Have you ever wanted to turn your home into a “Little French Garden House?” Me too. Well, it’s time to meet the woman who can make it all happen for you.
Lidy Baars runs “Little French Garden House,” a blog and online store all about European antiques. And what makes Lidy so special is that she actually grew up in Europe, and the memories of living in her grandparents’ home inspired her to devote much of her life to the kinds of antiques that filled that home.
Lidy spends a lot of her time hunting for vintage antiques, and she shares all of her experiences on her blog, along with some helpful tips and advice. We’re very honored to have Lidy with us here today, so please enjoy this very special interview!
1. Hi Lidy, thank you for taking some time today for this interview. Please take a moment to introduce yourself and tell readers about your blog, “Little French Garden House.”
Thank you for asking me to join the talented women you have showcased already. I have been blogging for a little over two years now, and never imagined what an impact it would have on my life! I had never even heard of “blogging” the day before I started. I met an artist at an art fair, and she wrote the “address” of her blog on a little scrap of paper for me. I went home, read her blog, clicked on a few links and literally fell into the “blogging hole!” It was like a whole new world opened up, filled with creative, inspiring women and men.
On my blog, I try to have a little of everything. I write about the antiques world, the dealers, the antiques, and flea markets, what to look for when buying, what prices you can expect to pay. I try to educate my readers about antiques, what to look for, price ranges they can expect to pay, what not to buy. How to shop the flea markets, auctions and antique malls. I have a returning feature I call Weekly Favorites, which highlights what is new at French Garden House, but also gives a good detailing of the history of the pieces, what to look for, what the real age of some of these items are, how to spot fakes etc.
I have posts about the ups and downs of being a small entrepreneur, a woman in business, and my European heritage. But I also write about my garden, my European gardener (my husband), entertaining and recipes, home decorating, books, little crafts to make, pretty much everything and anything I would share with a friend over a cup of tea at my kitchen table.
Some of the best loved posts are of the buying trips I take, when I take my readers along with me to little out of the way shops, flea markets and dealers’ homes. Women love to shop, even if it’s only virtually! The most amazing thing about my blog, though, is the women I’ve met. Kind. Caring. Funny. Smart. Kindred spirits. Many are so completely different from me, living totally different lives, yet somehow we have so much in common. I have come to love them, and have several close friends “via email,” I hope to be able to meet them some day soon.
2. Please tell us a little about your internet store, the “French Garden House.” What kind of items do you sell there, and how have you enjoyed running the store?
French Garden House is my passion. I have been in the design business for years, helping clients make their house a home. After that, I created one of a kind florals and home accessories for shops, and had antique spaces.
The thought of having a shop of my own has been something I have thought of for many years. But the rents in Southern California are quite crazy high, and I wasn’t really that keen on being tied down to a place where I had to be day in day out. The website is the perfect shop for me.
I sell all the things I love. Antiques, French, English and American. Victorian and Art Deco Boudoir items, so beautiful sometimes they make me cry (don’t tell anyone that, they’ll think I’m crazy)! Sweet antique Children’s Toys, Books, Christening Dresses and little Shoes. Garden Pots, French Seed Packets, Silver. Anything and everything I love for my own home. I also carry quite a few French and French Inspired new items for the home. Recently I have added a wonderful line of French antique and Reproduction Furniture that I just love.
French Garden House is my love. I can’t wait to get up each morning to “go to work” and I know I am truly blessed.
3. By the time you read and answer this, you will have returned from your antique-buying trip. I’m sure you’ll blog about it later in more detail, but generally speaking, what were some of your favorite items you’ve found on the trip?
This buying trip was different than most. My daughter and her husband moved to Michigan, taking my new grandbaby with them, so of course I went there for a little “baby fix.” There weren’t quite as many antiques to be found, but I did buy some wonderful Victorian Celluloid Photo Albums, with Roses on their covers, and some great Victorian Scraps, Baby cups, and hand painted Tole pieces. A few wonderful Victorian “Whites” (dresses and other white clothing) Dresses so small, even a 24″ waist won’t fit, they are made of a fabric so fine, I am amazed that young women and children could wear these and not ruin them in one day.
I love all antiques, and I only buy things I truly love, so they’re all really my favorites.
4. It’s safe to say that your passion for French antiques started during your childhood in Europe. You lived with your grandparents, so you were always surrounded by beautiful decorative items of years past. Whereabouts did you grow up, and when did you first realize you were so drawn to antiques?
I was born in the Netherlands, and lived there until I was 8. My grandparents’ home was filled with beautiful French and Dutch antiques. When my Mom and I moved to the states, our budget was nil. We had hand me down furniture, but my mom still had a knack for making our little apartment a home.
When I was in my teens, I went antique shopping with a friend, and spied a little children’s riding toy, a wooden horse on wheels, in the window of one shop. We pooled our money together so that I could buy it, I took it home, and never looked back. Since then I have been falling in love with and buying antiques and brocante (vintage junk, is what it literally translates to).
As an adult, I’ve realized that with every home we’ve lived in, I try to recapture the same feeling my grandparents’ home had…. filled with beautiful things, slightly shabby, European grandeur on a small scale, meant to be lived in, to make memories in. A home should be just that, home, a haven, not a showcase. I don’t live in a big home. It’s not grand, but it is perfect for us, our family and friends. I hope that everyone makes their home that, it doesn’t have to be fancy to be lovely. Just one great garage sale find or flea market “fun thing” can add so much to a home.
That little wooden Toy Horse was center place in our living room for years and years, displayed like a piece of art, although both my girls rode around on it, too!
5. What is the single most treasured antique you own? Something that you’d never sell, never give away, and hold more dearly to your heart than anything else?
I think that is a great question! Because no matter how many beautiful things I buy and sell, in the end they are all just things. That is one of the “must haves” for being an antique dealer, you have to be able to love beautiful things, but not be so attached to them. I can buy something and totally be gaga over it, but have no problem at all sending it on to its new owner, knowing he or she will love it, and make memories with it.
The antique I hold dearest to my heart is my Grandmother’s Silver Teapot. I inherited it when she died. I love it, not for the pot, but for the memories of her, pouring tea each afternoon at 3:30. I use it for my own family, mostly when we are all together on Sundays or holidays, and it never ceases to give me a warm hug, the memory of my beloved Oma using this pot.
That is also the most heartwarming part of selling antiques. I love it when a client emails or calls me to let me know that the piece they bought from me is just like one they remember from their childhood. Or that they are giving it to a loved one for a wedding, or the birth of a baby. That’s what makes my business so rewarding, the clients, their lives, and how the things they buy from me will make memories for their own families.
6. You’ve built up quite a following online through your blog and your store. Business-wise, what would you say is the busiest time of year for you? Our guess is Christmas!
Actually, early Spring and early Fall are extremely busy. I think most of us are “nesters”, we love to decorate our homes with something new for the seasons, so that our homes are welcoming and warm. That “new” thing can be something old. That’s the best part of antiques, it doesn’t matter that they are a little scuffed, or not quite perfect. Adding a few old or antique pieces to your home makes everything less perfect, less “new” and ups the comfortable, lived-in and relaxed level quite a bit.
7. Lidy, thanks again for sitting down with us today. For the last question, let’s talk about your readers. You’ve stated repeatedly that the real joy of what you do is not the items you sell or even the thrill of the chase of those items. To you, the real pleasure is interacting with the wonderful people you’ve met online.
Do you meet with other local bloggers and fans often, and for those you cannot see face to face, what do you have to say to all of them?
That is the true beauty of blogging, isn’t it? That we get to meet friends from all around the world, and share a little bit of their lives with them. I have been so fortunate to be able to meet so many wonderful readers, and fellow bloggers. So many readers contact me, and I have made some great friendships with them. I feel like I have friends in so many other countries through my blogging relationships, too.
Sometimes other bloggers recognize me at flea markets or other places, which is a joy, but a little strange when they yell over the isles, “Hey, I know you!” (thank goodness I always put on at least a little lipstick when I venture out at 7:00 am)
I have been able to connect with some great editors and designers through my blog, too. I am honored that they actually take the time to read my blog. Some of them have become friends, I love hearing from them, and calling or writing them, when they are in town to do a story for their publications, it’s just the best to get together with them.
I want to encourage all the readers to start a blog. It isn’t difficult, and it will open the world for you! There are so many wonderful people to meet, things to see, to be inspired by, friends to make. To quote Dr. Seuss:
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away
Oh! The places you will go!
Lidy’s passion comes through so clearly in this interview, and you can’t help but feel excited for her. Thanks so much to Lidy for stopping by Decor Medley, and I hope all of you will take some time and check out her blog and French Garden House store today.
Go buy some antiques and French up your house a little!