked up many a treasure there today, and in the past. Norm and Jim also have a wonderful array of homemade treats.

What do gay horses eat? Haaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

Here it is! We arrived on Thursday night and have been busy ever since. The house still isn’t totally photograph ready, but soon. This is a photo of the main space/kitchen and of course, Craig doing the dishes! We hope to have the place “show” ready in the next few days and will be sure to post photos as soon as it is ready.

Note: the white bags on the floor are FULL of treasures from Treasures & Collectibles. What a day!

Caveat Emptor

I grew up going to auctions and yard sales, and spent many a weekend afternoon out ‘running the roads’ with my mother and grandmother, a copy of the Saturday newspaper in hand and a picnic lunch in the back seat of the car.  In fact, I still remember the first thing I purchased on my own at an auction.

It was a house auction in a small community about ten minutes from where I grew up.  It was a beautiful summer morning, and the contents of the house were outside on the lawn for all the auction goers to view.  I can’t remember how old I was (perhaps 13 or 14) but for some reason I had money that was burning a hole in my pocket, and I ended up buying an old steamer trunk for $16.  Inside the trunk were a few odds and ends, including an old cast iron Christmas tree stand, and a small knife in a wooden sheath that was shaped like a fish.  It was the trunk that I wanted, and all of the other items just happened to go along with it.

As we were all leaving the auction that afternoon, a man came up to me who had seen me buy the trunk and asked if I was interested in selling him the knife with the wooden sheath.  Having no interest in it I told him ‘sure’, and said that I would sell it to him for $15.  He hummed and hahed, and we negotiated back and forth.  In the end he paid me $12 for the knife, and I walked away that day with a steamer trunk that I ended up only spending $4 for.  I was hooked.

Many people are wary of auctions, and others find them boring.  I, on the other hand, could stand around all day listening to the auctioneer’s chant.  For those of you that are wary, here are some practical rules to follow when buying antiques (or anything for that matter) from an auction.

Rule #1 – Pick it up

First of all, if it’s an accessory of some sort, unless it’s very expensive and very fragile, pick it up. Examine the object from all sides. Look underneath. Look for dents, chips and dings. Look for signs of use and wear. Look for repairs. Look closely. Does it feel like what you think it is?

Once you get familiar with say, Fiesta ware, it’s pretty easy to tell when you touch a piece whether it’s the real vintage item or whether it’s a modern reproduction. Any one of these two categories might be of possible interest to a collector or someone who wants to simply use Fiesta ware on their table, but it’s important to know which it is that you’re purchasing.

If you’re buying a set of tableware, silverware or glassware, make certain that each piece is in good shape, or make an inventory of what is usable. A china set with eight dinner plates but only six dessert and five salad plates may be fine for your house, but make sure you count everything. And, because the set is not complete, you’ll probably have fewer people bidding against you.

Rule #2 – Start to think about what price you’re going to set in your mind as your maximum bid for this object.

You’ll probably refine that figure as time goes along, but it never hurts to start thinking about this early.  After all, when you shop in stores, either antique stores or supermarkets, there are prices “set” for everything. But at auction, most times the “fair” price of an item is set by what one bidder, the top bidder, is willing to pay for that object.

If you want to amass a collection, let’s say of pottery, perhaps Roycroft items, get familiar with the objects and prices by visiting dealers and antique shops. Check and see what condition items that are put up for sale are in. Get an idea of prices by going to lots of shops that carry the kind of thing that interests you. Consider these visits as research, and keep in mind you are there to learn, not necessarily to buy.

Rule #3 – For larger objects, such as furniture, make sure everything works.

Life is too short to buy a chest of drawers and discover after the fact that one drawer was poorly repaired years ago and sticks. Or that you can’t unlock two of the cubbies in that great roll top desk you bought. Or that those chairs that looked like they would be just right for your breakfast table are cute but very wobbly.

Open every drawer; check all the hardware. Pull out at least one entire drawer and look how it is assembled. Is it pegged, dovetailed, or nailed? If it’s really old, examine the cuts and turnings. Do they look like they were made by power tools or by hand tools? Always look at the back of every piece of furniture. Does the back look original? Does it show signs of repair?

With mirrors and framed prints, photographs, and paintings you can learn a great deal by looking at the back. If the back is new, there’s a good chance a mirror has been resilvered. There’s nothing wrong with that but you want to know what you’re buying. It’s the same with pictures – it’s often easy to tell that the frame was assembled years ago and hasn’t been opened since. Is the back an old piece of wood or a new piece of matte board? If there are multiple fasteners and evidence of holes from another era, the chances are something has been reassembled.

No matter what it is, take the time to look it over, and don’t be afraid to take your time.  Regardless of what you’re being told it is, it’s up to you to make sure it’s what you expect, as the most important rule of the auction is caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.

Bookcases

The bookcase: the forgotten piece of furniture used all too often as a storage unit or “catch-all”.

Ah, the bookcase. This neglected piece of furniture is found everywhere in houses: bedrooms, living rooms, bathrooms. They are very versatile. Yes, you put your books on them but people also put their magazines, extra sets of keys, lanyards, receipts, old chewing gum etc. Inevitably they start to look like a giant mess full of nonsense and not pieces of furniture that have been incorporated into the room. A little bit of love and time is all it takes to turn these beasts into interesting and attractive shelves that people will flock to and ask questions about.

Below are two examples of bookcases we recently designed/reorganized. The first one is from our client’s den and it housed, well, books. The books weren’t the issue so much as the lack of cohesion, organization and visual interest. For this bookcase we grouped the books according to subject matter. The three shelves at the top represent the client in that one grouping has to do with being a parent, another to do with her career and the other her more creative side. Prior to beginning the reorganization we asked her to pick items from her house she would like showcased and to be displayed. The result you see has personal items mixed with books (magine!) and the best part about this is that the bookcase is an off-the-shelf, standard bookcase from a big box store. What was once an uninteresting and dare I say boring bookcase is now attractive piece of furniture that has added, not detracted, from the interest and quality of her den.

The second desk/bookcase is a behemoth show piece. Something this grand requires items in its shelves items that are equally as grand. This client has an amazing assortment of books, as shown, and we had the luxury of picking and choosing which ones we wanted and by virtue of this were able to work the shelves into the design of the room. The accent colours for the room are blue and gold. Voila! The bookcase has now added to the design of the room.

Similar to the other bookcase, the items in these shelves were each handpicked by the client. Each of them means something to her and items she wants to see and appreciate regularly. Although one shelf is entirely blue and gold (save the orange elephant!) the other shelves are a mix and complement the design equally as well. A few books turned the opposite way add visual interest as do the collectible pieces of Jasperware and each and every other item.

Bookcases are your friends and no, not because they are great storage units but because they are versatile and add character to a room. If you insist on using them as storage purchase stylish storage boxes for these items. Again, versatile and functional. Happy organizing!

Project Furnish the Church

Last fall we bought a church in Annapolis Royal (Lequille), Nova Scotia. Well, it used to be a church, St. Albans church in fact. Now, however, it is a lovingly restored 2.5 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom home… in the shape of a church! We were beyond excited with the purchase and are now beyond excited to get it furnished and spend time there. Ah yes, the furnishing!

We’ve been on a major shopping spree for the church. For weeks now we’ve been shopping, ordering and storing. We plan to head over to the church the end of April for the furniture install. We recently decided to move the furniture ourselves. Please stay tuned for the details on that and which plan to be humorous and, I am sure, a bit taxing.

The furniture we’ve chosen for the church is a departure from our usual style in that it is all brand new. Well, all except the nine foot harvest table we are having made! All of the furniture is brand new and sourced locally. The sectional, the sofa bed, the chairs, the rugs… all of it. We can’t wait for it to start rolling in and to finally get our hands on it. However, until it arrives and we have an opportunity to have it put into the church and get the space decorated, we will have to settle for these sneak peeks.

Coffee table for the main space

Fabrics for the chairs at the head of the dinning room tableFabrics for the sofa bed, piping, throw pillows and chairs. Any guesses on which is which?

On a different note, we plan to rent out the church for short-term summer rentals. We will have more information soon but until then you can find rental information here. If you are interested in renting and would like more information and photos please email us at christopher@theottomanempire.ca or craig@theottomanempire.ca