News Archive

Antique Lighting

Though dated, antique lights provide a wonderful pairing of period décor with contemporary furnishings blending the unique and exquisite richness of the ancient lighting with the modern furniture settings. Here at Brownrigg Interiors we stock a wonderful range of antique lighting comprising wall lights/sconces, chandeliers and lanterns and much more.
Until recently, antique lightings have often been regarded as relics of the past with most discussions about them only common among the academia and the aristocratic. Now there is a sudden re-awakening to the existence of these often beautiful antiques that can be rewired to meet today's electricity standards.

The oil lamp is the earliest and was a rustically simple absorbent wick vessel. They were produced en-masse since the early 19th century. Typically, they were made with a metal base, a burner and a glass. During the Victorian era stretching through the reign of Queen Victoria, when many artistic styles, religious movements, social and political movements as well as literary schools flourished tremendously, antique lightings such as chain-suspended chandeliers, candelabras and oil lamps existed side by side with earlier dated electric lamps. They come having great appeal with very highly decorated fixtures and graceful curves.

The ever increasing popularity of floral decorated lampshades made from ornate glass marked the most profound era in the development of lamps at the tail end of 1800 when lamps were kept for their aesthetic decorative value rather than as a functional item. Pressed glass usually with milky stripes, often referred to as slag glass, became the norm in both America and England with most popular lamp factories, then, using it to create eye-catching lamp shades. In fact, the Aladdin Industries Incorporation, in 1908, created their breakthrough oil lamp, the Aladdin lamp, touted to be so bright to the extent that none is able to duplicate its brightness.
See beautiful antique lighting on our website at Brownrigg-interiors.co.uk

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French Antiques - Sheraton Style

Sheraton is a late 18th century neoclassical English furniture style, in vogue ca 1785 - 1820, that was coined by 19th century collectors and dealers to credit furniture designer Thomas Sheraton, born in Stockton-on-Tees, England in 1751 and whose books, "The Cabinet Dictionary" (1803) of engraved designs and the "Cabinet Maker's & Upholsterer's Drawing Book" (1791) of furniture patterns exemplify this style.
The Sheraton style was inspired by the Louis XVI style and features round tapered legs, fluting and most notably contrasting veneer inlays. Sheraton style furniture takes lightweight rectilinear forms, using satinwood, mahogany and tulipwood, sycamore and rosewood for inlaid decorations, though painted finishes and brass fittings are also to be found. Swags, husks, flutings, festoons, and rams' heads are amongst the common motifs applied to pieces of this style.

Without pedantic archaeology, it brought the Neo-Classical taste of architects like Robert Adam within reach of the middle class. In many respects Sheraton style corresponds with the contemporary Directoire style of France. The Sheraton style was the most reproduced style in the United States during the Federal period.

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French Antiques and Decorative Antiques - Empire style

The French furniture that gives birth to decorative antiques evolves through three style phases. ... Louis XV1. Decorative and then Empire style.

Empire Style is particularly linked with the furniture types and decoration found in Napoleon’s numerous residences which are characterized in particular by lavishly painted antiques and draperies.

At our antiques shops in Petworth and Tetbury we often display a wide selection of French antique furniture in this syle. Here are some examples

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French Antiques and Decorative Antiques - Directoire style

The second phase of the evolution of French furniture towards modern day popular French Antiques is Directoire phase. The first phase being Louis XV1 and the third being Empire style.
The style uses neoclassical architectural forms, minimal carving, plain expanses of highly grained veneers  and applied decorative painting. It takes its name from the period 1795–1799 when France was ruled by a government of Directors. A noted furniture designer working in the style was Georges Jacob.

Good quality furniture in this syle is popular, like this elegant 1950s  French extendable dining table, in the Directoire taste, that can be used as a centre table or small dining table. Similar tables to this are often found at our  Tetbury shop.

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French Antiques and Decorative Antiques - Louis XVI style

French antiques and furniture are becoming very popular and in high demand for their romantic, rustic style and finesse based on the evergreen tradition of exotic French craftsmanship. The rich antique leather armchairs and upholstery complemented by ornate woodcarvings and regal designs are just some of the characteristics of the Parisian furniture style that was once produced for French royalties. If you want to invoke the air of regal grace, royalty and elegance in your home, you should consider using decorative antiques, like painted French antiques and furniture for their exotic wood finishings and royal splendour. French antiques and neoclassical furniture are usually rectangular-shaped without any curve. The backs of antique leather armchairs and chairs in general were rectangular or oval with turned legs, often fluted in reference to Classical architectural columns.
A significant number of antiquated French furniture styles date back to the 16th century.
The French furniture evolves through three style phases.  Decorative antiques fashioned after Louis XVI style was already in vogue by the time of Louis XVI's coronation in 1774.  It was replaced in 1795 by the Directoire style known for its balance, clarity and restraint. Empire Style is particularly linked with the furniture types and decoration found in Napoleon’s numerous residences which are characterized in particular by lavishly painted antiques and draperies.

Like most changes in taste, the sudden growth in popularity of neoclassicism is hard to fathom, but the reaction against the curvilinear frivolity of rococo happened quickly; during the later reign of Louis XVI, the style was fully developed.

A fine example of a Neoclassical commode is this wonderful late 18th century French Louis XVI commode, with elegant lines and a lovely walnut colour, that will suit any interior , either classic or contemporary. This was for sale at our Tetbury showroom.

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Demand for Good French Antique Furniture Remains

In spite of everything the demand for high quality French Antiques remains high.
Whilst traditional ‘brown furniture’ maybe out of fashion and demand limited to good quality tables and chairs and the odd fine piece, the demand for French Antiques remains high.
We have just been fortunate to acquire a selected number of quality French antiques such as a very stylish and unusual pair, of early to mid 19th century French ebonised concave buffets. Both with a single drawer and a two door base, retaining the original locks and keys.

This elegant pair of antique French ebonised buffets, will make a statement in any setting, either classic or contemporary.

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Interior Design Magazines Feature Brownrigg yet Again!

Being at the leading edge of current trends for design and antiques I guess it is to be expected that the various design magazines will feature us and our antiques.

Visit our decorative antiques web site at www.brownrigg-interiors.co.uk to see The World of Interiors October edition where they feature our 19th century French burr-elm round dining table.

In our review section you will also see an article by Homes Antiques September edition that features a pair of wonderful Regency English country house chinoiserie cabinets from 1820s that we had in stock for a very short while. Good antiques, be they English antiques, French antiques or others tend to find new homes very quickly!

The August edition of House and Gardens ran an article of traveller’s treasure where Olivia Gregory produced a fine article on the spirit of adventure, creating bold, eclectic schemes using animal print textiles, semi precious stones and unusual antiques such as our late 19th century Cameroonian shell encrusted stool and out 1950s iron and vellum floor lamp.

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Brownrigg Opens in at Tetbury : Our new flagship antique shop in Tetbury is up and running. Come and see us!

Our first antique shop was at Petworth, West Sussex, then Kings’s Road, London and now Tetbury in Gloucestershire.

Our Tetbury decorative antiques shop is indeed and impressive antique shop! Spread out in a wonderfully large town house over 2 floors and 4 showrooms and a grand staircase it is the perfect setting to view our fine antiques sourced from France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, England and the world!

True to our reputation for providing unique, quirky and interesting antiques be the European furniture such as Spanish antiques, French antiques or  Swedish antiques etc. we continue to provide the unexpected and are refreshingly different.

We also have a new web site that shows all our items that are displayed in our 3 antique shops.

Do come and visit us at Tetbury or indeed our Petworth antiques shop or our antique shop in Tetbury. Alternatively browse our website where you will see all our stock.

Ring me if we can help.

Why not be added to our mailing list (link to http://www.brownrigg-interiors.co.uk/mailing_list/) so we can advise you when we have new shipments of stock.

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From the collection of the late Duarte Pinto Coelho

Provenance of our special collection of antiques from the collection of the late Duarte Pinto Coelho
We are proud to offer our personal selection of some of the best antiques from the exciting collection of items from the Madrid home and the Trujillo country house of legendary interior decorator Duarte Pinto Coelho in Spain

Born in Cascais Portugal in 1923, Duarte Pinto Coelho was passionate about interior design from an early age. Once, upon their return from holiday, his parents were amazed to find that he had completely rearranged the house to great effect.Duarte was to move to Paris where he found the stimulus and inspiration he so craved. In 1948 he staged a Venetian ball in the Ligny Baths, which was the social success of the season. Duarte flourished in Paris during the time that the decorator Emilio Terry triumphed with his renowned fashionable taste and clients such as the Beisteguis, whilst Madeleine Castaing was creating sumptuous interiors for herself and others. Both were tremendously influential for Duarte.

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Spanish Antiques and Spanish Antique Furniture

At Brownrigg @ Home, with our roots in Spain with all its fine Spanish Antiques it is no wonder that we offer a fine selection of antiques from Spain. Antiques include Spanish Antique furniture, Spanish Antique ceramics and other Spanish Pottery.

Pottery has been an important item in Spain for over 4,000 years. But it was the Moors who took pottery to a finer level when they introduced iridescent luster ware and tin-glazed earthenware using techniques that dazed and amazed. Originally used for decorative tiles and vases, the factories began making bowls, cups and plates when the use of silver was restricted for domestic purposes in 1601, thus changing the history of Spanish ceramic art forevermore.

When in the 15th Century Moorish potters in factories near Valencia changed their designs from traditional Arabic to Christian scenes Spanish ceramics became extremely popular in Europe and competed head on with the French and Italians. The Spanish faience rivalled Paris best. Even the Pope gave his royal seal of approval, marvelling over Spain ability to create such things of elegance from mere clay. With backing from the Pope,Spain soon became the foremost ceramic producer in Europe.

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New Stock of Spanish antiques, French antiques and European antiques at Brownrigg Interiors

Today another consignment of antiques from France, Spain and Italy and other parts of Europe arrives at Brownrigg Interiors, and highlights the fact that London and Petworth, where our antiques shops are situated, are more firmly established than ever as centres of the international market.

We are often asked how we are able to offer such a wide and select range of European furniture and art, and our answer is always that we work hard sourcing inspirational pieces through our unique network of contacts and suppliers. But there is something else.

Wherever you live in the world, London and Petworth are key destinations if you are looking for an impressive selection to choose from (And websites like Brownrigg’s make the journey much easier). This is partly because the UK has the largest art and antiques market in Europe and is second only to the USA worldwide.

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Swedish gustavian furniture - the sublime choice

Never in the history of furniture making and design has there ever been such a sublime marriage as the one which took place in Sweden in 1771.

That was the year King Gustav III came to the throne and signalled the debut of gustavian style,a unique blend of Swedish and French sensibilities.

An interesting journey inspiring Gustavian Antique Furniture

Gustav loved French literature and was an ardent follower of French protagonists of the Enlightenment. In 1771 he travelled to Paris, and returned deeply influenced by everything he experienced and saw – not least the furniture.

It was the start of the fabulous era of gustavian furniture – the stunning marriage of Swedish neoclassicism and French Louis XVI styling. The wonderful designs which resulted have never been as sought after as they are today, when their combination of simplicity, sophistication and high impact makes them look so good in today’s fashionable interiors – and equally in town or country.

Recognising this style of antique furniture

At Brownrigg@Home we are proud to be able to find wonderful examples of the genre, and right now we have an exceptional range of Swedish pieces in stock.

Our charming late 18th/early 19th century commode has that beautiful pale painted look,a fabulous shape thanks to its fluted columns and feet and lovely greco-roman motif handles. You can see this here

From the same era our very smart Swedish bureau bookcase has that delightful old soft grey colour but plenty of presence and impact. A really stunning piece to have in any room.

The key neoclassical look is equally evident in our elegant Swedish bench, and the exceptional pair of gustation stools in their original paint.

For impact look at this 118 inch long gustavian sofa with its original paint and horse hair seat – a piece that King Gustav himself would have looked on with favour.

Between them, and the many other pieces in stock, not least our range of clocks, they show off everything we love about gustavian and Scandinavian pieces.

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Living with Country Furniture, wherever you live, can be the making of your ideal home

Finding your Country look

A beautiful piece of furniture has a kind of integrity and honesty that comes from its maker.

The design, choice of wood and the way furniture is made come together to produce a harmonious result – and nothing exemplifies this better than country furniture.

Sophisticated city designers have usually led the way in creating new styles and fashions, and country furniture makers have traditionally interpreted the best by paring down the forms to express the true essence of a look. You can see how in by viewing this 18th century bleached oak bureau

Simple elegance, whether French, English or Scandinavian, Country Antique Furniture has it ..

They have also simplified the way furniture is made. Veneers, ormolu trimmings or exaggerated detailing are replaced by solid woods, pure lines and straightforward construction, and the result is a heritage of wonderfully simple yet elegant country furniture that is ideal for our modern lifestyles. You can see this in this timeless classic 18th century French fruitwood buffet a deux corps

Modern Contemporary Living Space – It can really benefit from Country Furniture and Antiques

Country tables, as well, are fabulous in contemporary rooms, where their pared down lines, say in a fruitwood piece in the Louis XV or XVI stles, look exceptional.

Country furniture makers have always used the best of locally available wood, so oak was favoured in England, pine in Scandinavia and fruitwoods in many parts of the Continent. Often Swedish pieces were painted in stunning light colours to give a lift to dark interiors. See this 18th century corner cupboard.

In France, furniture makers would travel from village to village making armoires, chests of drawers or tables by commission before moving on. The lustrous woods they selected were ideal for the task and equally perfect in their capacity to improve with age.

Great British Country Furniture – in favour and taking centre stage

In Great Britain, simple yet outstanding pieces were also created to play a part in the management of estates – tables, cupboards and grand kitchen furniture.

The sheer practicality of country furniture ensured that it was rarely discarded, and although many pieces were sidelined during the 20th century they are totally back in favour now, deservedly centre of stage again.

Can we help you?

If you would like to know more about which furniture would be right for you, please contact us. All our details can be viewed here. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Workmanship - Rule Four to Buying Antiques Successfully

Every great piece of furniture has two “parents”.

One is the designer who translates inspired ideas into sketches and then finished perspectives and working drawings.

The other is the furniture maker who takes the drawings and makes them a reality by forming, shaping and assembling the various materials to create the designer’s vision.

Of course, the “parents” are always equally important. But it is only as a result of the maker’s workmanship that the finished piece will be a true object of beauty and function, like our 1930’s, 40’s French bleached centre table.

That’s why insisting on top quality workmanship is my fourth rule when buying antiques.

What I consider makes for top quality workmanship

A good cabinet maker starts with various marking instruments that are not really tools – pencils, marking knives, set squares, rulers, straight edges and gauges. These are used to “set out” the furniture, to mark the materials and to show where they should be cut. This is the thoughtful part of the job, especially difficult when the form in complicated.

Then each part needs to be skilfully worked and finished before being gracefully brought together to realise the designer’s original concept. Beautifully turned legs, artistic carving, fine veneering, perfect dovetailing, well crafted hinges, locks and catches, fine leather for upholstery. The original leather on our 1950’s sofa illustrates the point.

All will help make a piece special. But the finished furniture must do more than look good. It must also be capable of doing its job efficiently, and the strength and quality of the joining will be vital, as in our 19th century bleached oak bookcase.

Interesting history about “antique” quality workmanship

Interestingly, all the methods used in Europe to make furniture by hand from the ninth century onwards were known to the ancient Romans, Greeks, Egyptians and Chinese, but lost for centuries before being rediscovered.

Half-mortice, tenon and mortice, scarf joints, tongue and groove and wooden pegging are among the inventions which provide robustness alongside elegance.

Today these timeless techniques, perfectly executed, are still the hallmark of desirable furniture, whether simple country or sophisticated urban pieces, such as this late 18th century French marquetry commode in kingwood, rosewood and boxwood.

And good workmanship in harmony with pleasing design will always delight the eye.

Part of our Five Golden Rules series Click here for the full list

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Buying Antiques thoughts on my number three rule

Natural Beauty

Much of the beauty of wonderful antique furniture lies simply in its wood.
Soft to the touch from a hundred and more years of appreciative use, gently faded due to a lifetime in a sunny country or glowing after years of loving attention, it might be a commode, a bookcase, chairs or even a mirror or picture frame. Whichever it is, the allure of the wood is often what attracts me to it and why I make a great patina or colour the third priority in my list of golden rules for buying an antique.

It makes antique furniture look fabulous in any setting

And the exciting fusion of very old, vintage and contemporary pieces in current interiors means that a spellbinding patina will look fabulous not only in a traditional setting but equally alongside the most modern of architectural materials.

Imagine 18th century Italian walnut juxtaposed with white concrete or brushed steel. It’s a challenging look that succeeds through a contrast which stresses the specific beauty of each of the materials.

What to look for, then?

All the fruitwoods age beautifully. Don’t worry about a bit of old woodworm. It’s not a cliche to say that it adds character. Cherrywood, especially the wild cherry merisier, almond, lemon, mulberry, pear, apple, plum and walnut. All have distinctive and exceptional characters as you can see from this 19th century French commode in cherry and this outstanding French Louis XV walnut serpentine commode.

Of the hard woods, oak can be stunning either darkly polished, bleached or in the honey colour of the 1930s. Check out this lovely, simple, bleached oak bookcase.

Pine furniture comes into its own when it has the translucently soft hue of the Regency period; marvellous, for example, in a bookcase or cupboard with those classic Georgian handles and escutcheons.

Mahogancy also looks amazing when it has faded to a light colour which makes it seem almost like a special variety of fruitwood. Our mahogany English estate cupboard illustrates how good mahogany can look.

Pieces from the 1950s and 60s can also offer visually delightful wood and patinas, especially the extravagantly grained rosewood and walnut furniture from Scandinavia, like this Danish centre or dining table.

Don’t forget that painted furniture, too, will take on a patina after time, often benefiting from wear which has taken off some of the top coat of paint to reveal mellow undercoats, often in different yet complementary colours. The overall effect can shimmer like a pointilliste painting!

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Buying Antiques thoughts on my number two rule

What are the correct proportions for a chest of drawers or a bookcase?

I believe the answer should be that there are no hard and fast rules. Over the years certain shapes and sizes have become established for various pieces, and they will help confirm their age and country of origin.

A matter of scale, in the matter of antiques

For example, the classic Louis Philippe French commode is typically not much different from 50 inches wide, 22 inches deep and 35 inches high, and has a marble top slightly larger than that of the commode. Any bigger and the commode would look oddly overscaled. My perfect example can bee seen by clicking here

But you can scale up if you change the proportions, as in this early 19th century French walnut buffet, where the balance of the two doors and the single drawer above is complemented by the extra chunky moonlight marble top.

Yet in country pieces a quirky shape can provide a special charm, or a chest with an unusual configuration of drawers can have an appeal all its own. View here this 19th century bank of drawers.

Searching for “antique furniture” visual perfection

The search for visual perfection has always been fascinating. Many designers have believed that ideal proportions could be mathematically calculated and the world’s greatest architects have often led the quest.

The hugely influential 16th century Italian architect Palladio devoted himself to studies of classical ancient Roman architectural proportions, as did the English architect Sir John Soane (1753-1837), who collected countless examples of antique design so that he could demonstrate to his students the elusive elements of perfect proportion and balance.

I always think that the 19th century French gueridon table is a great instance of design that transcends the centuries. The design is geometrically simple. A round top, usually with a circular piece of marble on it; a single, tapered central stem and three legs, sometimes plain, sometimes claw-footed. But always the diameter of the circular top is slightly greater than that of the feet and the stem is sized to achieve a harmonious overall balance. This gueridon illustrates the point magnificently.

You can also see elegant proportions in this 19th century pine breakfront bookcase, where the central sections steps out, almost architecturally, from the sides in a way that lightens the large piece of furniture and even gives a sense of movement…

…by comparison, the 1930s French bookcase is potentially heavier with its neoclassical styling, but thanks to the use of large sections of glass, subtly brass framed, is pleasingly balanced in appearance.

What of scale and visual perfection! – does the furniture look good where you want to put it?

Finally, what about the best proportions of furniture to use in a room? This is really what it’s all about, and my advice is, don’t be frightened to use large, strong pieces.

Imposing mirrors, in particular, are never risky to use. When you step back you will always be pleased by the way strong mirroring will reflect the room and the pieces in it.

At the end of the day, maybe, probably? – beauty and proportions are in the eye of the beholder!

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The distinctive styles; English Antiques - Furniture

Timeless Quality

There’s a timeless quality about the English country house that emanates from the style and appearance of its furniture, mirrors and paintings.
Irish, Scottish and Welsh interiors have their own distinctive characteristics as well, and English country house owners often borrow from them, and from some French influences, to achieve an unsurpassed look. This harmonious combination can only be achieved by the careful selection of pieces with strong inherent qualities which express the outstanding nature of English furnishings.

Is there something special about the English Country House style

So what is so special about the English style? And which pieces most typify the country house and its close relative, the English townhouse?

First, the outstanding cabinetmaking and exceptional materials. Second, great patina on old woods and the colour of painted pieces. Third, wonderful proportions, especially in classically influenced furniture. And lastly, the apparently effortless combination of pieces from different eras, in particular the 18th and 19th centuries alongside the stylish 1920s and 30s.

Achieving the Country House look

1. In choosing the key pieces to achieve this highly desirable look, start by remembering that a large English upholstered sofa or two lends that relaxed feel that is so typical of the English house, and the ideal choice is often a classic chesterfield. beautifully piped and buttoned. This 19th century chesterfield is a great example of the look.

2. The sought after Howard style armchairs with their deep comfortable seats and clubby looks introduce that other important element of the English traditional look – the 1920s and 30s feel of fashionable living.

3. Old estate furniture, originally used for estate management, filing and storage, has now moved centre stage, and looks fabulous in living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms. You can find exceptional quality examples of this style of furniture juts have a look at this estate cupboard. Would work well anywhere!

4. There is the quintessential country house piece, that looks equally at home in town. It’s the simple painted cupboard and when you find a wonderfully proportioned, clean lined with classical architecture references, it has an aura that manages to be both relaxed and imposing at the same time.

5. Books are central to the English look and a stylish bookcase is always a good investment. This fine quality 19th century (around 1840) bookcase in pine should give you a good idea of what you could do.

6. Good mirrors are crucial to achieving the English mood, especially in a townhouse. They don’t need to be over restored or have a new plate, they just require good proportions and the charm that comes from gentle maturing. This rectangular mirror demonstrates how attractive an aged mirror can look. It will catch and reflect the light without being ostentatious.

7. And finally, paintings. They provide a key opportunity to bring character and individuality to a home because of their personal nature and the way they demonstrate your individual taste. Forget some of the established English artists and look at the exciting unknown painters who produced exceptional work, particularly in the 1930s, 40s ans 50s. Our original portrait of a young woman by Harry Young, signed and dated 1932, is finely executed (ref.4485).

Find inspiration from all around, The English Country Style certainly did.

And don’t forget that the inclusion of continental European or Scandinavian pieces in an English style room is a well-established tradition and can certainly add to the overall feel.

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Investing in antiques successfully - Ten Tips

Investing in antiques is easy!

You can’t go far wrong. Unlike most new furniture, antiques will hold their value in both the short and long terms and will give you the added bonus of visual pleasure if you keep them at home.

But investing successfully in antiques is not so simple. And you can go badly wrong if you don’t follow some basic guidelines.

1. Do your homework. Talk to successul antiques dealers and read appropriate magazines and publications. You will start to become aware of patterns in supply and demand, as well as refining your own taste.

2. Trust your instincts. An antique can pack an emotional punch and if it connects with you it probably has something special about it. But don’t be afraid to get a second opinion.

3. Consider the relationships between the pieces you buy. For example, highly successful investment properties have been created in the past by enthusiasts for 17th century English oak and walnut. There’s no need to be so specialist, but a cohesive grouping will have more value than an overly eclectic combination, and a good collection sale can yield higher returns than a series of individual sales.

4. Age confers value, and the oldest pieces will always be the most sought after. In the 1920s people could still buy William and Mary or Queen Anne English pieces. Now they are almost out of reach. The supply of antiques is finite, so buy early antiques if you can.

5. Quality is a key factor. Outstanding craftsmanship and fine materials like beautifully aged walnut, oak and elm will enhance value. Signature pieces by renowned 18th and 19th century French and English cabinetmakers are few and far between, but never stop looking for them.

6. Think simple. Classic lines tend to avoid the vagaries of fashion more successfully than exotic creations.

7. But remember, eccentric rarities can occasionally have an unexpectedly high value. Again, trust your instincts and don’t be afraid of antiques with unusual character.

8. Don’t make low price a determining factor. Always buy the best you can afford. It will pay off in the end.

9. Buy from people whose taste and judgement you respect.

10. Keep your investments at home. Sit on them, eat off them, look at them. The pleasure is an immediate and ongoing reward. And if you have too many investments, just keep rotating them!

“Author” Robin Ruddy is a journalist, public relations consultant and now an antiques dealer who writes on antiques and French biodynamic wine. His French Provincial Furniture is the best selling book on the subject.

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Buying Antiques thoughts on my number one rule

In France they call it a “coup de coeur”. In English I guess it’s “love at first sight.”

In either language it means the favourable impact a great piece of furniture, mirror or object make when you first see them, and it constitutes rule one in my list of five tips for good antiques buying.

If you’re new to buying antiques I hope this will help, if you’re a seasoned buyer, I hope you’ll enjoy my view of our world.

First impressions, whether antique furniture, paintings, mirrors or statues…

Always remember your first impression because it will remain true and that unique aura or personality of a piece will communicate itself just as strongly to others who see it.

There are the five rules I like to consider when buying antiques, but for now, I’m focussing on my number one “impact” – that initial feeling and the key aspects that should immediately strike you.

If furniture is made of solid or veneered wood

Are the colour and figuring pleasing? Take into consideration the light you are in. Remember a piece will look quite different in broad daylight or a candlelit room.

Does it have old or new gilding of a good tone?

Is the metalwork, such as handles, hinges or escutcheons, good looking and original?

One of my favourite examples of excellent workmanship is this 18th century French serpentine commode= – stunning wood and metalware.

If it’s an antique mirror

Is the glass plate original or replaced and does it have a good colour? (Old is best but these days you can get excellent replacements.) This late 18th century English mirror illustrates the striking effect of an original mirror plate. Although you may find it easier to see the effect by popping in to our showroom!

Does the size and angle you view at matter?

Is the piece the right kind of size and proportions for the place it will go into?

How does it look from different angles? Sometimes a piece will be positioned so that it can be seen mainly from a three-quarters angle.

Or it may need a good back if that will be visible. This French desk is double sided, so it looks great from both aspects.

If it’s a dining table, desk or coffee table does it seem the right height? You can always measure later to be sure. Also, are the legs good looking and sound when you focus on them alone?

Upholstery, joy or despair for your antiques

For upholstered furniture, are there any off-putting blemishes, is the piping straight and any buttoning correctly positioned? But don’t be put off a good frame by poor upholstery. It can always be changed, as you can see with this recently re-upholstered 19th Century English Chesterfield Sofa, perfect in a beautiful neutral linen, hopefully you agree.

The moment of truth

Lastly, stand back, close your eyes then look again. With all the above points in the back of your mind, if you still love it, then you will probably end up buying it!

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The distinctive styles that identify which country your antique originates from

Creating a room is like composing music. The pieces of furniture you choose are the notes you use and an inspired combination will produce a brilliant result.

Spain, France, Italy, Sweden and Denmark all have distinctive styles of antique furniture which will enhance a contemporary or classical setting and mixing these skilfully will give great authority to the final look.

In future issues I will go into more detail on the antiques of each country. For now I would just like to summarise the key looks from around Europe.

Spain

Spanish furniture embraces the ornate baroque and rococo styles as well as the simple country look exemplified by walnut or oak refectory tables with wonderful curved ironwork and stunning patination.
Always strong on impact it is equally typified by the very fine carving and gilding you can see on our magnificent pair of early 19th century Spanish console tables

France

French furniture ranges from delightful country buffets, tables and armoires in attractive woods like cherry, lime, pear, oak and elm, to more sophisticated examples made for town use. Look out for marble topped commodes and gueridons in mahogany or walnut. Sometimes country and town combine in outstanding examples like our 18th century three drawer serpentine commode in elm

Italy

Italy has always been at the forefront of furniture design and fashion, and its ornate and highly decorative styles have been in constant demand, sometimes painted, often gilded and sometimes polished to show off the finish of the wood. Its position was maintained in the 20th century as our stylish Italian occasional table shows

Sweden and Denmark

The Scandinavian countries are renowned for the classical simplicity of their lines and the delicacy of their look, exemplified by pieces from the Gustavian period (1775 to 1810).Pale woods were most popular, often painted in light pastel tones to help create light filled spaces in houses during the long Nordic winters. I think these pieces look equally sensational today in hot sunny climates!
A great example is this elegant early 19th century painted bureau with its fabulous blond wood interior

We hope we inspire your antique collections

In the future I will be highlighting in turn the commodes, cupboards, tables, seating, mirrors and objects of each country and how to identify them correctly. I will also look specifically at the best of English furniture.

Check out our website for inspiration on combining pieces from these different countries to get that “wow” look. At Brownrigg we don’t do boring or bland so you can choose the exciting ingredients for some stunningly harmonious interiors.

To see examples of all the above please visit Brownrigg@Home’s gallery

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Five golden rules to consider when buying antiques

We’ve started this new blog so that we can provide you with some useful tips and advice on how to fill your home with exceptional antiques, as well as, of course, being able to supply them to you.

Buying antiques from mainland Europe has become very simple, straightforward and, dare I say it, fashionable. Yet you need to be even more careful than ever when buying to ensure you get a fine, authentic piece.

My likes in antiques of European origin focus on Spanish, French, Italian, Swedish and Danish, especially from the 18th century. But there are also many outstanding examples of superb antique furniture from the 19th and 20th centuries, and at Brownrigg we concentrate on supplying the best from all three centuries, and sometimes earlier.

Here are five golden rules I always consider before I buy antiques. These I apply to all purchases whether European, Scandinavian, Worldwide!

  1. Impact: does the item given a favourable first impression?
  2. Proportions: are the proportions pleasing and correct for a piece of its age?
  3. Patina: are the colour and patina a pleasure to look at?
  4. Workmanship: is the quality and finish of a high standard?
  5. Condition: is the furniture in appropriately good condition for its age? (Remember, some antiques, such as tables and chairs, get more use than others, so expect more natural wear).

At the end of the day though, if you have fallen in love with a piece it’s almost certainly the right one for you!

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