Several years after Bernadette Truxal developed a love of European travel with her husband, she found kismet with a new Midwest neighbor. The pair became fast friends and teamed up to establish Wichita-based Maison & Co., rich with 18th– and 19th-century European antiques and art. Their modus operandi: capitalize on the power of the web and create a remote client base. (Mission accomplished.) Now flying solo, Truxal explains her particular love for French and Swedish Gustavian antiques, and how working and living with these pieces brings ease and authenticity into the home.
When did you discover your affinity for antiques?
I remember always having a fascination with antiques and architecture, and I’d spend hours poring over books and magazines, looking at beautiful old furnishings. My great-grandmother was a collector, and many of her pieces were in my childhood home. When I got married, my mother gave me a few of her pieces for my first home.
How did you get to this place in your career?
I worked as an H.R. professional at Ford Motor Company for 10 years, but put my career on hold after having my first child. I slowly began furnishing my home by researching antiques here and abroad. Eight years later my husband’s job relocated us to Kansas where I met (my now-former partner) Kendall Drake, who had a beautiful collection of French antiques. She bought in Provence often, and as we discovered our shared aesthetic, it just made sense to purse an antique business together. We traveled to Provence—an area of France I’d not yet been— and stayed in the quaint village of Goult. We frequenting weekend markets and brocantes in charming villages and went to L’Ilse sur la Sorgue. Following our second trip we opened our business.
Sounds fabulous. How did you spread the word about Maison & Co.?
With our first shipment, we staged a shop in Kendall’s home for our introduction locally. But we didn’t start our business with the intention of opening a physical shop or making Wichita our primary market—though we have maintained a nice business with local designers. Instead we created a business model built around Internet sales and a commitment to excellent customer service from sale to delivery. I now have repeat customers—mostly from New York, California, Arizona, Houston, and Atlanta. I also have customers in Europe—Belgium, England, and France. It goes to show how the Internet has created a global market for antiques.
Provence. Private estates and castles in the Swedish countryside. In England, I enjoy buying in the Cotswolds.
What is your business philosophy?
Maison & Co.’s tagline is Fresh. Beautiful. Timeless. Kendall and I shared the belief that a great antique brings timeless appeal to a room, and that a fine piece is worth waiting for because it will be enjoyed for generations. I personally subscribe to this. I had to save and slowly add special antique pieces to my home when I started collecting.
What was your most important personal antique purchase?
The most significant was a French Louis XVI Trumeau because I purchased it on my first trip to Provence.
And has your taste evolved over time?
My attraction to light, Gustavian painted pieces has been an evolution. Initially, I was drawn to dark oak and mahogany. Also with the immersion of mid-century design in the marketplace, I’m finding I like the balance of modern pieces and antiques.
As I look for inspiration, Lisa Luby Ryan is my go-to source. I also love Suzanne Kasler, Jane Moore, and Charles Faudree. I don’t think you can be a lover of country French without appreciating Faudree. And I admire the work of Shannon Bowers and Pamela Pierce, too.
Before you go, tell us: What influence has traveling to France had on your family?
My kids love the food and the language. We all love the lifestyle—and the collective ease of the French attitude!
Decorate your own maison by shopping Maison & Co.’s sumptuous selection at The HighBoy.
1. French Zinc Bull’s Eye Mirror | 2. Italian Alabaster Grapes
3. Swedish Rococo Chest of Drawers | 4. French Rococo Barrel Back Armchair
5. 19th Century Swedish Horse Fragment | 6. Swedish Rococo Tall Case Clock
7. French Brass and Glass Chandelier | 8. French Grape Holds
Photography by: Britt Bradley