Designer Secrets

A tour of Canal Street and the South End, where decorators from near and far come to score precious finds



John Street Antiques: Japanese Awaji tea sets circa 1910

The South End has long been known as a go-to design district. Its old warehouses are filled with almost anything you can think of—Art Deco Murano glass jars, eighteenth-century Italian gilded chairs, even a Tibetan temple wall. The wealth of objects draws the trade, but the rest of us home-design obsessives who can’t tell the difference between a Canterbury and a Whatnot will find plenty to appeal to our relaxed, sophisticated style. Make a day of it. All vendors are worth a pop-in, but here are three to get you started.

John Street Antiques

What are the hot trends? The staff can’t tell you because many customers are movie set designers. The 15,000 square-foot warehouse covers the whole spectrum of antiques, offering wholesale prices to the trade and people like you and me. We can feel at home in the low-key, friendly, non-stuffy but definitely stuffed-with-stuff space. We got this out of them: mid-century modern style is definitely going strong.

50 John St., 203-324-4677

Harbor View Antiques

Browsing? You can start at home with Harbor View Antiques’ comprehensive online inventory, if, say, you’re trying to find a steel-brushed mid-century modern desk. And if they don’t have it, they’ll find something just like it but it’s much more fun to go there. Harbor View offers more than 20,000 high-end antiques— furniture, jewelry, art, accessories and more—from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries and from around the world.

101 Jefferson St., 203-325-8070

Antique & Artisan Center

Old, dog-eared paperbacks not cutting it anymore? Owner and designer Mari Ann Maher can outfit a library with antique or new books on any topic. That’s just one service (along with upholstery and furniture restoration) offered in this 23,000-square-foot showroom, where sixty design-minded vendors have set up vignettes showcasing the “chic to unique” objects.

69 Jefferson St., 203-327-6022

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