Architectural Antiques and the Mystery of the Old Crate


One of the things that we love about antiques is that each nick tells the story of the people who owned it before. When we're lucky enough, the previous owners leave a piece of themselves in the form of handwriting; however, the printed qualities can tell a lot about the time period from which it came too. This crate is a smorgasbord of typefaces with each one containing its own unique story. On this single crate, four different categories of typefaces can be identified: sans serif, script, stenciled serif, and slab serif. Before we dive in, let's go over the definition of each of the terms.

A serif is the line attached to the end of a letter's stroke. We like to think of them as the feet. The stenciled in numbers on the side of the crate as well as the "W.&A. GILBEY" are both examples of a serif typeface. However, they are different types of a serif with different histories. Stenciled type was used in the early 19th century by a small group of English engineers and surveyors to label their technical drawings before becoming more commonly used in the 20th century

The "W.&A. GILBEY" belongs in a subcategory of a serif known as a slab serif. This means that the serif has sharper corners and doesn't transition smoothly into the letter stroke as a regular serif does. The variation of this particular slab serif was designed in the mid-1800s. It's popularity died down in the 1920s until a revival in the 1950s.

Since the type that says "TEN YEARS OLD" doesn't have any serifs (or feet) attached to the letters, it's a san serif. The san serif typeface reached popularity in the early 1900s and reached its peak in the 1920s and 30s. The clarity and legibility from a distance made it popular for display uses.

Lastly, "They Royal" is an example of a script. More specifically, it's an example of a Spenserian script similar to the iconic Coca Cola and Ford logos. Spencerian was the standard cursive script taught in schools from the 1860s to 1920s and was common during this time period.

 Knowing the history of these typefaces can help pinpoint a time period from when the crate, or at the very least the type stamp on the crate, was designed. Taking all of these histories into consideration, a clearer image of the time frame comes to shape. At the very earliest, the stenciled type and script indicate mid-1800s, while the revival of the slab serif suggests 1950s at the latest. Once all of the overlapping time periods are considered, the time frame is narrowed down to the early 1900s.

Now let's compare our estimation with actual facts. W.&A. Gilbey was founded in 1857, which corresponds with the script and stencil. The company gained its stride and started expanding their wares as well as acquiring other businesses in the early 1900s. W.&A. Gilbey merged with United Wine Traders Ltd in 1962 and then changed owners 1972. The detective work was pretty spot on, don't you think?


A Letter from Arch Antiques' Summer Intern


If you follow Architectural Antiques, you've probably noticed that our blog sprang to life this summer. That would be because of me; Hi! I'm Beka Barski, the store's summer intern.

A little background on me: I'm a student at the University of Minnesota, studying interior design. Since I'm currently obsessed with modern rustic style, I'm always finding excuses to mix the "old" with the "new" (as you can see from my previous blog post topics). This obsession is what initially drew me to Arch Antiques. The store is jam-packed with countless antique treasures that can be paired wonderfully with modern pieces. 

Since that first day when I stared at the sheer quantity of antiques in awe, I have learned so much about the style, history, and importance of almost every one of them. It wasn't difficult either - you tend to get attached to certain pieces, and caught up in the nostalgia of it all.

As a result, I now find myself analyzing all interior decor I come across ("That pendant is so art deco. It might be a reproduction, but if not then it's circa 1920"). Even though I don't need all that information when I'm in a coffee shop or a library, I know it'll come in handy when I'm designing for studio projects, and eventually for clients.

I'm so lucky to have gained such knowledge and experience from my internship, and will miss being surrounded by beautiful antiques as I write blog posts or edit product photos. That being said, I feel as if I have no choice but to tribute my last post to my favorite antiques. Here are the pieces that have stolen my heart this summer:


Making an Entrance

The entrance of a home is your best opportunity to communicate your personality and style. It is the first part of your house that visitors will see, and therefore makes an important statement.

This is why the entrance door that you choose should speak to you as a homeowner. Are you open with your day-to-day activities, and wouldn't mind having more glass than solid material? Or do you like your privacy, and prefer as little glass as possible? Maybe you have a dramatic side, and find the prospect of a double-door entrance exciting. 

No matter who you are, there is an entrance door for you. Follow this guide to find the type of door that fits you and your home perfectly.


The Admired Stoop


This quartersawn entry should open into a home with formal introductions, followed by a cocktail party. The solid wood door demands respect and admiration, while the prairie style sidelights add color, transparency and interest. This entrance is for the proper entertainer; someone who wants neighbors to wonder what event they're hosting while preserving their privacy.


The Whimsical Port


This oak entry door expresses unique creativity through its stained glass, glass jewels, and intricate carvings. The owner of this door would have a sense of wonder about the world, and perhaps an art studio in some corner of their home. They would also look forward to seeing their visitors' faces framed by the gorgeous colors that outline the door's arched window, as well as the time of day when the sun would stream through the glass and casts the colors onto their walls.



The Dramatic Double Doors


The owner of this entrance door set would simply have to open both doors at once when greeting visitors. The detailed woodwork and beveled glass would catch the eye of anyone walking past this home, which is exactly the attention that the homeowner would expect. Additionally, the low windows would connect the outdoors with the indoors, allowing those inside to experience the excitement of the outside world from the comfort of the home.


The Open Door


This primarily glass front door belongs in a house set into the woods, where most visitors are expected, and privacy isn't a concern. The owner of this home would be a free spirit, living their life without worry of the outside world. Their home would be a retreat from the everyday hustle and bustle, bringing ease through natural surroundings.


Minimalist Color Schemes


In today's design field, less is more. Designers are opting for modest styles, cleaner lines, and fewer distracting decorations. Throughout this trend to simplify interior spaces, designers have also pared down on the number of colors they implement. Most commonly, this means that the color palette includes tints and tones of two or three colors, with occasional accents of another color.

This type of color scheme was recently used by LDK First Impressions, in a kitchen featuring our art deco pendants. The space primarily consists of black, white, and grey, with brown accents. The effect is a simple, yet cozy space for cooking and entertaining.

Photos courtesy of Jean Milton

Photos courtesy of Jean Milton


This kitchen is also an excellent example of how antiques can be integrated into modern designs. The pendants fit the color scheme, while their detailing mirrors the fun, patterned back splash.

As a tribute to the minimalist color scheme, we chose three of our light fixtures to serve as inspiration for three different color palettes. We then designed blank rooms, using these light fixtures and our antiques to create unique spaces. Keep reading to see the results!



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This little scene could be anything from an urban living area to quaint cafe seating. We pulled colors from our Sixties Rondure Fixtures, coming up with white and grey. While we love the monochromatic tones of our Soap Factory Industrial Pallet and Midcentury Stool, we felt that pops of greenery were necessary to give the space some life. 




This traditional living room was inspired by our Six-Light Brass and Iron Gothic Chandelier, with its black and yellow form. Our Cast Iron Mantel visually connects the ceiling to the floor with the continuation of black iron. In the corner, our Decorative Privacy Screen brings the black and yellow together, while also making the yellow more prominent. The white Cast Iron Chair Set acts as an accent to the color scheme, offering a contrast to the rest of the pieces.




The range of browns, tans, and whites seen in this study space are brought together by the hues in our Brass Sputnik Light. We would imagine this space belonging to a student who resides in a loft, with our Oak Desk and Oak Ladder Back Chair creating the perfect place to take notes, and our Burden Basket acting as aesthetically pleasing and convenient storage. The room is further embellished by our I.P. Frink Illuminated Mirror, and artwork such as our Hand Painted Advertising Window. Each of these pieces coordinates with the color scheme, while introducing its own particular tint or tone through their antique qualities.


Creating Dynamic Duos with Antiques


Even when antiques are grouped together by style, it's not always clear which pieces would pair well together. Interior styles contain many nuances, causing distinct differences between items of the same style. For example, these two chandeliers are considered to be art deco, and yet would not be seen within the same space.

To pair antiques within our store, we start by finding pieces similar in material, line, shape, and color (or just go with our gut!). Below are some examples of our favorite antique combinations according to style.


There are many factors that make these chandeliers and mahogany bar a match made in heaven. The most obvious is the vertical line that is seen in the rods suspending the chandeliers, and in the glass rods built into the bar. This repetition of line creates a visual connection between the two pieces, forcing the eye to travel from the ceiling to the back of the bar. Additionally, the horizontal curves in the bar top and chandelier bowls intersect the vertical lines, introducing variety to the scene. Lastly, the metal structure of the chandeliers reflect hints of the mahogany tones found in the bar.

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Shape plays the biggest role in the harmony of these two pieces. The prominent circles and curved shapes within the window are reflected by the circular base of the Tudor sconce, making it an extension of the window's design. The sconce and window are further tied together by their single, strong horizontal lines and pastel yellows.


The colors and symmetry of these two windows truly make them shine as a pair. While the size of the arched window would make it a clear focal point in any space, the smaller rectangular window would accent and emphasize its bright yellow, purple, and blue hues. The windows also showcase similar curved shapes that are indicative of classic Victorian style.


These industrial style antiques complement each other because of their opposite materiality. The reflective surface of the pendant balances the visually rough wood and metal of the table, therefore creating interest through opposing textures. In terms of similarities, the horizontal bar that connects the two lights mimics the long horizontal lines of the table, further harmonizing the two pieces.


These arts and crafts lights are one example of identical pieces within a specific style. The shades on each fixture exhibit the same material, shape, and color, making these antiques an undeniable match. In instances like this, the most important design decision will be where to place the fixtures in relation to one another. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that both pieces are visible from most vantage points. For example, if this chandelier were centered over a dining table, the sconces should be installed on the walls adjacent to the table. This way, your conscious lighting choice will be acknowledged.  

Architectural Antique's Gothic Arts & Crafts Sconce with Leaded Glass Shades

Architectural Antique's Gothic Arts & Crafts Sconce with Leaded Glass Shades


Integrating Stained Glass Into Interiors


Stained glass began bringing color and light to interior spaces in 7th century AD, and continues to inspire designs to this day. Regardless of interior style, it has been repeatedly used as a focal point, or as a complement to its surrounding decor.

Integrating stained glass into interiors doesn't have to be challenging, but it often appears that way. There is the daunting task of finding a piece that works with your desired color scheme, and of course deciding on a location where the piece will shine – literally and figuratively.

In order to aid you in your stained glass design journey, we have found spaces that effectively added visual interest through stained glass. Check out these three vignettes that prove that any design can benefit from stained glass.



The office of TreHus, an architecture and interior design firm, shows how a stained glass window allows a craftsman-inspired space to stay true to its style, while adding interest and function. The green tones in the window complement the cherry wood used throughout the space, while also adding depth to the neutral color palette. Additionally, the window allows sightlines between the conference room and lobby, without compromising privacy.



This stairwell combines traditional architecture with a modern color scheme and materials. The gold and muted mint stained glass windows reinforce the traditional architecture, as well as repeating the colors in the flooring and the white trim. This particular integration of stained glass subtly ties together the differing aspects of the design, while still letting light into the space.



This modern, minimalistic home was once a church. Instead of removing the stained glass windows that appear throughout the structure, Linc Thelen Design designed around them, creating awe-inspiring vignettes. The color scheme for the home reflects the golds and greens seen in the consistent style of the stained glass windows. Their ornate designs, vibrant colors, and bold scale do not detract from the simplicity of the home, but rather add warmth and variation.


Browse our windows page to find stained glass windows for your space!


Designing with Architectural Antiques


Even if you're a visual person, it can still be difficult to envision what designing with antiques would look like, especially within a more modern setting. That's why we have created three styled vignettes to demonstrate how antiques can be incorporated in a fresh, aesthetically pleasing way. Take a look below to get inspiration for your next design!


A Rustic Romantic Nook

We would imagine these elements to be a part of a quintessential breakfast nook, or a small eating area off of a kitchen. The industrial base table and oak benches perfectly balance the light distressed shiplap and white french doors. While the contrast of those elements makes the space seem more rustic-industrial, the ornate French chandelier adds a softer touch, acting as a romantic focal point by introducing curvilinear lines to the space. This type of interior style is perfect for those who want to combine modern, traditional, and rustic design.


A Bohemian Living Space

This eclectic room mixes metals, neutrals, and natural elements to create a cozy place to relax or entertain. Purely functional pieces, such as the chrome and leather chairs, provide context for the space's purpose. On the other hand, pieces such as the rustic work bench and library ladder add to the space's aesthetic appeal while also serving as storage or display. The combination of these antiques would appeal to those who want a relaxed, yet trendy living area.


A Retro Bathroom

If you're obsessed with color and pattern, then maybe you should go this retro route. Every element adds flair and character as only antiques can, while still appealing to modern design trends. The clean lines of the sink beautifully balance the ornamentation of the tub and globe pendant, and the fun faucet handles add a classic touch.


Browse our product page for more antiques for your space!


Break Away from Uniformity with Curved Lines


It is easy for interior architecture to appear boxy, since most structural or built-in elements are inherently geometric. While this is deliberate in certain interior styles, such as traditional colonial or contemporary design, it can become underwhelming in other instances. 

A simple way to avoid uniformity and add variation to an otherwise geometric space is through incorporating curved lines. Elements with curved lines introduce a sense of elegance and comfort, in addition to creating visual interest. 

Since there are countless ways to integrate curved lines into a space, we turned to current designers for inspiration. Here are three ways that Marcus Mohon Interiors used curved lines in their Southern Living Idea House to create a cozy retreat.


1. The Grand Window

This large curved window acts as an interesting focal point for the living space, as well as a relief from the room's geometric lines. Additionally, the linear mullions within the window tie back into the geometric shapes of the furniture, therefore combining curved and straight lines. 


Looking for that Oak Grill Chair in the corner? We have four!

2. The Curved Portal

Installing a curved doorway instead of a traditional one makes this formal dining space more whimsical and welcoming. Not only does this door let in plenty of natural light, but it also softens the linear beams on the ceiling with its arch. 


3. The Playful Pendant

These curved industrial pendants are the perfect compliment to this tall and narrow laundry station. They delineate the path through the space, and draw the eye up to the dynamic ceiling. Even though they are small in proportion to the space, their shape reflects the other small curves in the woodwork, further harmonizing the room.


Browse our product page for more antiques with curved lines to diversify your space!


How to Find The Right Hanging Height For Your Chandelier


Finding the "right" chandelier for your dining room, kitchen, or living room can be a daunting, time-consuming (but fun!) process. With all the options out there; the different styles, materials, designs, colors... how do you choose?! Well, the first step is to stop by Architectural Antiques in Northeast Minneapolis and have a look through our extensive collection of antique chandeliers and lighting fixtures until, eventually, you find that perfect match for your industrial kitchen or for your Victorian dining room.  

Once you have your unique, one-of-a-kind chandelier from Architectural Antiques, you realize that you do not know exactly where to hang it. How high is too high? How low is too low? Does it depend on the size or the style of the chandelier? All you want is to just get your new fixture properly installed and hanging up as soon as possible so that all of your friends can come over and gawk at your amazing interior design skills.

Don't fret, finding the proper hanging height for your chandelier can be easier than you think, especially if you follow the simple guidelines and suggestions shown in the diagram below, for where to hang your chandelier above your dining room or kitchen table.


Further examples using various lighting pieces currently in our store:

These candle-style chandeliers are great examples of chandeliers that should not be placed too close to the ceiling, as it might look strange from an aesthetic standpoint, and could also be a potential fire hazard. These chandeliers, and ones similar to them, may serve better being hung lower and closer to the table's surface anyways, as their lights are facing up, instead of down towards the table, and therefore can better illuminate the space if hung lower.


These smaller chandeliers are great examples of lighting fixtures that should be hung lower and closer to the table's surface, for various reasons. Because of their smaller size and simple, geometric designs, they can have a greater presence and significant design impact in the room if they are hung lower, instead of hanging up close to the ceiling, where they may not stand out as much. They also can more effectively illuminate the space if hung lower.


Larger, more elaborate chandeliers can be hung higher, and further away from the table's surface.  Due to their large size, dramatic design, bright colors, and overall extravagant presence, they can hang higher and closer to the ceiling as they will still make a significant impact on the room as the main focal point, without overwhelming the space. Also, because of their larger size, they generally have stronger lighting ability, so they can hang higher and still effectively illuminate the space.


Remember: the best way to find the proper hanging height for your light is to test it out and try different options to see what works best for your individual, unique situation!


We Designed Themed Rooms Inside a Truck


Have you ever wondered what a Gothic themed room would look like inside of a truck? Neither had we, until we spotted an article in T: The New York Times Style Magazine. "All the Right Moves" features four scenes created within a truck in the city. Each scene, styled by Theresa Rivera and photographed by Anthony Cotsifas, has its own theme and compelling furniture and decor arrangement.

Inspired by their creativity, we decided to design our own scenes within a truck right off of our loading dock. Using our own antiques, we pieced together four scenes that each represent an architectural style, and then played with the lighting inside the truck (mostly to study the effects of light in a space, but also because we like to geek out over fun light design).


The Victorian Fern Room



We love this mossy teak garden bench, and thought it would look even more whimsical next to some pieces with Victorian-esque curvilinear lines. While it wasn't our original intention to create a magical garden scene, we couldn't help the urge to throw in some ferns.

Light played a dramatic role in changing the appearance and the story behind this scene. The light green light makes the foliage and the moss on the bench pop, and creates a warm, welcoming atmosphere. On the other hand, the purple light reminded us of a foreboding garden outside of a mansion, where a murder mystery would take place. Both images feature the same antiques, but communicate very different moods.


The Industrial Room

Our industrial antiques seemed to be made for this truck photo shoot. The various angles, heights, and shapes of the pieces all come together to make an exciting, yet harmonized scene. The reflective antiques made the biggest difference when it came to lighting, since every glass and metal surfaced picked up variations of the projected colors.


The Gothic Room


This might have been our favorite set up (although we shouldn't play favorites). The heavy, ornate wood, glorious stained glass windows, and touches of wrought iron truly brought us into the twelfth century. We especially loved the power of the deep purple lighting, since it contrasted the bright windows, and brought out the burgundy velvet in the carved wooden chairs. Can't you just picture a French poet brooding over that impressive desk?


The Craftsman Room


This cozy fireside scene perfectly depicts common indicators of the Craftsman style, such as geometric lines, handcrafted pieces, and wooden furnishings. We thought it was interesting that even though we cast white light on the scene, the wooden surfaces seemed to emit a warm glow. 


Want to complete your own themed room? Visit our product page to find the antiques perfect for your space!


Metal and Monochromatic: A Love Story


Minimalistic interior design is popular due to the simple, yet bold statement it makes. This style is typically characterized by clean lines, a primarily black and white color scheme, and very few statement pieces. As it can be seen in the photos below, minimalist and rustic styles can be combined to create a comfortable, almost romantic space, without sacrificing simplicity.

Photography by: Tessa Neustadt

Photography by: Tessa Neustadt

Photography by: Tessa Neustadt

Photography by: Tessa Neustadt

When designing a minimalist space, it can be difficult to find statement pieces that add visual interest without making the design too busy. This is why many designers chose to integrate metal into spaces that are otherwise monochromatic. Since various metals offer different textures and reflective properties, the opportunities are endless when it comes to deciding on which decorative elements will enhance a design. 



Designer and blogger Emily Henderson's design of this master bathroom successfully combines monochromatic colors and metal through incorporating modern finishes and antique statement pieces. Her use of matte black metal further anchors the black and white scheme, while the pops of reflective brass add character and variety. The result is simultaneously minimalist, modern, and rustic.

Do you want to add some vintage flair to your minimalist space? Start by browsing our Illumination page for lighting inspiration!



Curating Antiques for a Modern Space


Anyone who has observed interior design trends over the last couple years would tell you that combining styles is all the rage. Designers have taken the challenge of merging different interior trends and have succeeded in creating many style mash-ups that rule the design community.

While there are many popular mixed interior styles, the most common theme among them is mixing the old with the new. Combining traditional and modern pieces creates visual interest through variety in shape and texture. When done right, this leads to a unified space with unique character. 

In order to help you style your own modern-traditional space, we have called on inspiration from the home of designer and blogger Casey Bovee, which is laid out in her blog, Be Home Soon. Casey's style not only mixes modern and traditional, but also industrial and bohemian glam. Take a look at these four ways that you can emulate her curated home.


1. The Warehouse Cart Coffee Table

Adding an industrial piece to an otherwise clean and modern room creates an interesting, yet functional focal point. In this space, the complex texture and warm tones of the cart's wood balances the soft, muted tints of the surrounding furniture and walls. 


2. The Funky Light Fixture

Maximize your space's design potential by installing a fun, eye-catching light fixture in an open space. These light fixtures add an element of glamour that is both unexpected and whimsical.


3. The Clever Corner Cabinet

Corner cabinets are the solution to all of your small space dilemmas. They allow you to store and display your belongings without taking up too much of your space. As a bonus, the traditional wood details bring classic charm that is grounding and nostalgic. 


4. The Multitasking Display Piece

Every home needs at least one space where you can create your own little aesthetic moment. A low piece of furniture provides the perfect surface on which to arrange your knick knacks, plants, and artwork. These two pieces are especially fit for this purpose because they double as storage.


Want to complete your design vision? Visit our product page to find the antiques perfect for your space!



In the Modern Café you can see the use of increasingly narrow and lighter steel in the chairs and chrome edging, lightweight wire rod furniture, innovative ways for bonding wood in the booths, shelves, and benches, and the effort to use less material in the pedestal leg of the stool.

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