Alex MacArthur – open house antiques
When antiques expert Alex MacArthur closed her eponymous Kemptown shop after seven years, she opened the doors of her theatrical four-storey Regency home to act as a invite-only showroom for her finds. The first Open House launched in December 2012, showcasing everything from 17th century Italian antiques through 20th century industrial pieces to contemporary art and attracting buyers and collectors from all over the UK. Here she tells Vintage Brighton about her unique enterprise….
How did your antiques career begin?
I came in through the back door! I worked as a furniture restorer’s assistant for 7 years and looked after several antique shops before building up enough stock for my own. I have been in the business one way or the other for 30 years.
What type of interior of projects do you work on?
I work right across the board from sourcing for private clients and antique dealers to working with interior decorators to hotel owners.
What has been your most exciting find?
A carved figure of San Sebastián, circa 1650. It was an incredibly rare and beautiful piece and it’s always very satisfying when you find a piece like that.
Why did you decide to close down your shop and move into an open house set-up instead?
I wanted to enjoy a better work/life balance whilst being able to maintain contact with my clients and celebrate my latest finds with people in the surroundings of my family home. I see my home as my own art installation and gallery, so for me, it was an easy decision to make.
You still have a ‘shop-window’ in Kemptown – tell us about that:
After closing the shop, I took over a new shop window that serves as a 3-D advert for the Open House events – it’s a three-metre wide floor-to-ceiling screen projecting images of stock and interiors that can be operated from home. The idea was to have a presence on the high street without being confined to a shop.
Who do you share your home with?
My 22-year-old daughter, my Great Dane and my Jack Russell.
How long does it take you to set up for an open house and what do you do with your everyday items during this time?
We usually spent a solid two weeks just setting up. Everything has its place and two rooms in the house remain private.
Apart from the open houses, do you change your interior around often?
All the time – I sell fast and have a low boredom threshold!
Any sourcing tips for antiques amateurs?
Listen to your heart and if you can, keep an eye on your wisdom.
Alex will next open the doors of her exquisite home on Friday 21, Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 June. Item prices range from £10 to £10,000 with all major credit cards accepted. Join Alex MacArthur’s mailing list for your invite.