The treasure hunt

The treasure hunt

Hi there! Meg here, in France, with Ann.  We had all good intentions to post this week about our visit to the over-the-top design/gift/lifestyle mecca, Maison et Objet, in Paris.  We couldn't wait to fill you in on all the inspiration we have been inhaling at this massive show, which is overwhelming in the very best sense of the word.  And, we wanted to share a little about the goodies we're snapping up for the store and gallery right now in the South of France.  But, between our crazy travel schedule, a freak wildfire that shut down the highway we were on for about five hours - and spotty wifi (the biggest culprit!), we're reposting a blog we wrote last year about how we shop for our treasures. Read on and enjoy...and we promise to make it up to you next week with our updated report from Paris!


This was the scene last Sunday when the A-9 in the south of France was completely shut down in both directions. We were worried about how close this was.  Our fellow Euro drivers were funny, helpful and chatty as we sat there for a couple hours watching flames, smoke, helicopters and the aerial fire fighters dropping load after load of water on the fires.

Picture this: it’s almost 8 a.m. somewhere in France.  Depending on the season, it’s either 20 degrees or 90 degrees and it’s either pouring down rain or blazing hot.  There’s a huge crowd of people mashed up around a gate (and because it’s France, everyone is smoking and doing power shots of coffee from tiny plastic cups.) Everyone is sizing each other up – or recognizing friends and fellow dealers with big smiles and bonjours. All of a sudden, the very official-looking security guys open the gates and the crowd surges forward, pushing and shoving and doing everything possible to be the first one through the gate.

Welcome to our world – and the one we just love.  This is how we begin an antiques fair and we swear, it’s positively addictive.

Boy, do we love our jobs.  The weather is always a surprise but that’s not a problem.

Once those gates are open, it’s a free-for-all.  Buyers are sprinting to their favorite dealers who are frantically unloading their trucks as fast as they can.  If you’re lucky, you can hop on the truck and pick your goodies before they even hit the ground.  Or, if you just wait five minutes, all the treasures are artfully and creatively displayed and you can start the serious shopping.

After years and years of doing this, we have a great system.  We have a certain way we like to walk the fair, both of us checking out the merchandise and heads on swivels.  There’s a sense of emptying your mind of everything else and waiting for that certain something to catch your eye.

It’s hard to see the diamonds in the rough when there’s so much sheer stuff to filter through. But when we see it, we are all about laser focus – and sealing the deal.

Even the dogs are beautifully dressed at the fairs.

Things we look for: gorgeous patina. Beautiful lines.  Integrity of craftsmanship.  Originality.  Collectibility. And, of course, when we see something that grabs our attention, we have to think about the end use – who will buy this and how would they use this?  That’s the fun part and our inspiration comes from lots of sources:  the talented designers we work with on a daily basis; the wonderful shelter magazines that fuel our inspiration and of course, good old Instagram.

So, from our last buying trip, here’s what we saw – and how we envisioned it right then and there:

A set of six 1960s chairs were an immediate yes!

And here’s how Atlanta designer <a href="" target="_blank">Shayelyn Woodbery<a> used chairs just like these. Gorgeous!

Then there was a collection of old books. We’re suckers for these beauties and whenever we can find them, in good condition with pretty spines, we try to snap them up.

A mess of beautiful old books in an old wooden crate (surrounded by falling-apart paperbacks, textbooks and who knows what else!)

<a href="" target="_blank">Suzanne Kasler</a> used artfully arranged antique books in this stunner of a vignette.

The talented <a href="" target="_blank">Mark D. Sikes</a> used crunchy old books in this library.

We’re on a little bit of a chinoserie kick these days, so when we spotted this knockout of a commode, we sprinted over to make it ours.

Who doesn’t love a chinoiserie commode? We adore them.

Another fabulous vignette from <a href="" target="_blank">Mark D. Sikes</a>.  He likes chinoiserie, too!

We found a really gorgeous 18th century painted commode and fell madly in love with it.  It’s French, but the profile and patina definitely feel Swedish:

How can you not love this pretty commode?

Designer <a href="" target="_blank">Carol Glasser</a> used a similar, Swedish-inspired piece in a soothing foyer.

And how can we ever forget our darling French snails that had us swooning one freezing cold day at the Paris flea market?

The world’s most charming French escargot, tastefully covered in moss and surrounded by flowers.

Brooke Giannetti of <a href="" target="_blank">Velvet and Linen</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Patina Farm</a> used a similar little guy in this vignette.

We zeroed in on this <a target="_blank" href="">crunchy farm table</a>, imagining it being used one day like this:

<a href="" target="_blank">Carol Glasser</a> used the same style table in this Swedish-inspired dining room.

This pretty little stone and iron table was irresistible.

We love that gorgeous Frenchy gray green iron base.

Look how Amy D. Morris used one just like this:

Voila! How pretty is this?

And don’t forget about art. We have the most fun finding little gems that are simply stunning in their state – which is usually dusty, old, without any provenance and completely tantalizing!

We dug these two treasures out of a pile.

Amy D. Morris worked her magic with old art this way:

<a href="" target="_blank">Amy D. Morris</a>

We didn’t waste a minute when we saw this lovely little commode just waiting to be snapped up and sent to on its way to Huff Harrington:

A beautiful <a href="" target="_blank">Louis XVI sauteuse</a>. We said oui, oui, oui.

And lo and behold, Robert Brown (the newly awarded Southeast Designer of the Year) used a similar piece in this vignette:

Atlanta Bob Brown created this stunner, using a very similar commode.

There’s nothing more exhilarating than being ecstatic about the goodies we uncover – and the happiness we feel when these babies find their forever homes with our clients.  And not to worry, we’ll be going back again in June to keep up the hunt.   Looking for something special?  Shoot us an email at and tell us what’s on your wish list and we’ll keep our eyes open for you.

Ta ta.

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