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March 08, 2012, 02:11 PM

Bleached oak and recraft trend for Julia Shantz of Uniquities

By Ruby Hazael

Alberta, Canada - Julia Shantz of Uniquities Architectural Antiques and makes four trips a year to the UK, France and Belgium, and travels the globe to find unique and memorable items to add 'wow' factor client's homes or businesses. Uniquities also works with dismantlers locally to rescue any architectural salvage which comes up, including whole interiors.

The business was started twenty years ago when Julia wanted to do up her own house using salvage and could not find any locally, so she bought some over from the UK, and that's what started off Uniquities.

"The keyword today is repurposing," Julia said. "When we see a piece of antique carved wood panelling it automatically screams something like a counter, bar or island. You have to think outside the box. It's the whole reason we're in this business. You can't just look at that and says it's a pew panel. We look at it and see something very different."

A nineteenth century French mirror in the showroom would originally have been highly decorative and gilded. "The modern look is to strip wood and bleach it which the French and Belgian dealers are doing now. It really is a lovely look. It simplifies an ornate item which allows it to be fitted into a scheme in an ordinary home. Currently there is a lot of bleached oak in the magazines which is pushing this look into the mainstream. Even though we've been doing this for twenty years, it's suddenly caught on in Calgary."

Of course, a hidden benefit of stripping antiques back to bare wood, especially when exporting from Europe to the USA and Canada, is that it sends a clear message to customers that the item is safe. Removing old paintwork eliminates the chance for concerned customers bringing contaminants into their home from the lead-based paint used by the Victorians and their counterparts in France and Belgium. So the fashion message is also a safety message: bare wood is lead-free wood.

Uniquities is a Salvo Code dealer.

Uniquities Architectural Antiques

Story Type:  Feature

ID: 65145

Date Modified: March 09, 2012, 09:18 AM

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