I was enjoying the bright and very warm sun one after recently - whilst posted on front door, meet and greet duties at a heritage house I help at. The warmth had made me just rest my eyes for a moment or two. My hearing and state of readiness was not diminished however and I was able to stop a couple of likey lads trying to sneak past me without having a ticket - the cheek! It is very important to be on top of a watching brief in these houses because many folk are bent on taking away just about anything they take a fancy to and which they think they might have a ready buyer. I blame the tv antiques programme that shows 'experts' buying up clapped out junk at a boot sale and then hawking it round their 'friends in the trade' to get them to buy it. Petty criminals are now trying the same by helping themselves to smaller antique pieces and family chinawares.
It's hard to tell from pictures whether something is the genuine thing with old furniture. I was looking at a site the other day, intending to get a pretty little bureau for my office. It really was attractive and the description was a fair - I just couldn't see the condition too well. I insisted on being able to see the piece in question before parting with any of my very hard earned pennies. I'm so glad I did - the item I thought I was looking at didn't seem to exist - as the one I was shown bore no resemblance to the once in the grainy advert. You do have to be so careful when bidding for any item - shady dealers about. As I already knew, to get a nice little bureau that is proper in age and condition, you have to use reputable sites who have been in the business for a long time and built their reputation up by being honest and knowledgeable.
On an overseas trip recently to what does still feel very much The New World, I was absolutely amazed at the amount of building in the city I thought I was familiar with. I haven't been back for 6 years - in that time there has been a wonderous proliferation of housing complexes for all ages. Open concept is the phrase to look out for - nothing separating the inside walls apart from the ceilings. There are some very old houses - very old to them is 1823 upwards as their city only came into being in 1836 once another swathe of the first nations had been moved on. The heritage society had raised funds to rescue unusual, noteworthy or quirky building from being demolished and replaced. The society also proudly shows the furniture and effects that came with each property - rough hewn beds, chairs, trestles etc. which are as antique as any of ours. The theme of saving and respecting such heritage pieces is spreading so there's not a thriving antiques arcade and online sales.
Having decent furniture is always a much wished for item in my life. I have a couple of heavy leather sofas currently and my dining set is absolutely modern but very nice quality solid oak. I used to enjoy touching the wooden cabinets at my grandparents' house although at the time, it was simply the smoothness and depth of colour I liked as I didn't know about old or new furniture then. I do help out now at a heritage house - it's very well known primarily for the garden, but the Hall is now getting more visitors. I watch the housekeepers caring for the various items of antique furniture - it's fascinating. the fabric armchairs are brushed down with a medium brush, taking care not to drag any part of the fabric or knock the wooden frame. Any marks are very carefully sponged to remove - anything worse needs careful dabbing with tiny spot of cleaning fluid with a cotton bud. Tricks.
I recently joined a party of stewarding volunteers at a local heritage property - we were looking over the property and noting any items needing conservation work to be carried out during the close season. This is of course a difficult choice to make, when funds are very limited, there isn't always a great deal to spare when it comes to keeping the collection in fine fettle. Sometimes we just have to gently clean the the items of furniture and check them over to ensure there is no appearance of wood worm and that heat or dryness hasn't affected the joints and frets. Just gently brushing the cushions of the chairs can make them look look more alive - so long as we replace the 'please don't sit here' signs! The house has been lucky to receive a couple of seriously antique chests from a benefactor, and again, these were checked thoroughly for any signs of infestation.
When I was growing up there was nowhere near the amount of interest in keeping hold of family furniture as there is now. My parents had to start off with what mum ungraciously terms 'gran's old hand me downs'. Made it sound like Gran has passed down crumbling old sofas and chairs. Nothing could be further from the truth, but mum had a way of letting every know if she felt belittled in any way! Funnily though after two score years and ten . . . . her old furniture is worth a lot more money now than if she'd tried to pass it over to someone back in the day. Mum may have felt distain for the old table and chairs and that quaint bedroom set of wardrobe, tallboy and dressers - but they now look fantastic and smell divine. Hurrah for e-cloths and a little blob of bees wax polish every so often!
I do so love looking at magazines with houses that have either been renovated already, or are being set for that. Obviously for authenticity they show us older houses - maybe late victorian or 1920s town houses that have kerb appeal and are likely to be of greater interest to the families who want to renovate. It's important too to have the right furnishings when the place is finished. Some of the more modern themes will jar horribly on the senses otherwise. Once the rebuild and redoration has been completed, if the householder doesn't have the right furniture, then consulting with suppliers of antique and age appropriate funiture is an easy matter these days. Sites that dedicate themselves to the sourcing and supply of beautiful furniture are available for viewing and an amazing array of artifacts is now within reach - to finish that project off as we wish!
Gosh, where does time go?! We are fast approaching Christmas and the new year festivities at quite a pace. Not so long ago I was warbling happily about summer visits to historic houses and checking up their sumptuous arrays of antique and heritage furniture and furnishings. In October I visited a premier house - actually the size of a palace, and from first entering the visitors' hall and vestibule, you're aware of the importance of this particular family estate. The ancestors were very high and mighty in the reign of Elizabeth I, they worked their way up the social ladder big time, to then being absolutely the sovereigns right hand men. The house contains many artefacts from that period and many more from the later generations. You can smell the age of the oak trestles and settles that adorn corridors and the kitchens especially - wardrobe arrangements may have differed but the antique splendour loses nothing for that.
I just love this time of year - summer's gone, with all the heat and need to keep window blinds down to shade from the sun. Now we just have the delights of being able to have the blinds up and looking out onto frost laden lawns. We keep warm with toasty heating or wood burning stoves. This is when you really appreciate the luxury of wooden furniture. It always feel s and smells so homely when you enter a warm room that contains even just one piece of old oak. I remember going to stay with grandparents - they had a bedroom set of wardrobe, tallboy, large dresser and matching bedside cabinets. The look seemed very old fashioned to a youngster like me but the deliciously familiar smell remains with me to this day. I know there are sites that specialise in sourcing and supplying exactly these matched sets. More power to the combo!
I have noticed recently a selection of second hand furniture shops opening in the nearest town to me. For some years there had been a really sad lifeless look about the place, with shops staying empty for ages. Then a year or so ago a young chap started selling all kinds of second hand furniture and household goods. When this starting taking off and really making some money, he opened another shop where he sold better quality older pieces that he managed to obtain at country house sales and the like. He has done a lot of research and is also able to handle the antique pieces appropriately. They aren't over repaired or stripped down and rebuilt. This is what folk appreciate about the one or two really good online sources for anitque furniture and effects - making sure these much loved pieces stay in UK for generations here to love and enjoy.