Boîte à Trésors Vintage

By Karen Parr-Moody


The world of French antique sales is a small, refined one in which the gilded treasures remind one of the décor of palatial country houses, with their high ceilings and creaking wood floors. The décor of such homes is always spot-on, if a bit ornate.


With her GasLamp booth, Boîte à Trésors, Melanie Bourne McKinney brings that world into a broader focus that helps customers understand how to fit such pieces into American interiors. The booth – which translates to “box of treasures” – is an eclectic hodgepodge of styles. It includes authentic French antiques, rustic and industrial pieces, painted farmhouse-style furniture, and accessories that, while not truly French, possess a French flair.


“I bring in a combination of true antiques, like art from the 1700s and 1800s, and juxtapose that with pieces that might be industrial,” McKinney says. “I like to mix the industrial look in with true antiques.”


This bronze jardinière in the photo, above right, is an Art Nouveau style from the early 1900s that McKinney got through a family member who bought it at a Paris auction. It had hitherto been gracing a French chateau with its three charming putti.


“It’s so unique,” McKinney says of the piece, which she is offering for $1,800. “It was actually at the GasLamp appraisal fair and was appraised at $3,500.”


McKinney’s pulse also quickens at the sight of antique china; such finds, including the other items in her booth, usually date no later than the 1940s.


This china set, photo left, is a 1905 Homer Laughlin set of 118 pieces in a pattern called The Angelus McKinney is currently featuring it at Boîte à Trésors Vintage for $695. It includes many gorgeous serving pieces.  


“I like this particular china,” McKinney says. “I’m a big fan of neutral toned china, the creams and whites with very little detail, because they intermix beautifully. And sometimes it’s difficult to get a big, full set of turn-of-the-century china.”


Another group of beautiful tableware is this selection of milk glass vases, photo right.


“Now that it is spring, I thought this would be a good time for people to buy in bulk and get a collection of them,” she said. “People are cutting flowers, there are weddings and different parties that go on in the spring time.”


Milk glass dates back hundreds of years, to 16th-century Venice. Among this group of milk glass vases are pieces from various modern makers. One is Hoosier Glass, a collectible name in milk glass with items having distinctive pressed and cut patterns. Another is E. O. Brody Company, a Cleveland, Ohio firm known for distributing vases, especially for the floral industry. The third maker is Randall.


McKinney says she grew up among antiques, as both of her grandmothers decorated with them, and she has inherited some pieces.


“Then my husband’s mother was very much influenced by European and French antiques and I learned a lot from her,” she says.  


One example of a beautiful, authentic French antique is this altar crucifix that McKinney currently has on display at Boîte à Trésors Vintage (photo, left). It is originally from Lyon, France. Made of iron and brass, it features two angels kneeling in prayer at the feet of Christ.


Another love McKinney has is for antique and vintage quilts, such as this 1920s one in the “Cabbage Rose” pattern in shades of pink and green (photo, right).


“My mother is a quilter and she is a collector,” McKinney says, noting that this is how she is easily able to identify eras and patterns of quilts. “I just have them in my head. There are a lot of them.”


When not collecting antiques to sell, McKinney is refinishing pieces, such as this French farmhouse table with scalloped edges and a shelf (photo left).


“I specialize in refinishing and repurposing furniture,” she says. “I don’t source it out.”


Not only does she does the faux painting and stressing of such furniture, she also reupholsters her furniture. Additionally, she even decorates for events and parties, including GasLamp’s 2013 anniversary party, “A Downton Abbey Affair.”


McKinney certainly has opened up her love of French antiques into the broad, wild world of American design.




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