An Antiques Primer

Learn to make the most of the myriad available collections
By Poormina Apte

Both retailers and designers are always looking for on-of-a-kind pieces, which is why the ANTIQUES Temporary collection and one-of-a-kind showrooms at AmericasMart offer an unparalleled opportunity to explore and find interesting treasures. The category brings together top dealers from across the country in one location, making it more convenient to source impressive, diverse collections.


These items add a layer of warmth and history that’s unique to each piece or project but you need to be a savvy shopper to ensure you find what you really want. While it’s both invigorating and challenging, the world of antique sourcing can be a bit intimidating for the novice buyer. Where does one start and how? We talked with some of the experts and offer a basic primer on buying and working with antiques.

Ask Questions
Be prepared with what you want to learn about the antiques you’re buying. Of the pieces they source from France, designers Ann Huff and Meg Harrington of Huff Harrington Home will find out what kind of wood is used, what region did the piece come from and how the specific style is defined. If a dealer tells you a piece is 100 years old, ask them how they know that, advises Huff. It’s always better to ask and confirm so you can pass along that knowledge to your customer.

Build Relationships
Building a working rapport with reputable dealers is a reliable way to know you’re buying a genuine product. “Buy from a group of dealers at venues such as AmericasMart. They don’t just let anybody into the show. These exhibitors have been vetted so they’re selling a good product at a good price,” says Kenny Ball of Kenny Ball Antiques.


Change It Up
Mix and match. “It’s never a good idea to have a one-note interior,” says Susie Quillin of MiNTY, “It’s the mix of eras, materials, and colors that creates a sophisticated look. If you sell new furniture, have your lounge chairs flank an age-worn table; use antique bookends to corral a collection of new books,” she suggests as ideas for retailers and designers. Start small and don’t go crazy when creating retail displays, advises Janice Palmer of Palmer Design Group, “You’re not creating a museum; you’re replicating a lived-in space.” Finding a common theme like color between a set of disparate pieces from different periods helps things not get too frenetic, says Meg Harrington of Huff Harrington. Vendors and designers recommend buying functional products for display purposes—working chests of drawers and mirrors are great examples.

Display Their Socks Off
Since antiques are great conversation-starters, they can be displayed in more interesting ways that spotlight multiple items. Ball placed an antique African mask atop an armoire to draw attention to both the mask and the furniture. Huff believes antiques are best complemented by contemporary art because each dramatically highlights the other. Huff Harrington has used sinks from an Italian church to display soaps and a painted armoire from the south of France to hold baskets in their retail store.

Educate Your Customer
“Point out the tongue and groove joints on that Harvey Probber cabinet, show your customer the pontil mark of a mouth-blown Murano ashtray; run your finger over the artist’s signature,” suggests Quillin, reminding buyers to inspect an antique thoroughly and learn all its flaws and damages. Learning the story behind each piece can really help sell it. “Antiques marry the past, the present and the future,” says designer Connie Seitz. Quillin agrees. “Every antique has a personality, a history, a story. It’s what makes them so beloved and interesting.”

In addition to the one-of-a-kind showrooms, visit the ANTIQUES Temporary Collection located on Building 1, Floor 2, January 12-15 from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. during The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market. Items purchased with the ANTIQUES exhibitors may be picked-up at the Distinguished Transport warehouse. Distinguished Transport also can ship items directly to the purchaser via white glove delivery service. Rates apply. Learn more about how purchases work, here. Find helpful answers to frequently asked questions about ANTIQUES, here.

Connie Seitz Interiors –, 985.630.7102; Huff Harrington Home –, 404.467.0311; Kenny Ball Antiques –, 434.293.1361; MiNTY –, 404.863.9220; Palmer Design Group –, 470.375.2506

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