Friday, 30 April 2010

Antiques hunting at reasonable prices!

I have been on the look out for the last few weeks for some single bed headboards and have had no joy at all. I wanted something in natural wood that was single and if I found two I could push them together to make one large headboard for the superkingsized bed. Well it was like hunting for something that wasnt even designed yet.... Ooh a business idea!

Last Sunday Natalie, my new french friend, introduced me to Lucie after my regular visit to the farmers market. Lucie was dressed in her nightdress and proudly showed me round her holiday home with no airs or graces! She is from Paris and has recently bought a house in Auvillar in need of substantial rennovation. Far more than we could even contemplate, but each to their own! Lucie has it set in her mind that the project will be 5 years and is doing alot of the painting and non structural work herself whilst her children are on school holidays. Only one room is almost complete at present and it looks fantastic, the rest however is like a demolition site. How she lives there on her holidays with three children and husband is beyond me! However, she loves doing the work and is sourcing original materials and antiques in the Louis style which suit the house perfectly.

Lucie told me that she had some friends in a local village (Saint Nicolas de la Grave) who had an antiques shop. Antiques shops here in France are quite different to the UK in that they generally are a rundown property filled to the gunnells with all types of antiques and rubbish. It is your job as the buyer to sort through the piles of stock to see if they have what you want. In most cases as the furniture has come from a house clearance it is not in a good state and most has lots of woodworm. However, there are the little golden nuggets if you look for them.

So, Thursday I collected Lucie and we drove to the Brocante (antiques shop). It was as I had thought a rundown farm building, covered in climbing roses and full of cobwebs, but the owners were delightful. Owned by an old couple in their 80's and run by their son in his 40's it was a real find.

On entering the room, I was surprised to hear an American voice coming from my right. Sat on a chair in the corner was an American antiques dealer from New Orleans! He told me that this was one of the best places to buy genuine and nice antiques in the area and he had been coming to the same shop for over 20 years! I was deffinitely in the right place!

After exchanging pleasantaries, he left leaving a large amount of the stock labelled for shipping to the USA. I glanced around the room, each time taking in something different. There were three rooms each filled with furniture of different eras. Some painted Louis furniture, large ornate mirrors, beautiful chairs, screens, fire guards and fabulous lighting of a bygone age, none displayed properly and not shown off to their best. I had a good poke around and was surprised to find nestled in the corner of the middle room just what I was looking for, a single wooden sleigh type bed! Made from Walnut it did have some woodworm in it but nothing to really worry about. I asked the price and was surprised to find that even though there was a price tag hiding on one side I got it a half the price displayed. Re..sult. I paid and put it in the back of the car for the short drive home. Lucie also had purchased 4 chairs, a lamp and a small louis painted table with a marble top. After completing my purchase, I was invited to take a drink and was then proudly shown around the owners garden with its beautiful wisteria canopied walk way, pond and bushes neatly trimmed into different shapes. Accross the road there was another section to the garden and I was told the history of the 16th Century Church that shaded one corner of the orchard. I finally left with Lucie after 2 hours feeling that I had made another new friend in Lucie and that the old couple had welcomed me to the fold so to speak!

The bed was unloaded from the car and treated for woodworm before putting it into the B&B room, I now just have to give it a bit of TLC and rewax it. It looks stunning and I am very pleased.

Off tomorrow early to the first vide grenier of the weekend (equivalent to an English car boot sale) and another two on Sunday. I am told by the locals it is a great place to find small items of furniture at very reasonable prices. Will let you know how I get on!

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