I spent Tuesday night at Ben’s brother’s ranch, the KW, deep in the country at Chappell Hill, Texas – a quaint, tiny town just one hour from Houston. The distance in miles is short, but the terrain changes dramatically as you encounter the rolling hills of Washington County, one of the prettiest and most historical parts of Texas. I am here to visit Shannon and Kirk and their kids, to be sure, but mainly I am here to rest up for Wednesday – the day the official Round Top Antiques Fair begins. I know what I am in for and I know I will need a good night’s sleep before a full day of shopping. For some reason, I sleep really soundly at Shannon’s and sure enough, they have to wake me up at 9:00 a.m. out of a deep slumber. Of course Shannon and her other antiquing house guest, Carol, have been up for hours, already exercised and showered – all while I dozed blissfully unaware. They left for Round Top while I drove with half opened eyes to Brenham, the bordering town, in a desperate search for Starbucks.
Tent cities of antiques spring up magically in every town and field surrounding Round Top. Some are small venues and some are huge, like Marburger Farm.
The antique fair has already been in full swing for the past week. In the fields and towns surrounding Round Top, tents are pitched here and there and each has its own opening and closing dates – but the main event at Round Top is always Wednesday through Sunday on the first weekend in April and October. Over the years the fair has grown to enormous proportions. We used to be able to see it all in one day – even leaving at 3:00 p.m. feeling that we had left no antiques unseen. Those easy days are long gone. Now it could take a week to hit every tent city in search of antiques and still, you wouldn’t see it all. Originally, Round Top was in the Rifle Hall, a nice air conditioned building, and then you would head out to Carmine – another air conditioned building in the next town. But ever since Emma Lee Turney sold the Fair, old traditions have changed. Round Top has moved to the new, Big Red Barn with two huge additional tents. Where once the fair was mostly Americana and Texan antiques, now Swedish and French have overtaken the newer areas like The Arbor and Marburger Farm. The most popular venue today is Marburger Farms with its numerous and endlessly long tents that stretch so far out, manned golf carts are there to cart you to and from your car. The air inside Marburger’s tents is stifling hot and oppressive, it’s actually cooler to stand outside under the blazing sun than inside. Obama should bring the prisoners from Gitmo here – they would be tortured enough inside the hot tents to confess to any war crime.
Two tin men and a horse, but where are the usual throngs of people?
The biggest surprise this year was the lack of crowds. Round Top is usually crowded with throngs of shoppers, but this time, the aisles looked so empty! I’ve never seen it so quiet – it was an unsettling statement on our economy, but less people meant more breathable air for us. It’s hard to imagine how much hotter it would have been had it been crowded! As always, the most fun of the antique extravaganza is seeing old friends and meeting up with people. I spent the day shopping with Brooke Giannetti from Velvet and Linen who flew in from L.A. for the event to buy for her decor shop. Also shopping with us was Angela who flew in from Washington and had met up with Brooke in Austin Tuesday night. As the day wore on, I had finally had enough of the stifling heat and headed up to Brenham to see my friend Maryanne at Beadboard Upcountry. Then, it was back to Chappell Hill to pack up and drive home to Houston. Thursday, I spent the day nursing my sore legs. If you’ve never been to Round Top, you should come see it at least once. Yes, it can be overwhelming, hot, crazy, and nerve wracking, but mostly it’s great antiques and great people!
On Tuesday when I pulled up to KW Ranch, my niece and nephew greeted me on their horses, only in Texas, folks!
And Bella, a baby longhorn and the newest member of the KW Ranch family, came up to greet me too. She’s sooo darling – look at the grass caught in her mouth! Her longhorns are finally just sprouting out.
Two of the three donkeys came up to see the visiting city-girl. The donkeys just crack me up – they are so funny looking with their long floppy ears! They work hard though- their very serious job is to protect the chickens, dogs, and cats by scaring off the coyotes.
I could only get a picture of two of the FIVE English Springer Spaniels – one of them is my Georgie’s litter mate! Hi Sarita and Quatro! There are also three cats hanging out, lots of rabbits, and tons of chickens which lay the most gorgeous pastel hued eggs.
The front yard at KW Ranch. During the spring the entire yard is covered with bluebonnets.
My favorite place to blog while I’m here is under this huge Live Oak tree.
The barn and stables where all the animals live.
The swimming pool – you have to have one here in the summer!
There is a charming guest house at KW Ranch, with two bedrooms. Casita Dos’ bedroom is so beautiful with all its antique French furniture.
The window coverings are so pretty!
In the main house, Shannon has already decorated for fall and Halloween, of course! She also bought out the entire supply of gourds in Washington County. I’m sure she is counting down the days until she can put out her Christmas decorations. I was under strict instructions not to take anymore pictures inside the house until Shannon could style it all up, but antiques were calling us! Next time I’ll show pictures inside – especially of her new turquoise colored office.
The next morning, I’m off to Round Top, a short 20 minute drive from Chappell Hill. There were even some wildflowers along the way. During the spring Round Top Antique Fair, the fields are a sea of blue from the bluebonnets which is a huge draw for Texans.
First stop is Marburger Farms– a tent city larger than Chappell Hill. Notice something missing? The people! In past years the aisles would be filled with people. Whenever I go to Round Top, I usually spend the first few hours overwhelmed by all the antiques. It’s hard to stay focused on a mission when you are hyperventilating from all the beauty. Then there is buyers remorse. As soon as I made my first purchase, I walked around to the next aisle and found the same items at a better price! Should I go back and return it or just forget it? In the end, you just have to realize that no matter what you buy, you’ll probably see it again at a better price – you just have to keep moving.
Here’s someone I know: Olga Granda-Scott from Dancing Through Paris!!! Olga and her husband own the beautiful antique store Alhambra Antiques in Florida and they were showing at Marburger. I was shocked at young Olga was! She looked like she was 15, but I’m sure she is just a little bit older since she has three children. That ridiculous looking person on the left is moi – the scarf lasted about 10 minutes in the heat. See how empty the aisles were? Unreal!
I’m in love with chandeliers that look like this – with a gilded wooden column and glorious crystals. I could swear I saw this exact chandelier two years ago?!! And at the price they were asking for it, it probably never has sold.
There was plenty of gray painted furniture everywhere, especially in Marburger Farm and The Arbor. Brooke is more picky about her finishes than I am. I just can’t afford the finest finishes, though I wish I could, but I CAN tell the difference though!
This booth had great trendy things, especially for Marburger Farm. Look at the basket light fixture.
Swedish in Texas from Atlanta.
I came to Round Top with one real mission which was to buy a zebra rug. But everyone told me the “zebra” lady wasn’t here this year. Well, they were all wrong. She was there, but her trademark foot-high stack of rugs is now down to just two remaining ones. And she said, this is it – she doesn’t think she will ever get any more! At least I got one for my client – she was thrilled and so was I. I was just glad I didn’t miss her otherwise I’m not sure my client would have wanted to pay what everyone else charges for them.
We left Marburger Farm to check out Round Top’s Big Red Barn where Bobo’s is. Mark Sage had rented 20 spaces for all his things. Of course it was located in the one unairconditioned tent at Round Top.
More Bobo. Most disappointing was Mark wasn’t there, I really wanted to meet the genius behind the wine barrel chandelier, etc. But his assistant was extra cute and sexy, so that made up for it! OK OK OK, I KNOW he wasn’t actually interested in the sweating, bloated elephant that I had become that day, but I can pretend!!!!
The Garten: The Garten had two booths – one in Marburger Farm and one in Round Top. Owned by Julie Greenwood (whose house I feature on my blog ad nauseum) who has the best taste, her booths certainly reflected this fact. Both Brooke and I were foaming at the mouth over her things. I wish I had more pictures of the merchandise, but at this point I was DONE with the camera. Taking it out expended too much energy. Energy generates heat. But of course, Brooke, being so skinny and lithe wasn’t sweating like a pig like I was so she took more pictures. After we left Round Top, Brooke wanted to go back to the heat of Marburger Farm. So, we returned and found some great things we missed the first go round which was a real lesson to me. I usually don’t go back for a second look – but it’s worth it when the merchandise is so beautiful. Marburger Farm is definitely THE best of Round Top, in my opinion. The dealers are, for the most part, top quality, with more Swedish and French inventory than elsewhere. And it’s so large – its amazing how much wonderful inventory there is at Marburger. Thursday night, a cool front blew in and the temperature dropped significantly. I’m almost tempted to go back this weekend – it’s going to be so much cooler in Round Top, which is great for the dealers who have to sit there all day and even better for the shoppers.
At this point, the sweating Elephant had had enough and headed out, bidding goodbye to sweet Brooke and Angela. Sshhh: don’t tell the fat one, but hiding behind your purse does NOT make you look skinnier especially when you stand between two people who put together weigh less than you do! Shame!
Off to a quick Starbucks pit stop and into Brenham to visit Maryanne at Beadboard Upcountry – the best store in Washington County.
My kind of place: air conditioned! And so cute too! I bought one of her shawls in gray and black.
Such a cute display! A table set for one, with two chairs. Someone just won’t eat. I love her pillows – they are so darling and trendy and they match my necklace.
The best part? There’s no place like home! Contemplating my collection of blue and white transferware which is soon going on an extended vacation, thanks to my purchases at Round Top. Stay tuned to see the changes I made to my Carol Glasser-inspired collection. Living with something for over 15 years gets rather boring, don’t you think?
AND – To read all about A Day in the Life of Cote de Texas, go read it HERE on the blog, In Her Shoes. I spill all my secrets, that’s for sure!!
AND BE SURE to listen to the new Skirted Roundtable where we talk about high and low decorating and that FAMOUS $349 Ikea slipcovered sofa (yes again!). Tune in HERE for another fun filled adventure with the Two Grinches and the Jew aka The Skirted Roundtable.