For today’s blog post, my intention was to showcase some of my favorite floral wallpapers in honor of the start of spring but I just can’t get into that mindset as I sit here with yet another Nor’Easter swirling outside my windows. So…I’ll save those for another week. Instead, I’m returning to my trip to Parma but this time, in much more detail.

The doors of Parma captivated me. I didn’t realize it at first but as I started my self tour of the city, I realized I had taken multiple pictures of these ancient architectural forms. Arched doorways, iron strap hinges, rivets (like those in the door pictured above) and more grabbed my eye. Any local probably thought I was a little cuckoo for walking up to almost every door and running my fingers over the aged wood. But when you are surrounded by this kind of beauty everyday, I’m sure it is easy to pass by. For me, that was not the case.

Another amazing door and a close-up of it’s door knocker.

From the ancient doors of the Baptistery surrounded by pink verona marble to burgundy velvet draped doors leading into the Cathedral, each one has so much character and history that they were hard to pass by. I could’ve spent a full day looking at just these monuments of history. Yes…doors are made to serve a very practical purpose but they can also be handcrafted pieces of art made by the hands of skilled artisans.

Last week I had the dream opportunity to spend a few days in Italy drinking prosecco and eating ALL the pastas, cheeses and parma ham. But that’s not all I did…I spent time at Mercanteinfiera, an antiques market in Parma, honing my eye by looking and touching pieces from across the world and across time. Seeing how these international antiques dealers merchandise their finds from different eras was inspiring and I can only hope will make me a better designer. It’s my dream to start to incorporate antiques into my client’s projects. I think pieces with history give soul to a space and add to the story of a home. Shopping this market was just the tip of the iceberg for me as I continue to educate myself about the world of antiques. Below are some of my favorite finds….

I’m a sucker for a gorgeous piece of sparkling jewelry and any of these would be amazing inspiration for the design of a room. The shape of the pendant could be used in the pattern of textiles in a bedroom with acrylic hardware used to reflect light like diamonds. The sea green brooch would be the start of a color palette for a living room. It’s easy to find inspiration for design anywhere. Especially when it looks as good as these do.

I love pieces with interesting details or exquisite craftsmanship. All of the below have something unique about them from the hand painted Asian armoire to the delicate inlay on the side of the desk. Each piece has something that speaks to me and pulls me in. Which is your favorite?

For the last few days, I’ve been alluding to an exciting upcoming adventure on Instagram and it’s finally time to reveal what I’ll be up to. Next Tuesday evening, I will be flying “across the pond” to attend Mercanteinfiera in Parma, Italy with some fellow travel/interior design/antiques enthusiasts.

A few images from last year’s Mercanteinfiera

One is Toma Clark Haines, aka, The Antiques Diva, whom I met briefly at a seminar a few weeks ago and is THE go-to source for antique tours and antique buying abroad and in the US.

“Since opening in 2008 The Antiques Diva® & Co has become the world’s largest antiques buying and touring services company, offering custom, private one-on-one antiques buying tours in 15 countries in Europe, Asia and America to both private individuals (tourists) and to the trade (antique dealers and interior designers). Our team of over 25 locally based guides are well-versed in the local culture, language, and best local sources for antiques – whether that be the local flea markets, antique warehouses or private, by-appointment-only antique stores.” (except from their website)

Toma has a fascinating life exemplified by her recent move from Germany to Venice and I am very much looking forward to hearing about what inspired her to develop this business. I am determined to absorb all I can from her about the process of buying antiques abroad and share any juicy tidbits upon my return.

From L-R: Kelly Maguire of Modern Antiquarian, The Antiques Diva, and Me

Another of these amazing women is DJ Carey, Editor-in-Chief of one of my favorite local shelter magazines, Connecticut Cottages & Gardens.

CTC&G editor-in-chief D.J. Carey has a wealth of experience in design media, having begun her career at House & Garden, followed by stints at Ladies’ Home Journal and Redbook, among others. At CTC&G, she helps showcase the best Connecticut has to offer. “Connecticut has such a rich history of design that most of us are unaware of,” she says. “This is a great opportunity to enlighten those who live in Connecticut about what is in their own backyards.” However, her skills influence all Cottages & Gardens products. Carey lives in a 19th-century farmhouse in Norwalk, Connecticut, with her husband and daughter.” (excerpt from website)

I recently spent time with DJ at the KBIS show in Orlando on their VIP Curated Tour which is where we found out we’d be traveling to Italy together. She and I will have a lot of time to not only discover Mercanteinfiera but also the city of Parma itself. Seeing both the market and this ancient region through the eyes of a magazine editor will in itself be an amazing and invaluable experience.

DJ and I at a recent CTC&G event recapping trends from KBIS 2018.

And last but certainly not least, is the dynamic duo that makes up Modern Antiquarian, Margaret Schwartz and Kelly Maguire, both of whom I met by chance last year at their beautifully curated store, The Summer House. While The Summer House has since closed, they’ve been able to focus fully on their antiques business and set up a beautiful space at The Antique & Artisan Gallery in Stamford, CT.

“Modern Antiquarian was born out of a love for antique furniture and objects and a passion that grew into a career. Margaret Schwartz developed her love of antiques over time and as that passion grew she felt a need to share it. It started when Margaret read about antiques tours on The English Room blog and it piqued her interest. She booked a one day tour not knowing what to expect. By the end of the day she had filled a 20’ container and was hooked on antiques. We understand that antiques are intimidating and can be expensive, so anyone who is diving into the antiques world is bound to need some advice along the way.” (excerpt from website)

And some advice is what I need…as an inexperienced but passionate antique lover, I have already learned so much from these two and I look forward to continuing to expand my knowledge. It was Margaret that asked me to join them on this trip and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity.

Margaret Schwartz, Owner

Kelly Maguire

Follow along with me Feb 28th-Mar 4 on my Instagram as I explore the city of Parma, Italy and it’s Mercanteinfiera to see this amazing city and market of antiques through my eyes.

Last week I had the great pleasure of visiting the Downton Abbey exhibition in New York. I have been a fan of the show since first hearing the opening theme song and the beautiful Jacobean home we now know to be Highclere Castle filled the screen. And while the show is no longer in production, getting to  witness the craftsmanship of the costume and set designers made me “feel the feels” all over again. Below are just a few of my images of the interior sets and a few antique pieces I’ve curated from 1stDibs that emulate the spirit of Downton Abbey.

 

Downstairs Kitchen

The stove and ovens….complete with real steam!

A close up of the copper bakeware. What a functional yet attractive way to display your favorite bundt pans!

Distressed cabinetry laid with the practical yet beautiful crockery on display.

Antique Farmhouse Table – Perfect for prep work or gathering a family for Sunday breakfast.

Farmhouse Dresser – A handsome piece to display your creamware or blue and white serving pieces.

 

 

Carson’s Office

The exquisitely crafted costumes of Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes on display in Mr. Carson’s office. An amazing partner’s desk was used on set for many of the scenes depicting life below stairs.

Edwardian Mahogany Partners Desk – Beautiful in a man’s library.

 

Upstairs Dining Room

If only I had a room large enough to seat this many people, I’d pull out all my silver and china and host a dinner party every night with a table set like this.

Set of Hepplewhite Style Dining Chairs – The shield back is classic and would never go out of style.

 

Lady Mary’s Bedroom

A bedroom fit for a lady…A luxurious bed, the warmth of a fireplace and an exquisite antique vanity.

Parquetry Empire Style Bed

 

Louis XVI Style Vanity

 

There are so many rooms we didn’t get to see at this exhibition and even a larger number of iconic pieces from the show that weren’t displayed. While I wasn’t disappointed by what I was able to see here, it left me yearning for more. I guess I’ll just have to plan a trip to Highclere in the future!

 

 

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