For Houston antiques shop Carl Moore, it’s all about finding furniture that has a personality and a story to tell. The store reflects just that, with a well-edited, uncluttered showroom with plenty to see. Owner Geoffrey Westergaard sits down with us to talk about his first antiquing trip, his take on the future of antiques, and the one piece that got away… Read on.
How did you come to be a dealer?
My grandmother loved to travel. She was the one who taught me to read and later introduced me to art and music. Reading was a real pleasure—I felt I could go ’round the world with books. She inspired my love of travel and beautiful things. I made my first [antiquing] trip when I was 15. It was the best experience to just get out of town and start to look and touch and feel. All of a sudden there was this giant world beyond the U.S. with people with interesting things that they wanted to tell you about.
Living in Texas, Mexico was the natural place to go. I had to go to where public transportation could take you. It was incredible. You can do so much there—you can climb the pyramids at Teotihuacan, you can go to the museums, and then have the experiential introduction to objects, places, things. It isn’t enough to look at things online and in books—you have to get up and touch it to know it.
What’s the first piece you ever bought?
It was a statue. It came from a theater in northern Italy that got torn down. It’s of two figures and it’s the most beautiful Italian colors, deep ochre and gorgeous red. I saw it in a shop, and was absolutely thunderstruck. I just thought, ‘I have to make this happen.’ So I went into the shop and basically said, ‘I know I’m only 20 years old, but I love this,’ and the guy let me pay it out in 12 months. He was just so happy I knew what it was.
Is there a piece you wish you’d bought that you still think about now?
Really only one. It taught me an important lesson. I was in Tel Aviv 10 or 15 years ago, and saw this really beautiful Roman sculpture. At the time, I looked at it and looked at it, and the dealer and I bickered over the price. I mentally talked myself out of spending the money, and I’ve never seen another like it. When you see something that makes your heart race, chances are you’re never going to see it again. I’ve watched the market and now pieces like that are just out of my reach….
What’s a good way for someone to hone their eye?
A lot of it is looking at books. Or find someone at the professional level with expertise who wants to talk to you and wants you to learn. I truly believe the more you understand, the more of an impact it has in your daily life. It becomes part of the fabric of your daily life.
What’s your favorite thing about your home?
The best pieces in my house are in my bedroom. They’re the first thing I see in the morning and last thing I see before I go to bed. I just love that I have these kickass pieces.
What’s your approach to display?
People really enjoy our staging and display because it’s not crowded. A memorable comment we got was, “Wow, this isn’t my mom’s antiques store.” And it is so open, and there’s a flow to it that women and men enjoy because you can see the pieces. They’re not crammed against each other. The back of our shop is a loft space, and we have sight lines through the shop—there’s a sense of movement.
What makes something special?
We don’t specialize in a style or period, but we look for pieces that have a voice, that have a powerful personality. It can be as simple as a huge mirror, but with detail that you wouldn’t get in another piece. It has to have quality of craftsmanship and integrity when you look it and go, ‘that is a special piece.’ You need to have an emotional reaction. Once you have that, then you look at the period, how much restoration it needs. And we [at the shop] will tell you about each piece, tell you what to look for. Tell you why we chose this. Giving context and why—I think everyone wants a story and wants to be enchanted.
What do you see in the future of antiques?
We’ve moved into an age where we have fewer, better objects with us. It’s a much less cluttered environment. You need to make sure all the pieces you choose have integrity. And there’s a greater desire for a wider variety of objects. So many of us have had the good fortune to travel more, and are exposed to so much. We want to offer things that have a story.
Find these great pieces and more on Carl Moore Antiques‘ HighBoy storefront.