Photos courtesy Laura Roland

Good as new: Laura Roland of Fireside Antiques talks favorite eras, decor advice and more

These past months of COVID-19 have likely, at one point, sent all of us in search of something new. New clothes for lounging indoors, new kitchen utensils for baking all that bread, a new headboard, a new bookshelf, a new desk chair. Anything to create an insta-memory to fill up a year thwarted by time. But what if time—or rather, a look back in time—is just what we need to spruce up a space, a mindset or even a tabletop, and remind us of what good our homes can do for us?

That’s what antiques are for. A bit of beauty, a bit of history, a bit of irony in an old piece making a corner of the room seem new again. That’s also where Laura Roland, co-owner of Fireside Antiques and designer behind Laura Roland Interiors, comes in. Louisiana already has a rich European history still evident in home design and decorating trends, but for Roland, antiques in Louisiana hold special insights about combining timelessness with unexpected freshness. Read on to discover more about her favorite eras, pieces, tips for outdoor decor as the weather cools down, and more.

Laura Roland. Photo courtesy Laura Roland Interiors.

What era or style of furniture do you particularly enjoy and why? 

The longer I’ve been in the business, the more I appreciate particular styles that I didn’t love 10 years ago. It’s just a matter of exposure and education that leads us to admire and appreciate styles we never imagined we would enjoy. Just as in fashion, there are trends in collecting different periods and styles of antiques, and there are many antiques that stay relevant and timeless.

If I must narrow it down, Empire and Louis Philippe styles are very attractive, clever and simple antiques. You can really celebrate the wood, as there is typically less distracting carving, and they are easily dressed up or down depending on your interior and what direction you want it to go in. Antiques were custom-made—not mass produced—so each antique of a particular style has its own flair. There might be a Louis XVI chest that I love and another Louis XVI chest that doesn’t speak to me. Any style can be relevant to present-day interior design.

What is your advice for using antiques outdoors? 

Vertical antiques can instantly elevate your garden. Antique urns on pedestals, armillary spheres and statues are easy to see and add an unexpected and charming height to your garden design, and they are low maintenance. We have a large selection of marble-top bistro tables and French metal chairs that we have custom painted for clients’ gardens. They are durable and ready to use outside.

Most clients we talk to need narrow iron console tables that are used for entertaining. We have iron panels from antique balconies and fences that we make into custom consoles with marble tops, perfect for that narrow space that needs to function and make a statement. If you’re looking for the unexpected in your garden, antique shops are the places to visit.

What is one of your favorite antiques you’ve ever sold?

I often think about a very worn ebonized shop counter with a paneled backsplash and shelving. The antique was massive, measuring at 10′ H x 10′ W x 2′ D! I really enjoy antiques that are both feminine and masculine, and when the patina is perfect.

Another one I dream about is a 19th-century Dutch kussenkast. We do our best not to lust over our antiques, but we are quite fond of them and get very excited when we know they are going to a great home. We are grateful when clients share images of their Fireside Antiques pieces so we can see how much they are loved.

How can people use antiques in a way that doesn’t make their home seem like a museum? 

There are museum-quality antiques and then there are antiques you want to live with. Museums curate their collections showcasing everything from the same era or artist. Too much of one thing will make your home seem like a museum or a showroom. Residential interiors should not be a one-stop shop. Good design takes time. Collect and learn as you go, and buy what speaks to you. Modern art, furnishings and antiques all have their individual charm that move you in some inherent way. We enjoy antiques because they have a history, a story to tell. Like us, the antiques we sell and enjoy are not always perfect. They are cleverly designed, crafted and patinated. They were built to last and are the furnishings you want to raise your family with.

What is your favorite antique you’ve ever purchased? Let us know in the comments below.