Joy Thorpe is an interior designer, antiques dealer and stylist. She has a store in Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny.
A lot of people told me I was absolutely nuts when I opened a store in Castlecomer in September 2020. I was closed more than I was open at the start, which was a bit soul-destroying, to be honest.
But I just loved the property, particularly because it’s so Instagrammable. My product is just as likely to sell on Instagram as it is in the shop and I wanted a space that was all my own to showcase it.
I didn’t want it to be your typical antiques shop that is full to the brim with stock and a bit dusty. I wanted everything to be quite polished and curated, so when you come into the store, you can picture it in your home.
I mainly buy from auction houses, car-boot sales and flea markets. I also buy in Morocco – I just love the richness of the textiles. Most auctions are online now and while it has made it so much more accessible, it’s just not the same. Before Covid you’d be driving several hours to an auction and the whole way there you’d be excited about what you might find.
When you work in this industry, you realise that there is a buyer for everything – and I mean everything. You think, ‘Who on earth would buy that?’ and then there are people fighting over it! It amazes me how many men in their 50s, 60s and 70s just love buying toys. Maybe, growing up in Ireland, they couldn’t afford them?
Younger buyers want more bang for their buck. They’re not going to spend €200 on a silver gravy boat but they’ll buy more practical bits like, say, silver salt and pepper shakers. And while our parents’ generation would have hidden them away in the cupboard, this generation will have them out on the table.
At the moment I’m selling a lot of leather Chesterfields. I can’t get enough of them in, which is funny because a couple of years ago I couldn’t sell them. There’s also a move towards really beautiful woods in paler tones. Pine went out of favour for so long but I think people are now appreciating the quality of it.
As for my personal wish list, I’d really like a taxidermy swan. I’d put a pearl necklace on it and have it in a room with nothing else. It’s a bit off the wall, but it would be a conversation piece, if nothing else!”
Jeni Glasgow is a Meath-based creative director and an inveterate collector of antiques and fine arts.
“I started collecting in my early 20s. Around that time I shared a little stall at the Blackrock Market with the amazing stylist and visionary, Betty Wall. I sold bric-a-brac and vintage clothes and Betty sold exquisite vintage pieces and accessories. I probably bought more from Betty and the other vendors than I ever sold, but I loved it. I also had a unit at the Blackberry Fair Market in Rathmines, selling everything from junk to jam.
There’s nothing I love more than an American yard sale, French flea market or local auction but more recently my focus has shifted online. My friend Killian McNulty has an incredible site for vintage furniture called The Vintage Hub and an ex-prop hire page on Instagram, The Antiques Hub, where I’ve picked up some amazing pieces. Back to Basics Décor (@b2bdecor) is where I go for eye-candy and treasure.
I have so many treasured finds, but still top of my list is a large ceramic swan vase that I stumbled across one Sunday morning at the Balbriggan Market. The juxtaposition of its sheer beauty and the crazy surroundings of this car-boot sale has never been lost on me – it almost felt like poetry in motion. However,
I cannot deny the absolute joy I feel every time I look at two very large V&A display cases, discovered in a salvage yard, that now reside in a shed attached to my house.
I enjoy the randomness of discovery. I like how a wide variety of unexpected treasure can reveal itself to you over time, like secrets shared perhaps? However, with that said, I recently bought a very old and worn-out dark canvas featuring mackerel and lobster from Back to Basics Décor that now hangs in my kitchen.
It joins another canvas so dark and worn that you can hardly discern the dead bird in the mountains – this sounds strange, I know! But I guess I’m on the lookout for a third and smaller canvas to complement these two and then this collection will be complete. But I’m in no rush.
There have been so many purchases or pieces pulled from skips over the years that I have brought home, saying to myself, ‘This will look great repaired/recovered/revamped’, but in reality I have a terribly long finger and am the worst procrastinator, so it’s rare that anything ever gets done.”