Monday, 22 June 2015

Storage Heaven - Why I love My French Armoire





It was during a holiday to Provence with my partner John in 2011 that I first encountered a real French armoire. It may not sound like a life changing event for most people, but for me it most certainly was. Love at first sight is an understatement and a seed of an idea began to grow......

At that time I was working as antiques dealer specialising in selling very large, very heavy and very cumbersome Victorian and Edwardian compactums. Whilst beautiful, they were back-breakingly hard to manoueve and difficult to store.  

On holiday in Arles we happened upon an a rustic, run down antiques shop run by a wonderfully eccentric man. Everything was covered in dust and cobwebs, suggesting perhaps that sales were on the slow side! But what we found there was a succession of stunningly beautiful armoires, all with their original fitted interiors. 

Like many people, up until that day my vision of a French armoire was a painted white wardrobe with mirror doors and a big curly top (authentic armoires in this style are called Rocaille). Sadly the market in reproduction furniture is so strong in the UK that these rather lack lustre pieces have come to represent what everyone understands an armoire to be. Not so! A real French armoire is a cupboard with shelves and sometimes internal drawers. They are, to coin a phrase I often use in my marketing - storage heaven! They also 'knockdown', which means they come apart completely, making them easy to store and transport. 

That day in Provence I decided I was going to find a way to get these beautiful, original and authentic French armoires back to the UK. Dazzle Vintage Furniture, as it now is, was born. 

Every good dealer should understand their wares, and for me it's not just marketing speak. I can advocate the wonder of owning an antique French armoire. Mine is my most favourite piece of furniture and for many reasons. It is a wonderfully rustic 19th century marriage armoire, dating from 1868. An inscription across the cornice names the couple it was originally gifted to and there is something magical in knowing those names. 

French armoires were (and still are) crucial items in a French home, as such they were often made for couples as a wedding gift. Known as 'marriage armoires', these pieces are amazing not just because of the sheer amount of 'stuff' they hold (or in my case - hide), they also have a story to tell, of previous lives and loves, like a door quietly opening into the dark of history, offering us a little peak. I sometimes wonder who will be the guardian of my armoire in 200 years time, but for now I'm enjoying owning it myself.







Armoires are a bit like the TARDIS - they seem unexpectedly big on the inside!



My marriage armoire has an inscription dating it to 1868. 

Who Are We? 

Dazzle Vintage Furniture is an online boutique which specialises in selling authentic French armoires and decorative accessories. We personally source all our items in France and aim to inspire buyers to chose original French armoires over mass produced new. 




Monday, 2 March 2015

Decorative and Practical - The Wonderful World of French Coffee Grinders

Original hand made French coffee grinders are stunning, they also make the best coffee you'll ever taste. Renowned for grinding the beans finer than any modern appliance can, the taste is worth the small amount of elbow grease you have to apply. 

There are several known makers and all are highly collectible. Probably the best known maker is Peugeout Freres. Known today for a very different item - cars, the famous firm started from small beginnings when the Peugeot brothers started making coffee grinders at their French Valentigney workshop. 

Other well known makers include Grulet and Japy Freres.




A Beautiful example of the most commonly seen Peugeout freres coffee grinder



A rare Peugeout freres grinder with a brass top


Most grinders retain the original makers stamp making it easy to establish their provenance. However, even if the original text is missing it's often possible to identify the maker by the shape of the stamp. 




The Peugeout freres makers stamp shows a lion within a brass oval.




The Grulet makers stamp is highly distinctive, in the shape of a diamond and featuring a sphinx . 




Japy Freres is a slightly plainer stamp but some of their grinders are more elaborate



French antique coffee grinders come in many colours and sizes, making them hugely collectible. They look terrific on a kitchen dresser or work top, adding a touch of French rustic chic. 

Coffee connoisseurs agree that nothing beats the taste of coffee ground by hand, something to do with the slowness of the breaking of the beans releases more flavour. The proof is in the cup, and Dazzle can confirm that the taste is spectacular!








We have a number of authentic French coffee grinders for sale. To view the current items visit Dazzle's Antique Mirrors & Decorative sale page. 


TWITTER: @DazzleVintage




Saturday, 24 January 2015

A Visit To The Battersea Decorative Fair




Dazzle has Just returned from a wonderfully inspiring trip to the London Battersea Decorative Fair. For those not in the know it's an antique lovers dream - aimed at interior designers and active buyers, it's a brilliant barometer of the current and upcoming trends in antiques and interiors.






With 145 stands representing some of the influential dealers working today, one thing the fair really illustrates is that antiques are far from stuffy!!!!




The fair is held 3 times a year, in January, April and September. Over 6 days visitors can enjoy an eclectic range of beautiful items, expertly arranged in individually designed stands. Prominent items at the January fair included painted French furniture, Victorian taxidermy, Swedish furniture, antique glass chandeliers, reclaimed religious items and heavily aged antique mirrors.






The ethos behind the Decorative Fair is beauty - finding the decorative aspect in items some may ordinarily dismiss. The stands illustrate how to juxtaposition eclectic items in order to create a stunning space. Each dealer designs and arranges their own stand and the results can be truly inspirational! 





Who Are We? 

Dazzle Vintage Furniture is an online boutique which specialises in antique French furniture and decorative accessories. We aim to source statement pieces, which if placed well, can totally transform the feel of a room, adding drama and unexpected interest. 




Friday, 2 January 2015

Authentic French Furniture and Decorative Antiques January SALE!!



Happy New Year !

To celebrate the start of 2015 we are having a January sale with 10% off all items of French furniture and decorative accessories. The sale starts today and ends on January 31st. Don't forget - all our prices are inclusive of delivery to mainland England and Wales. For buyers in Scotland there is a small extra charge of £55 per item.

www.dazzlevintagefurniture.co.uk


Best wishes

Ali & John

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Using Antique Mirrors in Interior Design


There's more to mirrors than reflections. All to often in our homes we place mirrors in practical locations, somewhere to check an outfit or blow dry hair. We make use of them and tend to view them as utilitarian items when in reality, with a little imagination, they can be so much more. 



Mirrors as Art 

Mirrors can be fantastically decorative in their own right. A carefully curated selection of vintage mirrors has been used below in this hallway to both maximize light and create drama. Here mirrors are hung like works of art. 





For added effect, as in the kitchen below, try mixing and matching mirrors from different eras. Here a heavy gesso frame sits alongside a selection of chain hung vintage mirrors creating a quirky, eclectic look. 




Arranging mirrors in this way is particularly effective in small rooms and areas which struggle for light. The light bounces from mirror to mirror creating a greater sense of space. 



Mirrors as Light



In order to maximize light in rooms which struggle you don't necessarily need a lots of mirrors, just well placed ones. The homeowner above has deliberately hung a large mirror close to the main light source so that when the light is switched on it is reflected, thus creating an illusion of twice the amount of light. 




In this artist's studio above an over sized antique mirror has been cleverly hung to maximize the natural daylight from the window, bringing a sense of the outdoors inside.



Mirrors as Drama




Placing a large ornate mirror in an unorthodox place, such as in the photo above, on the floor of a bedroom, creates an intriguing and unexpected focal point. Here the homeowner uses what would traditionally be a wall hung mirror as a changing mirror. 






Above another use of a free standing mirror, here in a living room. This dramatic gilded antique piece is a used as a piece of furniture in its own right. When it comes to mirrors, there are no rules!

Who Are We? 

Dazzle Vintage Furniture is an online boutique which sells a wide selection of authentic European antique mirrors. We try to source statement pieces, which if placed well can totally transform the look of a room, adding light, drama and unexpected interest. 



Saturday, 30 August 2014

The weird and wonderful world of French vintage


The French brocante (or street market), has been widely celebrated as a treasure trove for vintage and antique hunters, but for those in the know the back streets of many French towns also hold dark and exquisite magasin d'antiquités, packed to the ceilings with curios. Some of these places can be intimidating, particularly to a Brit with very poor French! But what they do offer is a glimpse into a weird and wonderful world of interior design possibilities.




French brocantes have a reputation for bargains, not so most of France's antique shops. If you have to ask the price then you most probably can't afford it! And, unlike brocantes and vide greniers, haggling is not greatly appreciated and discounts are sparse. 







There are many treasures to be found though and sometimes the pleasure is just in looking. These shops are great for getting inspiration and for learning about true French furniture and antiques. The downside to brocantes is that they are often padded out with cheap tat as well as British and American items, some of which buyers mistake for French. 






The wonder of French magasin d'antiquités is in the sheer diversity of items. Religious iconography sits alongside an antique pair of shoes and a creepy hairless doll. But what is truly wonderful is that everything here is authentically French!








Who Are We? 


Dazzle Vintage Furniture is an online boutique founded in 2008 by Devon based antiques dealers Ali Stokes and John Washbrook.

Specialising in European antique and vintage furniture with an emphasis on quality French pieces, the website stocks an ever changing selection of armoires, French beds, buffets, mirrors and vintage lighting.

Ali and John visit France on a regular basis, scouring brocantes and vide greniers in Provence and Brittany. They are passionate ambassadors for real French furniture and hope to inspire buyers to chose quality, time-honoured pieces over mass produced new. 

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Shopping for French Vintage and Antiques in France


For the vintage lover there's nothing better than strolling through a summer brocante, stalls spilling out onto the streets with every imaginable item. Some are bargains, some are certainly not, but the pleasure is definitely in the seeking.





There are no rules about what the discerning buyer should look for, the only rule is to buy for yourself. Chose something that you love and want to live with, and that you can easily get home. 



One thing to remember though is that just because you bought it in France it doesn't mean it's French! As a dealer specialising in French items I've been approached on several occasions by people hoping to sell items who have made this mistake. There are generations of expats living in France and when they relocate they tend to take their possessions with them. Eventually some of those items will end up in the hands of dealers.






If you want to create a true French vintage vibe it's best to enhance your home with a few choice items. French chalkware is a great purchase. Prices range greatly, so it's easy to pick up a bargain. Don't worry about wear and damage, it all adds to the charm.






Religious chalkware figures are very sought after and some of the larger pieces can be incredibly beautiful. Religious iconography is very fashionable at the moment and France is great place to find individual and striking pieces.



Another great purchase is antique lighting. With different wiring, most French chandeliers and wall lights won't work in the UK. You can pay to have your items re-wired professionally when you get home or simply use candles in place of bulbs. Wall sconces make terrific candle holders and newer vintage rather than antique pieces can be found at bargain prices. 


Other items to look for include china soupieres, mirrors (not that easy to get home in one piece though) and vintage luggage. Not perhaps that practical for today's traveller, vintage French suitcases do however make for eye catching storage.






Who Are We? 


Dazzle Vintage Furniture is an online boutique founded in 2008 by Devon based antiques dealers Ali Stokes and John Washbrook.

Specialising in European antique and vintage furniture with an emphasis on quality French pieces, the website stocks an ever changing selection of armoires, French beds, buffets, mirrors and vintage lighting.

Ali and John visit France on a regular basis, scouring brocantes and vide greniers in Provence and Brittany. They are passionate ambassadors for real French furniture and hope to inspire buyers to chose quality, time-honoured pieces over mass produced new.