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Home Design with Kevin Sharkey

Brimfield Antiques Show (Part I)

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The Brimfield Antiques and Collectibles Show is the largest and one of the best shows of its kind in the world.

brimfield_sign

Since 1959, It has been held three times a year in the quintessential New England town of Brimfield, Massachusetts.  It is a must for any designer, decorator, collector, or antiques aficionado.

Thousands of the country's dealers and collectors migrate to this tiny hamlet to buy, sell, browse, and haggle for six days straight.

Under the miles of tented outside fields, there is a range of product that is truly dizzying --  from a tent where all its contents are under $5 to furniture and accessories that can soar into the five-digit stratosphere.

Come along as we walk through (albeit a small part) of the first Brimfield Show of 2011.

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Daybreak on the first day of Brimfield and the parking lots are already filling up.

1 Daybreak on the first day of Brimfield and the parking lots are already filling up.

Another advantage to waking up this early? A gorgeous sky.

2 Another advantage to waking up this early? A gorgeous sky.

A common site at Brimfield? A myriad of antique wrought-iron beds.

3 A common site at Brimfield? A myriad of antique wrought-iron beds.

Large signs from shops and gas stations are popular items.

4 Large signs from shops and gas stations are popular items.

These matching rocking chairs are amazing.

5 These matching rocking chairs are amazing.

Often it is intimidating when faced with a display like this one. The key is to take your time and focus on items you are looking for.

6 Often it is intimidating when faced with a display like this one. The key is to take your time and focus on items you are looking for.

One of many horse sculptures that were sprinkled around Brimfield.

7 One of many horse sculptures that were sprinkled around Brimfield.

A hotel sign rests on a patchwork blanket.

8 A hotel sign rests on a patchwork blanket.

This gentleman is ready to shop. I wonder what he will have by the end of the day.

9 This gentleman is ready to shop. I wonder what he will have by the end of the day.

Cash only.

10 Cash only.

There is a nominal fee for entrance to each field.

11 There is a nominal fee for entrance to each field.

Quite a bargain to access all of those antiques.

12 Quite a bargain to access all of those antiques.

Brimfield stretches along one long road -- the main thoroughfare for shoppers.

13 Brimfield stretches along one long road -- the main thoroughfare for shoppers.

Here come the crowds.

14 Here come the crowds.

A beautiful (albeit cloudy) spring New England day.

15 A beautiful (albeit cloudy) spring New England day.

People often wear signs or their own clothes that advertise what they are hunting for. This couple wore matching exercise suits to hit the fields and get the world out about mah jongg.

16 People often wear signs or their own clothes that advertise what they are hunting for. This couple wore matching exercise suits to hit the fields and get the world out about mah jongg.

Many dealers take great pride in merchandising their wares.

17 Many dealers take great pride in merchandising their wares.

Yvette is making notes on her potential purchases.

18 Yvette is making notes on her potential purchases.

The green owl on the wooden deck set seems as if it were arranged already on someone's porch.

19 The green owl on the wooden deck set seems as if it were arranged already on someone's porch.

With so much walking, it's important to stop and fuel up from time to time.

20 With so much walking, it's important to stop and fuel up from time to time.

This screen caught our eyes immediately.

21 This screen caught our eyes immediately.

The wood planter was sprouting white tulips. That's how to make a sale.

22 The wood planter was sprouting white tulips. That's how to make a sale.

This wicker bench was miniature -- just the right size for a little girl's room.

23 This wicker bench was miniature -- just the right size for a little girl's room.

Each field area boasts a unique name. Here, the Dealer's Choice entrance.

24 Each field area boasts a unique name. Here, the Dealer's Choice entrance.

Green pottery and Depression glass was displayed on an antique lace tablecloth. The jadite (on the right) has always been a favorite of Martha's.

25 Green pottery and Depression glass was displayed on an antique lace tablecloth. The jadite (on the right) has always been a favorite of Martha's.

A view of just one of hundreds of rows of antiques.

26 A view of just one of hundreds of rows of antiques.

Stylist Scott is ready to shop!

27 Stylist Scott is ready to shop!

French flour sacks are piled inside one dealer's tent. These can easily be turned into pillows.

28 French flour sacks are piled inside one dealer's tent. These can easily be turned into pillows.

This trio of antique chairs was lovely. This mustard stripe stood out among the mostly blue and red striped linens.

29 This trio of antique chairs was lovely. This mustard stripe stood out among the mostly blue and red striped linens.

Such an interesting light fixture. However, it did not make it back to NYC.

30 Such an interesting light fixture. However, it did not make it back to NYC.

This caftan reminded us of something Barbra Streisand might have worn in

31 This caftan reminded us of something Barbra Streisand might have worn in "A Star is Born."

Scott and Decorating Editor Rebecca with just some of their Brimfield buys.

32 Scott and Decorating Editor Rebecca with just some of their Brimfield buys.

Crowds are lining up for a field of dealers that is set to open in mere moments.

33 Crowds are lining up for a field of dealers that is set to open in mere moments.

The crowds are eagerly awaiting another field to open.

34 The crowds are eagerly awaiting another field to open.

Finally, everyone is allowed in.

35 Finally, everyone is allowed in.

One of many stylish shoppers.

36 One of many stylish shoppers.

This dealer had an intriguing collection of pieces.

37 This dealer had an intriguing collection of pieces.

Everyone was a big fan of this outdoor set. The bamboo motif is amazing.

38 Everyone was a big fan of this outdoor set. The bamboo motif is amazing.

It's not uncommon to see a surfboard and tailor's forms together in one booth -- the mix is often unexpected.

39 It's not uncommon to see a surfboard and tailor's forms together in one booth -- the mix is often unexpected.

These chairs blew everyone away!

40 These chairs blew everyone away!

This dealer had a great selection of industrial furniture.

41 This dealer had a great selection of industrial furniture.

Many of the dealers were set up along a riverbank. So peaceful. Notice the ribbed vase on the right. The horizontal ribbing is so smart.

42 Many of the dealers were set up along a riverbank. So peaceful. Notice the ribbed vase on the right. The horizontal ribbing is so smart.

The thick-planked table on the left caught our eye.

43 The thick-planked table on the left caught our eye.

Don't you love these light fixtures?

44 Don't you love these light fixtures?

Another dapper Brimfield shopper.

45 Another dapper Brimfield shopper.

This Navajo blanket was simply stunning.

46 This Navajo blanket was simply stunning.

Such a gorgeous print. Unfortunately, the dealer was nowhere in sight to inquire about it.

47 Such a gorgeous print. Unfortunately, the dealer was nowhere in sight to inquire about it.

This gentleman knows what to wear to Brimfield.

48 This gentleman knows what to wear to Brimfield.

This display of African woven bowls was so colorful and interesting. Multiples of these would make a great wall display.

49 This display of African woven bowls was so colorful and interesting. Multiples of these would make a great wall display.

Some of the antique sales are tucked into some beautiful New England woods.

50 Some of the antique sales are tucked into some beautiful New England woods.

It's hard to remember just what was bought.

51 It's hard to remember just what was bought.

Bright and cheerful umbrellas shield each of the dining tables from sun...or rain.

52 Bright and cheerful umbrellas shield each of the dining tables from sun...or rain.

Another great option? Jumbo hot dogs.

53 Another great option? Jumbo hot dogs.

The line is growing for hand-cut fries.

54 The line is growing for hand-cut fries.

An impromptu ketchup bowl is created to accompany a burger.

55 An impromptu ketchup bowl is created to accompany a burger.

Yumm!

56 Yumm!

There is no end to the food choices available.

57 There is no end to the food choices available.

The world-famous Brimfield french fries.

58 The world-famous Brimfield french fries.

Another lunch option? Chicken gyro.

59 Another lunch option? Chicken gyro.

We don't feel badly about ending lunch with an ice-cream sundae. After all, we've been walking all day.

60 We don't feel badly about ending lunch with an ice-cream sundae. After all, we've been walking all day.

A few of the day's finds...tucked away safely.

61 A few of the day's finds...tucked away safely.

A grouping of brass vessels intricately carved with beautiful designs.

62 A grouping of brass vessels intricately carved with beautiful designs.

The rugs on offer here were incredible.

63 The rugs on offer here were incredible.

On to the next tent...

64 On to the next tent...

And only hundreds more to go...

65 And only hundreds more to go...

This table had the most delicate thin legs. Look for it in Martha Stewart Living soon.

66 This table had the most delicate thin legs. Look for it in Martha Stewart Living soon.

This horse head was really impressive. It was impressively priced as well...$3000.

67 This horse head was really impressive. It was impressively priced as well...$3000.

Taking breaks is important to be able to keep focused.

68 Taking breaks is important to be able to keep focused.

Nothing says New England like a pristine white church steeple.

69 Nothing says New England like a pristine white church steeple.

With all of the hunting, sometimes you forget you are in some of the prettiest country.

70 With all of the hunting, sometimes you forget you are in some of the prettiest country.

More impressive rugs.

71 More impressive rugs.

A perfect basket.

72 A perfect basket.

You could use it in so many ways...in so many rooms.

73 You could use it in so many ways...in so many rooms.

Every corner holds a new surprise at Brimfield. Here a set of hand-carved models.

74 Every corner holds a new surprise at Brimfield. Here a set of hand-carved models.

An impressive display of jadite at one dealer's booth.

75 An impressive display of jadite at one dealer's booth.

There are also a number of garden ornament dealers that attend Brimfield.

76 There are also a number of garden ornament dealers that attend Brimfield.

A view of just one of the dozens of Brimfield areas. Look at that sky.

77 A view of just one of the dozens of Brimfield areas. Look at that sky.

This is where to go to stock a kitchen or a bar area.

78 This is where to go to stock a kitchen or a bar area.

A rack of plaster arms.

79 A rack of plaster arms.

This case held embroidery thread spools at one point.

80 This case held embroidery thread spools at one point.

What's this?

81 What's this?

Props from the television series Survivor.

82 Props from the television series Survivor.

Tents are a necessity to keep antique pieces safe and dry.

83 Tents are a necessity to keep antique pieces safe and dry.

Another horse.

84 Another horse.

I hope everything fits.

85 I hope everything fits.

Starting to pack up all our finds to make their way back to New York.

86 Starting to pack up all our finds to make their way back to New York.

In case any of the crowds thought otherwise.

87 In case any of the crowds thought otherwise.

An eccentric dealer's outfit du jour.

88 An eccentric dealer's outfit du jour.

Kerstin and Scott are tired but happy at the end of the shopping day.

89 Kerstin and Scott are tired but happy at the end of the shopping day.

A long day of antiquing is rewarded with a hearty meal.

90 A long day of antiquing is rewarded with a hearty meal.

Did this set get purchased? Check back tomorrow to see.

91 Did this set get purchased? Check back tomorrow to see.

If you missed the show last week, do not fear. You can still attend two more times in 2011. Here are the dates:

July 12-17

September 6-11

To help the novice, we have created a list of Brimfield Dos and Dont's. Be sure to print it out to take with you before you hit the road.

Brimfield DOs

1. DO bring plenty of cash -- very few dealers accept checks or credit cards.

2. DO wear comfortable shoes. The days are long and you are walking through wet fields most of the time.

3. DO bring hand wipes. Many items are dusty and you'll be touching a lot of pieces throughout the day.

4. DO remember to write down measurements of spaces you would like to fill. This will ensure your new find looks perfect.

5. DO get the hand-cut french fries at the food court (which offers everything from lobster rolls to ice-cream sundaes).

6. DO bring a large shopping bag with shoulder straps and possibly a handcart so that you can transport your finds back to the car.


Brimfield DON'TS

1. DON'T sleep in. Except for special areas, most dealers are there at dawn. The later you sleep the less will be available to you.

2. DON'T walk away if you really love something. Chances are, it won't be there when you come back.

3. DON'T bring only large bills. Be sure to start saving up your one dollar bills and quarters. Often, dealers don't have change.

4. DON'T be shy about asking a dealer if he can give you a better price. They are used to customers asking politely to take some money off.

5. DON'T shop alone if this is your first visit. It's good to have a trusted friend give his or her opinion on a possible purchase.

** Be sure to check back tomorrow when the decorating editors will share what they brought back from Brimfield!

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Comments (7)

  • Wow I would love to attend this show, I wish! looks amazing and great finds. Thank you for the tour Kevin.

  • Thank you for taking us on a photographic journey through all the treasures and unique items to be found there! I hope to go myself one day!!

  • Love the shots looked like a great haul, who got the great Andover chairs,lucky person,thanks from another Kevin with great taste.

  • I love your blog Kevin!

    The entire reason I went to the Brimfield antique show in the first place is because Martha did a story on it (many years ago) in MSL magazine!

    I would add that you can buy things and leave them in a booth and pick them up on your way back to the car. However, finding that booth again can be a problem (you can't imagine how big this place is and every row looks the same!).

    Plan to go back to your car at lunch - that way you can lock away your morning haul and go back unencumbered after lunch.

    Wear a backpack/fanny pack - it's a fashion "don't" but you'll need your hands free. You only need money and lipgloss anyway - leave the purse in the car.

    Go to the "everything is a dollar" tent - you'd be amazed what little treasures are there!

    Don't miss the freshly squeezed (to order!) lemonade that comes with the whole lemon (post squeezing!) in the cup! It's delish.

  • Thanks for the great tour! I love looking at antiques and especially old furniture and that Texaco sign takes me back. It looks like one from a small town in Michigan from years ago. I'm not sure I could manage all that walking but I know I could handle the stopping off for lunch! Picture #81 sure looks weird, scary - someone's idea of art? In answer to your question about #91, yes, I think the set got purchased!

  • Kevin, great blog. I loved seeing the photo with all my vintage clothes and 50's gowns hanging from my tent with the Big White Church in the background. Look forward to reading more of your blogs.
    Sellersue2002@aol.com

  • Are you at Brimfield this year, Kevin? I'd love to come say Hi!

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