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Living with Antiques: into the Outdoors

Living with Antiques: into the OutdoorsBertoia Chairs
Photo courtesy of Design Within Reach

Garden furniture is abloom, and now is the time to spruce up your patio by plucking fresh, exciting decorations from the vine or by completely redoing your outdoor living space with everything new.

Well, maybe not new.
Instead of grabbing the latest oversized wicker sofa set or chaise lounge from your favorite department store, go retro and style your outdoor retreat in vintage trimmings. In fact, a trip to Marsh Garden Décor can get your creative juices flowing.
“I stock from all over. It’s not just one type of look,” says owner Marshall Lee. “I have an eclectic mix. I try to carry items that you don’t see, that are rare.”

Living with Antiques: into the OutdoorsWrought iron park bench, circa 1920, at Marsh Garden Décor.
Jeffery Johnston photograph

Providing fine art for the outdoors is the mission at Marsh. What can you find here? A hand-carved, English stone bench more than a century old that comes with a price tag of $35,000; an Italian tole hall lantern painted to resemble verdigris copper, circa 1920; an Indian wooden window frame with doors converted into a mirror complete with its original metal hardware intact; and a pair of 1860s handmade English wirework chairs. (Lee notes how rare it is find two in good condition).

Material Matters
Lee is quick to note that the first thing to consider when choosing furnishings for your outdoor retreat is the material. Wood doesn’t hold up in Southern humidity nor does wicker, which deteriorates over time and is better suited for indoors and covered patios. Metal is the best substance for outdoor furniture based on the climate, he says.

Living with Antiques: into the OutdoorsA chaise lounge by Richard Schultz.

Iron patio furniture is classically New Orleans. Metal chairs, benches and outdoor tables are staples when it comes to styling porches and patios from French Quarter courtyards to suburban decks. Lee says wrought iron patio offerings by makers such as Woodard and Salterini—still popular 50 years after their heyday—are strong sellers in the New Orleans market with most choosing them for their durability.

Vic Loisel agrees, adding that iron tables and seats go quickly at Neophobia, the funky, retro furnishing and décor store he co-owns with Amanda Frank.

“You need something that can stand up to the weather down here,” Loisel says.
Loisel’s favorite furniture line is Knoll International, with Richard Schultz as the designer.

What about rust on furniture? “Many furniture buyers favor a certain degree of rust on patio furniture, as it gives the piece character and charm,” Lee says. But if a piece of furniture is too rusted, there is a surface finishing technique known as powder coating that gives metal objects a smooth, shiny or matte finish.

more for the garden
No outdoor space is complete without patio accessories like fountains, statuary, oversized planters or turret finials. Marsh offers a wide array of statues from tabletop to monumental in size, antique garden tools and staddle stones, once functional items in the 19th century United Kingdom used to elevate crops out of the reach of mice and other vermin. Today, staddle stones—which are also referred to as mushroom stones—garnish gardens and decks.

Living with Antiques: into the OutdoorsStone pieces for the garden.
Jeffery Johnston photographs

There are such great pieces out there—whether you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind vintage urn, a dramatic architectural focal point, a piece of furniture for an intimate sitting area or a soothing fountain—there’s something for any outdoor space.

Living with Antiques: into the OutdoorsAn Italian stone garden seat, circa 1870. Items from Marsh Garden Décor.
Jeffery Johnston photographs

Spring Trends: Outdoor fireplaces—and bars—are in The “in” thing
this season is transforming your outdoor space into an elaborate kitchen and entertainment center.

According to the 2006 American Institute of Architects Home Design Trends Survey, nearly two-thirds of architects reported an increase in the demand for outdoor kitchens, decks and patios compared to one year ago.

Living with Antiques: into the OutdoorsLighting units, gas grills, mosquito eliminators, outdoor fireplaces or pits and patio heaters are the most popular amenities homeowners plan to add to their outdoors space in 2007, according to a survey by the Propane Education and Research Council.

Vic Loisel of Neophobia says outdoor bars are all the rage locally, and points out how choosing the right material for outdoor furniture here is paramount.

“It needs to be pretty weather resistant in order for it to work down here,” Loisel says.

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