Antiques Blog

Fabulous Russian Faberge Egg Found in Mid Western United States

Gold Russian Faberge Egg

Gold Russian Faberge Egg

It’s Easter time again. A time of renewal, a time for spiritual reflection for some, easter eggs and easter bunnies, for others. Well here’s an ‘Easter Egg’ of a very different kind. One that was made for the Czar of Russia and his family. An egg of such immense value and beauty it staggers the mind.

One such egg made the news last month, when a scrap metal dealer in the mid west of the U.S. discovered one of these rare treasures but had no idea what he’d found.

When the man bought the golden ornament at a junk market, it never crossed his mind that he was the owner of a $20 million Faberge egg hailing from the court of imperial Russia.

In a mystery fit for the tumultuous history of Russia’s ostentatious elite, the 8-cm (3-inch) golden egg was spirited out of St Petersburg after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and then disappeared for decades in the United States.

This American scrap metal dealer spotted the egg while searching for scrap gold and purchased it for $14,000, hoping to make a fast buck by selling it to the melting pot.

But there were no takers because he had overestimated the value of the watch and gems tucked inside the egg.

In desperation, the man searched the Internet and then realized he might have the egg that Russian Tsar Alexander III had given to his wife, Maria Feodorovna, for Easter in 1887.

When the scrap metal man approached London’s Wartski antiques dealer, he was in shock.

“His mouth was dry with fear – he just couldn’t talk. A man in jeans, trainers and a plaid shirt handed me pictures of the lost Imperial egg. I knew it was genuine,” Kieran McCarthy, director of the Wartski antique dealer, told Reuters.

“He was completely beside himself – he just couldn’t believe the treasure that he had,” said McCarthy, who then travelled to a small town in the U.S. Midwest to inspect the reeded yellow golden egg in the man’s kitchen.

Wartski acquired the egg for an unidentified private collector. McCarthy said he could not reveal the identity of the man who found the egg, its sale price or the collector, though he did say that the collector was not Russian.

Reuters was unable to verify the story without the identities of those involved and when questioned whether the story was perhaps too fantastic to be true, McCarthy said:

“We are antique dealers so we doubt everything but this story is so wonderful you couldn’t really make it up – it is beyond fiction and in the legends of antique dealing, there is nothing quite like this.”


Rich Russians, who before the revolution once dazzled European aristocracy with their extravagance, have since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union returned to stun the West by snapping up treasures, real estate and even football clubs.

Metals tycoon Viktor Vekselberg bought a collection of Imperial Faberge Easter Eggs for $90 million from the Forbes family in 2004. The eggs were brought back to Moscow and put on exhibition in the Kremlin.

A Russian businessman with a passion for Tsarist treasures, Alexander Ivanov, said he was behind the $18.5 million purchase of a Faberge egg in London in 2007.

Peter Carl Faberge’s lavish eggs have graced myths ever since they were created for the Russian Tsars: Only royalty and billionaires can ever hope to collect them. Current owners include Queen Elizabeth and the Kremlin.

Tsar Alexander III asked Faberge to make one egg a year until his son, the next Tsar Nicholas II, ordered him to make two a year – one for his wife and one for his mother. The tradition ended in 1917 when Nicholas was forced to abdicate and he and his family were executed by the Bolsheviks.

As Russia’s rich rushed to the exits, treasures were sold off under Vladimir Lenin and his successor Josef Stalin as part of a policy known as “Treasures into Tractors”.

The mystery golden egg, which opens to reveal a Vacheron Constantin watch set with diamond set gold hands, was last recorded in Russia in 1922, two years before Lenin’s death. It will go on display in London next month.

“It is nothing but wonderment and miracle – a miracle that the egg survived,” said McCarthy. “The treasure had sailed through various American owners and dangerously close to the melting pot.”

Peter Carl Faberge made some 50 imperial eggs for the Russian Tsars from 1885 to 1916. Forty-two have survived, according to Faberge. Some others were made for merchants.

Happy Easter!

Mark LaFleur

Sunday Shopping in Paris

Today is Sunday and a week before Easter. My blog is devoted to my antique furniture clients and friends who are now planning their Spring and Summer holidays to Europe, particularly Paris.

Years ago, everything shut down in Paris on a Sunday. Most restaurants were closed and stores we never open. Museums were about the only thing that stayed open, encouraging culture and enlightenment to French families.

Still today, Government regulations dictate that most stores and shops in Paris stay closed on Sunday. This regulation is rooted in religious tradition, but is now primarily based upon the idea that retail workers should not be made to work on Sundays. However, particularly in areas frequented by tourists, a growing number of stores, shops and shopping centers in Paris are now open on Sunday.

Le Marais

The Marais is where I usually go if I want to shop on Sunday. It’s fun, full of quirky little shops, great little places to eat, and generally crowded with locals and some tourists. (I have to be in the mood to deal with crowds which is not that often)

L'As du Falafel, Le Marais, Paris

In the hypertrendy Marais neighborhood, many of the area’s most-coveted fashion, accessories and home design shops remain open on Sunday. The Rue des Francs Bourgeois (access: Metro Rambuteau or St Paul) is brimming with open shops, such as MAC, L’Artisan Parfumeur, Zadig et Voltaire, French chain Comptoir des Cotonniers, or artisan jewelry sellers and young designers’ boutiques. Take a spin of the stores and then have a peek at the collections on Paris history at the Musee Carnavalet on the same street.

For home design in the Marais, head to Le Printemps du Design inside the Centre Georges Pompidou (Metro Rambuteau), or to Marais boutiques like DOM (21 rue Sainte Croix de la Bretonnerie, Metro St Paul or Hotel de Ville) for amusing decorative objects (admittedly bordering on kitsch).

The Georges Pompidou Center

The Georges Pompidou Center

Carrousel du Louvre

The Carrousel du Louvre is a favorite Paris shopping center among locals and visitors alike: open 7 days a week, the Carrousel du Louvre features dozens of shops, a gourmet food court with 14 restaurants, and an elegant and airy setting. The bottom part of the famous glass Pyramide du Louvre (Louvre Pyramid) is visible from one wing of the shopping center. In addition, the Carrousel du Louvre includes an extensive exhibition space where major annual events like the Paris Photo exhibit are held. Entrance is off Rue Rivoli or there’s parking below which I always use.

The Carrousel du Louvre Shopping Centre


In the hilly heights of the iconic Montmartre district, several concept boutiques are open on the Rue d’Orsel (Metro Pigalle or Abbesses), which has in recent years become a new fashion hotspot. Base One (at 47 Rue d’Orsel) is a concept shop offering men’s and women’s fashions from France and Europe. Gaspard de la Butte (at #57) is a boutique owned by French designer Catherine Malaure.

Nearby, at 16 rue la Vieuville, you’ll find another concept store open on Sundays – Spree, offering clothing, jewelry and home furnishings, both new and vintage.

Sunday Market in Montmartre, Paris

La Vallee Village

Admittedly the name sounds a little like ‘Value Village’ but that is not the translation in the least. La Vallee is referenced to the La Vallee of the Marne ( translated to the Marne Valley ). La Vallee Village is located in this valley as is Euro Disney and the Charles De Gaulle Aeroport.

Located about 20 minutes North of Paris, La Vallee Village is an ‘American’ style outlet mall full of designer names and small boutiques. Personally, I visited it once and wasn’t all that impressed. I prefer to wait for the giant twice annual Winter and Summer sales in Paris. Real deals on fabulous clothes are marked down 50% or more.

La Vallee Village, North of Paris

For me, if I do any shopping in Paris at all, it’s never on the weekend (Saturday or Sunday). I do it mid week, and usually in the morning to avoid jam packed, over heated stores. On a Sunday, one of my most favorite things to do is talk a long walk and amble from one end of Paris to the other (weather permitting). It’s exhilarating, never boring, and very relaxing.

Don’t forget to visit our new website at


Sabina: Medieval Villages, Superb Olive Oil, and Tranquility in the Roman Countryside

Orsini, Italy

Anyone visiting Italy would like to think they’ve found a largely undiscovered part of this wonderfully diverse country, and many are lucky enough to achieve this. Whether it’s the medieval borghi of the Apennines or the ancient dwellings at Matera, Italy has many places of interest that can easily be pigeonholed in the ‘off the beaten track’ category.

One such place is Sabina – a quiet and unspoilt area within the heart of the Rome countryside that many of its visitors say feels like they have stepped back in time. The pace of life is slower here, making it a perfect place to spend a few days just taking it easy.

During the day Sabina yawns with the somnolent sound of rural living: the people that live here share their lives with the abundance of wildlife that enjoy this tranquil environment. By day, the Sabine Hills are serenaded by birdsong, and the summer nights enjoy the melodic sounds of nightingales and cricket choruses.

Often ignored in favour of their more famous neighbour, Tuscany, the Sabine Hills are a range of mountains stretching from the eastern town of Rieti to the river Tiber in the west, with its highest peak being Monte Pellecchia, at 1365 metres.

Although Sabina is relatively close to Rome, its tranquillity is juxtaposed with the frenetic pace of the city. The landscape is greener than many people expect and the patchwork of vineyards and olive groves make the scenery unmistakably Italian. The hilltops are dotted with medieval villages and many other places of interest to tempt the traveller to spend some time in the area.

Sabina, Italy

Castelnuovo di Farfa and its celebrated olive oil

The small town of Castelnuovo di Farfa is worth taking the time to explore. Its narrow streets have a quintessentially Italian feel and are worthy of an afternoon’s stroll. The town was once home to some of the most prominent families in Rome, including the powerful 16th-century Barberini nobility and the influential Farnese dynasty whose most important family members included Pope Paul III and Cardinal Alessandro Farnese.

Also worthy of your attention is the Baroque church of San Nicola, built in the latter half of the 18th century and the Renaissance Palazzo Simonetti with its Italian gardens.

No trip to Castelnuovo di Farfa would be complete without a visit to the Museo dell’Olio d’Oliva (Olive Oil Museum) that’s based inside the 16th century Palazzo Perelli, on via Perelli.

Olive oil produced in Sabina is said to be one of the most highly praised in the whole of Italy. Experts say that it’s down to the rocky limestone teamed with Sabina’s climate that creates the characteristic peppery flavour with a low acidity: Sabina olive oil was the first to receive the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) appellation.

The museum houses many interesting artefacts, including ancient presses and artworks, and is an historical and cultural reference to the importance of oil to the local communities. Your tour climaxes with a tasting session of the locally produced oils.

[The museum’s opening hours are: Saturday, Sunday and public holidays: 10.00am – 1.00pm and 3.00pm - 7.30pm, during the week from Monday to Friday by appointment only. To book call: 0039 0765 36370. Entrance fees apply.]

Castelli (Castles)

Savelli Castle

Mainly for their protection, the inhabitants of Sabina moved from the valleys up onto the more easily defended hilltops, and many of these hilltop borghi (villages) are still overlooked by their ancient protectors, imposing castles that were founded between 9th and 11th century A.D. Some of these once magnificent castles have undergone restoration and cater to the corporate and wedding market, while others stand redundant and ruined.

Most of Sabina’s castles warrant a visit, but my top three are:

Castello Orsini: A perfect example of a Medieval-Romanesque castle dating back to the 10th century. As the name suggests, this castle in the town of Nerola is historically linked with the Orsini family. In 1765, while living at the castle, the Duchess of Bracciano and Princess of Nerola, Anne Marie Orsini fragranced herself and her garments with the essence of bitter orange. The use of this orange oil became fashionable and led to it being called Neroli, which is still one of the most used floral oils in modern perfume manufacturing.

Castello Andosilla: The impressive ruin of the fortress originally called Castello Borghetto, which dates back to the 12th century and is located high upon a rocky outcrop overlooking the Tiber valley. In the late 13th century, the castle was in the possession of the Holy Hospital of Santo Spirito, in Rome, before it was sold to the Andosilla family in 1538. The castle’s decline began after being burned down by Napoleonic troops in 1798, and sadly, its imposing, 40-metre (130 feet) tower collapsed in 1950.

Castello Baronale: At Montenero Sabino, this is another 11th century castle that once was owned by the Orsini family before passing through many other noble families. It was originally built to oversee the valley below and the coming and goings at Farfa Abbey. Very quickly a village grew up around it and later this village became enclosed by the castle’s walls. Eventually it came under the ownership of the abbey and grew into a powerful garrison for the protection of its owners. With its two towers, vast 17th century archway and remarkable double staircase, the castle is a great photographic opportunity.


How to get there

Travelling the 60 km (37 miles) north-east from Rome to Sabina is relatively easy, trains run regularly from both Termini and Tiburtina to the mainline stations of the villages as do several commercial coach services, however the rural bus links can be very sporadic and must not be relied upon.

The best way to enjoy Sabina is under your own steam and most definitely at your own pace, the road networks are good and the accommodation available ranges from rustic agriturismi to chic boutique hotels and self-catering villas to quaint bed and breakfast establishments. The region also boasts some of the best places to eat out, from a formal restaurant through to an economical trattoria.

If your idea of a perfect break is relaxing in the tranquility of the Italian countryside, then Sabina could be just right for you.

I know I plan to visit.

If you’re looking for any Italian antique furniture, don’t forget to check out what we have available in our warehouse and online at

Who is Philippe Starck ?

If you’re not familiar with the name, you will be now. Philippe Starck is one of the most reknowned designers of the 20th and 21st Century.

Phillipe Starck first started his career at age 20, as an art director for Pierre Cardin, then went on to design furniture, interiors (including the residence for the former French President Francois Mitterand), hotels (the famous ‘Costes’ Hotel) in Paris and a string of chic night clubs and glamorous hip restaurants all over the globe. Check out his biography on Wikipedia or visit his website for more information on this amazing individual.
Philippe Starck, designer

Why I mention him at all is just this week I discovered that a rather innocuous set of 4 modern chairs that I had personally bought about a year ago were in fact vintage chairs designed by Philippe Starck. Larry turned his nose up when he saw them a year ago and asked me “what was I thinking, we sell antiques” to which I replied “I don’t care, I think they’re interesting”. So on to Vancouver they went.

The chairs sat and sat in the store for over a year (we even marked them down to $55 a chair) with all of the staff, including Larry, smirking and shaking their heads. Don’t forget our expertise is antique furniture and not mid century modern. It’s no wonder they didn’t sell and that none of us bothered to inspect them thoroughly. Nobody thought they were anything special. Just last week I decided to was going to photograph them and put them on our website since we just received our gorgeous sleek French mid century modern buffet and chairs we bought in January.

As I examined these four chairs more closely I discovered a makers stamp, stamped clearly into the leather. I started to study the construction and realized that they were beautifully constructed and that these were no ordinary vintage chairs. Upon further investigation I discovered the set of four chairs were not only designed by the famous ‘Starck’ himself, but for the first Italian high end furniture company he ever worked for. This same company that helped launch his career as an international furniture designer back in l984.

They were called the ‘cafe chair’ and were designed back in 1984 for a famous restaurant of the time.

Price? 895 Euros per chair which translates to roughly $1300 Cdn per chair! :)

Philippe Starck Single Chair

Visit our website today or better still pay us a visit in person. Not everything is listed on the website and you never know what treasure you may discover that escapes even our keen and sophisticated eyes.

Thanks for reading my blog and have a great week.

(Don’t forget we just had a new shipment in from France. Come down and have a look.)

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse

Celebrity Sighting

My old dear friends, Simon and Julie just sent me this photo of Pierce Brosnan in their store. He graciously offered to stop for a photo which Julie quickly sent to all her friends.

Pierce Brosnan at an Antique Store

French Art Deco and the 2014 Mid Century Modern Home

There’s no denying that some people love the mid-century modern look. Up until now, the focus has been on Scandinavian and Scandinavian inspired design, with names like Herman Miller and Ray and Charles Eames. Both American. In fact, the market has increased significantly over the years for the prices of these designers’ pieces and furniture inspired by these peoples’ design.

Eames lounger and ottoman

Eames lounger and ottoman

While I am not going to profess to have significant knowledge of these designers’ works, I do appreciate the look for what it is. Why I am blogging today is that I recently discovered A French Art Deco Suite C.1930 that’s estimated to sell for between $5000 – $7000 U.S. at auction at a highly publicized Mid Century Modern auction in the U.S. The price stunned me.

French Art Deco C.1930 Estimated between $5000 - $7000 U.S. at auction

French Art Deco C.1930 Estimated between $5000 – $7000 U.S. at auction

I’ve had several of these similar suites pass through the store in the last 10 years that I’ve sold for a song, certainly compared to these prices.

In fact, a set of 6 French mid century modern chairs and French mid century modern buffet have arrived just this past week from France that I’ll post on the website soon.

So a word to all mid century modern lovers and designers with clients as such, Scandinavian design has a look, but so does French Art Deco and French Moderne. The difference, you’ll have a look that’s still modern, but something quite different than anyone else. And you’ll be able to obtain these suites directly from Paris, here at the Antique Warehouse at a far more realistic price.

In fact, at the prices we charge, you could probably resell them at one of these highly publicized mid century modern auctions and make a handsome profit. ( hmmm…maybe we should be thinking the same!)

So be sure to be on the lookout when our containers arrive from France. These suites are becoming discovered here in North America and in view of the prices I just saw, are finally coming into the spotlight that they deserve.

Check our our new website at:

French Nobility Home Untouched for 50 Years

It was a cold rainy grey January afternoon when we entered through the massive gates of a once elegant 19th Century  house. It was a hotel particulier ( city home ) located about 2 hours north of Paris. We’d received a tip from a close friend that a descendant of French Marquis and Marquesa ( the last remaining inheritor in the bitter family feud that lasted over 70 years) wanted to sell the house and all it’s contents, including several pieces of antique furniture. The only problem was the house was left untouched for over 50 years. The prospects of such a find intrigued us so we’d made arrangements to see the house the next day. What we saw and experienced shook us to our very core.

Upon entry, the first thing we noticed was the bitter cold. The dark, damp interior chilled us to the bone. There was dust an inch think, cobwebs, broken floor boards, peeling 19th C. wallpaper and paint. Decay and abandon was everywhere we looked. Armed with nothing but flashlights and daylight streaming through the windows to help light our way, we continued guardedly on.

Climbing the Stairs in an Untouched French Nobility Home

“No one has stepped in the place for over 50 years” said our friend creeping along beside us “so be careful. C’est tres dangereuse.”

19th Century Hallstand in French Nobility Home

This is a shot of the 19th Century hallstand in the main entry foyer. We bought this even though it needs some minor repair. Notice the beautiful tile work in the entrance. Typically late 19th Century C.1880.

Beautiful furniture gone to waste in a French Nobility Home

The beautiful parquet flooring was all bent and broken from moisture from the ground. Documents, old papers, china, objets d’art lay strewn about everywhere. Furniture was everywhere, some still in it’s original place. Notice the beautiful gold gilt furniture ( which was sadly too far gone ) against the broken floor boards and the sad lamp and shade. I just shook my head in disbelief and wonderment. What insanity could possess any family to become so bitter as to let a beautiful home like this fall into such a deplorable state.

French Nobility Bedroom in Disarray

A staircase led to the second floor which had four bedrooms, a full bathroom and separate WC and a sewing room. Closets, armoires and chests of drawers were literally stuffed full of linens, old clothing, documents, and more. Even the bathroom cupboard was full of old prescriptions for the Marquis and his wife intact, from the turn of the Century.

But ours wasn’t to judge. We were in the enviable position of assessing the contents and purchasing whatever we wanted. And we purchased a lot. Amazingly enough, the furniture was all ( well most of it ) in good condition. Very dirty, covered in dust and cobwebs, but in good condition.

All the photos I took are with my iphone so the quality lacks. Hopefully you’ll be able to see past the rubble and dirt to recognize the grandeur that was once this lovely home.

Antique Pram

Antique Fireplace Insert dating from 20th Century. C.1900

This fireplace insert dates to the beginning of the 20th Century. C.1900. It was in perfect condition and one of the loveliest examples of Art Nouveau we’d seen in awhile. (It’s on our next container due to arrive shortly.)

Destroyed Hunters Antique Table

Sadly this fabulous Hunters table did not make on our next container. It was located in the Dining room and had 12 matching chairs, 8 which were in decent condition.

Early 20th Century dress form C.1920

This is an original early 20th Century dress form C.1920. We bought this too as these are very very rare and highly decorative (this was located on the second floor in one of the bedrooms.)

One of the three bedroom suites that we bought. Remarkably in excellent condition. C.1900.

Antique Armoire and Prayer Bench

A prayer bench that we bought along with everything else in this room. The Armoire you see behind was full of untouched clothing.

Main Dining Room Floor and Antique Wallpaper

Another shot of the main floor dining room. Note the elegant wallpaper C.1900. Typical to the late 19th Century.

Antique Mirror, Newspapers and Documents

The mirror wasn’t for sale. Note the piles of old papers that were over 100 years old. Newspapers dating 1910 and older.

Empty Antique Cupboards in the Library

Empty cupboards in the library on the main floor. You can see how beautifully designed this house was and how elegant it must have been in its day.

Typically French mouldings of an elegant home C.1900

Typically French mouldings of an elegant home. All C.1900

Dirty China Piled Up in French Nobility Home

Dirty china just piled up for decades untouched. ( we didn’t buy any of this ) No gorgeous limoges in this pile.

Beautiful French commode from the late 1800's

A beautiful French commode from the late 1800′s. We bought this too. (located in the main entrance of the house)

Antique French Buffet Hutch

A French Buffet Hutch we bought that went along with the dining table and chairs ( all in the dining room )

Dusty Attic of Untouched French Nobility Home

The attic. It was literally buried in dust and dirt. There were four servants rooms on this floor.

Larry Debating Purchase of the Antique Chandelier

Larry in deep thought quietly considering if he’d like to buy the chandelier or not.

It took us three hours to complete the tour and assessment. Happily for us, much of the furniture was salvageable so we made an offer and bought everything that interested us. It was experience we’ll never forget. A peak into the insane world of a family gone mad with greed and grief.

Keep an eye out for pieces of this antique furniture to be available in our showroom at the Antique Warehouse.

La Daduree Opens a Second Store in NYC


If you happen to be in NYC any time soon, a second La Daduree has opened it’s doors in the trendy neighborhood of Soho! White marble abounds, impressive caryatids (a stone carving of a draped female figure, used as a pillar), shelves arranged like a curiosity cabinet displaying the wonderful products in all of their Parisian sensuality. This new space combines boutique, tea room and romantic garden in an ambiance influenced by Madeleine Castaing, the French decorator that had fashioned Ladurée since its creation. Gourmet luxury for tasting in the Big Apple.
(Personally I prefer Pierre Herme myself, but you still have to be in Paris for that tasty experience.)

La Daduree
396 West Broadway
New York 
NY 10012, USA

‘La Galette de Roi’

So you ask what an earth is a ‘Galette de Roi’?

I had no idea either until a friend (who I’d invited for dinner) asked if she could bring dessert. I thanked her of course, and that’s when she said she’d bring a ‘Galette de Roi.’

I asked her exactly what was a ‘Galette de Roi’ to which she replied in utter astonishment. “You’ve never had a Galette de Roi?” I answered for both Larry and I that no neither of us had ever had or even heard of such a dessert.

She was shocked! (I told her Canadians don’t get out much) ha ha.

Well, a ‘Galette de Roi’is a type of cake that’s baked and only appears for Epiphany. If you’re not religious than you may not know what Epiphany is, because we don’t officially celebrate it in Canada.

However, in many parts of the world it’s a formally recognized statuatory holiday.

January 6, which is 12 days after Christmas in the Gregorian calendar, marks not only the end of the Christmas holidays but also the start of the Carnival season, which climaxes with Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras in Venice, Italy

Mardi Gras in Venice, Italy.

In some European countries, such as the Czech Republic and Slovakia, children dress as the three kings and visit houses. In their roles as the kings, or wise men, they sing about the Jesus’ birth and pay homage to the “king of kings”. They are rewarded with praise and cookies.

Children Dressed as the Three Kings to Visit Houses

Epiphany 2014

In France Le Jour des Rois (the Day of Kings), sometimes called the Fête des Rois, is celebrated with parties for children and adults. The galette des rois, or “cake of kings”, highlights these celebrations. This cake is round and flat, cut into the pantry, covered with a white napkin and carried into a dining room.

Epiphany is commonly known as Twelfth Night, Twelfth Day, Three Kings’ Day, or the Feast of Epiphany. It means “manifestation” or “showing forth”. It is also called Theophany (“manifestation of God”), especially by Eastern Christians. Epiphany refers not only to the day itself but to the church season that follows it – a season that has a varied length because it ends when Lent begins, and this depends on the date of Easter.

Russians dive into icy water to celebrate Epiphany

The Russians dive into icy water to celebrate Epiphany.

It commemorates the first two occasions on which Jesus’ divinity, according to Christian belief, was manifested: when the three kings (also known as wise men or Magi) visited infant Jesus in Bethlehem, and when John the Baptist baptized him in the River Jordan. The Roman Catholic and Protestant churches emphasize the visit of the Magi when they celebrate the Epiphany. The Eastern Orthodox churches focus on Jesus’ baptism.

Three Kings visit infant Jesus in Bethlehem

Epiphany is one of the oldest Christian feasts. It was celebrated since
the end of the second century, before the Christmas holiday was established. Like other Christian seasons, the church appropriated Epiphany from an old pagan festival. As early as 1996 BCE, the Egyptians celebrated the winter solstice (which then occurred on January 6) with a tribute to Aeon, the Virgin. It is important to note that the holiday was established prior to the Gregorian calendar’s introduction.

Well after all of that, here is the cake!

La Galette de Roi

These delicious cakes appear everywhere throughout France and usually include the paper crown shown in the photo. They’re made of layers of puff pastry with a center of almond paste or marzipan. I’ve had two presented to me after a dinner where the hostess did not want to keep it for the fact that it is seriously high in calories. (As if I needed the calories)

Former French President Sarkozy cutting into a Galette du President

Former French President Sarkozy cutting into a Galette du President!

So there you have it. If you ever see one of these lovely cakes do indulge. They are absolutely delicious!

A bientot


How to Turn a 50′s Rancher into a Craftsmen Style House

I’m a subscriber to a website ‘HOUZZ’ and receive weekly emails, most of which I quickly scan and dismiss. However, just this week a rather interesting article was written on how someone redesigned a plain ugly 50′s rancher into a more appealing ‘craftsmen style’ home. Now frankly I find ‘craftsmen style’ homes all too cookie cutter these days. It seems like every subdivision popping up around the lower mainland is reproducing this look to death. Having said that, the craftsmen style design is definitely an improvement to an ugly 50′s rancher. That’s not to say all 50′s ranchers are ugly. Au contraire.

A Rancher in Palm Springs.

A Rancher in Palm Springs.

In fact, if it’s a quality 50′s rancher with a sleek low look (the the above photo), it’s the height of coolness and certainly has that mid century appeal so popular these days. (In fact, it’s a mystery to me why more young people haven’t discovered the suburb of Tsawwassen which is nothing but mid century homes in their original state that can be had for the price a colorless apartment in Vancouver )

A current listing in Tsawwassen for $660,000

A current listing in Tsawwassen for $660,000 which includes 2500 sq. ft. and a look that’s undeniably mid century. It’s a price of a boring, cramped apartment in town.

Anyway, I’m digressing here. The article below was written about an ugly brick sided 50′s rancher with little appeal that most people would like take a dozer too. Now even an ugly duckling like this house can take on a new look without a total ‘craftsmen style’ makeover. In fact, a house just down the block from me, kept the boxy look of the house and took off all the siding and replaced it with sleek subway style brick, glass, exotic woods and lighting. The look was fabulous. When I get back home I will take a photo of this place!

Anyway, enjoy the article below.

Kitchen designs, bathroom designs, and more ∨Find inspiration for your revamped landscape by browsing photos of decks, patios and porches.
Share photos of the kitchen cabinetry and sinks you like with a top kitchen remodeler in your area.

Happy 2014! Bonne Annee!

It’s been awhile since my last post. With Christmas, the arrival of our latest container, and travelling to France, I’ve had little time to do much else.

I hope this finds you well, and recovering nicely from the festivities of the season.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy successful and healthy 2014 with all of your dreams and ambitions fulfilled.

We are currently in France preparing for our next buying trip scheduled to begin the middle of next week.  We came early and decided to spend New Years Eve in Paris. It was nothing short of fabulous. We did NOT join the masses on the Champs Elysees for the spectacular fire works display. No doubt it was over the top as usual. We preferred to spend it dining in the company of great friends who had invited us for dinner.

Larry and I brought the dessert. A buche Noel that I had to wait in line for over 30 minutes to get!

A line up that extended down the street that consisted of only in the know Parisians.

A line up that extended down the street that consisted of only “in the know” privileged 16th Arrond.Parisians.

This particular patisserie was only producing Buche Noel’s which after having it for dinner knew why people were lined up around the block just to get it.

These fabulous cakes were as light as a feather filled with meringue, while chocolate mousse, and pastry. Fabulous!

For dinner, we had something served to us that we’d never heard of before. Chapon! Chapon is a ‘castrated Rooster’ and it’s considered a delicacy and alternative to Turkey which the French find a bit commonplace and not too exciting.


Chapon are not easily found. (notice the body type difference between a chapon and chicken.) Jeff and Helene were right! It was really tasty and very different than either turkey or chicken. A different texture (richer and beefier ) and no shortage of flavor. It was Jean Francois who was the chef de la nuit and he deserved accolades for the excellent dish prepared perfectly. He made a ‘champagne sauce’ that was the gravy. I said “Oh Champagne Gravy, how glamorous” to which he replied ‘Gravey ( he pronounced it grevy) what is it this gravey?)

Our wonderful friends Jean Francois and Helene always delight in introducing us to the exotic mysteries of French dining and culture. The last time I was there Jeff introduced me to ‘Oursins Vivant’ or live sea urchins. ( Larry had returned to Vancouver by that time

Jean Francois and Helene

Jean Francois and Helene

I can spend hours listening to Jean Francois about everything French. From cuisine to culture, Jean Francois or “Jeff” as he prefers to be called, is one of the most interesting people I know.

We all ushered in the New Year by kissing under a large bouquet of mistletoe hanging from a doorway. It’s a French tradition and considered very good luck on New Year’s Eve.

It was a delightful surprise also to find that my dear old friend from Vancouver (during my years in the fashion biz) Ann Coombs has been here in Paris for the entire month of December. We’ve just been on the phone for literally an hour going over how much we adore the eccentricities of the French and of course the city of Paris.

Ann writes a blog too. For all of you that would like to read it, she goes into great detail about her discoveries and likes about the great city of Paris. Check out her blog at Pixie in Paris

Unfortunately we won’t be hooking up as Larry and I leave for Belgium tomorrow on a buying trip. And my dear friend Ann is leaving for the south of France then departing for Vancouver on the 8th of January.

Anyway, next time Ann! And a bientot in Vancouver.

Well, nothing much to report from France. We’ve only been here a couple of days. I hope to be sending you some great information from Brussels over the next week or so.



Christmas in Paris

I’ve never been fortunate enough to actually spend Christmas in Paris. Sure I’ve been there right into early and mid December, but to actually spend Christmas Eve and Day, No.

I usually opt out for being at home here in Vancouver or on a warm sunny beach somewhere relaxing just decompressing and letting all the stress of the holidays pass me by.

This year I will be leaving for Paris soon after Christmas. Dec. 28 to be exact. And I will be spending ‘New Years’ with my friends instead. New Years Eve to me was always a time for quiet reflection, spending it at home with a few close friends, over a gourmet prepared dinner. And then usually falling asleep just before midnight. (sounds rather dull does it)

Oh I used to do the all night parties and balls with black tie and champagne flowing until it came out of my ears. But not anymore.

This is year will probably be the same quiet thing, only my friends will be Parisian and they will most undoubtedly want to see the New Year in. Well, I never get to bed in France before 1 AM, so midnight should be a breeze. And I’m sure the Champagne, fresh oysters on the half shell, caviar and foie gras will be in abundance. Can’t wait!

Simon, Larry and Jeff

Simon, Larry and Jeff. We’ll no doubt be seeing these guys on New Years!

Laetitia, Karine, and Julie

As well as Laetitia, Karine, and Julie.

I want to take this opportunity wish all of my special readers a wonderful warm and happy Christmas and a successful happy and healthy new year.

For inspiration on how Parisians decorate their beautiful city I’ve included some photos I found from the internet. Be assured I will be sending you some back
from the City of Light that will be my personal take of the most fabulous city in the world.

Merry Christmas and All the Best for 2014! And thanks again for supporting my blog!

The red flocked tree is a favorite among Parisians

The red flocked tree is a favorite among Parisians.

The iconic Galeries Lafayette ablaze with a billion lights every Christmas

The iconic Galeries Lafayette is ablaze with a billion lights every Christmas. There window displays are among the most incredible in the world.

Louis Vuitton window display at the Galleries Lafayettes

Louis Vuitton window display at the Galleries L.

Christmas Tree in Paris

Christmas in Paris

Christmas in Paris

Christmas Shop in Paris

Champs Elysees looking south onto Place Concorde and the giant ferris wheel

Champs Elysees looking south onto Place Concorde and the giant ferris wheel.

Place Vendome where the Ritz Hotel resides

Place Vendome where the Ritz Hotel resides and luxury jewelry and clothing boutiques.

Magic Castle at Euro Disney

Magic Castle at Euro Disney.


Bois de Boulogne, probably Bagatelle

I’m not sure where this is but I’m sure to find out. I suspect it’s in the Bois de Boulogne and probably Bagatelle.

Christmas in Paris near the Arc de Triomphe

I hope you enjoyed my brief collection of Paris at Christmas Time. So until next year, Happy Holidays and see you next time!

All the Best
Mark LaFleur

The Romance of the White and Painted Antique.

I love painted Antiques. Always have. They always remind me of the South of France, where painted furniture abounds. The ‘heat’ of the summer nights, the sounds of the crickets, and smell of fields of lavender and roasting porc on the spit. Long and wonderful dinners al fresco lingering into the wee hours of the night gazing out over the water…pure magic.


I love the South of France and particularly their painted furniture. It’s always so rustic and dripping in old country charm. Below is a 19th Century two doored cabinet that Larry and I found in the Aix-en-Provence region. The paint was original and the color is so typically Provencal.

A painted 19th Century Cabinet from Aix en Provence. C.1800.

A painted 19th Century Cabinet from Aix en Provence. C.1800.

I particularly like the white or should I say, off white of the distressed and aged wood of a 19th or early 20th Century antique. A look that’s possible to imitate but only if you know what you’re doing.

The monochromatic white on white look has been popular for many seasons now. Particularly with women. What’s not to like? It’s an easy way to decorate, no chance of color mistakes, it can look clean and fresh, and it’s pretty.

19th or early 20th Century pieces are absolutely beautiful if they’re aged by mother nature. The ‘white’ is a soft, yellowed look that takes place over time.

This white antique chair just came in on our recent container and sold within the day. of unpacking. Notice the white, is a yellow and not a pure white which is indicative of it's age. (white always yellows over time)

This painted antique chair just came in on our recent container. It was originally white but aged over time giving it the ‘yellowed’ appearance it currrently has. Note the elegance of the details that is so typically French.

Antique White Louis XVI Style Cameo Backed Chairs from Paris with a very pretty distressed white original paint.

Antique White Louis XVI Style Cameo Backed Chairs from Paris with a very pretty distressed white original paint.

White Louis XV Bergeres from Paris. C.1930

White Louis XV Bergeres from Paris. C.1930

If you love white antiques, then look for the real thing, or buy an antique and either have a professional do it, or try doing it yourself. It’s a project left better for the Spring or Summer when you can do it outdoors and the temperature’s warmer.

French white original painted daybed from Paris C.1930.

French white original painted daybed from Paris C.1930.

It’s a bit of work of course, but if you use good paint it’s actually quite simple. (I recommend a quality ‘chalk paint’) like the line our local Kathy Van Gogh furniture artist has created herself, or you could pay way more and get the Annie Sloan Chalk paint which is essentially the same thing only more expensive.

But whatever you do, use an inexpensive but good quality vintage piece and not a good period antique. You’ll regret it in the future but I’m sure this goes without saying. And try to either make or buy a piece that’s well done. Anything too white will look fake and almost plastic looking.

villa beau interiors5

I don’t know what you think about this white but for me it’s rather lifeless. This is sold by a local retailer on South Granville. I’d be wary of these pieces because normally they are mass produced in Asia, India or some other off shore factory that does not cure wood properly reducing the ‘shelf’ life of the piece significantly. Also beware of the off-gas produced by new furniture. For some people it can be very very toxic. In some cases can be cancer causing.

Fake Country French which is neither country or French with a terrible distressed finish.

A poorly made fake Country French piece which is neither country or French with a terrible distressed finish that I can’t imagine anyone would think is attractive. However, this China town dealer seems to sell them which is absolutely amazing to me. Compare this poorly done finish to the following below.

This is a lovely finish that looks like a 200 year old piece. Three layers of paint worn down to a sandblasted wood frame.

This is a lovely finish that looks like a 200 year old piece. Three layers of paint worn down to a sandblasted wood frame. All these photos I took with my Iphone while in France.


Although this isn't white, it's a typical color native to the South of France. Again two colors used, rather than just one.

Although this isn’t white, it’s a typical color native to the South of France. Again two colors used, rather than just one.

For tips on how to get these distressed looks we go to Kathy Van Gogh herself who was kind enough to explain how this look could be achieved. This is what she had to say…

“To achieve a realistic antique painted wood finish similar to those in the photos above, use van Gogh Furniture Paintology products as outlined:

1. Select a piece with good bones and of good quality. There is no sense in putting a lot of work into a subpar piece of furniture. On the other hand, one must always respect the value of a beautiful antique with a genuine patina on the wood from centuries of hand rubbed cleaning, waxing and life. It would be sacrilege to paint those. My favourite pieces to paint are genuine antiques of good quality that have some flaw that would devalue them, such as cracked or split wood, obvious repairs or major surface damage.

2. If you wish to embellish a plain piece, you can easily create a believable faux bois carving by pulling our Furniture Make-up Embossing Plaster through a traditional stencil design. I have several designs taken directly from the Palais Versailles that I use on my pieces.

3. Paint your first colour, in the case of the photos above, start with one coat of Fossil Paint in the colour Mama’s Boy, a soft blue. Fossil Paint uses chalk as the binder which imparts a velvety smooth, matte finish, but it also distresses very easily in an organic way allowing one to create a realistic aged paint finish.

4. When the first coat has dried, apply the second coat of Fossil Paint in the colour Chivalry, a muted gray.

5. Allow to dry and apply a final coat of Fossil Paint in the colour Chalk, an off white.

6. The last colour applied dictates the overall feeling of the piece, in this case, the piece will read as an off white in the space, but small pieces of the other two colours will be exposed through distressing in the next step.

7. Take a clean lint free cloth and get in quite wet with water and wipe the piece down with the cloth. Using 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper, gently start rubbing away the layers of paint. In some places, only remove the Chalk to reveal the Chivalry, in others, go a bit further to reveal the Mama’s Boy and in some other places, sand all the way back to the wood. Go slowly and wipe away the slurry of paint often to see your work. Fossil Paint distresses easily so you could be back down to the wood without wanting to. You could also simply use the damp cloth to distress with for more control. If you really want that ‘chippy’ look, don’t be afraid to use a putty knife to distress some areas.

8. When you are happy with the distressing, wipe the entire piece with a damp cloth using clean water. Allow to dry.

9. The final secret to creating an antique look and feel is to finish the piece off with Beeswax Furniture Finish. Brush the wax into the paint vigorously to really impregnate the Fossil Paint with the Beeswax. Wipe off excess wax and allow to dry for about an hour. Buff the piece with a smooth pad of lint free clean cloth using a very quick back and forth motion, but hardly any pressure. You just want to gently skim the surface. Think of shining your shoes.

10. Voila! Sit back and enjoy your beautiful work and tell all your friends you did it yourself! Or, tell them you paid a fortune for it…it’ll be our secret!”

Kathy van Gogh, artisan extraordinaire.

Kathy van Gogh, artisan extraordinaire.

Don’t forget, we have very inexpensive vintage pieces as well as fine antiques. Check out our website at
We ship worldwide!

Thanks for visiting.
Mark LaFleur

Ron Mueck Sculptor Extraordinaire

Nearly all of our time in France is spent on working long and exhaustive days. When I get a chance to actually take advantage of Paris and what it has to offer, ( other than dining at restaurants because lets face it, we all have to eat ) I consider myself very lucky.

Over dinner one night, my friends were all talking about a recent exhibition ( Sept. – Oct. 2013 ) at the Fondation Cartier by a sculptor named ‘Ron Mueck’. When I saw the catalogue of his work I was fascinated and wanted to see more. It wasn’t until my very last afternoon before leaving back to Vancouver that I actually had a couple of hours to spare. So off I went.

Well, I didn’t get to see anything much to my chagrin!  I drove to within a kilometer from the gallery when a ‘manifestation’ or in simple English, ‘Demonstration’ was blocking any possibility of getting through. I sat for 30 minutes steaming as this protest got louder and more violent.

Protests are almost a daily occurrence in the City of Enlightenment

Protests are almost a daily occurrence in the City of Enlightenment

There was no parking, or I would have walked. Frankly I can’t even remember what it was about as the French protest about everything all the time. I finally gave up and went back home. In any event, I hope to catch his fellows work again sometime. But in the meanwhile, I’ve posted all I could find on Ron, and hope you enjoy the images and catch the meaning in his work. It goes much deeper than simple hyper-realism. It’s a statement of real life and not the glamorized images we see on a daily basis. He’s hailed as a genius by many critics and scholars.

The naked wild man is the sculpture, not the boy!

The naked wild man is the sculpture, not the boy!

Ron Mueck was born in Australia to German parents. Mueck’s early career was as a model maker and puppeteer for children’s television and films, notably the film ‘Labyrinth’ for which he also contributed the voice of Ludo, and the Jim Henson series ‘The Storyteller’.

Mueck moved on to establish his own company in London, making photo-realistic props and animatronics for the advertising industry. Although highly detailed, these props were usually designed to be photographed from one specific angle hiding the mess of construction seen from the other side. Mueck increasingly wanted to produce realistic sculptures that looked perfect from all angles.

Ron Mueck's self portrait. Easter Island Head.

Ron Mueck’s self portrait. ‘Easter Island Head’. This is interesting in that that’s what I call myself when someone’s cut my hair too short.

n 1996 Mueck transitioned to fine art, collaborating with his mother-in-law, Paula Rego, to produce small figures as part of a tableau she was showing at the Hayward Gallery. Rego introduced him to Charles Saatchi who was immediately impressed and started to collect and commission work. This led to the piece that made Mueck’s name, ‘Dead Dad’, being included in the ‘Sensation’ show at the Royal Academy the following year. ‘Dead Dad’ is a silicone and mixed media sculpture of the corpse of Mueck’s father reduced to about two thirds of its natural scale. It is the only work of Mueck’s that uses his own hair for the finished product.

Ron Mueck, Sculptor

Ron Mueck, Sculptor

Mueck’s sculptures faithfully reproduce the minute detail of the human body, but play with scale to produce disconcertingly jarring visual images. His five metre high sculpture ‘Boy 1999′ was a feature in the Millennium Dome and later exhibited in the Venice Biennale. Today it sits as the centerpiece in the foyer off the Danish Contemporary Art Museum ARoS in Aarhus.

In 1999 Mueck was appointed as Associate Artist at the National Gallery, London. During this two-year post he created the works ‘Mother and Child’, ‘Pregnant Woman’, ‘Man in a Boat’, and ‘Swadled Baby’.

Man in a Boat, by Ron Mueck

Man in a Boat

In 2002 his sculpture ‘Pregnant Woman’ was purchased by the National Gallery of Australia for A$800,000.

'Pregnant Woman' created in 2002, by Ron Mueck

‘Pregnant Woman’ created in 2002, sold to the National Gallery of Australia for $800,000

Woman with Baby, by Ron Mueck

Woman with Baby. This statement of ‘Motherhood’ is quite different than the cheerful mother and child images that we’re normally bombarded with by the media. Her expression of hopelessness, combined with her careless appearance is a reflection of her sad impoverished lifestyle and her obvious depression of the state of her circumstances. The baby searches his mother’s face for any sign of recognition or love. A unique portrayal of ‘motherhood’ expressing the fact that in the real world not all mother’s are in a constant state of ecstasy.

Ron Mueck Sculpture

Ron Mueck’s first exhibition in Japan opened on 26 April 2009 at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa. It ran until 8 August and featured a collection of works displayed over six spaces in the gallery. Among them were Mueck’s latest work, “A Girl”. The exhibition also included two short films about the artist, covering both his artistic background and his production techniques.

Ron Mueck Sculpture

Ron Mueck Sculpture

The lifelike resemblance is not all Ron is trying to achieve. These are statements he’s making about the ravages and paranoia of ‘old age’. If people carry on how ‘creepy’ his work is, then they miss the point. But then one could argue that is the point. Because old age can become very creepy as is illustrated by these two old women.

An exhibition was held at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, from 12 December 2007 through 30 March 2008. “Ron Mueck at The Andy Warhol Museum” featured seven of the artist’s realistic human sculptures, including: In Bed; A Girl; Wild Man; Spooning Couple; Man in a Boat; Mask II; and Mask III.

Ron Mueck Sculpture

'In Bed' by Ron Mueck

‘In Bed’ by Ron Mueck.

'In Bed' by Ron Mueck

'Wild Man' by Ron Mueck

‘Wild Man’ by Ron Mueck

A major exhibition of his work was shown as part of the Edinburgh Festival at the Royal Scottish Academy Building until 1 October 2006. A solo exhibition of nine works by Ron Mueck was presented at the Brooklyn Museum from 3 November 2006 through 4 February 2007.

An exhibit of his work was also on view at the National Gallery of Canada, in Ottawa from 2 March to 6 May 2007, organized by the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain (Paris), in collaboration with the National Gallery of Canada, the Brooklyn Museum and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, showed an exhibition of thirteen of Mueck’s pieces from 24 June 2007, through 21 October 2007. The works in the show include Untitled (Seated Woman) (1999), Dead Dad (1996–97), In Bed (2005), Untitled (Big Man) (2000), Two Women (2005), Crouching Boy in Mirror (1999–2000), Spooning Couple (2005), Mask II (2001–2002), Mask III (2005), Wild Man (2005), and A Girl (2006).[6]

Ron Mueck SculptureRon Mueck Sculpture

Ron Mueck Sculpture

Ron Mueck Sculpture

A major retrospective of Mueck’s work was held in his home town of Melbourne, Australia, in April 2010, at the National Gallery of Victoria.

The Christchurch Art Gallery hosted a touring version of the National Gallery of Victoria’s exhibition from 2 October 2010 to 23 January 2011. The antique College of San Ildefonso Mexico 2011. Mueck participated in the group show Lifelike in 2012 which originated at the Walker Art Center.

To see larger images of Ron Mueck’s work click here.

Thanks for reading. Please send me comments on anything you’ve seen here today. I love feedback!


Creative Holiday Decorating Ideas

It’s December 1st, and if you’re feeling the stress or excitement of Christmas descend you’re not alone. Decorating your home and getting it ready for the Holidays are always a priority.

You could go to the Bay and take advantage of their ’40% off sale on all Christmas Decorations’ and make your home look like a department store display. But do you really want to do that? There’s nothing more dull than a ‘pre-lit’ Christmas plastic tree that’s already assembled and perfectly shaped crammed with glittery monochromatic colors. Sure it’s easy, and frankly doesn’t take any time or much thought. ( Let’s face it, with the advent of computers and cell phones, time has become a real luxury )

But if you want something a little different, I’ve found some interesting things using real flowers, fresh fruit and more.

For me, I’m going to do something completely different for my tree. Instead of the ‘perfectly shaped’ tree, I’m going for the uncultivated natural tree with vintage ornaments. Reminds me of when I was little and it’s something no one else is doing I’m sure. I’m going to try some of the ideas below too. I love the idea of more fresh fruit and flowers in my home anyway.

Or you could completely over the top and do this….

But if you prefer ( as do I )
the more subdued subtle and elegant approach to Christmas have a look below.

White poinsettias, hydrangea, and kale are used in this imaginative and luxurious display

White poinsettias, hydrangea, and kale are used in this imaginative and luxurious display

Amaryllis and Poppy Berries are used in this display.

Amaryllis and Poppy Berries are used in this display.

Elegant Christmas display with red carnations

I normally don’t like carnations all that much, but they do create a fabulous burst of color in this simple and elegant Christmas display.

Decorating with fresh limes, lemons, pears and magnolia branches

This is an interesting idea using fresh limes, lemons, pears and magnolia branches. ( I guess you’d have to eat the pears every other day to make this work)

Roses, pine cones, and wheat!

Roses, pine cones, and wheat!

Spruce, Bay Leaf and Eucalyptus Cuttings

Spruce, Bay Leaf and Eucalyptus Cuttings give this a magical look.

paperwhites...elegant and aromatic

I love the use of paperwhites…elegant and aromatic.

Now for some Cultivated Christmas Tree Displays and more!

Parisian Flocked Tree with Red Ornaments

I had to throw in this photo….You could recreate this look using a ‘flocked’ tree with just red ornaments.

puppies in the stockings! C.1930.

Those are puppies in the stockings! C.1930.

Playing polo in the Winter in France

They play polo in the Winter in France!

Prettiest Christmas Tree Decoration with Colourful Accents Prettiest Christmas Tree Decoration White Glamour Christmas Decoration Elegant Holiday Christmas Tree Decorations Elegant Holiday Christmas DecorationsElegant Holiday Christmas DecorationsElegant Holiday Christmas DecorationsElegant Holiday Christmas Tree Decorations Elegant Holiday Christmas Tree DecorationsElegant Holiday Christmas Decorations Elegant Holiday Christmas Decorations Elegant Holiday Christmas Decorations Elegant Holiday Christmas Decorations Elegant Holiday Christmas Decorations Elegant Holiday Christmas Decorations

Traditional Exterior by Wilmington Photographers Jay Greene Photography
Traditional Living Room by Little Rock Interior Designers & Decorators Tobi Fairley Interior Design
Traditional Spaces by Austin Interior Designers & Decorators Dawn Hearn Interior Design
Traditional Living Room by Houston Interior Designers & Decorators Regina Gust Designs

I hope you enjoyed my collection for the Holiday Season. Visit our website at

A Great Italian Deli in Vancouver?

Well no, not exactly, you’ll have to travel to White Rock. But it’s well worth the effort. I lived in White Rock for a very short time, but it was during that time that I discovered this little jewel in Ocean Park. Just this week I was out in White Rock and paid them another visit. It all came rushing back. The authenticity, the warmth of the proprietors, their fabulous selection of everything Italian and wonderful. Wonderful things exclusive only to them!

The Verrando's Deli Italia

The Verrando’s Deli Italia, A Family Affair Extraordinaire.

The name of this wonderful place? ‘Deli Italia’.

Penney Verrando and her son Rome (the owners) are by far the warmest and most charming people you’ll ever want to meet. It’s sincere Italian passion for what they do that makes you like them instantly. ( Rome looks like he stepped out of an Italian movie with his great curly brown hair and larger than life personality )

They travel to Italy several times a year bringing back treasures that only they could find. And of course they speak fluent Italian.

Located at 1629A-128th Street in South Surrey, this place has more of the most gorgeous gourmet things than any other deli in the city. From the real European ‘deli’ hams, to the imported Italian pastas, to even real Italian pizza dough already formed and ready to pop in the oven. They even make there own sauce from tomatos they import from Italy.

Fresh and fabulous are the buzz words at this place.

We were there just this past week, so they were all dressed up for Christmas with Pannetones that absolutely no one else sells in the lower mainland. Like Pistachio cream filled ( my favorite ) for starters and another that’s covered in chocolate and shaped like a pig wrapped in an elegant gift wrapped box. You won’t find this one at Bosa Brothers, or any other Italian deli either.

Pannetone Limoncello

Pannetone with Limoncello.

Beautiful olive oils and wonderful balsamic vinegars up to $135/ bottle. But don’t fret at the price, they have everything for ever budget.  But gauranteed it’s the best your money can buy. Just ask Penney and she won’t steer you wrong.

Balsamic Vinegars

There’s at least 50 different types of balsamic vinegars of all sizes and prices.

So if you happen to pass by this place ( try it for lunch, you can have a freshly made ‘real’ Italian thin crust pizza exactly like they have in Italy or France ) you won’t be disappointed.

And do them tell them I sent you. I like to promote people I sincerely believe in. And I beleive, no I know, you will not be disappointed.

Until next time.


The New York Apartment of Jacqueline Kennedy

Sadly it’s the 50th anniversary of the shooting of President John F.Kennedy and so much is being mentioned about him and his family that, I decided to publish my blog today out of respect and my own personal interaction with the iconic Jacqueline Kennedy.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Many years ago while attending classes for design at the Parsons School of Design in New York, I worked as a catering assistant to earn some part time income. The caterer ‘Glorious Foods’ was the best in the U.S. at the time. Responsible for everything from elaborate weddings on Long Island to important functions at the White House, Glorious Foods was the ‘it’ caterer of the day. It was during one of these events that I was asked to assist at the home of Jackie Kennedy for one of her private intimate dinners.

I do remember some of the guests, her sister Princess Lee Radziwill, Bunny Mellon, her son Jon, and a couple of others I didn’t know. But it was the iconic Jackie I remember so well. Her kind and soft demeanor, her laugh particularly, and the way she moved. I never felt once that I was a mere ‘server’ as besides me, there was only the chef that looked after her and her seven guests.

In any event, we were busy preparing the dinner in the kitchen so I rarely overheard anything they were talking about around the table and because this was during the late 70′s much of that time period is now a distant past. I did remember loving her apartment at the time and when these photos became available to me, I grabbed them without hesitation.

The following photos below are from the auction of her apartment shortly after her death in 1994. Bear in mind these were shot twenty years ago, and may look dated now, but during her life, exemplified her love of French antiques ( particularly Louis XVI ) and everything of great taste and elegance.

Jacqueline Kennedy auction was conducted by Sotheby's Auctioneers

The auction was conducted by Sotheby’s Auctioneers.

Period Louis XVI C.1760 Commode

The commode is period Louis XVI C.1760

The 'fauteuil' is a Louis XVI C.1780

The ‘fauteuil’ is a Louis XVI C.1780

Salon Shot with French furniture

Salon Shot with French furniture.

Jacqueline Kennedy had a preference for Louis XVI furniture

Clearly her preference for Louis XVI prevails throughout the entire apartment. Remember these were all shot shortly after her death in 1994 almost 20 years ago.

Jacqueline Kennedy's Louis XVI furniture

Jackie redesigned the Oval Office with French Antiques

Jackie redesigned the Oval Office with French Antiques.

The second time I met Jackie Kennedy was at the Ralph Lauren store on Madison Ave.

Ralph Lauren Store on Madison Ave

Ralph Lauren Store on Madison Ave.

I was on the second floor looking at men’s clothing or something and just then the elevator doors opened and out stepped Jackie. She was wearing a leather cat suit, and looked fabulous.

An eerie quiet blanketed the store as she looked around then spotted me. Remembering me from her dinner party, she stepped right up to me and began speaking softly. She remembered my name and asked if I knew what floor the sheets were on. It just so happened I did, she thanked me and took off up the adjoining stairs leaving everyone staring at me and in a complete state of shock.

Even in NYC, in a store she frequented, she still had a presence that stopped people dead in their tracks. I felt sad when I heard she’d died. I do remember however how thin she was, both times we met, and thinking that she didn’t look healthy even then. Even so, I doubt any woman in the world has been as publicized as Jacqueline Kennedy. I cherished my memories of her, as small as they were. At least I had the opportunity to actually meet her.


Abandoned Paris Apartment Yields Treasures after 70 Years

It was a time capsule, untouched and abandoned for over 70 years. The owner, Mdm De Florian fled to the South of France to escape the ravages of WW2 and never returned. Although she faithfully paid her rent on her Grandmother’s stabilized rental in the 9th arrondisement, she never again saw Paris or the apartment.

Nazi's in Paris C.1940

Nazi’s in Paris C.1940

But when Mdm de Florian died at the age of 91, just a couple of years ago, the contents had to be auctioned off.  When the auctioneer first set eyes on this dust laden, cobweb filled apartment he commented that is was like entering “the apartment of sleeping beauty” where time had stood still since the late 1800′s. A treasure trove of French antiques and other pieces that hadn’t been touched in years. The experts were tasked with drawing up an inventory of her possessions and home in on the flat near the Trinité church in Paris between the Pigalle red light district and Opera.

Parisien Flat

Entering the untouched, cobweb-filled flat in Paris’ 9th arrondissement, one expert said it was like stumbling into the castle of Sleeping Beauty, where time had stood still since 1900.

Abandoned Parisian apartment covered with dust

The apartment was covered with of dust that had accumulated over 70 years.

The apartment’s demimondaine owner, Mdm. de Florian, was a late 19th Century Parisian beauty and well-known actress and performer of the time. ‘Demimondaines’ were courtesans (high-priced call girls) known for their extravagant lifestyles, provided of course by a string of wealthy and well-known lovers. Their clothing was envied by women in Paris. Even the wealthiest high society matrons could not compete sartorially (after all, they only had one “husband” supplying the goods; the demimondaines had many). Demimondaines were also renowned for drinking, drug use, gambling, and excessive spending (particularly on clothes). Despite their status they remained forever on the outside of society, perhaps the “half-world” designation quite telling of their station.

Mdm Marthe de Florian

Mdm Marthe de Florian

Mdm de Florian had hosted many admirers in her apartment, evidenced by their calling cards tucked away in petite drawers. Among them were statesmen of the period and the 72nd prime minister of France, George Clemenceau but there were also more artistic types. Among the centuries-old treasures, it was discovered that “she kept letters from her lovers in little packages wrapped up with ribbons of different colors,” attesting to her long list of admirers. The apartment still had it’s original dry sink and wood stove oven!

Parisien Flat VanityBeautiful 19th Century Dressing Table of solid Mahogany was stuffed full of love letters from admirers, both secret and otherwise.

A full sized ostrich and mickey mouse doll

A full sized ostrich and mickey mouse doll.

A full sized ostrich and mickey mouse doll

The auctioneers were tasked to inventory the complete contents of the apartment to be auctioned. But when the auctioneer’s caught a glimpse of a portrait his heart skipped a beat. It was a fabulous painting of a beautiful woman in a pink muslin dress. The painting was by famed Italian artist Giovanni Boldini painted of the apartments former inhabitant Mdm. Marthe de Florian, the Grandmother of the apartments current late owner.

Marthe De Florian, an actress of the late 1800's

Marthe De Florian, in 1898 at age 24

The auctioneer couldn’t be sure if it was a Boldini as this painting was never documented in the archives of the late painter. However, the auctioneer found a love note scribbled to Mdm de Florian from the accomplished painter and the link was made. “We had the link and I was sure at that moment that it was indeed a very fine Boldini”.

The artist Giovanni Boldini (1842 - 1932)

The artist Giovanni Boldini (1842 – 1932)

Artist Giovani Boldini admirer and lover of Marthe de Florian

Artist Giovani Boldini admirer and lover of Marthe de Florian

The auction house finally found a reference to the work in a book by the artist’s widow, which said it was painted in 1898 when Miss de Florian was 24. The starting price for the painting was £253,000 but it rocketed as ten bidders vied for the historic work. Finally it went under the hammer for £1.78million, a world record for the artist.
‘It was a magic moment. One could see that the buyer loved the painting; he paid the price of passion,’ said the auctioneer.

Marthe de Florian

Written by Mark LaFleur of The Antique Warehouse, Vancouver.

Have $46M U.S. to spare? You might want to consider buying this.

125 East 70th St., NYC

125 East 70th St., NYC.

Scanning the internet for interesting and everything ‘French’ I stumbled upon this new real estate listing in New York City’s upper east side. It’s the former townhome of Paul and Bunny Mellon, one of the most iconic and talked about couples in the United State of America. The name ‘Mellon’ is synonymous with great wealth, philanthropy, and prestige. This sumptuous 11,000 sq.ft. townhouse, now on the market for $46,000,000 reflects all of this and more.

French neo-classical design

I love the trelllis work and everything about this typically French ‘Neo-classical’ design. This looks as fabulous as it did when originally created in 1965.

Paul Mellon, heir to one of America’s great banking fortunes, and his wife, Bunny, (Givenchy had a special bedroom set aside for Bunny when she visited the South of France) built this extraordinarily beautiful 40’ wide townhouse on a fabled Upper East Side block in 1965. Featured in The World of Interiors magazine, the townhouse, designed in the neo French classic style evoking the charm of the French countryside, reflected the passions of its owners. Paul Mellon curated his art collection in the library overlooking the exquisite garden with reflecting pool and gazebo, where Bunny Mellon, designer of the White House Rose Garden and friend to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, indulged her love of gardening. The high-ceilinged drawing room and dining room lead to a spectacular terrace, the center of celebratory parties. The townhouse has 5-8 bedrooms, with flexibility for guests, and staff, 8 baths, chef’s kitchen, wine room and elevator. Most rare, however, the house has 3 exposures, affording brilliant sunlight into some of the most beautiful rooms on the Upper East Side.
The house last sold in 2006 for $22.5 million, and is now, somewhat ambitiously, asking more than twice that, although it doesn’t look like the new owners made any changes since the Mellon’s decorated it in 1965. ( a true testament to how classic French furniture and design remains timeless and withstands the test of time ) However, for anyone asking twice the price the least they could have done was updated the color schemes to bring the place into the 21st Century.

Living Room or Salon

Living Room or Salon. The two Directoire Armchairs are probably period, as well as the rest of the French Antiques in this living room.

I find the use of this brilliant yellow a little dated as well as the use of the faux finished mirrors

I find the use of this brilliant yellow a little dated as well as the use of the faux finished mirrors. I do love the period French ‘barometer’ of the 18th Century. This atypically large and unusual ‘barometre’ probably cost the legendary ‘Bunny’ several thousand U.S. dollars.

French Doors off the Living Room allow access to the French Terrace

Its beautiful the way the French doors off the living room allow access to the French terrace. A wonderful way to bring the outdoors in.

royal blue painted dining room

The ‘royal blue’ paint is a little dated by today’s standards. I do love the French Neoclassical dining table as well as the console against the wall. I do find it a bit strange that such an enormous townhouse would have a rather small dining room. I can only assume that the owners have leaves and extra chairs for this set or maybe they entertained like French nobles of the 18th Century never sitting at a dinner table but merely grazing throughout the day on delicious tid bits served by the household staff. (French nobility of the 18th Century rarely had sit down dinners unless it was a banquet or wedding.)

Dining Room with painted Louis XV console

Another viewpoint of the dining room. A painted Louis XV console appears in the right hand side of the photo.

French settee of the Neoclassical era or Louis XVI C.1760

This foyer does not appear to be the entrance, however it does have a lovely little French settee of the Neoclassical era or Louis XVI C.1760.

'La Cornue' Chateau range in blue

Note the ‘La Cornue’ Chateau range in blue. These are available in Canada at a very hefty price.

Louis XVI bedroom in soft French white

Love this simple Louis XVI bedroom in soft French white. The upholstered bed looks typically French as well as the sidetables, and Louis XV French marble firesurround. We have both these styles of beds, nightstands, and ocassionally ( if we’re lucky ) the marble firesurrounds at the Antique Warehouse.

Rare French Bed in Bedroom

The bed is French and very rare. So is the Secretary. I’m thinking the secretary could be Italian and not French. If you notice the side of the bed, it’s neither single or double which tells me this is an authentic Continental bed from France or Italy. The settee at the foot of the bed is typically Louis XVI or Neoclassical in design. It appears to be period dating it at 1760 – 1780. I think the sidetables are matching which would immediately tell me they are not period but probably very good reproductions of the 20th Century. The French seldom if ever made matching nightstands. The English typically had two.