Mastering the art of antiquity takes research, practice and patience. But finding the perfect antique piece of furniture for your home is well worth it. To guide you in choosing the ideal antique for your home, we turned to the experts at Lolo French Antiques and More to help.
How to buy antique furniture for your home
Laurent “Lolo” Gouon has nearly 30 years of experience in the antique trade. Originally from Brittany, France, Lolo travels to his homeland every 90 days in search of authentic antique pieces to bring back to Birmingham. He cleans and restores his finds while preserving the integrity of each part. “I am behind my product”, proudly declares Lolos.
No matter the age of the room, Lolo makes sure that the furniture is functional. It makes sure that the doors and drawers open and close easily. And if a room has a lock, he makes sure it works – and that it also has a key.
While some people may think antiques are over budget, Lolo explains that an antique piece may be less expensive than a new one from a high quality furniture maker. “And that’s part of history,” Lolo adds of the importance of an antique. Plus, many popular styles of contemporary furniture have been inspired by styles over 100 years old, he adds.
Mimi Montgomery of Lolo French Antiques says that if you invest in an authentic antique table you can be sure that it will stand the test of time. “It has already lasted 200 years and will last another 200 years,” she says, “unlike many new tables which might not hold up during shipping! “
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Antique furniture was built to last. ” It was conceived. People weren’t just building furniture, ”Lolo says. They were making art. “People had more time to do things,” he adds.
Maybe you are overwhelmed by the idea of antiques because you don’t know how to find out what’s real and what isn’t. “People sometimes have the impression that antiques may not be quality furniture because they look in antique stores or malls that sell vintage reproductions from the 50s and 60s, for example, and call it antiques, ”Lolo explains.
Just because something is bought at a used furniture store or even a vintage furniture store doesn’t mean it’s an antique. An object must be at least 100 years old to be considered a true antique. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of brand new reproductions and items that are sold as antiques,” Mimi adds. “The best way to make sure a piece is genuine is to buy it from someone you can trust, who is reputable, and who has experience. Ask questions and find out all you can about them. As resellers, we try to find out as much as possible when we buy a part in France.
Also do some research on the part manufacturer yourself. “Check out the handmade dovetail joints,” says Mimi. “They are slightly irregular because they are personalized to the piece.”
And if a piece is in perfect condition, that could be a clue that it isn’t actually an antique. “Imperfections are a sign that a part is old,” explains Mimi. “Patina and cracks, dents and marks add character to a room and are also a sign of age.”
What to buy
While pieces in the Louis Philippe style of the 1800s and the Louis XV style of the early 1700s are still popular choices, Lolo says that the Louis XVI style is in most demand these days when it comes to antique French furniture. The Louis XVI neoclassical style began in the 1750s and was first applied to furniture in the 1760s. Rooms from this period are marked by straight lines, right angles, fluted columns and carved friezes. “It works very well with [pieces]Lolo says, explaining the popularity of Louis XVI.
Mimi adds that people shouldn’t be afraid to mix things up. “Buy new upholstered pieces, but mix them up with antiques that have character and age,” she says. “I always suggest, especially young buyers, that they buy a nice table, chest, sideboard or antique mirror to start. A mirror with antique mercury glass that has dark stains or wavy glass is always a good choice, as is an antique trestle table with a three-inch-thick top that the whole family can gather around.
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Make your list and double check it
Lolo’s best tip for antiques is simple: do your research. Once you know what type of room you want, make sure you know what size room you need. Measure the space where you want to place the room, noting the height, width and depth of the area.
Also think about the color you want. Do you want dark or light wood? What color would work best for the room you plan to place the room in?
Research various online antique shops to get an idea of what you can expect to spend on the parts you want and set your purchasing budget.
Once you’ve bought a part, make it your own. “Unless it’s a museum-quality piece, make it work for your home or space,” says Mimi. “If you need to add a rod to be able to use a cabinet as a closet, add one. “
If you already have antique pieces in your home and are looking to add more, remember that not all rooms need to be the same in order for your room to look great. “We always say mix,” Mimi continues. “You don’t have to wait to find a piece of the same style as other pieces you may already own.
The main thing, says Mimi, is to make a choice that makes you happy. “If you find something and absolutely love it,” says Mimi, “then it’s a good choice! “
Lolo French Antiques et More is located at 4300 1st Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35222. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 10 am to 5 pm; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call (205) 323-6033 or visit lolofrenchantiques.com.
This article is sponsored by Lolo French Antiques and More. Photograph by Eric & Jamie Photography.