My passion, after my family of course, is Treasure Hunting. The simple beauty of things from by-gone eras have always spoken to me. Whether these treasures are found at a flea market, fine antique store, estate sale, thrift shop, or in the family attic, surprises abound.
As an interior designer, I believe it is vital to balance your decor by including found and family treasures. Surrounding yourself with things you love should always be the goal, from there you will find your true style.
As I shop, I may have a client in mind or I may want to resell at our french flea market or in my shop. I am lucky to have several outlets for my treasures including my own home! I plan to share my searching, hunting, travels, and treasures with you and encourage you to enjoy adding your treasures to your home.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Antique Toast Rack New Life

The thought of serving or even being served breakfast which includes toast in a silver toast rack takes me back a century to a time where lovely items adorned the table of even the most simple meal.
Today, the toast rack can serve as a useful item in almost any decor. In addition to the obvious, a toast rack has an endless number of uses and could serve many uses both inside and outside of the kitchen breakfast room.
One of the most common uses today, for these slightly outdated toast racks, is as a letter/mail holder.
Here I have used the rack to display some of my vintage postcards which would look great on an entry table or desk. This is also a charming way to display a handful of current or vintage family photos.
Even empty, this rack's design and simple lines are beautiful.
Here is one of my favorite uses however, it is only possible with the larger size racks like this one, at over eight inches long. The rack can hold up to six dessert size plates and makes a wonderful presentation for a casual dinner parties appetizer and/or dessert courses.
When I hunt for vintage silver toast racks my thought is always to find the right combination of size and  design. I love that the larger pieces can serve many purposes but the tiny ones are useful and so cute.
Should you have a rack or are looking to add one to your decor, you don't need to tuck it away when you are not using it. Enjoy it and give it new life by including it in a vignette in your home.
Happy Hunting!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Today's Array of Great Treasures

Although today's flea market was attended by more people than I have seen in years, I was still able to snap up a few lovely items. A dozen antique copper molds, a Borghese figural lamp, a silverplated boy with dog statue and a very large porcelain planter from Spain, just to name a few. I have not yet taken photos of the treasures I brought home but I wanted to share some of the sights of the day.
A highlight, this wonderful French wedding cushion was one of two this vendor had. If Sharon from, one of my favorite blogs, My French Country Home had not posted photos and information on these pieces I would not have known exactly what this was. I sadly did not purchase this lovely as it is missing its glass, but I will not soon forget it. I was thrilled to see one in person.
Antique leather bound books. Perfect for display.
Antique English and French crocks. Interesting kitchen items.
A very large selection of nice silver today. Some lovely Victorian items.
Vendors seemed especially on-spot today with their displays and vignettes, which I greatly appreciated! Although, the flea market vendors of the past did not decorate their booths as much, they would simply display their wares. That meant that many customers were not sure what an item was or what they could do with it so they may not buy thus leaving behind items I would grab.
The keys to todays hunt was to blend into the crowd, offer fair prices to vendors and of course have fun. Exact change doesn't hurt either. Mr. Treasure and I had a very enjoyable day.
Happy Hunting!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Daffodils the First Sign of Spring

The calender says February however, here in California, we have had such a mild winter that the birds are busy nesting in the yard and the daffodils are up in full strength.
The few days of light rain this season were enjoyable and remind us that although not every day here in Southern California is beautiful and sunny, most of them are just that.
If the rains bring us rainbows like this one (I snapped this photograph on Wednesday outside the shop) I will welcome the storms with open arms.
A house with daffodils in it is a house lit up, 
whether or no the sun be shining outside. 
                                            ~ A.A. Milne
I am hoping that the showers forecast for this weekend do not come to fruition as I am looking forward to the flea on Sunday and hope to bring you some fabulous spring inspired treasures.
Until then, fill a vase with daffodils and enjoy a bit of spring.
Happy Hunting!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Portobello Street Refrigerators

It doesn't happen very often, but there are times when you see something that just speaks to you. It now occupies a little piece of both your heart and mind. This is exactly what happened the first time I saw the vintage style refrigerators made by Spanish company Portobello Street.
This unit combines the refrigerator with oven and drawer storage all in one piece... perfect.
They have created beautiful pieces of kitchen furniture inspired by the iceboxes our grandparents had when they were growing up (without the ice!).
From apartment size to a large family size, Portobello makes a frig for everyone. 
When you next consider the kitchen of your dreams, think about adding color. The days of cold stainless steel have been replaced with color. Portobello Street offers us a charming, bright, efficient, reinvented piece of the past.
The finishes are spectacular and include a rich stained wood facade. Great item but hard to find in the U.S. so I will just have to wait.
Happy Hunting!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Shopkeeper's Shop

You know the feeling. Strolling into a shop, it is almost immediate. Much like a first impression upon meeting someone.  You know if you will enjoy every minute of shopping there or if you will never, ever return.
 As we prepare Le Potager for spring we are very aware of the importance of welcoming both new and returning customers. Our focus is a desire to please all of the senses and create an environment of unique beauty.
 One of my biggest joys as a shopkeeper is creating relationships with customers as well as watching customers create new friendships with fellow shoppers. There are times that I just take a step back to savor the social interactions that happen within Le Potager's walls.
Like every home, the kitchen is the heart and our pantry is no exception. 
The culinary items in our pantry help us to continue our focus on welcoming customers and pleasing each of their senses. Offering tastings of our unique French food products along with a glass of fine wine or champagne confirms our deep appreciation of our customers. Since we are fortunate enough to have our shop in a 1917 European style home, the saying "There is no place like home!" has never rung more true. 
As you look through the photos of Le Potager you may see many of the treasures from past posts.
Happy Hunting!

California Treasure in February

Each February, here in California's Yosemite park, Mother Nature gives us a truly spectacular gift. At approximately 5:30 p.m. local time, as the sun begins to set and winter's shadows are long, the last sun rays of the day shine upon the rock face of Horsetail Falls showcasing a rare combination of events which creates one of the most miraculous sights you may ever see.
This year Mother Nature will cast her golden light upon Yosemite's Horsetail Fall February 16th to February 19th
When the conditions are just perfect, free of snow, rain or fog, the suns rays alone create this magical luminance. The thin ribbon of water that drops from the East Buttress of El Capitan turns vivid orange when backlit by the setting sun. This event in combination with the crisp, frosted, silent beauty of Yosemite will stay with you forever.
If you have not been fortunate enough to visit Yosemite in the winter you must add it to your bucket list. It is an experience like no other.
I wish you a beautiful winter week. I will return with more great treasures tomorrow.
Happy Hunting!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Charming Antique Valentines

Happy Valentine's Day! The thought of the Valentine's days of the past seem so simply romantic. No reservations at fine restaurants or stuffed animals or balloons, just a romantic card or letter to tell your love how much you cherish them. Maybe a walk in the park or a stroll along the river. This is a day to celebrate the love of two people and a small meaningful gesture may say more than any grand display. With that in mind I wanted to share some of my enchanting antique Valentines with you.
In French...
In English...
In Dutch...
and sweet.
I wish you all a lovely day of confessing your love to those who make your world a wonderful place!
Happy Valentine's Day.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Drawer = More Counter Space

I don't know very many people, even those with their dream kitchens, that say I have more counter space than I need. My home (built in 1912) and my store (built in 1917) have their original kitchen footprints including counter space. Therefore, I never seem to have enough counter area, anywhere. With that in mind, today I was setting up for our Valentine's event at Le Potager. Our new spring vignettes are set up throughout the store and decor has taken over an area I usually use to serve food and beverages during our events. I have a little trick that I use quite often and I called into action once again today.
I enlisted an old potting cabinet on our back courtyard.
Opened the second drawer down. Placed a terra cotta pot upside down in the center (for extra support).
I laid the old enamel seed sign on top of the open drawer and closed the drawer, wedging in the sign.
Voila! This creates a rustic platform to use as a serving sideboard.
I decided that rustic was not the look I wanted for our valentine's champagne and chocolat offerings.
I wrapped the sign with a spring floral fabric and surrounded the plateaus with giant pink peonies. 
Just add champagne & chocolates!
Inside the shop I needed to add some great new travel candles to this small area where we display French soaps and fun girlie things. I used the same drawer trick with a vintage mirrored vanity tray.
The result is more useable counter space. I use this same idea at home as well. When entertaining, I have a piece of marble that spans several open drawers in my kitchen creating much needed additional serving area. The nice part of using marble is I can just lay cheeses, fruit and crackers directly on it. Butcher block would work well also. Be creative, have fun.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Collections Make a House a Home

Well, let's face it, we all collect something. Your collection may be a current passion, something friends and family have turned into a collection (how do we tell them to stop?), a "what was I thinking" collection from your past or maybe a lovely collection you inherited. In any case, collections can be an important part of your decor. They show personality, interest and serve as conversation pieces, to say the least. I designed model homes for years and one of our top rules was "no collections"... too personal, people can't relate because collections make a house look like someone else lives there, not them. "Like someone lives there", that is the key to meaningful collections in our homes.
So, now what to do with your collection? I have a very simple "2G Rule" to enjoying and displaying your treasures. 1. Group and 2. Ground - simple as that. This collection of vintage eiffel towers could be spread throughout my home, instead they are grouped together and grounded by a wall shelf creating a much larger impact than if they were diluted all around the house.
Here these little mirrors would have had very little impact sprinkled on walls here and there but, when grouped together and grounded by the French four seasons plaques, they act as one interesting element.
After years of treasure hunting I found that I was the happy owner of many mismatched pieces of victorian silver- cups, creamers & spooners. I used them as pencil cups, to hold makeup brushes and so forth but, when I grouped them together on this petite rack in my kitchen my little mismatched items became a group and again, they are grounded by the rack and French platter behind.
Here is a collection within a collection. The antique canister set is a favorite of mine and was not only designed to be displayed together but it looks bright and colorful when in-mass. Add to the canister set a collection of miniature California pottery vases in shades directly related to the canisters creating a cohesive corner of the kitchen. The two collections grouped and grounded by a corner cabinet now highlight both collections thus creating one interesting group.
Simple, interesting, colorful and unique are all traits we hope we have in the vignettes throughout our homes. This is easier to accomplish than you may think. 
Just give it a try...  Group & Ground.
Tabletop collections can follow the same rules of grouping and grounding using things like silver trays, mirrored plateaus or even old books to ground your grouped treasures. Enjoy your collections, display them for all to admire and appreciate, but most of all for yourself.
Happy Treasure Hunting!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Antique Silver Hunting

   The flea market this weekend brought out shoppers by the hundreds. It didn't hurt that the weather was absolutely perfect, a cool crisp morning warmed to an 80 degree summer-like afternoon. Because I did not arrive in the dark, what we call "the flashlight brigade", we had to navigate the big crowds that tend to arrive fashionably late. 

I have been on a hunt for silver lately. Truly unique pieces at truly reasonable prices are nearly impossible to find here in California. As a rule, I do the majority of my silver buying out of state, but this weekend I was determined to find a piece or two.
I was lucky to bring a few items home with me. The small pierced nut dish will be perfect for holding a pillar candle. The three hotel silver creamers are just charming and will be nice additions to our tea display at Le Potager. Then there is the baby cup. Usually I would not purchase a silverplate baby cup, however this cup is so sweet I could not pass it up. It is etched with a charming scene featuring children playing in the garden, chasing chickens and baby chicks with little puppies running right behind them. Just when I thought this cup could not get any cuter, I saw the engraving, Sonny Boy. It is just adorable.
There were so many items displayed at this market that I had not seen before. Our spring vignettes at Le Potager and my marche booth for our Paris Flea Market were in the forefront of my mind while I was shopping. Focusing on the final look is always a challenge especially when the goods before you are so varied. I am confident that our flea market treasures from this week with be wonderful additions to our look. The balance of the treasures I brought home will be debuted at our Spring Open house at the shop and I will focus on those in a future post. Happy hunting everyone!
Our fabulous February weather in California.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

French Macaron in the OC... finally!

Just when I had come to accept the fact that I will never have real French Macarons outside of France, or Laduree NYC, I happened upon a little piece of heaven right here in the O.C.
Merely Sweets is a charming little store front with wonderful displays. The macarons are made in-house, which is rare in these parts. But how would they taste? Their flavors sounded refreshingly traditional with a twist. The Earl Grey, the citrus and of course the pistachio. One of each please.
My official review... heavenly!
Although I am not having a party anytime soon, I made some mental notes. This is such a fun way to present the macarons. The large display here held well over 20 dozen so I would scale it down for a dinner party or event at Le Potager.
Fun, colorful and tasty. What more could one ask for? Isn't this perfect for a shower or even the wedding itself? Anniversary party? So many possibilities.
After sharing a couple immediately, I brought a few more home to enjoy with a cup of tea.
Merci Beaucoup Merely Sweets!