Hints on Collecting
FOCUS! Homeowner and collector Nancy Conescu loves paintings, but her interest in them pales in comparison to her passion for pottery. Solution? “Buy a painting you like that has no particular provenance; the money you save can be invested into the potter
started in the living room, which had “only a floor-to-ceiling brick fireplace and two built-in cabinets remaining,” recalls Nancy. “That gave me design license.”
Nancy’s unbridled passion for Arts & Crafts pottery influenced her design for the living room. She installed a skeleton wainscot topped by a plate rail to provide more display area. Then she designed a built-in window seat between two bookcases, matching originals on the other side of the room.
“The most ‘original’ rooms are the front hall and dining room, both of which have box-beam ceilings,” Nancy says. The dining-room buffet that recedes into the kitchen wall is original, as is the wainscot with widely spaced wood battens, copied for the living room. The second owner had added three china cabinets ca. 1930; when she removed their glass backing, Nancy discovered a lining of newspapers dated Jan. 20, 1928.
As renovation proceeded, Nancy
says she had a vision of how the house would look. An intrepid buyer and seller of antiques (she keeps going until she gets just the right thing), Nancy regularly attends auctions in person and online, peruses eBay, and hunts for Arts & Crafts pottery through favorite West Coast dealers.
“Pottery is my first passion,” says Nancy, but “I’ve got a thing for beautiful lighting, too.” Although many of her furnishings were produced by well-known makers including Gustav and L. & J.G. Stickley and Charles Limbert, some of the “no name” pieces are at the top of her favorites list.
“One of the first lamps I ever bought is neither fancy nor expensive, but I love it,” she explains. “When I brought it to the house, I couldn’t figure out where to put it. When I placed it next to the little rocker in the dining room, I saw that the glass design matches the period wallpaper I’d chosen for the room. It was serendipity!”
Nancy replaced original but uninspired brass lighting with Handel fixtures. She did, however, recycle Steuben glass shades from the old dining-room ceiling light, using them on four bronze sconces she added to the living room.
With infrastructure rebuilt and major decorating done, Nancy and Mike are finally enjoying the beauty of their home, its restoration a product of seeds planted on trash nights decades ago. a for resources, see p. 62.