Amy Whyte has been an interior stylist and vendor at the Old Lucketts Store in Northern Virginia for 25 years. During those years, she sourced, curated and styled hundreds of rooms for their monthly Design House. Design House is a unique selling venue where she and her team would basically furnish and decorate a turn of the century farmhouse, open the doors for one weekend and sell everything inside. Then turn around and do it all over again!!
Amy has been buying and selling at auctions for 30 years. “Nothing makes me happier than hitting the road in my truck and spending the day at a local country auction."
“These days’ auctions are more online which can be fun in another way. It's nice to be able to browse from multiple locations from the comfort of my cozy armchair with a cup of tea. I'm not gonna lie -- as I get older, this new way of auctioning is very appealing!”
Amy resides in her fixer upper farmhouse in Northern Va. with her family and three Standard Poodles. They also have a little mountain cottage @hayes.cottage where they either spend the weekends or rent out on Vrbo.
Your designs combine many different patterns such as stripes, checkerboard, etc. How are you able to combine these to create a charming space without making it feel too busy?
I LOVE layering and playing with patterns and textures. To me it's a way to make a home interesting and uniquely your own.
#1. I usually pick one fabric with multiple colors as my jumping off point. It can be a floral, stripe or even just a multicolored textured weave. I use this fabric as my base or tie in and all the other fabrics revolve around it.
#2. I then select other fabrics varying in scale that pick up on two or three of the colors in the base piece. For example, I may start with a large scale multi colored floral then layer that with a medium check and tiny stripe or small scale floral. But this is a general rule.
#3. My experience has been that sometimes what you think should go together, for some reason does not work. So my advice would be to play with it.
Have fun testing things out, grab swatches and samples and move them around into different groupings until it feels right. It's more of a feeling than anything. How does the group play together?
Also don't be too concerned with being perfectly matchy matchy. Sometimes things just a little off make a more interesting and harmonious group. They may all be a little off, but for whatever reason, when you put them all together they sing in perfect harmony.
#4. For me trial and error is key in pattern play. I never get it right on the first try. It's a process of massaging different components until it feels just right.
#5. And lastly, edit, edit, edit to keep it all from looking too busy. Try putting things together and then remove one or two, step back and see how it looks. And repeat that process until it feels right to YOU!
The kitchen in your Virginia cottage contains various vintage items and appliances that add to the space's overall charm. What are your top tips for shopping vintage?
One thing I find helpful when shopping vintage is to bring a list of room measurements and the measurement requirements for the items I'm searching for. This helps me stay focused and quickly rule out any pieces that may not fit even though I'm in love with them.
Another thing I find helpful is to bring pictures of the space I'm shopping for and the other items in the room. That way, when I find a piece that may work, I can check it against the other items in the room and see how it may feel in the space by comparing them side by side. I'm always amazed at how helpful this is and always glad I brought photos!
What got you interested in secondhand, vintage and antique items?
Ever since I was a girl I've been going to antiques stores and country auctions with my mom. She cultivated a love of all things old and well loved in me from an early age.
I can remember the first auction I went to with her. She fell in love with an antique oak hoosier cabinet. I watched and waited breathlessly as she bid. It was all so exciting!
She was the winning bidder and took home the cabinet for $200. That cabinet has moved with her from home to home over the past 43 years. It now lives with her at her retirement home in Florida!
I also have fond memories of spending a lot of time on my grandparents farm. Their home was filled with antiques and art. My favorite thing in their home was a collection of paint by numbers done by my great grandfather.
What are the one or two things you always find yourself bidding on/looking for when shopping second?
Hands down my favorite things to find are vintage textiles. I am a textile junkie. I love mixing and matching patterns, colors and textures and textiles are wonderful ways to bring this into your decor. And I can never have enough!
I love having a stash of blankets, quilts, and pillows and changing them out seasonally. A room can feel completely refreshed and transformed with the quick change out a few throw pillows and the drape of a quilt over the back of a chair!
What's your absolute favorite item ever purchased at an estate sale or auction?
My absolute favorite find ever happened just recently at an estate sale I went to with a friend. It was an old house owned by an art collector. And in the basement, under a table, I spied an old leather artist folder.
When I zipped open the folder I found several old pastel drawings. The images struck me immediately. I loved the vivid, bold colors and there was something about the images that just resonated with me.
I noticed that they were all signed with the initials E L P. I had no idea who that was but I just knew I loved them and wanted to bring them home. I purchased the entire case for $10.
Turns out E L P is Ethel Louise Paddock - an artist born in 1875. She lived in New York and is known for her landscape, marine, and harbor paintings. She was a member of the National Association of Women artists and her paintings have sold at auction from $300-$2400. However, I don't plan on selling the pieces.
I am having them framed and plan on hanging them in my home and enjoying them. But what a fun find!
Any tips or advice for online auction or estate sale newbies?
My biggest tip for online auction newbies is to put in your max bid and let the auction co. do your bidding for you. I've lost many pieces starting with my low bid and thinking I'll be able to keep up with the bidding once the auction goes live.
Also, scale can be tricky to interpret from a photo. Pay close attention to any clues the auction photos give you and be sure to read the description details carefully.
Other than that, get comfy, grab your favorite cup of tea or adult beverage and have fun!!
Vira Varvyanska (Ukraine - Poland) Fortress Oil Painting (Associated Estate & Appraisal Co.)
Vintage J. HOLST Flower Still Life Oil Painting (Associated Estate & Appraisal Co.)
Vintage FREEMAN Still Life Oil Painting (Associated Estate & Appraisal Co.)
Antique Carved Flip Top Table Really Amazing Detailing in The Claws & Florets, Burlwood Design on The Top (Full of Surprizes Estate and Tag Sales Auctions)
Ethan Allen Large Ottoman with Blue Ikat Cover (Clearing House Estate Sales)
Mansion Size Olive and Salsa Customize Rug from Wilton Gallery 18ft 6in X 11ft 5in (Clearing House Estate Sales)
Circa 20th Century Oak Smith and Jones Scandinavian Pine Wood Armoire (Clearing House Estate Sales)
Amazing Hand-Knotted Wool Area Rug (Clearing House Estate Sales)
SCHott Zwiesel Green Vases from Poland (Full of Surprizes Estate and Tag Sales Auctions)
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