Tucked away in a 1920’s era building in Maplewood, New Jersey, antiques shop L’Entrepot is a true design gem. Shop owner and interior designer Linda Kennedy has a knack for sourcing refined pieces from different time eras for both the shop and her clients’ homes. L’Entrepot (French for “the warehouse”) carries French antiques from all time periods, as well as hidden treasures from China, Japan, Italy, England, and Sweden. Linda sat down with us to share her design secrets, and to talk about the future of antiques.
How did you come to be an antiques dealer?
When my husband was in law school we lived in New Orleans for two years. Walking around the Garden District I liked to imagine how beautiful the interior of the homes were with their mix of old and tattered pieces combined with beautiful silk drapes and antiques. New Orleans exudes a special feeling with its great architecture, old cemeteries, and uneven streets. It’s a mix of refined and unrefined. I was hooked.
Were you a designer first or a dealer first?
I started out as a designer, particularly by “funking up” chandeliers. By that I mean adding vines, silk butterflies, anything that made them interesting. A friend came over and saw mine and commissioned me to make one for her. That’s how it all started. All word of mouth. After designing for a number of years, I wanted a store to house the pieces I was finding. In 2000, I found an old auto repair garage for rent in Maplewood, NJ. I went to take a look and thought it would make a wonderful space for what became L’Entrepot. It’s 3,500 square feet and the cement floors, brick walls, and old ceiling are a perfect stage for my inventory. I love to carry all sorts of furnishings including Italian, French, Swedish and Biedermeier. I love mid-century modern as well, if it’s authentic. I also carry custom made pieces, fabric lines, and new furniture.
What makes something special?
For an antique, its age and patina are what make it special and it’s something you can’t duplicate in a newer piece. The imperfections and warmth of an old antique make it timeless and gorgeous like the wrinkles on a beautiful face.
What is your style?
I don’t really like the word “eclectic”. That said, I like a mix, but I don’t believe you can just throw things together and think it will work. I always have a plan in my head before the first piece is purchased. When it’s orchestrated correctly you can mix all sorts of periods. I’ve paired a new table with old French chairs and it looks very refined.
What’s a good way for someone to hone their eye?
Visit galleries, museums, and great stores. Look at magazines, show houses, house tours. With exposure, you’ll start seeing things and may discover that you actually like a certain style you thought you didn’t.
What’s the first piece you ever bought?
A wooden slat chair in New Orleans. It’s gone everywhere with me and survived 43 years. I still use it today–it holds towels in our guestroom.
Is there a piece you wish you’d bought that you still think about now?
I don’t think so. I usually buy what I love. That’s one of the benefits of having L’Entrepot. If I decide I have to have it, I bring it home (or save it for our future NYC apartment). In our home I can walk around and honestly say I enjoy everything in it. Mixing different elements is what I like to do most. In our dining room for instance, I have an English walnut table from 1860, a Dutch china cabinet from the 1700’s, a French chandelier and sideboard, and two custom-made modern demilunes. The mix keeps things interesting and timeless.
What do you see in the future of antiques?
I find when people come in to the store now they no longer want the “Pottery Barn” look. When I say that I mean they no longer want to look like their neighbors or catalogs. They spend a lot of money on their homes and want them to reflect who they are. An older piece can make all the difference in a room. The construction of antique furniture is very different from present day construction. The wood used in the 1800s for example was slow growth and more dense. Veneers were used but it did not mean that the piece was inferior. Book-matched drawers and doors on a cabinet showed attention to detail and craftsmanship.
What is your most valuable design tip?
A long time ago there were “design rules” like the exact height to hang a fixture or keeping all four legs of a piece of furniture on the rug. It’s not like that now. Design a room that works for you and your lifestyle. I think the best advise I can share is to pay attention to traffic flow in a room and attention to layering. Did you ever look at a magazine and wonder how the owners get around the space? As far as layering, a room will not look flat if done well, there will be an added dimension to the space. I love to place a fantastic area rug on the “canvas”of sisal, you peel off the beauty! Also, a room should always have something that is unexpected. Whether it be a footstool with a funky fabric or a pillow in a color that is unexpected. These elements make a room more interesting and unpredictable. A caution though, a designer will know how to accomplish this so it is successful, so put trust in the design professional.
Shop Linda’s beautiful selection of antique pieces on The HighBoy: