There are some antique pieces that I've come across, true antiques, that I likely will never part with because a) it will be too costly to purchase another one and b) I may not find another one exactly like it. This is always the dilemma with antique pieces. If you walk away it might not be there when you go back.
I found one of my favorite pieces, a butler desk, at an antique shop in Townsend, Massachusetts and immediately fell in love with the style, the wood inlay, and like a child, all the hidden compartments. A butlers desk would have been used in a wealthy household for just what it sounds like, the butler. The top drawer, of mostly graduated drawers, would open to reveal a desk with many small drawers, pigeon holes and compartments. My piece is from New York State from the late 19th century.
When I saw the piece I immediately called my top antique resource, my mother, and asked her if she thought I should buy it since I didn't have a spot for it. Her response was to grab it right away. That was about four years ago. A week ago, when my mother was visiting, I went to the desk to retrieve something and we began looking at all the compartments and drawers. My mother picked up a pencil and started to jiggle what I thought was part of the molding. She pulled the piece out to reveal a hidden file drawer, then a second and then a third. I was flabbergasted because I consider myself kind of a detective when it comes to the details of an antique piece.
We did not find a precious document or any other treasure but what it did confirm for me is how special these antique pieces are. How lucky that after 150 years I am able to keep this history going by preserving this piece. I'm able to share a story to someone younger who might appreciate the craftsmanship, appreciate the fact that this desk has been in many hands and its still beautiful and useful.
When I'm pulling together a room I probably don't follow the rules correctly (I'm not a designer so this would make sense) but I usually start with the piece I love which is always an oversized antique piece.
My room design always incorporates vintage and new pieces. If you're shopping make sure you're buying quality antique pieces and if you follow this rule the piece will never get "old". The butlers desk was purchased from a shop in Townsend, Massachusetts called My Husband and I Antiques. They have a mix of cased pieces layered with unusual smalls and always lots of large shells. A beautiful mix.