We’re lucky enough to have a treasure trove here in Barrington, and it’s almost time for a hunt! Barrie Heath, the third-generation owner of fine English antiques and reproductions dealer Caledonian, Inc., is busily preparing to relocate his business from his Cook Street storefront to a new, larger location on James Street. In doing so, he’s tripling his showroom space and gathering all of his wares under one roof.
With over 5,o00 square feet of furniture inventory, and only 3,000 square feet in his new space, Barrie is offering a rare opportunity to acquire heirloom-quality furniture, artwork, lighting and decorative accessories at 30% to 60% off retail prices. The sale will take place in their new space at 202 James Street in Barrington this Saturday, May 31st from 8am-2pm, and Sunday, June 1st from 11am-3pm – and you’ll want to be early to this one!
The new location offers ideal spaces to showcase Caledonian’s extensive collection of 18th and 19th century antiques, fine reproductions, and oak and cherry country furniture. It’s also adjacent to their longtime restoration shop, where skilled craftsman Nico Dilo lovingly returns antiques to their original finish – their patinas only improved by the passage of time.
Barrie has extensive knowledge of his antiques’ provenance, and enjoys showing his customers why quality antiques are in a class of their own.
“The premier period for furniture making in Europe was the 18th century, both in England and on the continent,” Barrie says. “The patterns of the designers with which people are somewhat familiar – like Chippendale, Hepplewhite, and Sheraton on the English side – were created in book form, and the proportion and the quality of the construction is just unsurpassed. It was all handmade, and the quality of the wood is far superior to what we can get today. The Cuban mahogany they often used is now very difficult to find today, and it gives the antiques a wonderful color.”
For Barrie, antiques are a family affair: his maternal grandmother, Ethel Harris, started the business in 1941. “During the war, my grandmother opened up a consignment shop in Highland Park, selling antiques,” Barrie says.
“My grandfather had gone to England to buy antiques for his interior design clients, so they knew English pieces well. My grandmother was a better business person than my grandfather, though, so it was her business that took off.”
“After the war, my father married into the family – he was English – and then he, his two brothers-in-law and my grandmother built up Caledonian,” Barrie says. As the U.S. housing market boomed, so did Caledonian’s business, and they soon earned a coveted spot among the country’s top antiques dealers.
Barrie started working in the business after college, when he had a three-month break before leaving to serve in the army. He quickly realized it was the perfect mix for him, and knew without a doubt that it would be his livelihood. “In three months, I was hooked on it. I’m able to work with beautiful things that I enjoy, but I also enjoy the business side of it too. I was very fortunate to fall into a business that I have a real passion for. My dad never pushed me; I just loved it from the start.”
When the housing market declined, Calendonian’s business changed as well. “We were in Winnetka for 39 years, in Northfield for about 13 years, and have been here in Barrington for the last 3 years. When I moved from Northfield, I decided to come to Barrington and operate my business on a much smaller scale,” Barrie says. “Our Winnetka store was over 22,000 square feet; now we’ll have 3,000. I operate lean, with low overhead, and very competitive prices.”
Now that Barrie has consolidated five different locations into this one store, he finds himself with too much inventory – a boon for his customers. “We’ll try to move a lot of inventory, and many items will be discounted between 30%-60%,” Barrie says. (Select items will not be on sale, but most will.) “There are a lot of good things here. I normally never discount, as I simply price very competitively from the start, so this really is a rare opportunity.
Barrie hopes both loyal customers and interested newcomers alike will shop the sale this weekend and find a piece they love. He encourages people to think of antiques not as museum objects, but useful time-travelers. “Sometimes people think you have to baby antiques, but they’re meant to be lived with and used,” he says. “My criteria for buying antiques are: good design, good wood, and a good finish (not necessarily original, but a quality restoration – all the antiques we’ve ever sold have been restored in our own workshop). Pieces that have those things stand the test of time.”
Be sure to visit Caledonian’s sale at 202 James Street this Saturday, May 31st from 8am-2pm, and Sunday, June 1st from 11am-3pm. Before you go, check Caledonian’s facebook page for updated information and photos.
Caledonian Antiques & Reproductions
202 James Street
Barrington, IL 60010