Sunday, December 2, 2018

3 Unique Antique Gifts for the Antiques Lover

By Gretchen Sawatzki

The holiday season can be hectic. Between work parties, cookie baking, and shopping your days can be quite stressful. And, there's always that one friend who loves antiques and vintage items that is difficult to buy gifts for. Well we've compiled a short list of three unique gifts for that antiques lover.

1). Charming Table Lamp
An easy buy for the antique lover, a charming table lamp offers unique style and a usable function. This is a gift that keeps on giving all year long.

Antique Colonial Revival style table lamp, circa 1915.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

2). Antique Stand
It can be used as a side table, a plant stand or a place to toss your keys when you come home - either way an antique stand has many uses that can work in just about any space.

Antique Victorian walnut stand. Photo by
Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

3). Antique Sign
Although it can be difficult to gauge a friend's taste, antique signs can add a bit of unique vintage flair to any space, especially for the antiques lover.

Antique cast iron Welcome sign. Photo by Hannah Manning
for Materials Unlimited.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Fireplace vs. Fireplace Mantels

By: Gretchen Sawatzki

The word "fireplace" is often confused for the word "mantel." But, if you take a closer look at the meaning of each word, you'd be surprised to learn the difference.  A fireplace is, "part of the chimney that opens into a room in which fuel is burning for cooking warmth." While a mantel is defined as, "a wooden or stone frame around the opening of a fireplace."

So, what does that mean? If you're doing a remodeling project, you likely won't be looking to purchase a fireplace, rather a mantel. And, if you're someone who wants something stylish, you have many options for gorgeous mantels, including a salvaged mantel from a historic home.
Antique Colonial style fireplace mantel. Photo by Materials Unlimited.

Often made of solid hardwoods like oak or walnut, an antique salvaged mantel can run anywhere from a few hundred dollars to few thousand depending on the size. If you're interested in an antique salvaged mantel, pick something timeless like a classical Colonial style mantel.  With clean lines and classic columns, this mantel will usher warmth into the home for generations to come without going out of style.

You can feel good about reusing a handcrafted gem and get the style you desire. To learn more about fireplaces and fireplace mantels check out this post, "The Basics of Fireplace Mantels". Materials Unlimited offers a range of stunning antique salvaged mantels, for more information visit the website,

Featured Product: Victorian Sideboard

By Gretchen Sawatzki

Charming Victorian sideboard circa 1895, photo by
Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

The Victorian dining room featured many items including large tables, chairs, stunning dishware, and crystal, but none of these items compare to the significance of the the sideboard. Used to display expensive wares and layout lavish meals, the sideboard was the pinnacle of luxury in the Victorian dining room. Its sole purpose was to entertain and the more lavish the entertainment, the better your social standing.

This antique Victorian period sideboard features unique Art Nouveau carvings, and semi-circular glass doors. Small in stature, this sideboard packs a lot of luxury in a petite package further emphasizing the importance of this piece of furniture in the Victorian home.

American Architecture: Beaux Arts Style

By Gretchen Sawatzki

Post Office building, Washington DC, via Wikimedia Commons

The Beaux Arts style of architecture was a heavily ornamented architectural style that was taught at the L'Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris during the 19th century. Its design focussed on classical ancient Greek and Roman architecture and was popularized in the United States during the time of the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The Exposition featured a number of Beaux Arts style buildings that blended luxury with classical columns and rectangular shapes.

A grandiose Beaux Arts style light fixture,
circa 1910. Photo by Hannah Manning
for Materials Unlimited.
Many prominent American architects learned the style while studying at the L'Ecole des Beaux Arts including H.H. Richardson, the creator of the style now known as Richardsonian Romanesque. His adaptation of the Beaux Arts style included classical Roman arches and columns built of large cut stone. One of his best known buildings in the United States include the original Smithsonian castle and Post Office in Washington D.C.

The Beaux Arts style is characterized by symmetrical facades, grandiose scale, and classical quoins, pilasters, cartouches and decorative floral motifs.

 Buffalo Architecture and History
 Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Photo Friday: Antique Wall Sconces with Amethyst Globes

By: Gretchen Sawatzki

Antique wall sconces with amethyst globes. Photograph by
Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited

Truly stunning antiques are always hard to come by, and this pair of antique cast iron wall sconces are no exception. Cast in iron with heavy detail and topped off with rare amethyst tinted globes, these sconces are a prime example of true rarified beauty from the early 1900s.

Featured Product: Antique Victorian Era Dry Sink

By: Gretchen Sawatzki

Dry sink, the name seems like a misnomer being that dry often isn't the first descriptive word that comes to mind when you think of a sink, but in the pre-plumbing days this makes a lot of sense. A dry sink is a piece of furniture used in the era prior to indoor plumbing, and was used to hold a washing bowl and water pitcher. The dry sink would have been used in the kitchen to prepare meals, wash dishes, shave and even bath. Some higher end dry sinks would have featured copper liners or tiled backsplashes.

Today, dry sinks are sought after purely for decorative reasons and would work exceptionally well in a modern kitchen or bathroom.

Antique Victorian Era dry sink. Photograph by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Featured Product: Antique Black Forest Wall Cabinet

By Gretchen Sawatzki

In 1800s the wood carving industry in Brienz, Switzerland, Black Forest region, launched on an international stage.  Featured in many international expositions, including the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876 and the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893,  the wood carvings from the region quickly became luxury items highly coveted by wealthy Americans by the mid-1800s.

The quality of the Black Forest carvings were so precise and well-crafted, that European royals of the same period collected the carvings in the form of furnishings for their royal homes and collections. As popularity continued to grow in the United States, artists of the Black Forest region began designing carvings of North American animals that would capture the interest of this market. Popular Black Forest carvings included in bears, eagles, boars, dogs, and stags.

Antique Black Forest region carved cabinet circa1920.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

This antique wall cabinet from the Black Forest region features ivy and filigree with a hand-painted central cartouche on glass. A prime example of carvings from the region, this cabinet would make a quality addition to any collection or an amazing focal piece in a bathroom.