If there’s anyone that knows the ins and outs of fine furniture and décor, it’s Jimmy Schneider from Uptowner Antiques. Right in the heart of New Orleans’ famous antiques district, Uptowner Antiques perfectly blends the the city’s European influence with eclectic finds. Jimmy sat down with us to talk about his love for antiques and to give words of wisdom to new collectors.
So, you’ve been in business for over 40 years. What is it about this business that you love?
Like most dealers, I love both the hunt and the many friends I have made in Europe as a result of the hunt. I buy mostly furniture that needs to be restored. The restoration of a piece of furniture to its original beauty while preserving its patina is very rewarding.
How did your passion for antiques begin?
I always loved beautiful furniture. My father was a retired furniture restorer. When I was in my early twenties he retired at 72. My wife and I opened a small antique shop to give him something to do. Little did I know, it was going to be a long love affair with buying, restoring and selling. He lived to be 92 and never stopped working in the workshop.
What is the first piece you ever collected?
When my wife and I were first married we bought a small English mahogany corner cabinet from a dealer in the French Quarter. We thought it was very old, but it wasn’t. We thought it was very fine, but it wasn’t. We still have it to this day. It was the beginning and we cherish it.
What inspired the name Uptowner?
When we opened our shop in was in the Uptown section of New Orleans. Uptowner was easy.
What’s the most important aspect of your restoration process?
Most important aspects are preserving the patina, giving the pieces a beautiful and soft finish, and making it structurally sound.
Is there a particular time period or style that you specialize in?
We’re very eclectic. We started off with English and French antiques. Then 30 years ago we started buying in Italy. Soon after that, we were buying art deco, mid-century modern, vintage and so on. We still buy beautiful wood antiques. We try to represent that gracious New Orleans style that can mix simple beautiful pieces with any period and style.
What do you look for when looking to add new items to the shop?
We look for items that have good design, great detail, and wonderful patina. And we look for items that can be placed easily.
Where do you source the items in the shop?
We buy in Europe mainly. It allows me to buy quality items that have to be restored and then sell for a reasonable price.
Have you ever come across a piece that you couldn’t bear to give up?
We have a whole house full. My wife does not like change, but I am a little more flexible. Fortunately our taste is similar.
Do you have any advice for new collectors?
Only buy what you love. Leave that space empty until you find that one special piece. If you don’t have confidence in your own taste, find a very good decorator to help you. We all had to learn.
If you love Uptowner’s sophisticated charm, take a look at some of their gorgeous items right here on The HighBoy: