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Interior Design

What’s Your Favorite Antique?

Local designers share their prized pieces from their personal collections.
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Jan Showers' antique buffet
Stephen Karlisch

What’s Your Favorite Antique?

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Everyone has that one antique piece of decor in their home that they love: an old side table they found in a vintage shop, a figurine belonging to their mother, a chest that’s been passed down in their families for generations. We asked 10 local interior designers to share with us their most prized possessions and the stories behind them.

Jan Showers, Jan Showers & Associates

The antique: An antique buffet

The story: “I call this our ‘Sister Parish’ buffet. I saw it in one of our favorite dealers in Paris and it was love at first sight. It was such a perfect yellow gold and had wonderful, old decorative painting. I love for antiques to show their age, and so I have never touched it—it is perfect exactly as is.”

Ellett Miciotto, EJM Interior Design

The antique: A 19th-century floor-length beveled glass trumeau 

The story: “My parents often made the short trip from Shreveport—where we lived—to Dallas, where my mother, who was an interior designer, would do all of her sourcing. I remember knowing we were close to town when we passed a long row of antiques warehouses on HWY 80. I always dreaded this stop as a child.

One of the warehouses dealt in French antiques, which was her favorite. Little Red’s, I believe. That’s where she found a nine-foot bronze gilded French trumeau that she coveted. The price was exorbitant. Undeterred and fitting with her Creole aesthetic, she put a deposit down and used the now extinct tender of ‘layaway.’ Two years later, the mirror was paid for and delivered to Louisiana, where it stood proudly in three of our homes.

I inherited the trumeau after my mother passed and display it proudly in my two-story stairwell, admiring and using it daily.”

Heidi Arwine, Heidi Arwine Interiors

The antique: A collection of antique canes and walking sticks

The story: “My husband’s grandmother collected them throughout the years from around the world, and they were always located near the front door of any home she lived in. Each one is unique and some have secret compartments—one even has a knife.”

Tori Rubinson, Tori Rubinson Interiors

The antique: A turquoise farm table

The story: “A friend gave us [this table] when we were first married. It was over 100 years old, and already painted this turquoise blue color. It is perfectly worn and we have had it in every home we have lived in. We did take it to our favorite antique repair person to have it made more stable. Other than that, we just let it wear naturally.”

Erin Sander, Erin Sander Design

The antique: A family heirloom mixing bowl

The story: “This mixing bowl was the vessel to my grandmother’s homemade biscuits and summer fruit pies. It is a cherished piece that takes a prominent place on my kitchen counter. It has even made an appearance in a photoshoot or two, as I feel there’s nothing more photogenic than a piece that means something to your soul.”

Paul Draper, Paul Draper Design

The antique: A pair of carved Japanese shishi, or guardian lions, from the 12th-13th century

The story: “I was attending the Armory Show in New York in the late 1980s when I came across [them], rather hidden on the floor. I inquired about them and was introduced to the owner of the booth, Axel Vervoordt. At the time, I was not familiar with Mr. Vervoordt or his work, but we had a nice discussion and I ended up making the purchase.

We placed them side by side atop a tall chest in our living room. When our children were young, we got a pair of felt reindeer antlers the shishi wore at Christmas.

They have always been one of our favorite finds. These wonderful pieces had passed through many hands in the last 800–900 years, and we loved our time with them. In a sense, each owner was borrowing them in time. A few years ago, we decided it was our time to part with them. Today they have a new home at the Dallas Musuem of Art, where they flank the entrance to the Asian galleries.”

Jean Liu, Jean Liu Design

The antique: A collection of Old Paris porcelain

The story: “I’ve been collecting for more than 20 years now. This is just a small portion of it. The collection has been put together through various sources—from estate sales, eBay, and local antique stores to gifts from friends and the Paris flea markets. Each piece in the collection has a story, and that’s been part of the fun of it. I have intentionally left some pieces with the cracks or chips. To me, they give the piece character. I’m sure there was a story and, hopefully, a good dinner party involved!”

Margaret Chambers, Chambers Interiors & Associates Inc.

The antique: An English chinoiserie server with shelves

The story: “I started buying antiques at the age of 17, and I’ve never seen another piece just like this in my entire life and career. I purchased it 21 years ago in England on an antiques-buying trip through Europe. It was in mint condition—even the fabric behind the brass grilles is original. It’s also a practical piece of furniture, with great display and storage space.”

Kara Adam, Kara Adam Interiors

The antique: A 19th-century Rococo marquetry round pedestal table

The story: “I found it on 1stDibs when we bought our house. It was absolutely perfect! Our foyer has an inlaid wood floor, so it was just the right piece to complement that design, keeping with the same level of detail. The only change we made was cutting the height of the center post by two inches, so the scale was more suited to the rest of the furnishings in our great room.”

Pam Kelley, Pam Kelley Design

The antique: A collection of antique silver napkin rings

The story: “You are asking a girl who has a house full of collected treasures from near and far—to choose my favorite is impossible. My collection of napkin rings is one of my most treasured. I search for ones with old monograms or names that match our family names.”

Betty Lou Phillips, Betty Lou Phillips Interiors

The antique: A circa-1720 walnut commode unearthed near Grenoble, France 

The story: “It would be nice to say we personally found this piece in France, however, we happened upon it more than 25 years ago at Jacqueline Adams Antiques in Atlanta. It was in perfect condition—and understandably intrigued us. The early 18th-century area carvers twisted tradition; rather than adorning their works in brass or bronze, they instead integrated the drawer handles. Though similar, each handle is clearly uniquely crafted. I did line the drawers in a Coraggio silk plaid.”

Corbin See, Sees Design

The antique: A midcentury Italian bar cabinet by Vittorio Dossi 

The story: “I found this piece at Dallas Moderne when they still had a physical presence in the city. I initially encouraged a client to purchase it for their own home, and when they wouldn’t bite, I admired it so much that I had to buy it myself. It’s my favorite not only because it’s a bar and gets lots of use, but it also makes a stunning statement and performs an important function. It represents a unique mix of styles and influences, much like the design aesthetic throughout our home.”

Meredith Ellis, Meredith Ellis Design

The antique: My grandmother’s mahogany chest

The story: “When my husband and I moved back to Texas in 2010, we stayed with my parents at their ranch in the Texas Hill Country while we looked for a house. I found this chest buried in a storage room in their barn. It originally belonged to my grandmother, and I have vivid memories of it being in the hall outside my bedroom as a young child. It needed some serious TLC. I dug it out, dusted it off, and enlisted the help of a furniture restorer to repair it and paint it in a high-gloss Carriage House Green from Farrow and Ball. I also added new antique brass hardware. When it was finally complete, it was absolutely stunning and looked ready for the new life it had been given.”

Allen Keith, Chambers Interiors & Associates

The antique: A continental oyster laburnum and parquetry library table

The story: “This partners desk, which belonged to my aunt and uncle, is my favorite antique in my home because of the beautiful and unusual patterns of inlay and marquetry. My aunt and uncle’s interior designer was Craig Wright, whose work was featured on approximately 15 covers of Architectural Digest. Quatrain, where the table was purchased, was his shop in LA. Though it now sits in the front of my living room, it was in the guest bedroom where I always stayed at my aunt and uncle’s home in Los Angeles, so it reminds me of the many great trips I took to visit them throughout my childhood.”

Meredith Steinhart, Meredith Steinhart Interior Design

The antique: M. Rinck Round Hall Table

The story: “I found the piece in a local Dallas antique store. It’s signed by the designer, Maurice Rinck, who is well known and has received many awards‚ including the Grand Prix at the 1958 World Expo in Brussels awards (where he tied with Citroen and Dior) and the prestigious Medalle d’or de l’innovation, the gold medal for innovation in 1937.”

Cheryl Van Duyne, Cheryl Van Duyne Interior Design

The antique: 19th c. Empire console

The story: “I purchased this from Embree Antiques years ago. I love the beautiful mahogany wood with all its imperfections from age. The bronze mounts and old black stone top add to its elegance. It has been used in our entry for years along with the beautiful mirror, also purchased from Embree Antiques. The table has not been restored because the age on the table adds the beauty. My home has modern furniture throughout but adding a few nice antiques keeps everything from looking the same, adding depth and history. The wall next to this antique has a very large, colorful abstract photograph by Richard Bettinger. They are beautiful together.”

John Marrs, John Phifer Marrs Interiors

The antique: American classical style console

The story: “This console is one of my favorite antiques. It gives me two large surfaces to display my collections of transferware and marble fruit! I added the antiqued mirror on the bottom.”


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