Briggs House has found a new home in Port Chester, which will open for business April 1.
By Janice Llanes Fabry
Briggs House has found a new home in Port Chester, which will open for business April 1. The prestigious shop has made an indelible mark in the antiques business for close to 30 years thanks to the keen eye and the good taste of its owner, Loraine Bauchmann.
“I look at a piece and I know in a second if it’s interesting to me,” she said. “It has to have a lot of warmth and history, and a patina that only comes with 200 years.”
Indeed, Bauchmann has a penchant for fine 17th and 18th century handmade furniture from England, Wales, and France. She is currently waiting for a large shipment of furnishings from England to fill up the new 7,000-square-foot space at 114 Pearl Street, where she acquired two floors.
“This fabulous building was an old school. It has super high ceilings and windows and customers will have ample space to wander in,” said Bauchmann, who relocated from Mamaroneck, and Larchmont before that.
The shop has a studio, where all her furniture is photographed for the Briggs’ website and for www.1stdibs.com, which brings a selective handful of antique dealers to discerning collectors. The fact that Briggs is on their short list is quite a coup for Bauchmann.
There’s also a restoration room, where Frank Diaz has been repairing wobbly legs or waxing surfaces since Briggs opened for business in 1986 in New Rochelle, soon after Bauchmann and her husband moved from a Manhattan apartment to a 1917 Tudor designed by Claire Briggs. Intent on furnishing it with period pieces, Loraine went to England and bought all her furniture from a vendor she still uses today.
That buying spree led to a career change.
“I discovered I really enjoyed buying furniture and I knew antiques. I also preferred traveling overseas over commuting everyday on a train,” explained Bauchmann, who had been a marketing director for Charles of the Ritz cosmetics. Consequently, the fearless entrepreneur took the name of her architect and opened Briggs House.
Known nationwide today, the store has always carried the finest antiques from the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as some classic 1950s and 60s pieces. There are thousands to choose from and Bauchmann has every last one of them catalogued in her head. She’s also been in the business too long to become attached to any one of them.
“There’s always something I’m going to find that catches my fancy. It could be a one-of-a-kind piece with dings from use or a carving or the grain that appeals to me,” she remarked. “It could be an 1800 pine housekeeper’s cupboard from a Manor House in Wales, which has had time to develop a gorgeous patina.”
Although most of her clients are interior designers, Bauchmann welcomes any shopper looking for a particular piece. The off-the-beaten-path location of the new store requires customers to call for an appointment, but shoppers are encouraged to browse at their leisure after checking in at the front desk on the second floor.
While Briggs House keeps moving farther north, Bauchmann has moved south to Florida. However, the long distance will not prohibit her from running the business down to the last detail. She will make frequent trips to Port Chester and continue traveling annually to Europe in search of the most beautiful antiques.
“All you can do is buy what you love and know that somebody else is going to love it,” she said.
Briggs House is open by appointment Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Call 933-0022.