Look, learn, and listen at the Antiques, Garden & Design Show

What makes the Antiques, Garden & Design Show unique? “It’s a feast for all of the senses, and spring is the perfect time of year to experience this mood,” said Lee Thinnes, one the 90 exhibitors at the Show, coming April 15 ­–17 to the Chicago Botanic Garden. “It is truly special because it’s at the Garden during this splendid time of year.”

PHOTO: Garden gates and ornaments from the 2015 Antiques, Garden & Design Show preview party.
Garden gates and ornaments from the 2015 Antiques, Garden & Design Show preview party

The Show features antiques to midcentury design, a garden gallery, a design row, and two market courtyards. Find gifts, garden tools, and botanical merchandise as well as vintage décor and antiques and garden furniture.

Speaking of senses, look, learn, and listen to get the best experience at the Show.


PHOTO: 1960-70s French Pierre Cardin red console table.
1960-70s French Pierre Cardin red console table

Find items that make a difference: Even one item can make a statement. Thinnes, owner of Lee’s Antiques, is bringing a 1960s snowflake-shape chandelier of Italian Murano glass with a chrome and silver-plate canopy and a 1960–70s French Pierre Cardin red console table.

Milne Inc Antiques and Gallery will feature decorative items for the garden, including colorful nineteenth-century weathervanes and a unique deco planter from Surrey, England. “The wonderful shapes and colors provide visual interest, especially in the long winter months when the garden is devoid of color,” said exhibitors Judith and James Milne.

Bring the garden to your walls: A collection of photographs by Laurie Tennent captures the dramatic color and texture of botanical subjects. “By exaggerating the inner architecture of plant life, I offer the viewer a chance to at once become confronted by and immersed in nature,” Tennent said. Botanicals: Intimate Portraits will be on display in the Krehbiel Gallery.

PHOTO: Echeveria 'Red velvet' photographed by Laurie Tennent.
Echeveria ‘Red velvet’ photographed by Laurie Tennent
PHOTO: Ranunculus repens photographed by Laurie Tennent.
Ranunculus repens photographed by Laurie Tennent

Buy what you like: “If it speaks to you, buy it.…If you love it, usually you can find a place to work it in,” said New York-based interior designer Timothy Whealon, author of In Pursuit of Beauty (Rizzoli) and a lecturer at the Show.

PHOTO: Delicately detailed porcelain light shades.
Don’t miss an opportunity to buy the perfect piece.


Do your homework: If you are looking for a particular item or style, do your research before you go so you can ask the right questions. Take any measurements you might need, and bring a tape measure on the day of your visit.

Get the latest: Find inspiration at lectures featuring top design and garden experts. Learn the latest trends from designers Whealon and Martyn Lawrence Bullard, garden between the rows with Jeff Ross of Blackberry Farm, and visualize your dream landscape with Mario Nievera. All lecture tickets include a three-day pass to the Show.


Consult the experts: This is a vetted show, which means the items have undergone a peer review. The exhibitors know their pieces, and their field, so ask them questions, including what makes an item an antique and, therefore, valuable. The Milnes recommend getting an invoice noting the history of the piece and its provenance.

PHOTO: Vendor booth from the 2015 Antiques, Garden & Design Show.
Vendor booth from the 2015 Antiques, Garden & Design Show

Get ready to engage your senses and find treasures at the Antiques, Garden & Design Show, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday through Sunday, April 15 to 17. Tickets are on sale now for spring’s most anticipated event.

Antiques, Garden & Design Show: Experts’ Tips

Everything old is new again, especially when you integrate antiques into a twenty-first century home.

Here are some style-savvy tips from two high-profile interior designers, both presenting lectures at the Antiques, Garden & Design Show, April 15 to 17, at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

PHOTO: Martyn Lawrence Bullard.
Martyn Lawrence Bullard

Mixing it up: “Today it’s not really about doing interiors that are filled with one particular period or style,” says Los Angeles-based interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard, author of Live, Love & Decorate and the upcoming Design & Decoration (Rizzoli, due in April). “It’s really about learning to be eclectic and how to edit and how to mix and match.”

Balance equals harmony: “Editing is one of the most important elements in creating harmonious interiors,” says New York-based interior designer Timothy Whealon, author of In Pursuit of Beauty (Rizzoli). “The trick is mixing pieces from different periods and countries, juxtaposing textures, i.e., the time-worn against a crisp lacquer, without drawing attention to any particular element.”

PHOTO: Timothy Whealon.
Timothy Whealon

Follow your heart: “When I’m looking for antiques with a client, I’m looking for them to respond to it on an emotional level,” Whealon says. “If it speaks to you, buy it.…If you love it, usually you can find a place to work it in.” Bullard agrees: “The great find is actually just something that you love,” he says. “There should never be a monetary value on things. If you love it, then it is worth a fortune.”

Sensibility of scale: Bullard says that “the most important thing for interiors is scale.…You need to know the scale and size you want and where you are going to put (something).” Measure the spaces you want to fill, as well as the doorways these items need to pass through, ahead of time. A tape measure will come in handy at the Show, too.

Seeing the light: To create a seamless continuum from indoors to outdoors, Whealon writes in his book, “I always start a project by looking out the windows, which more often than not informs my design decisions for the interiors.”

PHOTO: Bold yellow interior design by Martyn Lawrence Bullard.
Bold yellow interior design by Martyn Lawrence Bullard. Photo by Tim Street Porter.

Color your world …“People shouldn’t be afraid of color,” Bullard says. “I think one of the first rules of color is to choose one you look good in.…If you look good wearing it, think how great you’ll look surrounded by it. It really works.”

But don’t forget white: “I like color that gradually reveals itself,” Whealon writes, “and no color has the capacity to do that quite like complex whites.”

PHOTO: Interior design by Timothy Whealon.
Interior design by Timothy Whealon. Photo by William Waldron.

Comfort is king: “The biggest trend in interiors is really comfort,” Bullard says. “People really want to be able to use everything, to be able to sit on everything….The idea of really precious things that you don’t really use is so outdated now.”

Bullard presents “Design and Decoration” at 11 a.m. April 15; Timothy Whealon presents “Classicism Revisited: Mixing Art & Antiques in 21st Century Interiors” at 1 p.m. April 15. Joint lecture tickets are available. All lecture tickets include a three-day Show pass. 

Guest blog by Renee Enna.
©2016 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Make the Farm-to-Table Connection

The garden and the kitchen are “dancing partners,” according to a cookbook from the team behind Blackberry Farm, the luxurious farm and inn in Tennessee. Jeff Ross, farmstead educator and artisan chef at Blackberry Farm, brought that farm-to-table spirit to the Chicago Botanic Garden.

PHOTO: Jeff Ross at Blackberry Farm.
Jeff Ross at Blackberry Farm

Ross showed how easy it is to incorporate fresh produce and gardening into your life in his lecture, “Eating Between the Rows.” “I want to open people’s eyes to the edible food all around them,” Ross said.

Ross targets 30 to 40 items and encourages gardeners to think beyond the obvious to things like the florets of collard greens or other ways to use coriander. “These plants were historically grown as edibles, but that knowledge has been lost,” Ross said.

It’s not just edibles. Ross looks to the garden for home décor ideas, such as using okra pods in creative ways, and as an unexpected source of inspiration. “A garden shed can be very beautiful, and it changes nearly every day throughout the season.”

In addition to being a well-known restaurant and inn, Blackberry Farms is a fully working farm. Ross spent nearly ten years managing the gardens at Blackberry; now he helps chefs get more involved in the garden.

PHOTO: Morning at Blackberry Farm.
Morning at Blackberry Farm

Even though the farm is a large operation, the lessons learned there can be easily adapted in containers or raised gardens of just a few feet, according to The Foothills Cuisine of Blackberry cookbook. It’s a matter of scale. So, grow smaller vegetables and pick them young. Choose the right plants—such as cherry tomatoes instead of beefsteak for an urban container, or squash blossoms and pick the squash when it is young.

PHOTO: Barn at Blackberry Farm.
The barn on Blackberry Farm

The cookbook includes a photo of Ross, in his work overalls, holding a handful of beans. Bush, shell, soup, green—Ross loves them all. “I want that to be my last meal.” It’s further proof that the farm-to-table connection is personal and powerful.

Try the marbled potato salad recipe below from The Foothills Cuisine of Blackberry Farm.

Marbled Potato Salad with Arugula Pesto

Tips: Use the smallest potatoes you can find. The leftover pesto keeps up to a week or more in the refrigerator; use on roasted vegetables or grilled steak.

For the potato salad:

  • 10 ounces, small purple Peruvian potatoes (about 20)
  • 10 ounces, small yellow creamer potatoes (about 20)
  • 10 ounces, small red bliss potatoes (about 20)
  • 9 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil or bacon fat, plus more for drizzling
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
  • 3 3-inch fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 3 3-inch fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 cup lightly packed arugula
  • 1 cup pickled red onions, drained (optional)

For arugula pesto:

  • ¼ cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds
  • 1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
  • Zest and juice of 1½ lemons (about 3 tablespoons)
  • ¼ cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 4 cups loosely packed baby arugula, stems removed
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup finely shredded pecorino cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper; toss to coat. Transfer potatoes to large baking dish or roasting pan. Tuck the rosemary and thyme around potatoes. Cover the dish tightly and roast until potatoes are tender, about 1 hour. Uncover; let potatoes cool to room temperature. Discard rosemary and thyme sprigs.

Meanwhile, prepare the arugula pesto. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, place sunflower seeds and garlic; pulse to finely chop. Add lemon zest and juice; pulse to combine. Add the parsley, half the arugula; pulse to combine. With machine running, add half the oil in a slow, steady stream. Add the rest of the arugula; pulse to combine. With machine running, add the rest of the oil in a slow, steady stream. Add cheese, salt, and pepper; process until smooth. You will have about 1¾ cups. Transfer to airtight container.

To assemble: Cut the potatoes in half and divide among 6 serving plates. Tuck in arugula among the potatoes. Scatter the pickled onions, if using. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the pesto over each salad; drizzle with olive oil or bacon fat. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 6.

Photos © beall + thomas photography.
©2016 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Picture your dream garden with Mario Nievera and Craig Bergmann

What’s the one thing you can do to transform your landscape? It’s a matter of vision, one expert explains below. Get even more tips from the pros at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Antiques, Garden & Design Show. Did we mention that there will be shopping?  

PHOTO: Entry design by Nievera Williams Design.
A well-designed path is a strong visual element. Photo courtesy Nievera Williams Design.

If you do only one thing…

Even if your house is small, think about your grounds holistically. “You want to be able to walk inside the home and walk back outside and feel like it’s a seamless experience,” says landscape architect Mario Nievera, a featured speaker at the Antiques, Garden & Design Show. “If it’s a modern, clean home, the plants should be clean as well. If the home has character and charm, you can use more leaves and texture. When planning your hardscape, if the home has stone or tile inside, you want to use complementary materials outside. The same goes for furnishings and outdoor fabrics.”

PHOTO: Garden design by Nievera Williams Design.
Garden ornaments add a sense of scale in a garden. Photo courtesy Nievera Williams Design.

Point of view

“You have to have a strong visual element in a garden, whether it’s a stand of birch trees, one plant that is repeated, or a well-designed path—it ties it all together,” says Nievera, whose firm is based in Palm Beach, Florida. “People tend to focus on the small scale, but your garden should be based on your view.”

Lights and accents and more

To freshen up the look of a garden, Nievera works with clients to incorporate garden ornaments. “We do a lot of contemporary designs, and garden ornaments give you a sense of scale, patina, and character,” he says.

Get inspired

Go to flea markets, antique shows, or established gardens, and check out Pinterest to get ideas on design styles or objects to add to your garden, adds landscape architect Craig Bergmann, who designed indoor gardens for the Show.

PHOTO: Container design by Craig Bergmann Landscape Design.
Mix old and new for a bold look. Photo ©Linda Oyama Bryan

Mixing old and new

Even if your house is modern, think about using antique elements—but consider your climate, says Bergmann, whose firm is based in Lake Forest. “Some fine antiques are fragile and don’t do well in severe weather changes that happen here in Chicago,” he says. “Hairline cracks might be exacerbated with frequent moving of a piece, or by sub-zero temperatures or high heat or humidity. Some high-end pieces need to be stored for winter indoors or on a protected terrace or porch.”

Bonus tip on shopping at the Antiques, Garden & Design Show

Be prepared to act quickly. Bring pictures of your house and garden, and consult with the vendors. The Show features more than 90 vendors of garden antiques, antiques, horticulture, and more from around the United States and Europe.

“I like looking at shows like this because you know you are getting the real deal, not reproductions,” Nievera says. “I will take pictures of things my clients might want and tell them they have five minutes to decide if they like it. You have to make your decisions quickly because you might lose it.”

PHOTO: Craig Bergmann Landscape Design, Redfield Residence, Lake Forest.
Visit a variety of sources to add objects to—and develop the look of—your garden. Photo ©Linda Oyama Bryan

Tickets are on sale now for spring’s most anticipated event, the Antiques, Garden & Design Show. The event takes place at the Chicago Botanic Garden from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday through Sunday, April 15 to 17. Additional fees apply for the lectures.

©2016 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Step into a Designer’s Dream

The Antiques, Garden & Design Show is a dream for designers, who prize the annual event for its knowledgeable vendors and highly curated antiques. It’s a great place to bring clients searching for one-of-a-kind pieces and recommended for anyone trying to create a space that expresses his or her personality, values, and interests.

PHOTO: Chandelier from Jessica LaGrange Interiors.
Chandelier from Jessica LaGrange Interiors

“The event is like a to-the-trade-only show with civilian access,” said Cindy Galvin, of Bardes Interiors and Maze Home Store in Winnetka.

A classical stone torso, a collection of fantastic black cast iron urns, a big gold peer mirror, a funky ′60s tabouret, a brown alligator handbag, and the perfect French farmhouse table and chairs are among the memorable pieces designers have found for clients—and themselves—in the past.

“Any collector, designer knows there’s always more out there, something you have never seen, and that’s the thrill that brings us back to a show like this year after year,” says Myla Frohman, owner of Glencoe-based Myla Frohman Designs.

PHOTO: Lee Thinnes.
Lee Thinnes (Lee’s Antiques, Winnetka, IL) will be showcasing bold, modern paintings this year.

Now in its 15th season, the reinvented event has developed a reputation for the consistent high quality of its offerings. In social circles, the kickoff Preview Night is called the ribbon cutting for the spring season. Exhibitors, many of them designers themselves, present antiques, midcentury modern pieces, and outdoor furnishings in sophisticated displays that inspire and educate. Often arranged around a theme, booths can transport guests to a different time and place. The Golden Triangle, a Chicago-based exhibitor, plans to make an enchanting booth this year, drawing inspiration from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The designers will mix ancient and modern garden furnishings to create an imaginative scene. Lee Thinnes, owner of Lee’s Antiques in Winnetka, will feature bold modern paintings and a molded Lucite coffee table by Karl Springer.

“The exhibitors are incredibly knowledgeable and truly enjoy sharing the provenance of their wares,” said Galvin. Listen as you look, she advises, because much of the fun of owning antiques is knowing the story behind the piece.

PHOTO: Exterior display by Suzanne Lovell, of Suzanne Lovell Inc., Chicago, IL.
Exterior display by Suzanne Lovell, of Suzanne Lovell Inc., Chicago, IL

With its strong emphasis on garden antiques, the Show provides clients one of the best venues for realizing the potential of an often overlooked space—the garden room. “Chicago has a secret—our beautiful garden summers. One can imagine outside rooms that make a garden another important room in any home,” said Suzanne Lovell, of Suzanne Lovell Inc., in Chicago. “The outdoor garden room is just as important as the living room!”                 

Designers typically come prepared with a punch list of their clients’ needs and a planned route. (The Show map can help with navigation). Many make a beeline for favorite exhibitors, then methodically visit the rest. Whatever strategy you choose, be prepared to deviate from your plan if you spot something you love and can’t live without. The good stuff goes fast!

“One year I found a set of Gracie panels, instantly adored them, and bought them on the spot,” Galvin said. “When I went back later to pick them up, the vendor said he could have sold them six times over!”

PHOTO: The Gracie Panels found by Cindy Galvin (of Bardes Interiors and Maze Home Store, Winnetka, IL).
The Gracie Panels found by Cindy Galvin— now her dressing room closet doors!

While acknowledging trends, designers tend to look for pieces that express the individuality of their clients. “You need unique and singular things to make your home feel personal. Vintage works as well as bona fide antiques,” said Jessica Lagrange, of Jessica Lagrange Interiors, LLL in Chicago.

Younger clients may not be keen on antiques, but they are sophisticated shoppers who learn from blogs, Pinterest, and Instagram. “Millennials are striving to make their homes one-of-a-kind, unique to their families’ personalities. They know design and value it. They want to design their homes with intent,” Galvin said.

The Show’s lectures offer guests an expanded vision of what’s possible for the home and garden. Designers appreciate meeting the likes of this year’s keynote speaker, the legendary Mario Buatta, known as the “Prince of Chintz,” and other nationally and internationally recognized experts.

PHOTO: Kristen Koepfgen and Cindy Galvin.
Cindy Galvin and Kristen Koepfgen enjoy a past Preview Evening.

Can’t wait? Guests attending the Preview Evening enjoy early shopping privileges, a boon for serious buyers. “The Preview Evening is great fun, and it gives you first crack at the goods,” Lagrange said, “which is really important because of the caliber of the stock.”

©2015 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org