Real vs. authentic

Real and authentic wood worm holes
Real and authentic woodworm holes

In Atlanta we built a British pub in the basement of our home. We tried to make it as authentic as possible including a pressed copper ceiling, faux tobacco-stained walls, memorabilia from the UK, and a letter from the Queen acknowledging our desire to bring a bit of British culture to America. The furnishings all had a dark Old World feel to them including the Windsor armchairs that even came with roughed up seats and tiny holes in the ribs to simulate years of munching by woodworms. Let me tell you, looking authentic doesn’t come cheap.

Back in the New World of Atlanta, trying to simulate the look of the richness of the Old World might have been expensive, but here that real thing can be pretty cheap. We just bought a solid oak table that expands to seat eight plus six skillfully-upholstered art deco wooden chairs that wrap snugly around it for about the price we paid for one of those Windsor armchairs for the pub. The bonus was that all the nicks, dents, and woodworm holes were authentic; too much so with the insect holes, a few of which were still in the process of being made and we had the sawdust to prove it. Welcome to the world of brocante shopping that we might call second-hand, used, junk, or any other colorful term for buying used furniture and household goods.

Before moving here we’d read that the French tend to buy new furniture for their homes, preferring the modern look over the more traditional furniture of their grandparents or even that associated with the lines of royalty of the past. Consequently, the brocante shops have beautiful antiques at unbelievably low prices, many of which would be at home in a castle but sadly won’t fit through modern doors or in small spaces. From the shop near our new home, we could literally fill every room in it with huge oak tables, dressers, chests, sideboards, bed frames, and armoires for less than one round trip air ticket between Paris and Atlanta.

So we had quite the bargain with the dining table and chairs but what about those woodworms? A trip to the hardware store would indicate that we weren’t the only ones having to deal with these insects. An entire section of shelves from floor to ceiling was stacked with a variety of cans ranging in size from one that would fit in your hand to one that would require a truck to take home to rid us of these pests. We try to avoid poisons but the treatment apparently lasts for 25 years so you can at least pass down your treasures to the next generation without fear of an invasion.

Now the big question: do we furnish the house with beautiful antiques at fantastic prices but come with some unwelcome guests or go with the trend of the more modern look? We still have a few months to decide between “real” vs.“authentic” before moving in.

6 thoughts on “Real vs. authentic

  1. You know me, I’ve got to be different. I say go with the old stuff. I don’t know if new furniture is built as poorly in France as it is here, but if so, the old stuff will be much more satisfying and cheaper.

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