“Antiques for the modern world” is the ethos behind Baton Rouge-based Fireside Antiques. Mother-and-daughter owners Susan and Laura Roland love to incorporate the work of master creators from centuries past with the comforts of modern living. And they know a thing or two about finding the best pieces from the past: For decades, they’re toured the English and French countryside, working with European partners to source exceptional items from the 18th through 20th centuries.
We spoke with Laura about the business she runs with her mother, their 18,000-square-foot showroom, and how sourcing has evolved over the last few years. Read what she had to say and shop their offerings on Chairish.
First and foremost, how did Fireside Antiques get its start? And how did you select the name?
Fireside Antiques was started 40 years ago by my grandmother and mother, Cheri McDaniel and Susan Roland. Cheri was a contractor who sourced antique architectural elements for her designs, and Susan was an interior designer with a love for European antiques and the hopes of opening a storefront. They started going on their first buying trips to England and Portugal, and Fireside Antiques was born! I started going on some of these buying trips in high school, and after graduating with a BFA in interior design from Savannah College of Art & Design, I became a third-generation interior designer and co-owner.
As for the name, it was inspired by one of my grandmother’s design signatures: a large, welcoming stone fireplace that graces the front of our showroom.
You carry a wide range of 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century European antiques. How did that take shape for you, and how do you manage your sourcing from Europe?
Over the last 40 years, we have traveled to Europe many times a year to hand select our antiques. We now have a vast number of contacts that keep us updated when special pieces become available. We have maintained warehouse locations in France and England that allow us to receive and process deliveries. And in the U.S., our showroom started with 1,500 square feet and has evolved into 18,000 square feet, all of which can be found online.
How was sourcing affected by the pandemic, and how did it affect business overall? Did you pivot the way you work as a result of changes in the industry over the last two years?
Traveling to Europe to source inventory wasn’t possible for 15 months due to travel restrictions, of course. We had to pivot to virtual means of purchasing through photos and videos. While it had its challenges, our relationships in Europe and regional warehouses made it possible to maintain our inventory.
Have you seen more customers coming through digital methods like Chairish? Do you see that having an effect on how designers shop for vintage, in particular?
Yes, online sales have definitely increased, and using market platforms is a must going forward. We ship 70% of our business out of state. With production delays for new build furniture, designers and clients appreciate that all of our antiques are restored and ready to use, in stock, and ready to deliver.
What types of pieces do you see moving these days? What are the patterns in terms of what’s selling right now?
The most popular styles for us are Louis XVI, Empire, Restoration, and Louis-Phillippe. As for specific pieces, French Enfilades and buffets have been a top seller for a while now, for both their storage and functionality in a variety of spaces like dining rooms, living rooms, and bedrooms. Farm tables and drapery tables are also functional classics that pair wonderfully with many different styles. Louis Phillippe mirrors are an easy customer favorite and sell as quickly as we can get them on to the showroom floor. We always keep a large variety of all these items, with multiple sizes, so we have something to fit any space.
Do you see any upcoming trends in terms of what’s next for the design world? What types of pieces do you hope to stock next?
Many designers have started to integrate antique and vintage statement pieces into new build projects and are pairing accent pieces with new custom furniture. We love to see a marriage of new with the quality craftsmanship and clean lines that antiques provide. Whimsical antiques are also always on trend to add a touch of the unexpected.
Are there any styles or trends you’d like to see disappear in the design world right now?
White on white on white, aka The Great Whiteout. We love to see designs break this mold by integrating pattern and color that add character and dimension back into minimalist spaces, to merge antiques with the modern world.
Who are some of your favorite makers or designers, in terms of your own inspirations?
The list is always growing as we see new trends daily but a few of our biggest inspirations are Logan Killen Interiors, Heidi Callier, Jessica Helgerson, Ben Pentreath, Nickey Kehoe, Stephanie Sabbe, Pierce and Ward, Bunny Williams, Sara Ruffin Castello, and so many more.
Lead image by Chad Chenier