“Don’t Call it Brown,” Furniture Makes a Comeback

Offered by Bettianne SweeneyWhile convention may have it that American furniture isn’t the hot item it used to be, dealers at the premiere of Antiques in Charlottesville January 22-24 reported a high volume of furniture sales.

“If I had one word for what moved out the doors of the Holiday Inn last weekend it would be mahogany,” said Jay Melrose, partner in The Antique Show, formerly Melrose & Duddy. “We’ll be watching this closely to see if it’s a local phenomenon or the beginnings of a trend.”

Carroll and David Swope of Canton, Ohio were dealers who had the good fortune of selling furniture at the Charlottesville show. There was one less piece, a walnut Pembroke table, to load in the truck Sunday night.

Bettianne Sweeney of Williamsburg, Virginia says she is pleased with three significant sales of furniture at Antiques in Charlottesville. Sweeney went home without a red step-back cupboard, a circa 1790s Queen Anne Chair with a Spanish foot and a blanket chest with original finish.

“I keep hearing that furniture isn’t selling, but I was pleased,” Sweeney says. “I’d say furniture sales are picking up.”

Susdan Van der Veer Antiques of Toledo, OH offered this Empire Celarette
Susan Van der Veer of Toledo, Ohio offered this classical celarette at Antiques in Charlottesville

Cilley, who sells furniture almost exclusively, says it bothers him to hear people in the industry refer to it as “brown furniture.” “It’s all individual; it’s hand-made,” Cilley says. “It doesn’t help to lump it all together in a big, brown and bland category.”

Cilley blames the recession for most of the decline in furniture sales, however and agrees sales are picking up.

“People are suffering from frugal-fatigue,” Cilley says. “They want to get out and buy something. We saw that in Charlottesville. They’re sticking their toe back in the market waters.”

About Eric Miller

Eric Miller is co-founder and contributor to Urban Art & Antiques. His website is ericmiller.me

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