At work, Antiques on Jackson owners Simon and Maria Hardeveld sell elegant yet rustic European antiques and accessories, along with Simon's colorful folk art paintings. At home, the couple is happily surrounded by more of the same. Vignette after vignette of artfully arranged furnishings, architectural fragments, tapestries, books, paintings, chandeliers and other miscellany — the more peeling and patinaed the better — tell the story of their appreciation for timeless objects.
"We buy things that have their original finishes and surfaces," says Maria, a native New Orleanian whose love for antiques was instilled by relatives who emigrated to New Orleans from Italy. "That's my passion. My mind starts wondering how many people sat on this settee, how many people put their hands on the arms, how long did it take for the paint to rub off? Now it's down to the bare wood, and it's beautiful."
A native of Chamonix, France and former chef, Simon shares his wife's affinity for antique, distressed and hand-hewn wares, taking satisfaction in their daily use. His grandmother lived in a 17th century farmhouse where period furniture rubbed elbows with stores of feed grain. The same kind of juxtaposition appears in the Hardeveld's home, where Simon's painted signage is a lighthearted counterpoint to the sophisticated cache of furnishings. "It's like here," he says of the contrast. "For me, it's typically New Orleans."
Typical is not a word that otherwise comes to mind regarding the Hardeveld's residence. Every piece is deftly placed with a stylist's eye. Originally an 1898 farmhouse with crops and a dairy nearby, the Broadmoor structure had fallen into neglect when the Hardevelds purchased it. Five college students, several English bulldogs and a slew of pizza boxes and beer cans inhabited the building. Midway through the renovation process, the neighborhood flooded following the 2005 levee failures. The Hardevelds chose to start renovating again and rebuild their decades-old antiques collection.
Once a warren of rooms that included a bedroom and a full bath, the downstairs has been simplified. A centrally located bedroom became a cozy sitting room, and the full bath was eliminated to enlarge the kitchen and breakfast area. A side porch became an enclosed, light-filled sanctuary where Maria often sips tea and pores over shelter magazines and decorating books like The World Of Interiors. Floor-to-ceiling white paint provides a neutral background for the furnishings and art, which were quickly replaced by several seasoned buyers who cover the East Coast and European markets for the Hardeveld's business.
Nearly every inch of available space displays something lovely, including items from France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Belgium.
"When we go out of town, I always have to look for that one treasure," Maria says. "And a lot of times I find something, some little tidbit that's wonderful."
Upstairs, the master and guest bedrooms, two bathrooms, Maria's office and Simon's studio are home to more of the couple's collection. "I love to look at things of a different era, of a different time when things were more peaceful and society lived at a different pace," Maria says. Like her husband, she doesn't use a computer at home or at work. "Answering emails doesn't even enter my realm of thinking. The more I see people do it, the more I step back from it. When we go to a dinner, I sit down and personally write a note to say thank you. If they can do that for me, I can do that for them."
The kitchen, located at the rear of the house, is both an antiquarian's and a foodie's delight; both husband and wife are good cooks, though Simon prefers painting to culinary pursuits these days. An old wooden bar delineates the cooking area and serves as counter space for the assortment of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, French bread and pastries that is always on hand, displayed beneath glass cloches. At the kitchen's rear, one of Simon's signs adds a touch of his trademark ebullience. Local restaurants and patisseries — Joey K's, Lola's, La Boulangerie and Croissant D'Or — are home to his work, and he recently completed a set for a new local television show that will air on WGNO-TV.
"More and more, I love what I do because of the people of New Orleans," he says with a French accent that his wife affectionately imitates. "I really paint more for the people of New Orleans than for me."
As passionate as they are about their businesses, Maria and Simon are even more passionate about the day-to-day life they savor at home. "It's not just a place to eat and sleep," Maria says. "It's an eclectic mix of everything I love."
"Every day, when we go home and pull in the driveway," adds Simon, "I say, 'Home sweet home.'"