While history for some remains long in the past, our history with the gorgeous and grand location for our Spring Collection shoot plays a very real part in our present. Bellevue, once the home of Colonel John Bowman and his family and built in 1784, now houses a selection of one of the largest (and most beautiful, we think) collections of fine English and Continental antiques in the nation.
Jayne Thompson Antiques has filled the historic home with everything from 18th-century English oak farm tables to museum-quality porcelain, all with an expertise and eye that comes with over 40 years in the design field. Jayne Thompson, who founded the company in 1990, also happens to be the mother of one of our dearest and oldest childhood friends, Lori Thompson Finke, who now works alongside her mother in the antiques and design business.
Both in the showrooms and at many prestigious exhibitions around the country (including upcoming shows in Charleston, Chicago, and New York) clients may see the variety and quality of their furnishings, as well as enjoy the full range of Thompson's service offerings. In addition to their impressive furniture, accessories, and lighting from the 17th to the 19th centuries, Jayne Thompson antiques provides their internationally-based clients with sourcing, restoration and repair, custom reproduction, and interior and lighting design services.
Lori, her husband Mark, and Jayne work in tandem to provide the most complete and dedicated experience to their clients--and though they are based in the beautiful rolling hills of the Bluegrass, their skills reach far and wide--globally, really. And Lori has learned first hand from the path her mother forged how to manage a wildly successful business that has one foot in the future, with one anchored firmly in the past.
This is where the history of my friendship with Lori gets interesting: Though each of us tells the story differently, the one thing on which we agree is that our teachers throughout school (as we found out much later) referred to us as "nitro and glycerine" and refused to invite the chaos and destruction that might occur should the two of us be seated together. I'd like to think we were just creative and imaginative learners, but even in college when we were adult enough to be studying abroad in Paris (through my beloved alma mater Hollins University), our architecture professor finally said "Non!" to our side-by-side desk seating. Yes, we were in our twenties. No, it did not sound better in French.
[On the Champs-Elysees in Paris, December 1998]
We had many an adventure growing up: being kicked off soccer teams (her father was the coach--and, yes, Lori still blames me for the incident), dressing up as fruit for Halloween (a photo that will not be shown on this blog for obvious reasons), biking through the Kentucky countryside (even rescuing a dog on one trip), sleepovers nearly every Friday night (thank you, Thompson family, for feeding me almost every weekend from ages 8 to 17...and full disclosure, must also say a giant thanks to the Liebschutz crew, who also provided a second home and lots of snacks for yours truly between grades 6 and 12), a misplaced Eurail Pass in Italy (yes, Lori still blames me for that incident as well), a tiny but fantastic apartment near the East Village (mice and all!), and engagements, weddings, and now children (she has two boys, I have two girls)...and the whole wonderful history that still plays out every day between us. Mostly on Google Chat these days, unfortunately.
But back to the antiques...we used to play "business" growing up. All the time. Pens, notepads, catalogs, calculators...you know, all the essentials for entrepreneurial pursuits. And what is amazing is that we're both growing businesses today, some 25 years later. Our histories have caught up with us, and as we arranged flowers, placed jewelry, and orchestrated models in the breathtakingly spectacular rooms of her family's antiques and design shop during our respective photo shoots a few months ago, I couldn't help but smile at the wonder of it all. So much history all around us. And between us. And so much fun in store.
(You didn't think we'd miss a chance to interview one of our best friends, did you? We may have played pretend-business, but this was the real deal--enjoy!)
Emily Maynard/Elva Fields: You grew up in a home filled with antiques and finds from far-flung places...what is your fondest memory of one such an object from your childhood?
Lori Thompson Finke/Jayne Thompson Antiques: As the child of an antique dealer my house was always changing. One afternoon my Mom called from work and informed my brother and I we had 10 minutes to clean out the 18th century English moulded front chest we stored our board games in. She had just sold the chest. Luckily we were able to dig out all the Monopoly pieces before she came to pick it up.
EM/EF: You're amazing at helping clients select the perfect pieces for their interiors...but we'd love to see how you'd adorn your own spot...what would make you happiest on your desk?
LTF/JTA: My desk itself. I use a 19th-century French trestle farm table as my desk. I love the color of the wood and the trestle is a great spot to kick my feet up on. I am a true believer that antique furniture was built to last and to be used.
EM/EF: How many shows do you participate in each year?
LTF/JTA: Hmmm…next year we are doing 10 shows, from Houston to San Fran to New York, we get around….
EM/EF: Most interesting client request?
LTF/JTA: We played Santa for one of our clients one year. We helped pick the gift out for the husband (an antique US Flag from when Wisconsin became a state) from the wife and for the wife (a lovely fox fur throw) from the husband. It was fun keeping it secret from them both. It was, however, hectic to coordinate two secret deliveries.
EM/EF: Funniest tale from a show or installation?
LTF/JTA: This is a very hard question because there are so many things that happen. To me the most amusing part of the business are the characters that work in our industry and some of the people we see at the shows. I often say that if Christopher Guest, the creator of the mockumentary movies like “Best in Show” or “Waiting for Guffman” wanted material for a new movie, he should join the antique show circuit.
EM/EF: Antiques show with the best people-watching?
LTF/JTA: Oh, they are all great. In Houston there is usually an event where all the ladies dress in vintage clothing. They take it very seriously and come dressed head to toe.
EM/EF: Working with your husband and your mother must provide an interesting dynamic...what quality/strength do you each bring to the business that makes JTA so successful?
LTF/JTA: Yeah, this baffles most people how we can work together.
*Nice diplomacy, Lori.
EM/EF: Little known fact about Bellevue?
LTF/JTA: The house was built in the 1770’s by the first military governor of Kentucky. We still have some of the original buildings on site, one of which is an outhouse with three seats….not sure how that worked, but it is unusual.
EM/EF: After living and traveling here and there (NYC, Paris, London, etc.)...what is the best thing about living in Kentucky? Career location aside, what makes it a great fit for you?
LTF/JTA: Family and UK basketball. Mark and I could not do the jobs we have without the support of both sets of our parents. They usually watch our two boys when we are out of town for the shows. It makes it easier to leave them when I know they are being spoiled rotten. Also I was raised to be and have always been a big University of Kentucky fan. It is great being back in the homeland where people understand this side of me.
EM/EF: Do you have a favorite room at the shop? Favorite season as a setting for the shop?
LTF/JTA: I love the land and the farm the shop is located on. We are in the middle of 700+ acre farm, surrounded by cows and wonderful old trees. I love it when clients come for lunch and we take the farm table and Windsor chairs outside and dine under the trees.
EM/EF: What is your advice for someone just starting to fill their home with non-IKEA/hand-me-down furniture? Where does one begin to invest in key pieces for the long-run?
LTF/JTA: It kills me what people spend on brand new furniture. It is just like a new car, once you take it home it goes down in value greatly. I try and advise young people to invest in one good piece a year. Buy the best piece you can afford at the time. If you take your time and buy quality pieces, it won’t take very long to develop your collection. It is amazing how one great piece can carry a room and make it look ten times better than a room filled with several mediocre pieces. Also antiques are the “Green”est type of furniture, they are recycling at its finest.
EM/EF: Between work and family, what do you do for some down time...for yourself?
LTF/JTA: I try to find time to exercise in a group class. I need the social outlet. I also am very excited about my sister’s bachelorette party in Vegas in April.
EM/EF: Since you are there a few times each year (and as a nod to our time in Manhattan!), what is your favorite restaurant in New York?
LTF/JTA: I am a huge La Rosa Mexicana fan. When I first started going there was only one location in NY on the Upper East Side, now there are numerous. I love the Lincoln Center location designed by David Rockwell. They have the BEST pomegranate margaritas and guacamole.
EM/EF: Now let's talk fashion...what's your go-to get-up for shows--how do you manage equal parts comfort and class as you're on your feet all day surrounded by priceless works of art?
LTF/JTA: It is hard to get dressed to work a show. Being 33, I am one of the youngest dealers in the industry. I want to find something stylish, not too flashy, and that lets me move easily. I never know when I will have to help flip a chest of drawers or a chair for someone to inspect. My favorite show outfit is a Theory dress and Cole Haan Nike Air heels. I always dress my outfits up with Elva Fields necklaces, they make me feel unique.
EM/EF: Do you have a favorite place to shop?
EM/EF: We both work with objects that have incredible history to them...what period or place in time (style-wise) strikes your fancy?
LTF/JTA: My favorite style/period of furniture that I work with is the early oak from the 17th and 18th century. I love the simplicity and functionality of the pieces. We use a 17th century drop leaf table as my family’s breakfast table and recently bought a French farm table for our dining room. I think this period of furniture mixes very well with any style of décor or art.
EM/EF: Last question...know you are busy...when are you coming to visit? I miss you!
LTF/JTA: We could come this weekend or anytime this month, you let me know what works.
EM/EF: Can't wait!