Fashion is not the only thing that morphs and changes with the season. The French antique dealer does too.
Not so long ago the mode was for rich, dark furniture… patina was king… and oak was polished to a see-yourself-in-the-tabletop shine. Armoires were admired for their age old, worn history… lovingly restored… imaginations peaked… the romantics dreaming of all that had passed long ago.
Commodes were coveted for their golden tones, their delicate inlays… their bronze hardware… Tables and chairs and the turn of their legs were what held the eye. That has all changed.
Natural wooden furniture is out. I mean really out… no more…flea market style is in.
The markets down south are DIYing in a major way. Matt white paint sales must be through the roof in France because nearly every piece of furniture…not only the reproductions but the also the real thing… is painted, whitewashed into the shabby chic. Any dealer selling the ‘old’ style must be rather lonely… because right now it would appear that we all crave the painted look… the light touch.
I must admit to falling into this way of thinking… all my recent furniture buys for Le Petit Bijou are painted… are ‘shabby chic’… Is it because I am furnishing a village house and I am attempting to create a feeling that is light and airy? Or is it simply that I am subscribing to the trend?
I suspect those antique dealers have me wrapped around their little finger.
Yes, I love the look… and even if I wanted to fill Le Petit Bijou with original timbers I would be sourcing them for a very long time.
When I look around our home in France I want to change all the pieces… lighten it up… remove the patina and let the light in… I sense that the style is no longer à la mode… a little like wearing massive shoulder pads… we just wouldn’t do that anymore… we wouldn’t be caught dead wearing those… The antique dealers have moved with the times… but can I?
I couldn’t paint over our very old furniture… I don’t know why… but I just couldn’t. It would feel very wrong… I would be consumed with guilt… all those years of protecting the patina, of waxing and polishing… gone with one stroke of the paintbrush… No… not me… I will leave others to do that… I should be braver… have the courage to follow my instincts… I can’t see it happening.