When just a child in her native Netherlands, French Garden House proprietress Lidy Baars began developing a passion for antiques – one so strong that she taped tiny scraps of paper with the phrase “belongs to Lidy” to her favorite pieces of her grandparents’ furniture. At 8 years old, the budding entrepreneur moved to California, and as a teenager, she preferred spending money on heirloom collectibles, rather than the jeans her friends favored.
Some years later, while Lidy was raising and homeschooling her two children, she sold antiques through several local stores. Although she dreamed of opening her own brick-and-mortar establishment one day, a retail space just wasn’t practical at the time. Lidy instead came up with the idea of an online shop, and in 2007, she launched French Garden House – named for the petite backyard structure her husband built as her birthday gift one year. She sells a wide array of antique items on her website, including much-coveted toleware.
“Antique toleware is appealing because it has such a rich history,” Lidy explains. “From early family ‘shops,’ where men cut and bent tin pieces and their wives and daughters hand-painted them and sold them door to door to the more elegant, expensively decorated trays, cachepots, and wine carriers later sold in exclusive shops, toleware tells a story.” Collectors may focus on certain examples of this painted-metal art, such as rose motifs, mother-of-pearl inlays, or chinoiserie designs. Prices can range from less than $100 to several thousand, depending upon the item’s age, condition, subject matter, and quality of painting. For serious collectors, working with reputable dealers, such as Lidy, is a must. She has built her business on honesty and hard work, and those qualities have led to sweet success – and personal bliss. “French Garden House is my passion,” she says. “I can’t wait to get up each morning to go to work!”
To read more about these beautiful collectibles, see “Enchanted by Toleware,” on page 43 of the October 2015 issue of Victoria magazine. For information about Lidy Baars’s French Garden House online shop, visit frenchgardenhouse.com.