Preview: Find treasures at the Cathedral Antiques Show

Designer Patricia McLean explains the beauty of patina

Last year, the fallout from Snowmageddon kept me from attending the ADAC-sponsored preview of the Cathedral Antiques Show (February 6–7) by designer Patricia McLean, so I was excited to make it this year. The annual event at the Cathedral of St. Philip has raised more than $4 million for local non-profits, including this year’s beneficiary, Covenant House Georgia.


Photo by Betsy Riley

With a true Anglophile’s appreciation for antiques, McLean has a great eye for pieces with an intriguing provenance. As she noted at the start of our tour, “People say brown furniture is out, but it will never be out with me.” And as dealers explained details like a lambs tongue motif carved into the corner of a chest or a breakfast table that rotated when the serving staff was absent, it was easy to get caught up in the romance of mahogany. As Macon dealer Steve Sherwood explained, “Patina is a quality that wood gets with age as it absorbs light. It’s different from a new shine.”

Pieces like a chinoiserie crumber (a brush and dustpan designed for clearing tablecloths of crumbs) and gilded barometers may have been demoted to mere decorative use in today’s high-tech world, but it’s fun to learn about their former function—and they are no less beautiful. Mostly, it is fascinating to hear the stories behind old objects. Who knew that Victorians would burn the paperwork when they paid off their mortgages, then drill holes in newel posts and top them with elaborate crystal finials to show off their wealth? Of course, I’ve always been a sucker for a good tale, which is why I got into magazines in the first place. Look for some great stories in our new home and garden magazine, Atlanta Magazine’s HOME—coming in March!