Julia Shantz, founder of Uniquities Architectural Antiques, grew up in Wales where she recalls her earliest inspiration.
“Wales is a playground of ancient architecture with more castles per square mile than anywhere else on the planet! My love for old is something I understood and appreciated from a child and is likely part of my DNA,” she says.
This love of history travelled with her when she emigrated to Canada in 1983. In 1992, she and her husband Doug purchased a 1915 heritage home and went about the painstaking task of renovating. It soon became clear that the period hardware and architectural details needed to complete the house were impossible to find in Calgary. Where most would have settled for reproduction, Julia was inspired to research and develop the concept for Uniquities Architectural Antiques.
The “architectural antiques” part of the name refers to salvaged materials, elements that were once permanent fixtures on or in buildings. Uniquities sources these materials primarily from the U.K., France and Belgium from many types of buildings – mills, schools, hospitals, factories, farm buildings, churches, manor homes and houses.
“Repurposing is really the most environmentally friendly way to build and furnish,” Julia says. “It also preserves architectural history. When a carved panel door or an old gate is thrown into the landfill, it is gone forever. The superior craftsmanship, authentic period detail and beautiful patina of old materials simply cannot be reproduced. We want to inspire others to see the beauty and the benefits of preserving these wonderful snippets of history.”
Uniquities is a relative newcomer to Round Top.
“Although we had known of Round Top for a long time, it seemed so out of reach for us, being based in Canada,” Julia says. “When friends from Europe went and set up shop, it then seemed possible for us. We decided to visit in March 2016, and we were smitten. The first show we did was Fall 2016. Immediately, we found it intoxicating – the people, the atmosphere, the miles and miles of stuff, the laughs, the challenges. As entrepreneurs and antiques dealers, it’s what we thrive on.”
Market Hill made the process easier. “Paul Michael has built a stunning building that works for dealers,” Julia describes.
For Uniquities, it’s more than a space; it’s a community. “We have had [our] business in Canada for 26 years with clients from around the world, but outside of Canadians, we rarely get to meet our customers face-to-face. Market Hill has given us the opportunity to personally meet clients and to solidify relationships.”
As for what Uniquities is bringing to the spring show, she shares, “On a recent trip to the U.K., we were privileged to buy garden items from a 17th century garden in Derbyshire. We purchased this antique Renaissance-style Italian wall fountain of Oceanus, Greek god of the sea. There is a clean old break to the corner, which had obviously broken away many years prior. We decided not [to fix it], but to take a leaf out of the Japanese art of repairing pottery known as Kintsugi. One should embrace the history of the object rather than trying to disguise it. Wabi-Sabi is the key decorating trend for 2018. The Japanese phrase literally means, ‘the art of finding beauty in imperfection.’ For the past 26 years, Uniquities' mantra has been ‘the perfection is in the imperfection.’ It is the most relaxed way to live our lives.”
For more information, visit uniquities.ca.