Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Little Good News on Charles Street

Walking around Beacon Hill yesterday was an adventure of the slip-and-break-your-leg kind. Heavy chunks of ice fell from rooftops to sidewalks, narrowly missing pedestrians. But even though it was raining, I pursued my 10,000 steps, or 5 miles a day. I'm in the habit now, and it feels better to walk in almost any conditions than to stay cooped up indoors.

Icy sidewalks, icy window boxes, icy everything.

On Charles Street, I looked towards #93, where one of my favorite antiques stores, Upstairs Downstairs, has just gone out of business. But instead of an empty storefront, I saw lights and a new sign. "Store Closing!" had been replaced by "Grand Opening!"

An interior decorator who lives on Beacon Hill just bought the business, which has been around for ages in one incarnation or another. She quickly refurbished the interior, filled it with a new collection of antiques, and hired a friendly saleswoman. It looks pretty, fresh, and new. She's keeping the old name.

Phew. And there's a 20% store-opening discount.

The saleswoman gave me a tour, pointing out her favorite pieces. There were several, and I was surprised that I really liked all of them, too. The new owner has a discriminating eye. There are elegant tables of all kinds, along with mirrors, chairs, chests, smalls, and even a bed.

She showed me a small French demilune table by the front door, with a dramatic curves and slender legs. She said she loved it, and as she pointed out all of its details, I began to love it too. We both coveted it, but I have neither space nor cash to spare. I hope she bought it; it's one of a kind.

In the back room, we looked at a set of dining room chairs and a Victorian tufted settee, stripped down to their muslin layer and waiting for new fabric. This is unusual: typically, dealers recover old armchairs and sofas with fabrics they like, which are unlikely to work well for you, and price the pieces accordingly. Or they leave on some worn-out, hideous fabric, so you'll have to find an upholsterer, feeling a bit guilty because your antique find is suddenly much less of a bargain. But at "Upstairs Downstairs," you have options. Since the owner is a decorator, you can choose any fabric you want and she'll recover that settee for you. Sample books are right there.

And, chances are that you item will still be a good deal. "Upstairs Downstairs" was always a good hunting ground for inexpensive antiques, and the new owner is said to be committed to keeping her prices reasonable. Nothing induced sticker shock when I was browsing yesterday, which is not the case in other Charles Street shops.

Check it out, it's happy news for Charles Street and antique-lovers.

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