Isabella Walker-Smith’s newest auction collection online this week has been specially curated to include the hottest looks people want right now. You’ll find outstanding one-of-a-kind artisanal pieces, fresh from Paris to Provence and the French Alps, with some irresistibly low starting bids. Also on offer is must-see French bed linen in drop-dead colours that Matt Damon uses in his homes throughout the world.
Expect high-end things but not especially high estimates. They’re not available for long, though — and the clock on this timed auction has just begun – so get in quick.
We can’t stop singing Isabella Walker-Smith’s praises for the extraordinary new pieces in her latest Lawsons collection.
Follow the leader, for personality pieces from farmhouse tables to three-door oak bookcases, dressers, 19th-century armoires, etageres, industrial zinc and timber tables, and metre-long carpenter’s benches.
As well as 1920s pine butcher’s blocks, bistro garden chairs, French gilt mirrors, kitchen chairs, Provencal antique coffee tables, bentwood coatstands, old French milk churns, and charming chests of drawers.
This sale is the Paris flea market of Sydney shopping – with more than 280 personality pieces that will give your home a touch of French je ne sais quoi, easy nonchalance.
In the market for a beautiful old chesterfield sofa covered in tobacco-coloured leather? Check Lot, 77, a 20th-century design from a gentleman’s club in Paris, estimated at $3250, (a great deal when you consider the value of the cost of leather upholstery).
There are also generously proportioned, walnut farmhouse tables that are dead ringers for the ones you see in the world’s best houses, such as Lot 95, estimate $3000.
Ideal for a casual gathering spot, expect tables that can handle big dinners just as well as work-from-home sessions.
If a farm table feels too big for your space, consider the drop-leaf round tables with a rustic finish and casual aura, that can be pushed against a wall to free up floor space, such as Lot 163, the antique French walnut circular table from the French Alps with folding arms, estimate $1000 or Lot 164, French antique walnut drop leaf round table, estimate $1000.
Nobody does interiors more effortlessly, more stylishly than the French,” says Isabella.
Also on offer are affordable industrial workbenches, Empire sofas, etagere, enamel teapots, refectory tables, and dressers, in lovely aged finishes as well as the loveliest hand forged iron sofa bed, ideal for displaying children’s toys.
There are pairs of vintage shutters, lanterns, porcelain, and stoneware galore.
Plus all kinds of well-worn wooden things, and the best range of vintage copper cookware that will add instant pedigree and a personal touch to your home.
Big items are often the best deals, like the edit of original armoires.
The French answer to wardrobes is a freestanding storage piece that has drawers, shelves, and/or a hanging rod. Add one to your bedroom in the palest blue, softest pink, or cream paintwork, to hold your clothing or to your bathroom to store linens and towels. Not only does it add plenty of extra storage room, but it creates an opportunity to pick a one-off piece to bring character to your bedroom. Start with a French 19th-century armoire with the softest green paintwork, Lot 50, estimated at $3000.
It’s not often Lawsons gets top-drawer French linen such as Carlotta & Gee bed linen.
One of the best for upmarket French duvet covers, sheeting, and pillowcases, used by Hollywood actors, Matt Damon, Chris Hemsworth, as well as Ash and Jess Hart in their homes throughout the world plus names like Sam and Snez Wood, James Tobin, and Edwina Bartholomew. No chemicals used.
The ultra-soft pure French bed linen washed with volcano stones, and made with no chemicals, is also used at some of Australia’s most stylish properties such as Captains Rest, The Black Ace, UmiBoomerang, Foys Folly, The Little Black Shack Injidup retreat + Spa, and Orpheus Island.
Expect a palette of caramel, coffee, cloud, cement, dove, bone, sage, teal and tumeric with a variety of must-have offerings, for less than usual.
In contrast to those undone moments, try creating a moment of glory just like some of the chicest French interiors do, by embracing a touch of lavishness, with a dramatic gilded mirror so upscale, they almost touch the ceiling.
You’ll find gorgeous vintage and antique French chandeliers, ideal for hanging over the dining table, in the entryway, or as the centrepiece in your living room.
Check out the extraordinary 19th-century Provencal design in silver gilt that measures 1.2m wide. They will make your ceiling look original, like it’s been around forever – and are a great way of adding a touch of sparkle to an interior.
The French answer to wardrobes is a freestanding armoire, a storage piece that has drawers, shelves, and/or a hanging rod.
The secret? “It’s all deeply, reassuringly familiar. Having French vintage pieces around, always helps me feel calm and peaceful, and also brings the idea of endless interior possibilities and a sense of optimism. It reminds me of how to bring a sense of perspective to everything,” says Isabella.
“French vintage is my #1 source of inspiration.”
“Authenticity and craftsmanship are important,’ Isabella says, ‘but so are less quantifiable qualities such as originality, purity of line, and balance.” This is why, although she sees thousands of items, she only brings a well-vetted edit to market.
Above all, a piece of furniture should be beautiful.
The sale is a lesson in using old pre-loved things in new, different settings – an opportunity for people to buy soulful things that have been well designed and well made with a story. It will add variety and stop your home from getting stale. Investing in pieces that can stand the test of time is not only a sustainable choice but a joyful one.
People are far happier when their home is unique to them and expresses their own style.
You’ll find everything from beautiful art to nineteenth-century French confit pots, part-glazed earthenware pots, originally used to preserve food – like Lot 174, estimate $150. Also a statement-making French Louis-style armchair from Florence, Lot 146, estimate $600, or lovely pair of 19th-century French armchairs with stud details, Lot 155, estimate $750, and a stunning antique French fauteuil chair from Pairs, Lot 145, estimate $500. Find vintage French oil painting with original painted frames, including Lot 147, estimate $700, (a bargain when you consider the value of the framing), a glamorous pair of 20th-century velvet saffron-colour slipper chairs with deep fringing, from a salon in Paris, Lot 64, estimate $900.
Seek out superb antique brass and glass wall sconces for an instant look of gravitas, Lot 71, estimate $500, plus a noteworthy 19th century French antique solid walnut kitchen dough chest, Lot 73, estimate, $700. Plus an excellent 19th-century French scales, such as Lot 123, $600, and vintage Alpine love-heart wall shelves with hooks, Lot 121, $220.
The French lifestyle is the art of living life to the fullest: enjoying the best moments in life, whether it’s through social gatherings, food, or art.
It’s about elevating simple everyday routines into something pleasurable with the pieces that surround you. With your cookware, your vases, and your dining table. I have been based in London for the past few months, where our flat backs onto Stella McCartney’s house – where her kitchen is brimming with French antique copper saucepans just like we have in the sale. Everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow to Victoria Beckham collects this stuff- and I’m delighted to find beautiful copper for good prices.
“Funnily, they are more expensive in Paris, than in my collection,” says Isabella.
Keep an eye out for things like 19th-century terracotta cake molds, vintage cooking utensils in copper and wood, old baskets and copper cookware – from moulds to saucepans, buckets, jugs, even fire pits.
There are artisanal milking stools, alpine paintings, Provencal enamelware, galvanised tubs – ideal for holding foliage, ice, or drinks, as well as vintage shutters, that make great artworks, and much more. There is open shelving galore from dressers to vintage racks which makes a home feel more relaxed and allows for your objects to be displayed as art. It’s an opportunity to work in utilitarian items like copper cookware, beautiful oil and vinegar bottles, mortars and pestles, and much more.
“Auctions are this magical middle ground between high-end antique dealers and mainstream stores,” Isabella says.
Browsing this sale is entertaining and educational. “All my pals are buying at auction sales,” says Isabella, “and love what they find, because it brings individuality, character and meaning to their home”.
“Don’t worry too much about how pieces will fit together—as long as the proportions are right and you truly love each piece, you will find your own personal style,” says Isabella.
“Mixing in vintage pieces when it comes to furnishings in the kitchen, bedroom or living spaces and then also pairing with great functional items—to me, that’s sustainable.”
Embracing vintage and antique pieces has so many benefits. It is sustainably responsible since you aren’t using resources to build a new piece of furniture, and from an aesthetic perspective, it is such a wonderful way to make your space feel timeless. Bet you can’t pick just one. We sure can’t. Keep in touch at @isabella_walkersmith