One of the charms of flea markets and shrine sales is the large number of vendors all grouped together in one place at one time. As it is always unlikely that any particular dealer will have just what you are looking for, there is great “synchronicity” in numbers. Antique stores, art galleries and car dealerships often subscribe to this rule – sometimes because they take over inexpensive real estate in fringe neighborhoods. Antique Row along Dixie Highway in South Florida is an outstanding example of this kind of antique synchronicity. Between Southern Boulevard in the south and running up to Belvedere in the north, about 50 antique stores and related services line both sides of the street. I can’t possibly mention them all, so I am only going to touch on my favorites and those that seem particularly significant.
Partially because I often use their parking lot, and also because they always have something interesting, one of my first stops is Wardall Antiques and Decorations. They have a diverse mix of European and American antiques representing a wide range of periods including furniture, artwork, great chandeliers, and decorative items. They can be relied on for trendy items – a fair amount of mirrored furniture there this visit – but also for basics. The big find this time? Three 1968 horse prints by master artist Tadashi Nakayama, for a great price at about $650 each. Someone should snag them!
The big man on the block is Lars Bolander, who has multiple shops and a design studio, in addition to his New York showroom. The store is full of his signature Swedish pieces, but also some quirkier Asian and industrial items too. On one hand, there was this gorgeous Swedish armoire with chicken wire panels and on the other, there was an enormous Buddha in the window.
Michael MacLean Antiques had its usual selection of small exquisite European pieces, with a few international touches thrown in like these Kuba cloth pillows. This is a trend that has been brewing – perhaps as a suzani replacement? – see Thomas Hamel’s project in House Beautiful this month for a beautiful use of African cloth pillows.
For serious museum quality antiques with provenance and 5 digit prices, head to N.P. Trent Antiques. Full of gorgeous 17th, 18th and 19th century European furniture and accessories, I like to play “imagine” with myself…as in imagine what I would take home if I could. Most interesting there today was this extraordinary Flight & Barr Worcester Imari partial dessert set, circa 1800. At first glance one might think it was Japanese, but in the center is an armorial crest with a stag’s head and the motto “Virtuti“, marking it (along with the incised marks on the reverse) as irrevocably European made.
New to the strip, although long in business, is Artmosphere, carrying rough-hewn furniture from Brazil and Bolivia, both antique and new. I can see these pieces feeling fresh in a Palm Beach Mediterranean.
Faustina Pace Antiques and Interiors had simple on-trend French pieces from the 19th and 20th centuries, like this antique Napoleon III settee covered in homespun, big industrial lights, and large-scale accessories like these huge demijohns for holding olive oil. Surprisingly, the bottles were remarkably similar to my Japanese bottles. Texture, in the form of baskets, rough painted pieces and homespun grain sacks, gave the store great character and style.
Unfortunately, Hampton Antiques, one of my favorite group shops at the corner of Dixie and Southern seems to have vanished (although I believe they are related to the huge Hamptons Antique Galleries in Stamford, CT). Last December I found a great pair of Napoleon III armchairs there. They were not even muslined, instead had only their original burlap.
Here is where the professional and geographic synchronicity went to work. I wanted these chairs, but would be leaving for Tokyo in a few days and not returning until the summer. They were of no use to me in the state they were in. Across the street is Parkers fabric store (better known as Silk Surplus, and related to the well-known one in NYC), which carries super discounted remnant bolts, discontinued designs as well as “to order” fabric from major fabric houses. In one of the sale bins I found a great Scalamandre check called Brompton Plaid for $9 a yard. (Shall we say that again? $9 a yard. Normally it retails for $125 a yard!) Around the corner was an upholsterer, used by many on the block. Chairs…check! Fabric…check! Upholsterer…check! Purchase completed….Take a look at the chairs in situ at the beach house!
If like me, you are a junkie for really good but threadbare Persian rugs and suzani scraps, my “secret” favorite shop that I have been patronizing for years is Joseph Malekan’s Antiques and Oriental Rugs on the corner at Roseland Drive. You never know what you will find scattered around his store, but I have a beautiful 19th century Tabriz and two small Lavar Kirman’s that I picked up there for very reasonable prices. This time he had a great pair of Moroccan stools, some beautiful framed fan coral in distressed vintage frames and a huge selection of copper lanterns. I love this faux boix console table too. Joseph can also now be found on 1stdibs !
There are too many shops to mention them all, but head to Dolce and Re Vue for eclectic Palm Beach and Hollywood Regency style, The Elephants’s Foot for English antique and reproduction furniture as well as a huge selection of antique silver, European porcelain and Imari, John Prinster for art deco and art moderne. Mecox Gardens has a big outpost on the row, right near Southern Boulevard.
There are a number of related services in the area in addition to the ones mentioned above, including more fabric stores and interior designers. There is a Sherwin Williams and a shop called The Paint Store which carries hard to find brands such as Farrow & Ball, Fine Paints of Europe, and Christopher Peacock Paints.
Antique Row no longer feels like an insiders secret like it did 15 years ago, at least at these core shops, and the prices reflect that. Off of the “official” Row, there are quite a few shops south of Southern Boulevard that I haven’t had time yet to explore. Next time!
For more information and some gossip on who shops there, take a look here and here. And for lunch, I recommend a great diner called Howley’s, on the east side of Dixie Highway, a few blocks south of Southern Boulevard.