From first-time home buyers just starting out to established homes, one popular way to decorate is with antiques.
In Grayson County, there are a wide array of antique stores. In downtown Sherman, one sits on the corner, keeping a watchful eye on the city’s history as people look to add a piece of that history to their own homes.
Ivert and Jeanette Mayhugh, owners of A Touch of Class Antique Mall, said when it comes to decorating a home with antique or vintage items there are a number of factors to consider. Ivert Mayhugh said one recent trend has been to move away from the previously popular Victorian Era towards the art-deco period of the early twentieth century. Art-deco is gaining popularity with young people who are often looking for simpler things and aren’t looking for too much clutter.
Age is a factor in determining which eras an individual might consider purchasing. For example, Mayhugh said they sell a large variety of old clocks in his store. Younger shoppers tend to be less interested in elaborate clocks than older generations. He said like most things, people tend to be looking for items that remind them of their childhood — either things they saw in their own homes growing up, or often times familiar items of their grandparents.
A lot of the furniture found in antique shops tends to be along the lines of stuff that was made by an artisan, usually handcrafted, sometimes out of recycled wood taken from old buildings. Mayhugh showed one particular piece that used doors from an old building in Mexico that had been turned into a wine rack. He said those types of items tend to be centerpieces for someone looking to draw attention to their home.
“It’s been a few years now since Victorian has been really popular,” Mayhugh said. “Now they’ve kind of moved up into the early mid-twentieth century. You see more art-deco. Even in the 1950s, you saw a lot of these kitchen tables that were metal on top that had chrome leg chairs. People go out of their way looking for those things.”
Mayhugh said everyone is looking for something different. Some people shop an antique store looking for collectibles like stamps or coins, others are looking to decorate their homes. The latter, he said, tend to fall into two camps: young people starting out are often looking for lower priced items that have a vintage look reminiscent of their grandparents, while the older generation (with more resources) tend to be looking for a centerpiece that can be a focal point of a room or a status symbol.
Metal art is also popular now, and metal toys are more popular with collectors than old wooden toys. Chandeliers tend to be a popular item with people looking to make a room look more classy. Jeanette said they keep the chandelier lights on so people driving by outside downtown Sherman can see them from the street.
“What we like to brag about most, I think, is that when you get in antique furniture from yesteryear most of it is genuine wood,” Mayhugh said. “You don’t have this particle board kind of stuff covered with some kind of piece of plastic that looks like wood.”
When it comes to pieces that work as a status symbol, Mayhugh said there are many one-of-a-kind pieces that feature wood carvings by artisans. Others times it can be a vintage piece or a piece from a particular era, like pre-Civil War, for example. He talked about a wine rack made out of wood recycled from a door taken from an old building in Mexico. He said a wine rack can be constructed with modern materials for less money. The story behind the materials and the work the artisan puts into the piece has to be taken into consideration. This is especially the case, he said, with stained glass. Often the cost of the materials, the work and the craft itself exceed what an artisan can sell the piece for.
“We all lean towards the things we can remember ourselves,” Mayhugh said. “It is why people like myself, we go back to the beginning of the 1930s, we have different tastes. We were pre-WWII. I remember well what was at the house where I grew up, where my family lived. We have some of those pieces here now.”
Mayhugh said there are distinctions in the industry between what is classified as “antique” and what is considered “vintage.” While his store is called an antique mall, they tend to sell a lot of items he said are considered “vintage.” The industry standard definition of antique is 100 years old or more. However, there are pieces in the store that are older than that.
Mayhugh has some old furniture from the 1870s he likes to show, stating that furniture from before 1880 tends to be lacking in drawers. The reason is the dovetails in the drawers. Before that time, the machinery didn’t exist to mass produce furniture with drawers of consistent quality. Once the technology caught up drawers then became more common place. He also showed a steel kitchen piece that was full of drawers and included a wide range of different little features to demonstrate the differences in the periods.
“We’re Touch of Class Antique Mall, but we’re kind of the department store of antiques and collectibles,” Mayhugh said, noting that their variety is more like a department store, versus simply being a furniture store. “We have a large building but we have such a vast array (and) a vast collection of things to choose from. We try purposefully to display things scattered throughout the store that are of interest to both young people as well as (older) people.”
Mayhugh said he tries to research dealers ahead of time to ensure their products fit the market.
“I think laying out an antique store is kind of like an artist pallet. You’ve got to control where things go, but you have to do it in a way that is pleasing,” he said. “I want it to look like one giant home. When you walk in, everything is open as you walk around. Sometimes in a new home, an old piece that is 100 or 200 years old makes a great focal point. In other cases you may have a home that already has a lot of old things in it and you want something newer. It’s a mixed bag. It’s like artists; they create what they like. That is why I tell people we’re like the department store of antiques. We have such a vast variety.”
Mirrors are one of the more popular items. One mirror in particular that can fetch a high profit is known as a “pier mirror.” There are different varieties, but the shop has one on the top floor that stands over seven feet tall.
Ivert said for the most part, the local market tends to follow national trends. He said there are many people who come from the Dallas area that are looking for items they can’t tend to find down there. Right now vinyl records are also making a comeback and attracting a host of collectors of all ages. Jeanette Mayhugh said a lot of record collectors don’t even own record players, they just like to collect the records.
Ivert Mayhugh said their more expensive items can come from different areas, from old furniture to rare collectibles, depending on the period and the collector. However, furniture tends to be pricier than most other items. He said one of the most expensive items in the store is a dining room set that includes a table, chairs and hutch that they are asking over $24,000 for. Jeannette said they have had offers to break up the set, but she doesn’t want to do that. The set dates back to the 1700s and features elaborate carvings in the wood.
Ivert said there are people who really care about period, while there are more who just want something that looks similar to what they are looking for. Jeanette said a lot of times customers will bring in a picture of what they are seeking. Not all items that have a Victorian or Art-Deco look, for example, are authentic of the period. Ivert said there are a lot of reproductions out there. However, some people want the aesthetic but aren’t necessarily concerned with authenticity. Other collectors do want original pieces, but it all depends on the individual.