Q&A: Family Treasures with Ann Moncure-Williams and Mitch Williams.

 Q: Tell me briefly a little about yourselves. What are your interests or your hobbies?

Mitch: I had an antique store, located on the corner of Hanover & Strawberry St. in Richmond, VA, called Christopher Robin Antiques about 30 years ago. I loved armoires…people needed them in the Fan District, since the old homes had little closet space. I enjoy reading, music and outdoor activities such as kayaking.

Ann: I work in special education, was the former restaurant owner of Cuisine A-La-Carte and I’m also an artist. I love art projects, museums, going to galleries and yard sales. It’s all about the thrill of the hunt!

Remnant from an early 1800's quilt.

Q: What are your favorite blogs?

Ann: We don’t read a lot of blogs, but we do like magazines such as Southern Living, New Yorker and Coastal Living.

Folk art from a 1930's carnival...made from a barrel and paper-mache.

Q: Describe your style in two words:

Ann: Eclectic, wacky and unusual.

Mitch: Make you laugh.

Q: Where did most of your antique collection come from?

Mitch: We have a lot of pieces that came from our families. Both families are from the Richmond/Petersburg area. We’ve also been buying antiques for over 30 years. We just collect things that catch our eye…

Ann: My grandmother was part of the Tinsely Family and grew up in the Totomoi House, in Hanover County. My family also had a beautiful farmhouse in Richmond, VA, called Picquenocque, that was built in the late 1800’s. Some of our furniture came out of these homes and was passed down through the family. 

Iron sign from Picquenocque, the family farmhouse...

Q: Can you tell me about this amazing cupboard?

Late 1700's Welsh Cupboard....simply beautiful!

Mitch: This is a Welsh cupboard, dating back to the late 1700’s that is made of English oak. The pewter collection dates to the late 1800’s.

Ann: This cupboard belonged to my great aunt Dorothy Scarborough, who was a famous novelist who wrote “The Wind” in 1925. It was also made into a silent film. She was an avid collector and she also studied at Oxford. She also owned this antique jelly cupboard that she purchased in New England. It is made of poplar and pine and dates to the early 1800’s.

New England jelly cupboard, dating to the early 1800's

Q: What do you know about this trunk? It looks to be very old…

Ann: That trunk belonged to my great grandfather. It is said to be his traveling trunk from the Revolutionary War. It’s from the late 1700’s. This was a piece that came from Picquenocque.

Awesome hand forged ironwork on Ann's antique trunk!

Q: Do you have a favorite place to shop for unique treasures?

Ann: We like consignment shops such as Impulse and Revival. They have a unique selection of merchandise that changes frequently…not your everyday antique shop. We also love yard sales and estate sales. In the months of April through October, my Saturday morning ritual is going to yard sales and estate sales.

Antique trunk purchased in Richmond, VA.

Mitch: Another great place is Alexander’s Auctions. They have an antique auction every Thursday evening. You can preview the auction items online or at Alexander’s starting at 9am on Thursdays. They have a great selection of antique Persian rugs.

Copyright 2012. The Savvy Seeker blog by Erin Hurley-Brown. All Rights Reserved.

Before & After: My Dining Room

When the Mr. and I purchased our home about 3.5 years ago, the dining room was the first room in the entire house that was entirely livable. The 1960’s pink shag carpeting had been pulled out to reveal the original oak hardwood floors underneath and the walls were repaired and painted a tomato-soup kind of color (the photos make the walls look kind of orange). We found an adorable vintage French crystal chandelier on Ebay for a song and shortly after the rest of furniture came into place, one piece at a time.

The chaos in all it's glory!

Most of the room’s furniture was comprised of hand-me-down pieces from my mother, including an antique oak sideboard (which I remember going to purchase with her in Northern VA when I was a youngster) and an oak pedestal table with ladder-back chairs.

As time went by, we found ourselves mostly eating and entertaining in our kitchen, so the dining room slowly became a storage space and recording area for the Mr.’s music demos and commercial jingles. Looks pretty sad, huh?? I’m almost embarrassed to show you guys these before photos… Shhh…if you listen closely, you hear some of the furniture from underneath the bubble wrap and boxes…saying “Help me, help me!”

Is this a place to eat or a place to store junk? I'm confused...

There is a season, turn, turn, turn…

Can I just say that I absolutely hate February? Can we say season depression? I LOVE warm weather, so I find being stuck in side during the blah winter months a total drag. There are only so many craft projects one woman can handle before her fingers become raw from using a hot glue gun or sewing needles!

Looking for some other kind of project to focus on that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg, I turned to the lonely dining room. I decided to repaint the top portion of the walls with Behr’s Organic Fields green (paint and primer in one folks – these red walls only took TWO COATS!!) and paint the bottom half white (to later include some lovely picture frame molding). The windows received new woven pull shades and I hung two large vintage black shutters on either side (which I do not have a photo of – but will try to post one later). I swapped rugs from another room in the house – took out a Persian rug and opted for a natural jute style rug with brown border. And the chairs…they definitely needed a refresh!

Ahhhh....much better! No more microphones and cables...

Painted Black Chairs

I love Annie Sloan’s chalk paint. It’s so unbelievably easy to use. However, I wanted a true black paint for these chairs and from what I read about Annie Sloan’s Graphite colored paint, it seemed to have more of a blue-ish undertone. So what did I do? I asked a few experts. Marion from Miss Mustard Seed recommended Sherwin Williams’ black satin enamel and Elizabeth from The Adventures of Elizabeth recommended Black Ink by Behr. Both talented ladies also recommended using a thin coat of satin poly to top it off to prevent smudging. (Thanks ladies for your help!!) I love the way the chairs turned out, even though it took one coat of tinted primer and two coats of black paint…not an easy task!

A cute antique cutlery tray that I found in Brandywine, PA

I purchased this adorable antique cutlery tray from one of my favorite places to visit in Brandywine, PA…Brandywine View Antiques. If you’re ever in the area, you MUST stop by this historic home-turned-shop. It’s a huge white Victorian-era house that sits high on a hilltop and usually has a huge array of antique and primitive furniture scattered all around on its wrap around porch.

My mom's old antique sideboard with my little mission rocking chair...

This is the antique oak sideboard that was one of the earliest antique pieces that my mother every purchased. I have always loved this sideboard; even oak pieces like this are not in high demand right now. Its overall condition is amazing and the natural wood grain is beautiful…which is why I’ve never painted it. The small antique arts and crafts rocking chair was a yard sale find and came out of a family owned restaurant in the Blacksburg, VA area and is one of my favorite chairs. The down pillow is made from an antique French grain sack that I have sewn and is one of many that can be found scattered around my home. I don’t know if anyone else would pair a French grain sack with mission style furniture, but I find their simplicity to compliment one another.

A silver champagne bucket with ironstone on an antique serving tray...

Happy Anniversary

The Mr. and I have never been into large anniversary presents. However, on our first anniversary, the Mr. surprised me with this small Eastlake chest of drawers. He found it at a consignment shop for $30, covered in dust and filth and buried under a pile of other small objects for sale. After we spent two days scraping the dirt off of her, we found this beautiful chocolate toned wood underneath! She lost her matching mirror a long time ago, but her skirted detail at the bottom is precious!! I had to replace her hardware with period correct pulls…but I HATE the brass finish…so if any of you DIYers out there have a tip for aging the brass finish, let me know!! The urns and the 1930’s framed lithograph came out of an estate sale.

An antique eastlake dresser with vintage cast iron urns...

So now, I have my dining room back and the furniture can breathe easy now that it’s de-cluttered. It’s a win-win situation…though the Mr. may not think so since he’s got to find another place for his music and recording gear!

Tell me what you think or if you have a great room re-do, let me know!

Check out some other before and afters here: Between Naps on the Porch!

Copyright 2012. The Savvy Seeker blog by Erin Hurley-Brown. All Rights Reserved.