Antiqueing with Honor by Imogen Jamieson

Written by on April 24, 2016 in Blog
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With a glimmer of the sun and the promise of warmer weather here in the UK, I have been wistfully thinking about my friend Honor at Maison de la Roche and recalling that although we have spent many happy hours together over the years, we have never ever ever been antique-ing. Down in the Languedoc, there are a proliferation of amazing antiques fairs and to go sniffing out a bargain as the early morning sunlight chases away the dark, is something I hanker after. Antique purchasing followed by a pitstop at a café for croissants dunked into a mug of steamingly hot milky coffee just seems to be the perfect way to start a day. Then to the market, a basket full of fresh locally grown groceries and home for lunch and an afternoon by the pool. Book my ticket to Maison de la Roche right now!

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My finger is hesitating on the buy flights now button for just a couple of reasons. The primary one is that my children are fast approaching a summer of public exams and so to desert them now just strikes me as total selfishness (excuse me whilst I polish my smug mother halo!) and the second, which I say with some trepidation, is that whilst I lean towards classical minimalism myself – think antique furniture painted in white and grey tones, clean lines and simplicity – Honor, is at times, rather alarmingly Queen of Kitsch!
Honor can refute this all she wants but underneath the bluster we both know I am right! Who amongst her circle can forget the purchase of the vulgar, but oh so comfortable, porn star sofa a few years ago? And that’s just one small example of how her eye hones in on all things eclectic and outlandish. Secretly, I envy her chutzpah as although this bold and confident approach could seriously jar, Honor’s home and Gites are full of style with twists of eccentricity that delight.

pink rabbit

I feel the UK high street does pedestrian rather brilliantly and I have no objection to basic furnishings from M&S, Next, John Lewis etc. However, for me, the heart of a truly charming home beats in its individuality and whilst I wouldn’t exactly call “mediocre” a bad word as after all, there are times when most of us want to be unremarkable in some small way, when it comes to furnishings I believe it’s far better to ditch bland sameness in favour of va va voom.
France is well known for its brocantes and flea markets and once the sun starts to shine, so the markets start to mushroom and most weekends there are wonderful events in the area around Maison de la Roche. Honor will point her guests towards these markets and frequently accompanies them. With luck and a willingness to rummage, who knows what irresistible booty you might uncover. An antique French mirror, enamelware, linen sheets, glass, china; there is normally an abundance of the beautiful and unique and the thrill of purchasing something that is going to enhance your home by giving it a twist of the extraordinary is a wonderful thing.

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Do be aware that prices vary significantly and knowing how us non-natives love and value the rejected tat precious antiques they want to part with, French sellers will sometimes increase the cost of their wares to top dollar. However, there is fun in the negotiation and for some, an opportunity to resurrect their schooldays French is irresistible.

Thankfully, Honor’s French is pretty good and if you have managed to persuade her to join you on your treasure hunt, she will assist although I do urge you to ensure she hasn’t included some avant-garde objet for herself as she barters! As you travel back to that glorious azure swimming pool at Maison de la Roche you could discover yourself sharing a seat with who knows what oddity and how you will mock until you spot it in its new home looking effortlessly chic and tremendously desirable! After all, a true artist is one who trusts their own eye.

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Imogen Jamieson is a freelance writer who writes for various online magazines and real live journals. She is quintessentially British with a endearing sense of wit and humour and a very good friend.

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