I was on a video call with Meg recently, from the back of a shop in the South of France while she was holding down the fort in Atlanta and she saw, peeking out from a dark corner, this lovely oak commode that caught her eye. “Find out about it!” she said, always curious about the provenance of unusual pieces and eager to learn the stories they tell. I asked the vendor where it came from and he proceeded to tell me that his favorite thing is to get lost on a drive in the French countryside because inevitably he will stumble upon a treasure like this one, as he did while getting lost in the Loire Valley, where he uncovered this piece hiding in the corner of a chateau for sale. He pointed out all kinds of special things about the wood, the joints, the drawers and hardware that of course merited its elevated price (!). But those counted less for me than his poignant passion for his profession – and his love of taking something old and giving it new life.
It got me thinking about some of the unusual treasures we’ve come across, mostly in the back of musty garages, dark basements or vast warehouses that are packed with once loved pieces looking for a new life. That is a lot of what we do: Find a treasure, give it some TLC, restore it or change it to give it a whole new identity, and then set it free to start a new life!
Take for example this unique chinoiserie commode that we picked up a few years ago, in need of some TLC.
Who would have thought it could be the star of our room at the Cashiers show house?
And speaking of Cashiers, do you remember this lovely home where we were fortunate to design the master bedroom?
Well guess where those mirrors came from? A greenhouse like this one!
We stumbled upon this little commode in a market in the south of France and knew right away that a star was born:
It now proudly sits in the Conti apartment, in Paris, and looks like it was made for the space!
Brace yourself for this one: We bought these chairs at a market and I remember distinctly the look on our shipper's face when he came to pick them up!
Luckily we have an amazing upholsterer in Atlanta who performs miracles and loves to make old things new again!
Mea culpa on these! I spotted them literally in the basement of a warehouse outside of Paris and when we unpacked them in Atlanta, there were those looks again - from our employees!
Our upholsterer came to the rescue and wouldn't you know, they were our favorite armchairs in the store -- although sure didn't last very long!
We actually liked the fabric on this settee, but the seating was in poor shape, so it all needed to be replaced:
Well, ta da! With this stunning Schumacher fabric, this one was instantly the belle of the ball.
And I hesitate to show this -- but really in truly, this is what this looked like when we bought it!
We told the vendor he could keep his beast while worked a little magic and got the beauty!
Everyone knows what prune dryers are, right?
Well we didn't but we did fall in love with these uniquely shaped pieces that make a great statement on the wall.
Giant copper pots were spotted in the back of a warehouse.
And now they've been aged to perfection and sit in a gorgeous French garden in East Cobb, Georgia!
I also have a bad habit of buying art that could possibly be original. The problem is that it usually isn't!
But Linda loved this series of Matisse prints which she gave new life to, along with other treasures that she has curated in her beautiful home.
It's been fun revisiting some of these treasures and thinking about the new life they've been given. And now we're off to the hunt again ... tracking the treasures, learning about their stories and thinking about where they will hang in their new life.
Like this trumeau! I'm kind of obsessed with the patina of the art and the beautiful carvings that surround it. Where did it live? Was it a chateau? (I wish it had siblings!) Imagine the stories it could tell! Who will give it new life?
PS We've got a few treasures like this that are waiting for their next boat ride. We'll let you know as soon as they land safely and then who knows, maybe you'll be the one to give them new life!