Karen's House of Curiosities

Above: Antique French zinc flames with custom bases flank the fireplace mantel

Above: Antique French shop clock

Today I had the pleasure of having lunch with my dear friend and customer, Karen. I had asked Karen some time ago if I could share photos of her fabulous apartment in San Francisco. And yes, she agreed! Karen's home is a labor of love and treasured objects. Hope you enjoy the tour!

{Lynn} Karen, tell me about your love of vintage and antique items.

{Karen} There is not a single object that doesn't have a story behind it or that wasn't purchased from friends or antique shops/flea markets. I've never gone to Macy's to buy a single piece of furniture.

Above: Collection of antique cashier's boxes. The most special is a military box that Karen purchased in London on September 11th right before she heard about the World Trade Center. The crown was part of signage from Bang & Olefsen in Union Square, San Francisco

Above: Natural curiosities under bell jars

Victorian brass butterfly from De Vera in San Francisco

Fabulous one-of-a-kind shell ring by designer, Mesi Jilly

What started your interest in antiques?

My Grandmother and Mother were big time antique collectors in Colorado where I'm from. Mom was on a shoestring budget so she refinished her own furniture to save money.

Karen wanted these (above) vintage French Louis style chairs upholstered in an "Hermes" orange and her decorator custom dyed them three times to get the correct color. Aren't they amazing?

Karen custom made this coffee table from and old casket stand. Her Grandfather was a mortician and so she thought it would be suitable for her abode!

Above: Collection of vintage black & white family photos

Collection of vintage San Francisco bus rollsigns. Karen was kind enough to loan me the 4th one!

When did you start buying your own antiques?

I started with my friend in the 1980's going to local flea markets.

Above: This vintage Italian beaded chandelier was one of Karen's early finds

Karen's bedroom with her prized crown collection

Karen had museum armatures custom made for her antique French crowns

Another antique crown

Above: 19th Century French dress form store display, painted porcelain Virgin Mary from Karen's Grandma, antique sailor's chest from Timeless Treasures in San Francisco

Above: Antique French laurel leaf award wreaths add a touch of whimsy to Karen's bedroom door

What was your first purchase?

A 19th Century map of Paris.

Eiffel Tower Collection and 19th Century Map of Paris

Stacks of books, books and more books! Karen has a huge collection of them.

Above: Marie Antoinette collectible cup from the recent exhibition

Above: World War II English nurse's hat bucket

What are currently some of your favorite finds?

I started collecting anything French, then I got into religious items including crowns and Santos, and now I'm loving Africana and going a little more modern and bold.

Karen's kitchen is her French Provence room filled with assorted antique French enamelware

Above: 1940's French farm magazine (part of a collection)

Karen's dining area which includes fabulous 1940's French Louis-style chairs upholstered in their original white leather, an antique Italian hand painted screen and a vintage beaded ship chandelier

When Karen first spotted one of these early beaded ship chandeliers, she became obsessed with it. Luckily for her, she found one years later in an antique shop. She bought it right away!


a. said…
What a wonderful home! I esp. love Eiffel Tower Collection and crowns, but the vintage beaded ship chandelier is my favorite.
Fabulous blog...I'm adding you to as a favorite link.
You might enjoy my post on Vincent Darre's Paris apt.
Not as clean as this place, it's over the top French but I think you'll love it.
Anonymous said…
Uh Uh Uh!! Nothing but the BEST to expect from this very fab-u-lous lady. What am amazing home! I want those trees now not later!!
breathing in the dreaming world:

Beautiful blog! I just checked it out. Vincent Darre's Paris Apt. is gorgeous. Eclectic and fun. Thanks for letting me know and for visiting my blog! Lynn
Anonymous said…
Love this, so many wonderful things! I have long coveted crystal ship chandeliers.Lovely.

I made a marble top table from an antique casket stand like the one shown. In a far corner of the house until my boys are past the age when they will get a concussion from rough -housing around it!
Mélanie said…
My dreamed and perfect home ! I love her french crowns diplay !!
Sarah's Fab Day said…
gorgeous, thanks for sharing!
niartist said…
What a beautiful home, and such wonderful photos! I am new to your blog, found you through google searching for pictures of Karen Walkers apartment on Will & Grace! LOL! Anyway, love the blog - going to check out more!
Niartist, what a funny way to stumble upon my blog! Thanks for visiting and for your comments!

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