Going Once.. Going Twice..

Aug. 16th 2013


You guessed it! I made it back to another antique auction at Alexander’s Auction in Richmond last night. I had seen on their website that they were going to be auctioning off several area rugs and frankly, we need them at the plantation! We still have bare wood floors! Don’t get me wrong, the wood floors are beautiful! When they did the restoration between 1997 and 2003, they did a wonderful job restoring them. But with the foot traffic we are getting already and the chairs being pulled in and out from under the formal dining room table; we need to get some protection down. Plus the rooms are crying for some decor!

I made it just in time to do several previews of the items up for auction. You may recall if you have been following me for a while, my last auction was my first. This time, I think I was a little more prepared for the process. I looked over many things. Made notes of the rugs I was interested in and their numbers. I also found several pictures that I felt would be nice in the house. If you follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, you got to preview things along with me. Thank you to all of you for your wonderful comments!

I found five rugs that I was interested in. The first one was a beautiful red wine with wonderful and colorful details. This one I wanted for the Parlor. The room color is “Chinese Red” (Sherwin Williams’s Colonial Williamsburg Collection) and will be our “Ladies Withdrawing Room”. So this floral detail in the rug would have fit perfect in the room.

Madison Room

The next one was under a settee on a step, so it was hard to get a great view of it. This one I wanted for the Conway Junior Suite. The room color is “Powder Blue” (Sherwin Williams’s Colonial Williamsburg Collection) which looks more like a slate blue. The rug has this same blue in it with some really nice colors to added detail.

Conway Room

The next one was an 8 foot round rug that was made of silk. This one I wanted for the Front Entry as you walk into the mansion. Our Grand Hallway is a “Mount Vernon Blue” which is almost like a sky blue. This color was a special formula that came from Mount Vernon. This rug had a darker Navy Blue in it and I felt it would have played beautifully in the room. It would also make a very grand step in.


The next one was one of my favorites of the evening. This one I wanted for the Madison Master Suite. The room color is “Blue Chip” (Sherwin Williams). This is the only room that we changed the original color in. It started out as “Colonial Revival Sea Green” (Sherwin Williams’s Colonial Williamsburg Collection) like the Hipkins-Bernard Room, but I felt it wasn’t “Presidential” enough so I changed it. The room will end up with Blues, White and Golds like the Blue Room at the White House. (That is if we ever get our curtains!) This rug had some of the most beautiful blue detail and it was also made of silk.


The last one was a big surprise. This one I wanted for the Turner Master Suite. The room color is “Classical Yellow” (Sherwin Williams’s Colonial Williamsburg Collection) and is our bridal suite. The yellow in the room is more of a gold color and with the natural sunlight makes the room very warm. This rug matches the curtain color, which is a deep dust pink. Finding a pick area rug is very hard too. So I was excited we found something that matched.

Turner Room

Some of the items I saw as I was walking around were pictures I had wanted for the mansion. We are in terrible need of decor, but I don’t want to just buy anything to fill the house. I want to take my time to make each piece mean something. After all the piece will become a permanent piece of history in this landmark.

One painting I found was of a lady from around the mid-1800s. The detail in her brooch and clothing was just wonderful. She had a kind face that pictures I took and have seen online of her couldn’t really capture. When I saw her online, I had much of the same thoughts as the comments I got on her last night on Facebook. But in person, she looks so much better.


Another painting I found was of another lady from around the late 1700s to early 1800s. She was without a frame, but her kind eyes seem to call to me. She was warm and sweet and just looked like she would fit beautifully in the Conway Junior Suite. This is the room named after James Madison’s mother’s family who were here from 1670 to 1790. So she would have fit right there.


Another painting I found was a very large one that I wanted for the Formal Dining Room. It would be perfect over our sideboard. This wall is crying for a painting. The painting was a scene from the French Revolution. I know we wouldn’t have had anyone involved in this uprising, but the colors and the early history would have been a good fit for the room. And of course the size. When this painting came up for auction it went for $300 which was more than I wanted to pay so I didn’t get it.


There were a couple more pictures, but they were just ones I thought if I can get at a low price, then I would consider them. But I didn’t win any of those bids so I wasn’t disappointed.

The first item to come up was the Parlor Rug. I knew what I wanted to spend on each item and I knew where I would cut myself off. I have to say, I could easily get carried away trying to win an item because I am just so darn competitive. The bidding went really fast and I had someone else who wanted it. The auctioneer always starts high…  1,000, 800, 700, 500, 300, 200… and then the other person jumped in. I countered with 300. She countered with 400. I countered with 500. Then she hesitated. The auctioneer called 600… 600… 600…

Then he pointed to me and said… Sold $500!

Madison Room

Yes I won!!

I was sitting with some new found friends, a wonderful group of ladies and when I won, they cheered for me. It was great! Okay, now I am ready for the next item, but it didn’t come for almost six hours! But that okay, I am patient. And I enjoyed watching others win their items and looking at the items coming up.

The next item was the pink rug for the Turner Master Suite. By this time, my new found friends had left and I had moved to the front row to get a good view. When they unrolled it, I noticed what looked like stains. So I walked over to look closer. Thankfully it was just where the pile was rubbed the wrong way. But when I went up, another lady came up behind me to look. I told her as she was looking that it looked like it had stains. She agreed with me and went back to her seat. Then the auctioneer opened the bid… 1,000… 500… 300… and the other lady jumped in. I countered with 400. She countered with 500… At this point, I had reached my budget level. But knowing that pink is hard to find in area rugs, I broke my rule and countered with 600… After I said it, I caught myself and thought “Oh shoot! I shouldn’t have done that.” The auctioneer called to the other lady… 700… 700… 700.. 650.. 650.. 650.. Of course in my head I was saying, “Just close it!”

Then he pointed to me and said… Sold $600!

Turner Room

I was excited and felt worried all at once. I was going to need to watch that I didn’t break my rule again. But I think this time, it was worth the pink rug.

By this time it was around 2am and the crowd had thinned down quite a bit. We were moving through lots of items very quickly. One thing I was watching for was small tables for the baths. There is no really counter space at the sinks because all the sinks are pedestals. So I want to find a small table that you can place things on as you brush your teeth or wash your face. There were several that went through, but most were too big or didn’t have the draw or under shelf I wanted. Expect one. It came up and I don’t know if I was just tired or getting caught up in the fun. But I won it for just $15 so I didn’t think I did too badly. This morning I placed it in the Hipkins-Bernard Junior Suite bath and I think it fits perfect! I also won a Mahogany Mirror that I also placed in the Hipkins-Bernard Junior Suite. It will go over the 1776 chest in the room.



By 3am, the auction was finishing up. I noticed that they had not put up three of the rugs that I was interested in. So I found one of the workers to help my pull them so I could bid on them.

The first one was the one I wanted for the Conway Room.  The auctioneer opened the bid 1000… 500… 300.. 100… Someone jumped before I could. So I countered with 120. The auctioneer called 150.. 150.. 150..

Then he pointed to me and said… Sold $120!

Turner Room

I was shocked! This isn’t a small rug and could have easily gone for over $1,000. YES!!!

Then she and I went to pull the 8 foot round. The auctioneer opened the bid… 1,000… 500… 400… 300… 200… I jumped. Then someone else came out of nowhere and countered with 300. I countered with 400. He countered with 500. By this point, I had reached my budget. The auctioneer pointed to me and asked… 600? 600? 600?… I was so torn. I wanted this really bad, but I knew I had to stick to the budget. Before I knew it, the auctioneer said … Sold $500 to the other guy. ARGH!!! I was so mad. Not just at myself, but because this guy knew I pulled it and wanted it.


So off she and I went to look for the last rug. This one was the one for the Madison Master Suite. We looked and looked and looked. And to my dismay, we found it. It had  been sold early in the auction while I was in the restroom! It went for $1850 which was about $850 over my budget so I wasn’t too upset, just disappointed I missed it.


I also missed the painting of the lady from the mid-1800s. From the comments on Facebook last night, I guess it was a good thing since she creeped a lot of people out.


While they were finishing up the last of the box lots, which was mostly junk. I got an idea about my lady from the late 1700s that I won. She needed a frame and they had several painting on the wall in really nice frames. So I quickly measured her and found a frame that measured the same. The painting in the frame wasn’t all that great so I didn’t care what it was of. I just wanted the frame. Earlier in the evening I had watched many of these painting go for between $20 and $30 so I thought this would work. The auctioneer started the biding… I called out $10. What should happen but the same guy that “stole” my 8 foot round just minutes before jumped in at $20. I countered with $30. He countered with $40. I stopped. I wasn’t going to pay $50 for a framed painting that I could get at any other store for the same price. I let him have it. But it only made me mad knowing he saw me pull it. But it does make you wonder…

So here it was 3:30am and I paid for my items and packed up the car. Our design team at Gates Antiques will be picking up the three rugs next week and getting them to us at the plantation. My car just wasn’t big enough. I arrived back at the plantation at 4:45am and crashed at 5am this morning. I woke at 9am (we didn’t have guests last night) and placed my new items in their spots. I have to say the Lady in the Conway Junior Suite looks like she is happy there. We just need to give her a name. I know people are going to ask who she is. Jay, the lead designer of our design team once told me that pictures like these are called “Instant Relatives”. Either way, she looks good in there. Once we get Nelly Conway Madison’s painting done we will move her from the fireplace to over the desk. But until then, she will be the sweet face you see.

Lady in Conway room

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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 26 Comments »